If you can believe it, I spent my first night at a hostel in Flagstaff – and it was a BLAST. After spending my next night at another hostel in Albuquerque, turns out I hit gold on my first strike. Second strike – not so much.
The fun started when I walked through the door and chatted up two Austrians, who were predominantly proud of “Ahnold” and had never seen “The Sound of Music”. We then bumped into two funny, and cute, Hollanders (or Dutch or Netherlanders … take your pick) that the Austrians met in a San Diego hostel. I’d walked into, and helped create, instant community, and for the remainder of the night sparked esoteric conversations peppered with Q&A on culture and America’s dominance of TV and entertainment around the globe.
Through the course of the evening, which included testing a local brewery (not so great) and passing around a new backpacking guitar I purchased earlier that day (as my old guitar was broken in Tucson), I’d met a stylish architecture student from Perth (whose knit mohawk hat I coveted), a couple from Austria and Australia, a woman traveling the US in search of an architecture job (from New Zealand), a younger girl from Japan touring the US on her own (who spoke better English than she gave herself credit for) and a handful of colorful locals.
Some interesting tidbits: the international youth prefer facebook over myspace (3-0), no Austrian wants to watch Sound of Music even though we consider it a classic, women enjoy traveling solo.
Prior to the hostel I’d already had a great run of luck in town. First, while looking for a warmer and snugger fit pair of jeans, I befriended Monica (with seductive brown eyes and a flair for fashion) who referred me to Mountain Oasis. At the restaurant (where I had my best meal in days), I swapped info with the waitress who’s looking into traveling up the west coast and through Portland this summer.
In short, I absolutely loved Flagstaff – which is a good thing since I have to come back to pick up my guitar that’s getting fixed (hence the new, small guitar). By April the snow should be gone, making it a perfect time to catch a glimpse of the Grand Canyon too.
Albuquerque, on the other hand … well, I just haven’t stumbled on the people that make a place stand out and great. So I’m checking out and going to try my third hostel in Santa Fe and give New Mexico one more chance to show off.