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A bed for the night

Well, today has been … periodically stressful. Things are looking OK now, though.

Last night was ruined once again by superfluous noise. The culprit this time was a guy who, judging by the writing on one of his bags, was Korean … and probably still is (though I only learned this the following day). As he was getting into bed his phone started buzzing. You would have thought that he would have switched this alarm off, but no – or at least not entirely. Throughout the whole night the phone buzzed once every five or ten minutes. He managed to sleep through this, but not me. I could have woken him up to tell him to turn it off – but that isn’t my style. Evidently I prefer to suffer in silence.

I did go downstairs to the common room for a couple of hours in the middle of the night, made myself a cup of tea and read. And what did I find in the common room? Radio being piped through the speakers to the otherwise empty room. In this case I did ask the night duty person if he could switch it off – which he did (he unplugged the PA from the TV, actually).

So this morning was a late morning. I decided not to shave and shower before eating breakfast as it was approaching 9:30. By this time on the previous mornings the kitchen had been pretty much deserted. This morning (a Friday), however, it was packed.

I checked out without any problem and headed down to the station. According to my bus schedule, the Montreal coach that’s part of the Acadian Halifax-Montréal service was due at 12:10 and would arrive at – hold on, let me check – 13:45. And now that I look again that 1:35 hour journey doesn’t make much sense as the night bus supposedly takes an hour longer. I actually got a bus at 11:30 – and that arrived here at 2:30-ish.

I’d been in the habit in Québec City of going down to the station and getting a cup of tea and a bite to eat. It was nice and quiet, and cheap. I don’t know about the cost at Montréal’s Station Centrale, but it’s certainly not quiet – there are people all over the place. It’s like a disease.

The hostel I’d identified to stay in was Chez Jean – a bit of a walk from the station, but not too bad – so off I went. Last week I’d filled in their on-line booking form … and heard nothing back. And I really should have taken that as a bad sign (it’s an example of what I was talking about when I talked about ‘omens’). But no. When I got there and went in I thought, uh-oh (but not in so many words … and as ‘uh-oh’ is only one word … well – you do the mental arithmetic). To put it generously, it was bohemian; to put it offensively, it was a dump.

The area was a bit down-market: terraced houses, no gardens; some places were obviously well-cared for, but the places that weren’t brought the atmosphere right down. Inside, Chez Jean was essentially two small neighbouring houses with nearly every available space filled with beds. It didn’t feel like a hostel, it felt like a couple of houses (not terribly nice ones) with extra beds. I handed over my $20 and was shown to a bed.

And I sat there for a while wondering what I should do. I eventually got up and went to look for an internet cafe (hoping that my backpack would be safe until I got back(, Jack)). I walked most of the way back to the station before I found a very new-looking, quiet and relatively cheap (relative the one I’d been using in Québec) place, and there I looked for alternative accommodation (wondering why the fuck I hadn’t done this before now – even just out of curiosity).

One place down in the old town had a bed tonight and next week, but not tomorrow (I found out when I rang them up). A second place (these were the two that had ratings (and good ratings) on bug.co.uk) wasn’t far away so I walked there. And they had a bed tonight, but were fully booked for tomorrow – although the guy explained that people might not show up. I ummed and ahhed for a bit then said I’d take the bed tonight.

The bed itself was in their other location, so he said he’d drive me down there. As I was waiting, a woman walked in also looking for a bed (why else would you go to a hostel?) and the reception guy said I’d taken the last bed, but after further conversation between them (en français) he found a place for her, too. He joked that we’d have to share a bed; I asked if I could get a discount for that.

Anyway, this new hostel, Auberge de jeunesse Maeva, is much more acceptable. It even has locks on the doors (which even the Auberge de la Paix in Québec City didn’t have – although it’s not nearly as classy as that particular location). I went to collect my backpack from the other place. It was still there. The guy there gave me back my $20; he asked me why I was going to another hostel, and I simply said that I didn’t like it here.

Once back at the Maeva hostel, the bloke who’d driven me there explained that he’d stayed at Chez Jean several years ago and thought that if that guy could make money running a place like that then he could too, so he opened two hostels. And I thanked him for that.

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