Traveling the world one gymnastics meet at a time

Living the Rented Room Life in Cottbus

I have mainly resided in hostels while traveling but changed it up when I visited Cottbus, Germany.

After dealing with the theft of my  laptop, I checked out of my hostel in Berlin and checked into a different hostel in the same city. The second hostel turned out to be the worst hostel in which I have stayed throughout my entire four months of traveling. The hostel contained nearly every bad attribute of a hostel. The inexpensive accommodation bore push button showers, uncomfortable tiny Hobbit-sized beds, and rooms with too many people and not enough outlets. The grimy hostel did not have enough bathrooms and definitely could have used a thorough cleaning. I felt dirtier at the conclusion of my shower than I did in the beginning. The hostel also did not have the friendly atmosphere that one generally desires as a solo traveler. The staff sat at the front desk and did not engage in conversation with anyone and appeared annoyed when anyone required their services. I did not meet anyone in my room and most people kept to themselves. Occasionally I stumble across a hostel that does not have a kitchen and finds it extremely annoying because is not that what makes a hostel a hostel… This hostel had a kitchen but it wasfilled with terrible equipment and an abundance of ants.

The hostel did not have any of the good things one usually finds in hostels including but not limited to a friendly staff, social atmosphere, clean bathrooms, comfy couches, and well stocked kitchens. The hostel definitely did not share any of the accoutrements of great hostels such as ensuite bathrooms, free breakfast, outlets, shelves and lamps next to each bed.  I have stayed in some fantastic hostels; however, this particular hostel seemed to have everything negative about hostels.

The Berlin Wall, which is not a hostel.

The Berlin Wall, which is not a hostel.

I would next head to Cottbus to attend the Cottbus World Challenge Cup. The town does not have landmarks or museums or anything that really attracts tourists or travelers, which means the town has one hotel and zero hostels. I had recently stayed in a hotel in Jesolo and could not afford another few days in one. Additionally, I desired a kitchen, which most hotels do not have. I ventured to my favorite accommodation booking website in which one can book a room in a private home and found a relatively cheap room available for four nights. I then noticed that the homeowners provided a $5 a night discount for making a weekly booking. Seeing as I did not have any plans after Cottbus, I booked the extra three nights.

I  had used this accommodation booking website on numerous prior occasions. During 2014 European Championships, my friend Meredith and I rented an entire apartment in Sofia, Bulgaria. The clean and bright apartment had a full kitchen, washer/dryer, and a lovely balcony.

Pretty purple walls, just like in Monica and Rachel's apartment!

Pretty purple walls, just like in Monica and Rachel’s apartment!

I rented a room in an apartment in Stuttgart for the 2014 Stuttgart World Cup and felt like a strange intruder in these peoples’ lives. Eve, the Mysterious and Sometimes Invisible Lauren, and I rented an apartment and a cottage in Iceland from wonderfully friendly and accommodating people. The owner of the first apartment gave them directions to a waterfall off the beaten path and allowed me to play with his beautiful dog. The cottage we rented belonged to a rental company and the manager upgraded the girls to a larger cottage with a Jacuzzi. We had a difficult time getting in touch with the manager and the accommodation website did an excellent job with the customer service side of things.

Minna and I rented a room in an apartment in Lisbon which turned out to be the strangest situation provided by this accommodation booking website. The couple stated on the website that they did not speak excellent English but the low price, great location and positive reviews persuaded Minna and I to book the room. Minna arrived a night prior to me and informed me that the woman did not speak any English but the dog mentioned in the listing was cute and kept running into their room. The woman’s lack of English surprised me because many of the people I had met from non-English speaking countries claim they do not speak English or that they do not speak English well but then give excellent directions. I arrived at the apartment the next day and met the woman who definitely did not speak any English. The woman asked me if I spoke Spanish and I replied “Un poco” and the woman began speaking to her in rapid Portuguese. I  smiled, nodded, and said “gracias” due to not having a clue what else to do. Minn and I decided that the woman had used a translation website for their previous communications and decided to email her through the accommodation website app if we had questions and wanted to do laundry.

The next day I noticed that the dog had urinated on the kitchen floor but thankfully we did not need to walk through the kitchen to reach the exit or the bathroom. I noticed urine in the kitchen again the next day as well as a pile of newspaper covered in more urine and we realized that the dog used the kitchen floor as it’s bathroom. We then realized the woman had been sitting in her room on a mattress on the floor every time they entered or exited the apartment and began to wonder if perhaps the dog was not house trained because the woman never left the house. Luckily, Minna and I only remained in the apartment for three nights before our Moroccan desert tour. The accommodation website has many perks but also lacks standards which results in mixed results. One can find an amazing entire apartment or one can tip toe around a pee filled kitchen.

This little dog could hold a lot of liquid.

This little dog could hold a lot of liquid.

I arrived in Cottbus and found the apartment. My host Ben showed me the entire apartment, including the kitchen where he had cleared out a shelf in the fridge where I could store my food and informed me that I could use anything in the apartment, such as the kitchen and laundry machines. Ben also showed me the balcony and enormous bathroom and I introduced myself to the cat. I then retreated into my own bedroom with a big bed, a big desk, many outlets, and no one else. I had an entire room to myself for an entire week and could not be happier about it. Sure, I would spend the next week perhaps awkwardly navigating my way through a stranger’s kitchen but at least no one would get mad at me for turning on the lights in a hostel at 9:00pm. I also would not be woken up at 4am by some drunk people nor would I wake anyone else up should I  stumble home drunk at 4am (Idid not drink at all in Cottbus, by the way. I ironically essentially detoxed in Germany). I had a very relaxing week in Cottbus despite the slight isolation of having her own room in an apartment in a town where she did not know anyone. Host’s Ben and Franzi were very friendly and the cat provided me with some much needed companionship. Additionally, Ben worked from home which resulted in extremely speedy wifi which meant I could view a plethora of Netflix. Despite the wonderful accommodation, at the conclusion of the week, I felt excited to return to hostel life where I could interact with fellow travelers


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Kerry Joyce • 05/05/2016

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