Sunday, February 20
Have you ever slept in a Leisure Centre? I bet you've always wanted to though.... Well if you do, then why not try the Goalfever Guesthouse in Essen, Germany.
I was a little apprehensive when I walked in and there appeared to a rather intense five a side football competition going on and little sign of a hostel reception. After being ignored for ten minutes, someone actually spoke to me. I explained that I had forgotten my shinpads, but had a booking for the Guesthouse. This threw the staff into a huge panic and it took three of them to book me in on the computer system, which was situated in the cupboard used to store the squash racquets, obviously they weren't used to guests.
The Guesthouse itself was very nice and modern and it would have been fine apart from the fact it appeared that I was the only person staying there, making the place really eerie. It didn't help that all the rooms were off one central corridor which lit up the instant you walked in as a result of sensors. It was like being in one of those alien films. In sitcom terms, it reminded me of a cross between Norwich Travel Tavern from Partridge and Whitby Newtown Leisure Centre from The Brittas Empire.
Later that night I am dozing off to sleep when I hear a noise. My ears take a moment to adjust. It is a very loud noise. It's a strange, off-kilter cod-reggae beat. Oh my god it's UB40! Here I am in a deserted hostel on top of a leisure centre in ugly industrial Germany and someone is playing UB40 at full volume at two in the morning. Even the US military didn't resort to such torture methods in Iraq.... Thankfully the track soon finishes, but it soon becomes apparent that this is going to be a playing of the entire UB40 Greatest Hits CD......
Instead of going to investigate I cowered in my bunk bed, head buried under the pillow, hoping it would stop. I figured it would be impossible to reason with a drunk, German UB40 fan....or ghost...
The next morning I explained to the hostel staff I would be leaving early as their spirits had awful taste in music. I couldn't get out of that hellhole fast enough.