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During my first large solo trip ever, I was 18 and backpacking through Greece.  I got off the overnight ferry from Athens to Heraklion around 5am, declining some other Americans’ recommendation of a hotel, as my Lonely Planet said there was a cheap hostel in town.

I passed the few morning hours before everything opened at a 24 hours internet/gaming café. Afterword, I found the hostel quickly enough and was by no means impressed at check in, but was anxious to do my routine walk around the new city, and in particular, to see the Minoan artifacts at the Heraklion Museum (archaeology geek, sorry).

After I left the museum, a storm soon started.  And it quickly became apparent that whoever had planned the old city streets did not take proper sewer drainage into consideration, as all of the sloped Heraklion cobblestone streets soon became torrential rapids, making me barely safe on the sidewalk.

Worse than that, the timeless legends of the Cretan Labyrinth seems to have come true that afternoon, as I was blatantly lost amidst the street in the storm and had no idea how to get back to my hostel.  And it isn’t even that big a city!

Back to the point of the bad hostel experience, though.  When, after nearly an hour of looking for this building, I finally found it, I was drenched to levels beneath my skin.  I was exhausted from staying up all night on the ferry and Internet café.  And I was freezing.

I walked into the room where I had dropped off my backpack earlier, filled with 2 empty aluminum bunk beds, mattresses stained to all hell.  On one of the beds, a fuzzy sheet was bunched up.  I unraveled my sleeping bad, stripped out of my wet clothes, and curled up inside the bag with this fuzzy sheet over it, in an almost vain attempt to warm up.

Soon after, someone, who I presumed to be one of the staff, came into the room.  He asked me something in a language I recognized as French, though had no idea what he was saying.  He pulled my off my fuzzy sheet and threw it on the floor in front of the door.  Apparently, I had been using the room’s oversized rug as my warm-up blanket.

Still, it pissed me off to no end that he had the nerve to do that when I was the only one in the room and soaked and freezing.  The condition of the bathrooms and a couple other factors the next morning soon convinced me that I should have taken the advice of those acquaintances I met on the ferry.  I broke down and got a hotel room the next night for 50 a night and relished in this comfort compared to the soggy nightmare I had the previous night.

Benjamin Williams

Hi all, my name is Ben. I’m a native Michigander with a passion for human culture and new places, and more than that, new experiences. I have degrees in archaeology and writing, pursuing a career in the latter. However, I never quite lost that fascination for archaeological theory. For the past 11 years, I’ve been living and travelling between Asia, Europe, and North America, documenting ancient sites and the peoples who built them, and then adapting them into practical archaeological travel information at

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