Bruges, Belgium is a little city of 117,000 with about five million tourists on every cobblestone street so I was happy to find shelter at a hostel in the north part of town. My friend and I claimed beds in dorm room 10 and headed out for a long day of beer reconnaissance. Our exploration was as thorough as 8% alcohol levels will reasonably allow. It had been a good nine hours of diligent effort when we made it back to room 10.
Room 10 was darkened and filled with sleeping bodies, including one in my bed. My guidebook — which had been on top of my bed to hold the place — was now on top of my bag which had also been moved to the door. Naturally, reception was closed.
But the hostel bar was open and I staggered over there and asked the bartender what to do. He walked with me back to room 10 and observed that there was in fact someone else in my bed.
We went back to the bar and squinted at a computer spreadsheet. A group of nine had been split between rooms 10 and 11 and it appeared one of the fellas from room 11 had gone into room 10 instead. Sure enough there was an empty bed in room 11 and the barman gave me a key to the room and went back to pouring bier.
It was a comfy bed on the bottom of the bunk with a blanket of ideal weight. I was asleep for five minutes or an hour or a year when Stacey came into the room. I have no idea if her name was Stacey but we need a name for her.
“You’re in my bed,” Stacey observed in close proximity to my slumbering head. “You’re in my bed!”
“Shut up!” a guy in an adjacent bunk offered.
“I need to sleep and he’s in my bed,” Stacey clarified with a distinct Queensland, Australia accent.
I explained what had happened to Stacey and suggested she talk to the bartender. The bar was closed, she noted calmly and not at all drunkenly or annoyedly. It had reached the hour where even annoyedly was a word.
“I’m sorry, but this is the bed they gave me and it’s the only place I have to sleep and I’m not getting up,” I said.
Stacey curled up on the floor and proceeded the squirm audibly. “If you want to share you can,” I offered chivalrously. “That’s the best I can offer.”
And with that Stacey climbed into bed with her back to my back and her feet to my face. Sleeping with someone in a dorm-size bed is an act of skill, sleeping with someone in a dorm-size bed without touching them is an act of will.
I don’t often remember my dreams but I remember one from this night which I feel compelled to share. In it, I was sitting up in the bed while Stacey slept and since I didn’t know who she was I looked her up on Facebook and read through her profile. It seemed an odd way of learning about someone you were sharing a bed with. I don’t recall if her name on Facebook was Stacey but there is no accounting for the subconscious.
In the morning, Stacey and I were in much better spirits – though no thanks to each other, if you know what I mean – and both agreed that it had been no ones fault and we both behaved admirably. At breakfast she gave me a knowing smile and though she wasn’t as cute as her Facebook picture had made her seem, I hoped she’d share an undercooked egg with me and tell me her name and a few personal details I could put in this section of the story.
But instead she sat next to an American girl who had just been to Amsterdam. Reception was open now and they gave back my 17 euros. The hostel’s slogan is “party hard, sleep easy” but in Bruges the partying was the easy part.
Previously on Across Northern Europe:
- Shining a Light on Iceland
- Lonely Love on Iceland
- Iceland Gone Wild
- A Trip to the Airport
- Why Bother Going to Berlin?
- A Perishable Feast
- Globians Film Festival
- The Elusive Dutch Drivers License
- Terror in Berlin
- Authentic Belgian Beer
Brook Silva-Braga is traveling northern Europe for the month of August and reuniting with some of the people he met on the yearlong trip which was the basis of his travel documentary, A Map for Saturday. You can follow his adventure in the series, Across Northern Europe.