Friday, April 9, 2010

Bad Choice, Good Choice

Lesson learned. Ask to see a room before saying you want a room. This hostel is recommended in all the guide books to be a hip place, great to meet other travelers, not as much of a party scene as the "Jungle Party" hostel, etc. A friend also recommended it. The Black Cat or El Gato Negro.

I leave my cute little Casa Cristina to find something less expensive...from $22 a night with my own room and private bathroom, to a $7.50 a night with a dorm bed and a huge breakfast included.

Yes, the black cat has a happening bar out front, but the dorms are small, cramped, noisy, and dirty. The dirty factor bothered me the most. Dirty bathrooms. Pot smell wafting through the whole place almost the entire time, despite the "Absolutely no drugs allowed" sign.
Besides the dark bar out front, this was the only place to gather and talk. It's little and odd. But it worked for a good place to check email or read a book if you didn't mind the pumping music from the bar 10 feet away.
I did like this window that was directly above the benches in the above photo. Though notice the rolled and hanging towels to the left. Are they clean? Are they dirty? Who do they belong to? A musty-mildew smell hung in the moist air.

I guess you could call this a typical youth hostel. Seven super soft beds (three bunks and a single) huddled in the dark room. My first encounter with the room was up a slippery, steep stair case that twisted so tight it was almost impossible to climb it carrying a bag. Then pushing my way through five clothes lines with wet sheets, I made my way to my bunk.

This is my favorite shot of the place. Are those mattresses there because of a bed bug problem? Or are they just collecting moisture and getting rained on every night because they needed a wash? Or maybe they are trying to give it a rustic, storage feel? This about sums up the Black Cat experience for me.

Stay at El Gato Negro if you want to get so hammered you can't walk home, you want to get high, or you want to have a drunk hook up. Some young guys were talking about staying at The Black Cat to hook up with some girl they met at a bar. Enough said.

I quickly packed up my bags and after looking at a couple of different choices in the same price range, I chose The Yellow House Hotel, which the same friend also recommended.

I am going to let photos do the talking here. There are tons of places to sit, hammocks, flowers, quiet, clean. Clean. Clean. With the exact same price. AMAZING!!! Take a look. I highly recommend it...and it's only a seven minute walk to Central Park.

My bed is straight ahead against the wall with colorful artisan masks hung above, a shelf for storage, and DOUBLE BED. Only three of us are in the room! And we can lock the door!
Painted animal mask on wall above bed. Love the art. Not sure exactly what it is, perhaps a deer? Little splashes of art hang on walls through the entire hotel. 
A bright yellow tile table greets you as you walk up the stairs. It is outside, bright and beautiful! This was my breakfast table.

The rest of the upstairs area includes comfy chairs, hammocks, a little bookshelf full of books in an assortment of languages for trading and reading, flowering plants and healthy greenery.

As you enter the hotel from the street it looks like a little, glass enclosed travel agency. It is easy to miss! As you walk through the hall, you pass a little garden area on your left, which then opens up into a beautiful little courtyard where they serve an amazing breakfast of eggs, black beans, pancakes, curry potatoes, buns, sweet rolls, watermelon, papaya, melon, banana, pineapple, coffee and tea. True enough the coffee is instant, but the purified water is free all day long. You can refill your bottles. Oh, and there's wi-fi!

To find a high quality product, you must shop around. All this for $7.50! I guess I had to learn this lesson the hard way!

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