The living room area at Not Another Hostel
While browsing through Airbnb, I stumbled upon Not Another Hostel. This amazing hostel (the only one in Pittsburgh by the way) was founded by Jon, and his vision for the entire project is inspirational and impressive. Jon runs the hostel on a donation-based policy. I'll let him speak for himself, "Hostelling started as a way to help travelers. Period. Unfortunately, people have tried to cash in on a travelers' need for a cheap place to stay. This is not one of those places...This is my home, and I'm opening up the doors to help travelers. I ask for donations simply to help me pay bills. I recommend donating 25 USD per person, per night." Read more about his mission statement here. Sounds suspicious? Think again.
The map on the hostel wall
Not Another Hostel is probably one of the cleanest, comfortable and aesthetically beautiful hostels you might ever get a chance to live in. Jon provides queen size beds, hot showers, free wifi, printing and scanning, bus maps, full kitchen use, clean sheets and the list goes on. All of these amenities for a minimum donation of $25 per night. I couldn't believe it. I'm generally very pessimistic about humanity but every now and then, something like Not Another Hostel comes along and reminds me that some people are *gasps* good. Of course there are some grotesque individuals who take advantage of this charity by using all the amenities and leaving without donating a single penny. However, most of the hostel's residents are keeping this initiative alive by donating. Spread the word people, really. We need more people like Jon and we definitely need more hostels like Not Another Hostel.
Brillobox, we had fun in the club upstairs
Pittsburgh pleasantly surprised me. It felt like Boston's hip cousin and a distant relative of San Francisco. I met incredible people at the hostel and we had a blast. Public transportation is consistently efficient and it takes less than ten minutes to get to downtown: you won't find a better location. And oh, the MAPACA conference went well.
The street next to the hostel
The following week, I was boarding a plane for Cincinnati, Ohio to present an academic paper at another conference (54th annual Midwest Modern Language Association). Once again, I didn't know what to expect because I had never been to Cincinnati. Once again, I consulted Airbnb and found Hopkins Park Bed and Breakfast at Bigelow St. run by Ethel and Barry.
Once again, I will use the words once again. Once again, another incredible experience. I paid about $50 per night and it was worth every penny. First, the location: it is located on bigelow st, very close to downtown Cincinnati. Also, the bus will literally stop in front of your room and it takes about ten or less minutes to get to downtown.
Second, the hosts: Ethel and Barry are genuinely hospitable and welcoming. Even their adorable dog Luna will welcome you at the door. They are also great conversationalists. Third, free breakfast: it's free breakfast, so there's nothing else I have to say. Lastly, the house is comfortable and relaxing and very home-y. I had a TV in my room and my supple bed was huge; I slept like a veritable baby. And yes, the conference went well.
On a totally unrelated note, I graduated a few days ago (masters degree), so I guess the adventure continues. Wish me luck.