Greetings! I’m back in Victoria (Melbourne).
This time my dad is with me and we’re staying with friends who have the cutest baby.
My Dad and I are traveling together for a month. It’s great to see him after being on my own in OZ for 10 months. Our travel styles are a bit different and it’s been challenging trying to plan our travel time together, but it’s been worth it.
We are covering A LOT in this month (including two new countries), and it’s been a bit stressful trying to put it all together (still trying to put it together as I type this). It was also stressful when my dad called and said he was coming sooner than he said he would to Sydney.
OK, I’ll admit it. I was kind of hoping we’d be staying in hotels. Not fancy-pants hotels but normal hotels.
I was staying in Big Hostel (located in Surry Hills, Sydney) at the time, which is a pretty good hostel. When my dad arrived, he wanted to stay with me. I’d already paid for the night for me, however, the hostel was completely booked and I couldn’t get a room for my dad. He had friends who picked him from the airport but it was difficult to stay with them. He was on his way over to the city to meet me.
I started calling every nice hostel I could think of, however, every hostel I called said they were completely booked.
I panicked a bit more.
I didn’t understand why hostels were completely booked. I knew it was a Saturday in Sydney but it shouldn’t have been so hard to find a place to stay. There were no events or holidays happening that I knew of; the only thing I could think of was Australian football or tennis or some type of sport happening. Aussies love their football.
First, I thought I’d just stay at Big Hostel (since it was already paid for) and have my Dad stay somewhere else. However, I quickly realized that my Dad didn’t want be alone in a country he’s never been in before. And he’s never stayed in a hostel before, so what kind of a daughter would I be if I just dropped him off in a hostel without any guidance? I also couldn’t bring myself to book any hostel with the words “backpacker(s)” in it. Those types of hostel can be fine, but you never know. My dad’s not a backpacker. And to be completely honest, nether am I.
I would not have my dad stay in dirty hostels with 19-year-old backpackers who couldn’t handle their alcohol. I would not allow it.
One hostel I called earlier said they only had a private room available. Although it was too much money, I decided to go ahead and book it. I booked a private room at the Sydney Harbour YHA located in The Rocks, for $170 with my YHA membership (yikes!). It was expensive. It was even more expensive since I was losing $32 for my night at Big Hostel.
My dad’s friends dropped him off to where I was, and I quickly packed. We walked a few blocks onto George street (one of Sydney’s biggest streets) caught the number 555 CBD free Shuttle all the way to Circular Quay (where the Opera House and Harbour Bridge is located).
Then I had to find the YHA hostel, which was a bit challenging because it’s kind of on a hidden street. My dad was already tired from his flight and it was even more exhausting walking with luggage and taking stairs to get to this hidden street. Later I found a bit longer, alternative route, which we used unless we wanted to get to the Opera House area. In the middle of walking up a few steps, Dad said “What kind of a place did you book?!”
I laughed even though I was a bit worried. There were a few kind athletic Aussie ladies who helped us with our luggage, which we were ever so grateful for.
Finally, we found the hostel.
We walked into the reception area of the YHA, and I checked us in. They confirmed they had availability for the next day for shared rooms, and I asked if I could get the YHA membership rate on my card for my dad, too. They said no and the only exception is private rooms.
Of course, my dad chimed in and told the lady at the reception that he was my Dad. The lady gave him a confused look and said that he can be my dad but he still needs his own membership. That’s my dad for you. He’s also outraged by how expensive Australia is, and tried to explain to the lady at MacDonald’s that in America, apple pie at McDonalds cost a dollar. She also gave him a confused look.
As we walked in, I still felt a bit of stressed – probably because I was doing everything last minute, and “planning” this trip with my dad has been so disorganized. The private room was nice, but I could have probably gotten a hotel room for the price paid. However, I was in panic mode, and when I’m in panic mode I don’t think properly.
I picked YHA because they have a good reputation and often attracts families and well behaved people. I’ve stayed in a few YHAs in OZ so far, and every one is a bit different. The one in Hobart, I didn’t particularly like (but that’s perhaps a different blog post). The one in Adelaide was quite nice. The one in Alice Springs was also nice, though I was still in the dessert, but after doing a trip through the outback I was so grateful for sleeping in a normal room for a night. They also had a pool, and I met very nice people there.
However, the Sydney Harbour YHA is fancy-pants. Like, really fancy-pants. It was the perfect way to introduce my Dad to Hostels. I found the staff to be really friendly – even reserved a bottom bunk bed for my dad when we had to change rooms, and the lounge/ kitchen area was nice to relax in. The hostel was clean, and most importantly, there was an elevator so my dad didn’t have to use stairs. It was close to The Opera House and Harbour Bridge, and had a great view of the two iconic attractions from the rooftop. There was free WiFi in the lobby area, which is always a plus. They also sold high speed WiFi, but there was no need for it. Sometimes I was able to connect to the City WiFi in the rooms.
We stayed for a total of 5 nights.
Night 1: Fancy-pants private room.
Night 2: Four-shared mixed room, and no one checked in so we had the room to ourselves.
Night 3: The same four-shared mixed room, and we had the room to ourselves again. Lucky.
Night 4: We had company in the four-shared mixed room. The people in our room weren’t bad, though a bit loud in the AM while packing.
Night 5: We had to move into a 6-shared mixed room, which made me a bit nervous because the more people, the more noise and misbehavior. But it wasn’t bad. We shared with a family of three and one female solo traveler.
My Dad had the fancy-pants VIP treatment. I just hope he doesn’t think all hostels are like this.
This particular hostel isn’t ideal for budget travelers, but a great way to treat yourself for a few days.
PS: I was not paid to write this post, everything was on our dollar. It was just interesting to observe my dad’s reaction to staying in a hostel. He was surprised we had a kitchen, and a little annoyed there was no telephone in the room to call reception (as they have in hotels). He was happy with the iron in the laundry room, and was very pleased with the stay.
PPS: More on my trip with my Dad in an upcoming post.