Sleep seems to be a common obsession on this Europe Trip. I’ve kept surprising track of how much sleep I’ve gotten, when I’ve gotten it and how well I’ve slept, the quality of the beds, the troubles and difficulties involved with each hotel and the nearly insurmountable hardships faced when sharing accommodations.
For example: the most difficult accommodations I’ve stayed at are in Italy. This very nice and up scale camp site outside of Rome had two rooms per cabin with two beds in each and one shared bathroom. But only one bleeding key per cabin. What the hell were they thinking? On more than one occasion I had to help others track down their room mate with the key, not to mention my own. There may have been some hefting into rooms through windows and dives back out of. But just to annoy us even more, the rooms didn’t unlock from the inside. Only. The. Outside.
At another location, the rooms were very normal and everything was aboveboard and trustworthy. Except for the room key, which was a card. The tour manager Jess had previously described these door locks as puzzle locks. Honestly she wasn’t far off. In order to get in you have to put the card against the door until a green light flashed and buzzed, at which point you then needed to turn what looked like a deadlock clockwise until the door unlocked. It sounds simple. The door even had instructions printed on it.
It worked beautifully the first time. I wish it stayed that way because even entry after that basically involved me standing there doing the same action over and over and over again trying to get the door open and failing. A couple times I started praying for the magic door gods to make it work(mostly because I really needed to pee). For some reason, the second stage of opening this door only seemed to want to work about 5% of the time. Probably less. One in twenty is generous.
Stories of room entry aside, adjusting to the other side of the equation proved easy for me. I’m normally a fairly agreeable and reasonable person, and this seems to also work the same way with my sleep methods. I didn’t have any problems sleeping in any of the hotels(Not even that one hotel in Lyon that has toilets that felt like they would tear off the wall every time you sat down, had rooms some girls swear are haunted, and rooms with windows that open into chimneys).
In Munich my buddy and I shared a room with a pair of Australians who’d already proven deadly to multiple French Hotel rooms(Specifically the mattresses). When I returned to the room late in the evening, one of these mattress assassins had decided to recreate the storming of Normandy Beach with sound effects. His movement across the bed was hazardous to pets, his snoring reminded me of gunfire, and whatever other sound was somehow leaving his mouth between snores could have easily been mistaken for encoded messages a la “Broadsword to Danny Boy”.
I noticed all this right away, listened for the sake of comedic necessity, and then promptly fell asleep. It didn’t even slow me down, I even slept with my head closer to the sounds of fighting and directly next to the bunk bed ladder. It slowed down my buddy a bit, as I discovered the next morning, but he eventually drowned it out with his own brand of alcohol induced snoring.
This superpower is probably the result of having endured my own family’s superpower to snore like drunken lumberjacks. It has left me with the ability to sleep in almost any condition. Sleeping bag on the hard floor or the woods, couches the world over, buses, trams, subways, skytrains, standing, sitting, in the dark, in the light, and even, because this is a true story, in a done up hoodie on the floor with my hands in my pockets and body straight as a plank. Apparently it was exceedingly strange to the point that it needed to be mentioned to my father who will probably never let me live it down.
I was even chosen one night to swap rooms with one of my dear friends on the trip. His better half needed a break from his snoring and was tired of having to catch up on her sleep while on the bus between cities. Thus I was nominated to replace him for that night because the worst I can manage in my sleep is occasionally moaning. I’m a little curious to know if I moan anything in particular. I should record myself sometime.
So, this brings me to some advice: get over it. If you’re travelling, be it on your own, with a new partner who you’ve never travelled with before, some friends or even in a tour group, you better start training yourself. Everyone has some kind of weird or odd thing they do in their sleep and lets face facts: they can’t control this any more than a cat can control it’s urge to mangle birds, rodents, and furniture. There are some things you can do to alleviate the problem, but at the end of the day you need to suck it up and take one for the team. Sometimes this uncontrollable thing is symphonic snoring, other times it’s an all out assault on your blanket, pillow and mattress, and in a few rare cases it may involve singing, talking, moaning, or walking.
Thankfully many hostels have anticipated this and are working to help you. Many can accommodate moving you to a different room if needed, others offer ear plugs, and a good deal offer private rooms at an extra cost. Me, I brought noise dampening ear plugs. I didn’t need to use them but a couple people did borrow them and appreciated it.
The simple truth of travelling is that you are not the most important person, you are probably not going to relax as much as you’re expecting, and something somewhere will go pear shaped despite your best attempts to lasso the universe to your whims. Murphy’s Law reigns supreme while travelling, so prepare and adapt for the worst. It honestly makes for better stories afterwards, and that’s what your going to being back and keep forever.