(Part Two of) an eventful beginning
The entrance to the hostel was a locked doorway between two shops. It was not obvious how to get in. We could see through the glass door and down the empty, and uninviting, corridor. We could see various buttons for buzzers on the outside of the door. While we were debating which to press someone came out and let us in, pointing to 'reception' as they left. Reception was an unmarked room but the door was ajar and I made the people inside aware of our existence while Rik dragged our luggage in off the street.
The staff in 'reception' (a room filed with bedding and cleaning products) were a middle-aged oriental couple. The man took our passports to make copies, looked at me and asked "how old are you?"
I was worried that there was an age limit of which I was not aware. I told him I was fifty and he replied "oh, still young".
I guess my couple of inches of grey roots and my 'haven't had enough sleep and have been flying all day' face made me look older. He looked at Rik's passport and said "oh, two girls! I thought you were a couple".
As I was explaining that my 'husband' was a man with long hair Rik came through the door. I think the stubble on his chin convinced them he was male. I have no idea what they would have done if we had been two girls and been a couple. I didn't think they worried about such things in New York!
It transpired that the reason he'd asked my age was that the room we had been allocated was on the fourth floor and there was no lift. He was worried that the stairs would prove toomuch for me (gee, thanks!) I said that I was perfectly capable of walking up and down four flights but that the luggage would be a problem. He conferred with the woman and then told me that the previous occupant had not checked out yet and so they would find us a different room on a lower floor. Before this he wanted to check our booking. I said I thought it was in the name of Rik or Richard Wells but that it could be in the name of Jacqi Bartlett.
"Ah yes, Jack," he said and quoted a price that was about 60% more than I was expecting. Even tired and jet-lagged I knew that was wrong.
"Yes" he said "see" and showed me a completely different booking for some bloke called Jack who was staying longer than us.
He eventually found a booking for Jacqi Bartlett. Meantime I had located the price on my print-out. He asked for a higher price than I had on my confirmation.
"Plus tax" he said. "Yours not include tax, that extra." I was too tired to argue and paid up. When we checked out five days later a young American couple were checking in. They were also surprised that 'total to pay' did not include the tax and I'm sure they were pulling a fast one. We were asked for a $10 deposit for the key and asked if we needed to hire towels. I'd packed towels so handed over the $10 key money and were shown to our room.
To reach our room we had to leave the building - out into the rain - and walk around the corner to another anonymous door. We were on the first floor (ie, up one flight of stairs). The entrance looked as dingy, if not dingier, than the building we had just left but when the door to our accommodation was opened I was surprised and pleased to see a clean, white space. I use the word 'space' in its loosest sense and there was not a lot of it, but what there was was clean and bright. Everything looked, in fact was, new.
There was a shared entrance/kitchen area (with Ikea stuff still with labels on) and two shared shower/loo rooms. Four 'rooms' shared these facilities. Ours was the first room. Behind our sliding doors was a huge, high bed. If I had been just an inch shorter I would have needed a ladder to get into it. The gap between the bed and the door was just about enough for a closed suitcase. At the end of the bed was a fixed ladder up to a higher level, where there was another bed. Rik put some of the cases up there and we wandered out to find food.
Hungry but exhausted, we didn't want to go far. There was an Italian place next door, on the corner, but it looked a bit posh for travel-weary scruffs like us and I wasn't in the mood for Italian. The next place we came to, a few doors down, was a little Mexican café (Palicio Azteca at 1374 York Ave). We decided that whatever the food was like, that was where we were eating that night. It was a good choice. We were brought two glasses of tap water (ice and lemon) and chips and dip to eat while we looked at the menu. They didn't have a drink license but were happy for you to BYO. They directed Rik to a place a few doors along and he bought some beer.
I had a rather nice piece of steak and some 'shrimp' (prawns) which was served with a tasty green salad, Mexican rice (as far as I can tell it just means it has some tomato in it), guacamole and a bean thing that was much nicer than it looked (can you tell I'm not very knowledgible about Mexican food?). Rik's meal was similar but with spicy prawns and no beef.
Then we toddled back round the corner into our cupboard and climbed into the very comfortable bed (I'm sure it, too, was brand new) and slept.