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Where we stayed during our month-long tour of Europe

Posted by Christopher Wink on Nov 9, 2008 in Experiences |

The bed on which I slept while couchsurfing in Budapest, Hungary on Oct. 20, 2008.

The bed on which I slept while couchsurfing in Budapest, Hungary on Oct. 20, 2008.

Turns out many of you have been interested in where we slept at nights. So we’ll do you one better. Here is a list of everywhere we stayed, our experiences and any other advice we have about this end of a tour like this.

London, England (Oct. 1 to Oct. 7) - Couchsurfing in Hackney Wick, East London

Amsterdam, Netherlands (Oct. 7 to Oct. 9) - In Hotel Annemarie, the rooms were clean and comfortable and guests were kind. Breakfast was included and the free wireless Internet was great. Still, we read reviews about the staff being less than accommodating and when we were charged for a night we never used - because of a Belgian strike and despite our calling ahead - we found that true. It was near the Van Gogh museum but was otherwise a long walk or tram ride from the city’s center, including its main train station. Given that I am still bitter about being charged that night, I wouldn’t recommend anyone go there. Sucka.

Brussels, Belgium (Oct. 9 to Oct. 11) - We heard about the Van Gogh Hostel from friends and a fellow traveler. When we showed up, there was only one night’s availability. The Internet was spotty, but breakfast was solid. The bar was happening, though it was a bit of a walk from the city center - 25 minutes. Still, I really enjoyed Brussels and in no small part because my bed was comfortable and the staff kindly here. This is a lesson in checking in, even if they don’t immediately have all the availability you need and trying your luck. Lots of cancellations in hostels.

Paris, France (Oct. 11 to Oct. 14) - The cheapest place to crash we found in Paris wasn’t a hostel and, well, it wasn’t really in Paris. The Hipotel Paris Hippodrome is actually in Joinville le Pont, a 10 minute train ride into the city, and well connected via mass transit. Grab yourself a Paris Viste pass, crash in your unspectacular but affordable hotel bed and see the city of lights.

Lyon, France (Oct. 14 to Oct. 15) - Hostel, we checked in and left, no review would likely be fair. …Sorry.

Zurich, Switzerland (Oct. 15 to Oct. 17) - Couchsurfing with Dule

Overnight train Oct. 17 - We took an overnight train from Zurich to Budapest. Six strangers jammed in a little car for 36 euros, as a supplement cost to our Eurorail pass, but we woke up in our distanced destination.

Budapest, Hungary (Oct. 18 to Oct. 19) - Sean’s favorite place we stayed during our trip was the Aboriginal Hostel, a cool, out-of-the-way Australian-themed place in Budapest. It is very small, no more than 10 or 15 people stay. Internet and breakfast are included in the cheap rent, and there is a great common room where we met lots of interesting folk. The staff was helpful and private rooms are available. It has a great feeling of seclusion to get away from a long day of sightseeing.

Miskolc, Hungary (Oct. 19 to Oct. 20) - Couchsurfing with mutual friend

Budapest, Hungary (Oct. 20 to Oct. 22) - Couchsurfing with Balint. Sean and his brothers stayed again at the Aboriginal Hostel.

Vienna, Austria (Oct. 22 to Oct. 24) - Hostel Ruthensteiner is the best hostel in Vienna. Independent, cool and happening. When we were there they had a blues band in their big and diversely patronized bar, they’re five minutes from the train station, and the staff seemed helpful enough. The big guy in town, though is Wombats The Base, one in the Wombats, Australian hostel chain. The rooms were fine, the staff was accomodating and the location wasn’t far from Ruthensteiner. Still, it was the largest hostel in which I ever stayed so there wasn’t the unity you get sometimes in other hostels.

Prague, Czech Republic (Oct. 24 to Oct. 27) to - Sir Toby’s has a great environment, though it’s a bit out of center city. You can walk there or take a 10 minute tram anywhere you’d like. The hostel itself, though, has a great bar and very cool environment. There are a few great Czech restaurants around that are peopled by locals - no English here. It’s a great independent hostel.

Berlin, Germany (Oct. 27 to 29) - St. Christopher’s Inns Berlin opens with a cool sports bar. The rooms are nice, the beds are huge and breakfast is included. Their wireless Internet was down but normally it’s free. The staff was very cool and helpful. The place was centrally located and the cheapest in town. Despite being a chain, I would definitely recommend this place.

Copenhagen, Denmark (Oct. 30 to Nov. 1) - Couchsurfing with Thomas

Stockholm, Sweden (Nov. 1 to Nov. 4) - Langholmens Hotel and Hostel is a fomer prison. It wasn’t the cheapest place in town, but in the off-seaon, like November, our place was super quiet and we got it to ourselves two out of the three nights we stayed. Free wireless and a helpful staff, plus, because it’s also a hotel, it has a classy feel and you can steal fruit it offers its hotel guests. A 25-minute walk to old town and a bit longer to the station, but it is walkable and a subway goes not too far from the big station. No common room for connecting, but it’s a unique experience to be sure.

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