Zur deutschen Fassung dieses Berichts.
Two weeks in Israel, five different hostels/guesthouses, with the most different experiences. At the last one, Al-Yakhour-Hostel in Haifa, I realize, painfully, why there is a horror movie called “Hostel”.
And it had begun so well: a beautiful old Templar house with spacious, bright rooms. Excellent location in Ben Gurion Street, just below the Bahai Temple. Modern and clean toilets and showers. A large kitchen. Sofas in the garden. A friendly welcome from the nice Arab boys who opened the hostel only a month ago. And – always the best hostel surprise, which I already experienced several times during this 2015 trip in Israel – I have the four-bed room to myself. A single room for a quarter of the price. Even more important than the savings is the guarantee of a night I can sleep through. No snoring roommate keeping me awake (as experienced in Jerusalem and Tiberias), no Erasmus students coming back late at night and announcing their return at the highest volume (bad memories of the shared apartment in Bari are still haunting me).
But I made the calculation without the all-around-the-clock service of the Al-Yakhour-Hostel: the non-sleeping guarantee is included in the price. Coming home from an early evening walk, I already cannot use the promised kitchen, nor the lounge with library, where other guests are lounging. But they obviously don’t pay $ 31 per night like me, instead insisting on their friendship, acquaintance, kinship, relationship or (incipient) relationship to the operators of the hostel. I am either not noticed at all or with a what-does-the-stranger-want-here? look.
The big room is being decorated with garlands. A birthday? The anniversary of the Nakba? A suicide bombing? Hopefully a once-in-a-lifetime event, not a regular occurrence every night.
So I’m going out again and find myself a pizza joint. I generously give the young people a few hours and don’t return until just before midnight.
But upon my return, the hostel has degenerated into a disco. Boys and girls are dancing, drinking, boozing, bawling, singing and a laptop is playing Arabic music so loud that the neighbors in Lebanon can hear it.
How am I supposed to fall asleep with this? Maybe it’s my fault that I didn’t bring earplugs, but they wouldn’t do much good. Because noise isn’t the only problem. With each bass, the iron frame of my bed is shaking. Even if I bury my head under the admittedly soft pillow, the movements of the whole barn are so strong that they probably register as an earthquake at the seismological station.
I do understand that people want to celebrate, – well, honestly I don’t understand it, but you have to be tolerant of other lifestyles – but if you charge money, renting a room to someone to sleep (!), then you shouldn’t actively prevent the customer from achieving the contractual purpose.
Shortly before 1 o’clock, I demonstratively go to the kitchen to pick up my bottle of iced tea from the fridge. I stop for a while, looking around (attractive girls), wearing an expression between angry, surprised and reproachful/uncomprehending (you have to know me to fear it) and hoping for a reaction, whether it be an apology, an explanation, an invitation, the acknowledgement of my (paying and thus financing the whole binge) presence or – my biggest wish – a reduction of the volume. None of these things occur. Just a lot of uneducated youth.
I retreat to the room, not yet giving up the hope that the latter of my goals will come true with a little delay. Instead, it is getting louder. The singing of the drunkards is already drowning out that of the singer moaning from the YouTube video.
At 1:45 in the morning, I have had enough. Either I will put an end to the improvised Woodstock or I will at least use the sleep deprivation to write a review of the hostel. With these two goals in mind, I walk down into the kitchen again, notebook and pencil in hand. The kitchen is empty at the moment (everyone is in the disco room or outside). I pour myself a glass of Jaffa orange juice, sit down at the big dining table and start writing these lines.
Those who want to go to the fridge have to pass in front of my eyes, firing the above described look, maybe even angrier now, at each of the beer collectors. Until one of the young guys running the hostel walks through the kitchen, grins at me and says “Hi” as if everything is hunky-dory.
With a decidedly frowning look, I ask: “I hope it’s not that loud every day?”
As if he hadn’t noticed the complaint, he replies: “No, only on Fridays.”
I explain to the, according to their brochure, “knowledgeable staff” that today is Thursday.
And this information about the calendar really works wonders! After a few minutes, the music stops and over the next 45 minutes, the guests are departing, alone or in pairs. They all have to pass through the kitchen in front of me. One boy says, with venom in his voice: “Now you have it quiet”, as if the wish of a paying guest to sleep at 2 o’clock has destroyed his youth. Only two girls politely wish me a “good night”, but they too look at me as if I was a spoilsport, a grandfather or a strange oddball.
I am sitting at the kitchen table alone, but with more than two dozen empty bottles of Becks beer. Next to them, there is a brochure about Palestinian “Life under the Occupation”. The irony that their comrades in the Gaza Strip are not allowed to drink beer not because of Israel, but because of Hamas, is probably lost on these young people.
The next morning, the music is loud again. The little sister of the big party from yesterday is already in full swing. And now it’s really Friday, so tonight will be unbearable.
But here comes Farid and apologizes sincerely. For the remaining nights, he will transfer me to a soundproof house next door, which is actually reserved for families traumatized by incoming missile fire, and which costs $ 130 per night. I will have it all to myself and for $ 31 a night. And I will sleep really well.
- More stories from Israel.
- The Al-Yakhour-Hostel, if you want to try it yourself. According to the website, alcohol is now prohibited. Either Farid and his five friends have grown up, or the hostel has been taken over by Hamas.
- If you are still looking for accommodation: On AirBnB you can save 25 € by using this link.