Allow me to begin this article by saying that when I book myself into a 12-bed mixed dorm in an Eastern European capitol currently being touted for its stag party potential, I am under no illusions about the quality of sleep I can be expecting. None. I am a very seasoned traveller in this department. Snoring, sleepwalking, 4:00 a.m. drunken arrivals from the bar, 5:00 a.m. departures to catch a train – these are things I completely acknowledge as par for the course. And when one is paying the rough equivalent of 15 Canadian dollars to have clean sheets and a roof over one's head for the night, they are hardly in a position to complain.
I am a seasoned traveller but this…
However, none of this could quite prepare me for my nocturnal experiences at the Downtown Backpackers Hostel in Bratislava. Our midday check in was fairly routine – dump bags in locker in large dorm room and go exploring. Return around 10:00 p.m., have a short chat with some people in the room heading out for the night (something you have decided to forego as you are still recovering from the exhaustion involving paper thin walls in Prague, and the late night/early morning arrival of five very loud, very drunk Polish guys) and turn in.
I was enjoying a lovely slumber in what – for a hostelry – was a surprisingly comfortable bed until around four o’clock in the morning, which precipitated the arrival of five Belgians who, judging by their level of intoxication, had had an extremely pleasant evening. They were audible everywhere – and I do mean EVERYWHERE. They were staying in a room across the hall and, somehow, every single pointless word they screamed at one another was completely comprehensible. I speak French – trust me, no one needs to be shouting about their socks at 4:00 a.m.
It was only after politely asking them to quiet down (by polite I mean banging on their door and yelling “Shut the f&#$ up!”) that my friend and I (I'm assuming the rest of our dorm judging by the “Thank yous” we received the next morning) managed to return to some semblance of sleep – only to have the three Canadians we had bid a fun night out to a few short hours previous return from their revels. By now it was around 5:00 a.m.
In all fairness, they were being extremely quiet; that is, until one of them pulled back his covers to discover – you guessed it – another drunk Belgian. I can only assume the man was so ridiculously inebriated that he didn’t know where he was, and literally fell into the first bed he found. Believe you me, he didn’t feel like leaving it.
It began with a whispered, “Dude! Hey dude, you’re in my bed. You gotta get out.” Then to a slightly louder, “No, dude, seriously, you gotta get outta my bed!” Finally, to a fully voiced, “Dude, you’re in my bed! This is not your bed! GET OUT!” The Belgian didn’t budge – not because he didn’t feel like it, but because he was in a coma.
So, the man who had his bed rudely usurped in the wee hours of the morning, did the only thing that makes any sense – he leaned over and smacked the thief lightly on the cheek. Then not so lightly. Then a full slap. Repeatedly. All the while, he hollered at this guy to get the F&#$ out of his bed. I’m not quite sure how, but the barrage quickly degenerated into the perpetrator “pulling a Mikey,” which means grabbing the top edge of the upper bunk, hoisting yourself up, and essentially pummelling your feet into the slumbering victim’s ribcage. You would think some part of this attack – aspects of which are probably prosecutable offenses in most civilized countries – would illicit some sort of response from our comatose friend. Nope. Nothing.
The poor Canadian, faced with the prospect of a night on the floor, resorts to a last, desperate measure: he takes away the blanket. If you’re stuck sleeping on the floor, you may as well be as comfy as possible. Magically, the Belgian guy wakes up! Well, sort of, he jerks around and tries to take back the covers. When this fails, he reaches down and makes contact with a pair of boxer shorts – then proceeds to try and pull them up like a blanket. By this point the entire room is awake and my friend and I, staring down the barrel of two straight sleepless nights, are at the same time near tears and in absolute hysterics. This was honest-to-God one of the funniest things I have ever seen in my entire life.
Sadly this hysteria wasn’t doing anyone any good because the Belgian, still completely disoriented, mumbled something in French, and simply tried to go back to sleep. It took the combined weight of two men, plus my friend and I yelling, “Ce n’est pas ton lit! Vas-y a ton lit!” to literally shove this man out the door and lock it behind him. Once he stopped banging to get back in, about fifteen minutes later, we managed to fall back asleep. For about twenty minutes, until the snoring from our self-same friend, who made it as far as the couch in the hallway before passing back out, decided it was morning.
One sleepless, somewhat scary night in a Slovakian hostelry – eight euros. Watching one guy try to make a blanket out of another guy’s boxer shorts – priceless.