Return to Home Page

January 18, 2011

Two thumbs up to a good hotel or hostel

Damascus, Syria

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” wrote Charles Dickens in the opening line of A Tale of Two Cities. He was referring to life in an area of Europe in the late 1700s, but one could also feasibly slap this line into a book about overnights in hotels and hostels around the world in 2011.

Since this is a blog and not a book, I’m short on space and will focus on “it was the best of times.”  Take the photo above, for example. This is my bedside view at the Al-Rabie Hotel in Damascus, Syria. It is morning, and I’ve just slept like a rock in a comfortable bed, recovering from a long but good day walking all over one of the Middle East’s most fascinating cities. Still sleeping are the three people sharing the dorm: an Australian guy who never talks, a vivacious Argentine woman with Lebanese heritage, and a super-courteous Japanese girl who tomorrow will fly back home to begin a job as an air traffic controller. I sit on the edge of my bed and look out the window into the courtyard of this centuries-old Damascene house-turned-hotel. Down below are more interesting people, a choice of two kinds of chairs in which to read or write in my journal, a fountain bubbling just out of view. There is also breakfast waiting — bread, a boiled egg, cheese, olives, a piece of fruit, and tea. And just outside the building, of course, is the city itself.

The list of other cherished hostels or hotels I’ve temporarily called home is long. I think of the Ocean View Beach Resort on the north side of Ko Phangan (amazing staff), any number of places along Lake Toba in Sumatra (the beauty of the world’s largest crate lake!), the Mountain View Hotel in Sapa (it lives up to its name, and the thick fog on Christmas morning — absolutely magical). There is the Madina Hotel and Guesthouse in Gilgit, Pakistan, with a manager whose aching, burning desire for peace moved me no less than the site of the surrounding Karakoram Range. And how can I neglect the Platypus Hostel in Bogota, which I give two thumbs up to if for no other reason than that here I met Jason Howe, a combat photographer fresh from Afghanistan, whose photos and stories (and a little Jack Daniels) made my head spin? It’s not every day you meet a guy who has written an article titled “I fell in love with a female assassin.

This list is but the tip of the iceberg, and it shows that a place is more than its walls and mattresses. It’s also the people and surprises, the views and the voices, the space in which we travel in ways that can’t be found on a map.

Posted by | Comments (0) 
Category: Asia, Hostels/Hotels, Images from the road, Notes from the collective travel mind

Leave a Reply

Main

Bio

Books

Stories

Essays

Video

Interviews

Events

Writers

Marco

Paris

Vagabonding.net

Contact


Vagabonding Audio Book at Audible.com

Marco Polo Didnt Go There
Rolf's new book!


Vagabonding
   Vagabonding

RECENT COMMENTS

Roger: I’m definitely going to give Zona Verde a good looking at once I get...

Ric: Very good article. That’s the reason I enjoy Theroux and Bill Bryson’s...

stieve@green lotus trekking: But i never love bull fighting with man i love only bull...

mingma@trekking in nepal: O my god very sad to read about this article.

mingma@trekking in nepal: Oh! i havent seen before even heard, its amazing and nice.

www.beaphar.lv: You weren’t happily married to each of these but in some cases...

https://berrybenkashop.zendesk.com/entries/52331524-Top-10-Features-In-The-New-IOS-5: ...

quietpyramid.com: Everyone knows that proteins are very much needed for a healthy body....

theartscentregc.zendesk.com: These concerns have grown to get mute just in case you use...

makemysiteapp.com: Thinking of some creative writing ideas for kids can actually be...

SPONSORED BY :



CATEGORIES

TRAVEL LINKS

ARCHIVES

RECENT ENTRIES

Is all writing travel writing?
Thomas Swick on the merits of traveling alone
Vagabonding Case Study: Michael Hodson
Why We Buy Dumb Souvenirs
Vagabonding Case Study: Ligeia and Mindy
The power of nostalgia for travel
Vagabonding Field Report: The Great Ocean Road
Are you afraid to travel?
William Least Heat-Moon on why we travel
An interview with Freelance Writer Joe Henley


Subscribe to this blog's feed
Follow @rolfpotts