We were cramped on the hostel bed in Zagreb, him hovering over me, trying his best to talk me out of my clothes.
We acted like two drunken teenagers. Fumbling. Stumbling. Mumbling (incoherently).
The deal breaker was when he uttered the following words through clenched jaw.
“I want you,” he said, pulling at my dress.
Cue the record player needle screeching to a halt.
That was the deal breaker of my cougar-antics for the evening.
In the world of hostels, you don’t shag in a room with other people sleeping. That is equivalent to shagging in a dorm room when your roommate is in the bottom bunk (something I can attest to completely and utterly sucking). Sure, there was a young, fresh, ambitious 22-year-old Aussie in my bed. And yes, he desperately wanted me to enjoy my evening, but still … the code of hostels could not be broken. Well, it could, but I wasn’t going to be that girl.
Instead, he went to his top bunk and I fell asleep, smiling to myself that for my first night of traveling, I had indeed not done too shabby.
In fact, the first 12 hours of traveling were speckled with adventures. And booze. Lots and lots of booze.
My day had started long earlier. The day before, actually. Even on the flight to Frankfurt I couldn’t contain my excitement when I looked at the in-flight monitor of our trip and noticed my Lufthansa jet was now over dry land. Ireland, to be exact. And, the sun was rising, casting pretty purples and pinks in the sky just outside of my window, which had a stunning view of the wing, among other things.
Upon our decent into Frankfurt, I immediately noticed the pitched roof-style of all of the homes. It was like I was looking at one of those Christmas villages, without the snow. It was beautiful. And uniform. And comforting. Back home, the view from an airplane is a mish-mash of tile, shingles, tin and everything else. This was classic. This was the best view I could have asked for.
After arriving in Frankfurt from the US earlier in the morning, I had collapsed onto a set of quite uncomfortable chairs, waiting for three hours for my connection to Zagreb. I was exhausted. Even for a good a flight as Lufthansa was, sleeping in an airplane with someone next to you just does not suffice for a good night’s sleep. Or decent. Or even semi-decent. In fact, I think the only way my sleep would have been even the tiniest bit fulfilling was if someone had slipped my an Ambien or something. Wine and Nite-Time Sleep Aid from CVS do not equal Ambien. Or even anything spiked with some codeine.
So, there I was, iPod on, groggy from a nine-hour flight ‘cross the Pond and just ready to collapse into the cold, hard bench-seating, when two guys sat next to me. Speaking English.
I’m no stranger to traveling and when in a non-English speaking country, people who speak English automatically flock to each other and forge what I like to call “travel friendships.” At that moment, I was too tired to hold a sensible “yeah, we all speak English” conversation, let alone open my mouth, so I settled for a catnap leaving one ear slightly open for the announcement to board the bus which would whisk us over to our waiting plane to Zagreb.
Now, normally when I fly, even quick little jaunts in the continental US, I end up next to the undesirables, the smelly, the take-your-armrest-and-theirs, fill-in-the-blank passenger. Not this time. This time my seat was on the aisle. And, between me and the window were two younger, good looking guys. The Americans that had sat by me at the airport.
Silently, I thanked my lucky stars. Like I said, that shit normally doesn’t happen to me, so when I glimpsed my travel partners, you probably could have seen my shit-eating grin from across the terminal.
I sat down and immediately we started talking. They were friends from youth, about to embark on a four-month travel adventure beginning in Croatia and ending in Amsterdam. One was a pro-baseball player. The other … well, I don’t remember … mainly because once I heard pro-baseball player, the other’s occupation wasn’t as interesting. No judging. You know you would have done exactly the same.
Over the hour-long flight, we enjoyed a few large German beers a piece. Funny, normally it takes me a bit to drink beer, but these went down like water. Refreshing and intoxicating.
After going through customs, I got the baseball player’s number and we said we would meet up later that night, out and about in Zagreb.
We parted ways — them off with a family member and me into an overpriced cab. I knew I got duped when the driver dropped me off at Lower Town’s square telling me what a “nice lady” I was, over and over again. Which in travel world is code for “tourist that just got screwed.”
I didn’t care. I have a rule when traveling — spare no expense when traveling to or from your first or final destination. It just makes sense. You are either at the end of a long period of travel or at the start — either way, it just feels better to spend that extra bit and get to the place you need to be.
By the time I got to the hostel in Zagreb I was absolutely wiped out. I checked in, dropped my stuff in the 12-person dorm room, and set out to do a brief site-see through Lower Town. And by site-see, I mean get a phone card to call my parents (and the boys). Of course, I couldn’t figure out how to use it, so instead I settled for going back to the hostel, e-mailing the parents and crawling into bed for a little nap.
When I got back to my room, the two boys who had been alseep when I first arrived were now awake. The Aussies, one with a thick mane of curls, the other with remnants of an acneic teen life, were awake and getting ready to go out. We exchanged pleasantries, the typical “where are you going, where did you come from, how long are you traveling, etc.” convo, and then they headed out and I headed to sleep.
The thing about sleep when you are traveling is you can’t. I mean, you can. But, somewhere in the back of your mind, you just know you shouldn’t really be sleeping. So, maybe 45 minutes later, I was ready to go.
Traveling solo has its ups and downs. Down — you are solo. Up — you get to meet people and choose your own path. Well, that night my path led to the two Aussies who were staying in my room. I walked into the kitchen and they were sitting at the table, cards spread, bottle of cheap vodka and wine waiting to be consumed.
Ask anyone that knows me — I’m not shy. I will talk to just about anyone. So, I asked them if I could join them. Typical of travelers, they immediately accepted me, pouring me a drink, teaching me this ridiculous game they learned in Italy.
A lot of rounds later (both card and drink), we were sufficiently buzzed. The owner of the hostel, seeing our imminent drunkness, opened the fridge, producing a bottle with the words “the worst shit” scrolled on the label. I can only extend an uneducated guess and say the bottle was older than dirt because, even in my state of alcoholness, it tasted like pure shit.
We didn’t care. In true travel-style — taking what we can — we consumed the rest of the bottle and then decided to go get dressed up and head out for a night in Zagreb.
I stumbled through a quick fashion show, opting for a strapless black dress and platforms I had no right to wear (as evidenced when I bit it walking down the stairs, in true D fashion).
Our first stop was the bar downstairs from our hostel. Because it’s the way I roll, I bought the three of us a round of Jager shots, complemented by pints of beer. We sat around there for a bit and then decided to go and walk the town. Now, the non-curly boy decided he knew the place for us to go, so we traipsed uphill to go down some stairs, to go to a bar.
During this time, curly was so pissed that he could barely walk. At one point, he caught our attention by taking his Stein and hurling it against the pavement, prompting us to continue our quest for a bar.
Hand-in-hand we walked through the old streets of the city. It would have seemed to any passerby the making of a threesome, except that’s not how I roll. And, its against the rules of the hostel. And curly could barely walk straight.
Non-curly and I opted to put curly to bed, so we walked him back to the hostel and he took him upstairs. But not before he decided to kiss me. In real D life, there is no way I would have even thought to kiss him back. But, this was not normal D world. This was D on travel, and that is intoxicating all in itself.
After his friend was put to bed, he and I continued our quest to drink around town. We stopped at a bar down the street from the hostel and ordered shots. He went to pay, but realized that his friend had taken all of his kuna (“kuna matada” as they dubbed it). So, I went ahead and treated. What the hell, it’s like play money when you are in another country. And $1 USD equated to nearly 5 kuna. So, when the tab was 25 kuna, it was nothing.
As we sat outside talking — although don’t ask me what about , we were plenty of drinks in — I hear someone call my name. I look over, and it is the two boys from the flight. I cursed myself in my head for being drunk. And for being with the 22-year-old drunk Aussie. But decided I might as well go over and say hello. With him at my side, we went and sat down with the two. It would have been fine, except Aussie decided to hold my hand, immediately blocking me from any future correspondence with the hot ball player.
Aussie and I decided to walk back to the hostel, but had to stop to make out a little downstairs first. Of course, as we sat there canoodling, the owner and one of the workers at the hostel walked by us, both shooting me knowing glances.
We went back into our hostel and ended up in my bed.
Sadly, there is the hostel code of conduct, and no matter how much I was willing to compromise my normal well-behaved persona for some travel ass, it could not be done.
The next morning, the two friends woke up and we reminded curly of his drunken antics the night before.
“You hooked up with a hot girl, didn’t you?” he asked my partner-in-crime from the night before.
I smiled. Aussie smiled.
We said our goodbyes and the boys headed off to Budapest. And I headed back to sleep, ready to embark on my first full day of travel in Croatia.