The fearless family is not us but it is the kind of illiteration that plays on my mind as I ride. It is one of the things that I love about riding; the ability to let your mind wander and go where it will.
To get to Flensburg has been a bit of a journey. We have cycled just over 1000 km to get here and endured what has felt like spring, summer and autumn (in the space of half a day) and arriving in this city felt like a small win for us. Why? It is the last significant German city before we enter Denmark.
To get here from Hamburg we cycled to Lubeck; a beautiful city, the ‘Queen’ of the Hanseatic league and recommended to us by a cultured friend, then to Keil where we camped in a Warmshower’s hosts garden, a wild camp (more on this in a later post) and finally onto Flensburg.
Having not slept in a bed for over a week and in need of a shower and some clean pants we decided to stay in a hostel. However it was not just any hostel but quiet possibly the worst one I have stayed in in Western Europe.
It started so well, the receptionist was friendly as she told me I needed to pay 8 euros each for sheets (not included in the price) for our beds in what resembled a repurposed old people’s home and was equally dingy and had the same NHS 1970s smell. The room was clean and brighter and the bathroom had lots of hot water. ‘What is there to complain about’? I hear you ask…..
When I stay in a hostel that advertises itself as having a fully equipped kitchen I like to cook. It gives us a break from my camp stove masterpieces of soup with beans and pasta or, the kids favourite, beans and pasta soup and a chance to have fresh veg and maybe a little bit of meat.
However, fully equipped the kitchen was not. A few grubby pans, a couple of forks and tea spoons, one sink and two cookers that needed switching on every 4 minutes made things a bit of a challenge. Add to the the 15 or so hungry workers from building and shipping projects who we staying in dorms in the hostel trying to cook as well and it became stressful and, at times a bit dangerous.
The guys themselves were great. A mixture of Polish, Lithuanian and Russian they made sure your cooker was on when it automatically turned off, they opened the door for each other (and my kids), they chatted, shared beers and food and the atmosphere was good.
The problem came when there were only 3 or 4 plates and a table to seat 12. When we asked at reception we were told we could have plates from the breakfast room and we could eat on the terrace but definitely not in the breakfast room.
The next morning Charly spoke to the manager who was rude, arrogant and dismissive. He said we should have raised the issue the precious evening (we did) and that it was normal for hostels to only supply the cookers (see screen shot of the website), and that with a full hostel every night, though he knew the kitchen was poor, it was to be expected that it was crowded.
He finally asked Charly to leave and not to return.
A few minutes later he sent us an email which read as though he thought we should be grateful for a place to stay for only 81 euros (about half again our daily budget) and that we were complaining over nothing.
I hate complaining but did feel justified here and having booked through booking.com we passed this information to them and, over a week later have heard nothing…..
So to show we aren’t moaning about nothing here are some photographs to illustrate our points…..
Space for 15 to cook?
A everything you need to prepare a meal?
I am genuinely interested to know if this oven has ever been cleaned.
An interesting selection of cutlery…..
Part of the website description.
Alas this rather clouded our opinion of what turned out to be quite an interesting town. Flensburg has a ship museum and several historic sail powered vessels are moored here. It has some interesting architecture and the Nordetor (a gate leading into the town). I would have liked to return but the memories of a hostel from an era when concrete and insufficient light fittings were considered haut architecture are still too raw. I hope they fade in time.
The Nordertor (photo from Wikipedia).
For information the hostel in question was the Hostel Flensburg (http://www.hostel-flensburg.de).
If you like what I have written about our trip then consider clicking the following link to ‘buy me a coffee’ – essentially this means more cake for the kids……