Every so often an absolute gift will drop into my lap for a blog post idea. As they’re fond of saying over here, tooooo easy.
Last night as I checked into my hostel, I could barely conceal my delight. Advertised on the notice board amongst the earnestly well meant but usually pretty hopeless nightly guest events, lifts to Melbourne, both begged and given, and the plugs for other YHA digs, one particular poster lit up like the Aurora Borealis.
Breakfast for $5.
Dear reader, let me tell you I hardly slept a wink. It’s taken six weeks to find something approaching value for money in a country where nothing ever, to paraphrase John Lewis, is knowingly undercharged.
I woke up with a spring in my step. All those stupidly overpriced bottles of water, those I’ll-advised financially but oh-so-worth-it otherwise Caaaaaaallld Ones, the odd Eggs Benedict (Hello Marion!) or those late Jet Star deals, all would be forgotten. I sauntered downstairs with all the bright eyed expectancy of a new cricket season. In the most jovial bordering on smug manner I greeted the slovenly receptionist.
“Good morning, one of your breakfasts please my good man.”
(Don’t worry this isn’t going to be another Cheese Shop Sketch parody….)
“Aw, no worries mate….” Came the cheerful retort, our expressions about to be switched tangibly volte face as he reached for the freezer, then the fridge before, with something approaching a flourish plopped the clingfilmed objects of his rummage triumphantly into a dish.
“Well you didn’t think we were going to cook it for yer did ya?”
Um, well, call me a whole hearted, easily led, naive old romantic of a consumer, but I had rather hoped you might old chap. The bubble’s burst. Then I blinked in the ominously coloured, yet not immediately apparent surrounds of the hostel.
Back in the day, orange was a cheerfully evocative colour. Those football videos of my youth was lit up by this evocative shade. The buccaneering derring do of Stanley Matthews (Hello Stan! Not that Stan, but our Stan!) on the wing. Mickey Walsh’s 1975 Match of the Day Goal of the Season (complete with the wonderful Barry Davies’s commentary) twenty years later for the same club. Then the brilliant Dutch orange majesty of the Total Footballers of Cruyff, Neeskens et al before Marco Van Basten’s limits-of-physics defying goal.
Now it’s just bloody miserable. Since my lot, the Mighty Hatters have in recent years wholeheartedly adopted it as our home kit we’ve never looked like getting out of our non-league surroundings. Not only is it miserable it’s also synonymous with the paying through the nose for stuff and poor quality.
Think Easy Jet, think Jet Star, think YHA.
Controversial maybe, but after a few weeks of staying exclusively in their hostels, the aura of the backpacker’s irreplaceable friend is staring to come off a little. For the most part they’ve done a great job. It’s mainly cheap (some are more expensive than others for no apparent reason though) and safe digs and the facilities are for the most part very good.
It’s the penny pinching behaviour, reminiscent of the aforementioned airlines that grates though.
After something, anything requiring a little bit extra effort or good will? The person you’re addressing morphs from a cheery Aussie to a bluff Northern shopkeeper (and we all know which one, 70s comedy fans), and through sucked teeth, “oooooh, it’ll cost ya tha knows.” The hand reaches out towards you.
Now then, I appreciate the concept of budget travel, I really do. And I am, as previously stated, a whole hearted, easily led, naive old romantic of a consumer. But sometimes, I’d like just a little bit more bang for my buck.
Smiling wearily, I took the ingredients to The Ikea Brekkie upstairs and knocked the shit out of a cracking fry up quicker than you can say “Olympic Breakfast”.
The menu tonight says Lobster Thermidore.
I think I’ll give that one a miss….