I had stayed in a few hostels in various places in Western Europe and major US cities before delving into the hostel world of former Yugoslavia. I thought Hungry, Croatia and Slovenia would all have cold, unexpressive hostels that did the intended job of providing shelter, but with little else to offer. Let me just say that if I ever had to pick a part of the world to live in hostels for a year, this charming area in south eastern Europe would have my vote.
Budapest had clean beds and clean sinks. Hungarian culture is all about their bathhouses, so they’re pretty versed in keeping things sanitary enough for everyone to hang out half naked together all day, every day. They even did my laundry for me and called for a cab when I needed to get to the airport. Friendly, accommodating and clean, what more can you ask for?
Next stop Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana. I stayed in two different hostels in this artistic, student-filled town. One was more quiet and intimate, a great place to make friends and enjoy company in the common room. The other was a former KGB compound that had been converted into a hostel by artists and architects. Though staying in the cells seems like it would be a little creepy, the natural lighting, bright colored decorations, live music and in-house café made this bustling ex-prison full of happiness and light.
Final destination: Croatia. How can anything not be wonderful on the Adriatic Sea? Split, Croatia had kind of a so-so hostel, but the energetic British hostel owner made for lively group dinners. You can ferry out of Split to any of the Dalmatian islands. Korchula has a wonderfully social hostel equipped with a bar and standing afternoon movie viewing in the common room.
There wasn’t a moment of those 6 weeks that I didn’t enjoy my hostel accommodations and I highly recommend them to anyone thinking about traveling in that part of the world.