I arrived in Vienna on March 11, and with luck, will be moving into a new apartment I am in the process of buying on June 11. But in the three months between those two momentous dates, my living situation has been chaotic to say the least. For the first two weeks I was here I stayed with my former Austrian host family, which was a terrific way to ease myself back into life in Vienna. Then, for a week I couch surfed which, as always, was a great way to meet people and make a bunch of new friends. While some (maybe most?) people might feel uncomfortable with the idea of crashing on the couch of someone you just met four hours hence, I’ve couch surfed close to twenty nights over the past year and have never had a bad experience- indeed it’s always been a lot of fun. Like ebay, couch surfing works largely on a reference basis- once you’ve stayed with someone or someone has stayed with you, you are encouraged to write a short reference that then appears on the other person’s profile. This way, future people you might meet through couch surfing can see that you’re both a fascinating and fun individual and not likely to dress up in a Mickey Mouse costume and start singing the national anthem of Botswana at 4 in the morning.
Following my week of couch surfing, I entered the apartment with the landlady from the eighth circle of hell, a story which I’ve already spilled too many pixels on. But after that amusing episode, I decamped to the Wombats Hostel where I’ve been for most of the last three weeks (with the exception of five nights last week when I stayed at a friend’s place while he was away). I’ll be here through Saturday, then to Italy for three nights, then back here for three more nights or so, then off to London, then off on my Central and Eastern European road trip for two weeks, then back here for three nights, then back to the states for two weeks, and then and only then, will I hopefully be able to start living in my new apartment (more on that next time).
So here I am, 26 with two degrees and living out of a suitcase in a youth hostel, since obviously it would be silly to rent with my wacky travel schedule. But honestly, with the exception of my own apartment, there’s no place I’d rather be. Wombats (the name has its origins in a drunken game of pool in Australia back in 1988) is clearly the coolest hostel I’ve ever stayed at, with the tempermental wireless access in the lobby where I’m sitting now the only drawback. Aside from that, though, it has a central location, a great bar in the basement, and a great atmosphere that lends itself to drunken pillow fights, marathon cookie baking sessions, and meeting cool people from all over the world. A hostel environment, no doubt, but by no means a hostile one.