May 20, 2017
THE PLACE WHERE GUESTS ARE GIVEN PAPER BEDSHEETS
We could not imagine in our wildest dreams that somewhere on earth there could be bed sheets made of paper. So it was indeed a very novel experience for me and my wife at Copenhagen, the capital city of Denmark. Before that I had seen some poor homeless people spending nights at places like railway stations in India sleeping on floor on newspapers. But I could not think that it would happen in an European country.
And that was not the end of it. These bed sheets, supposed to be thrown after use, were not free. We had to pay for these.
I was working as a guest scientist at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. I was stationed at Balsgard, a suburb of Kristenstad in South Sweden. This place was very close to Copenhagen. So one weekend we decided to make a trip to that city. We had heard a lot about Copenhagen and the famous statue of “Little Mermaid” there. It was very easy to reach Copenhagen from Balsgard. One could reach Malmo by train in about an hour. From there, one had to cross the sea in a hovercraft and land at Copenhagen 30-35 minutes later. The hovercraft ride was an interesting experience for my wife who was travelling by it for the first time. The moment we reached Copenhagen, we noticed quite a significant difference between Sweden and Denmark. At Sweden things were very good and indicated that Sweden was far much prosperous than Denmark. Copenhagen city buses were not as good Kristenstad buses. Even the livery of bus drivers did not match in quality with that of their Swedish counterparts. This difference was visible nearly everywhere and in everything.
We were budget tourists. So we always looked for the cheapest accommodation. International Youth Hostels offer quite cheap accommodation all over the world. So we had booked room for us in International Youth Hostel at Copenhagen. I had experience of staying in youth hostels earlier in USA and Europe. So after reaching a new destination, I always looked for a youth hostel first. To avail this facility, I also remained a member of the International Youth Hostel Association for several years.
View of Youth Hstel at Copenhagen
We completed the check in formalities at the reception. When filling of forms and registers was over, the receptionist girl asked me whether we had brought our bed sheets. I was a bit surprised at this question as at no youth hostel or even hotels expected the guest come alongwith their own bed sheets. We refused politely. Then the girl told us that in Denmark youth hostels, the guests were expected not to sleep on the hostel bedsheets. She further told me that she will give us disposable paper bedsheets and we shall have to pay for these. Price was US$1.50 per sheet. We took the sheets.
We came to our room. It was like a railway coupé with place for two to sleep. We spread the sheets on the beds but found it very uncomfortable to sleep on them. So we just took them out and slept on the mattresses.
Youth hostel beds
We stayed in that youth hostel for two nights. While checking out, my wife folded one of the sheets neatly and put it in the suitcase. When I asked her the reason, she told me that she would take the sheet to India and show these “foreign made” bedsheet to friends there. She kept it as a souvenir from Denmark for many years.
But still our stay at this place was very enjoyable as well as interesting. We encountered a few more funny and unexpected situations at this place which made our stay even more memorable.
Common hall of the youth hostel
Recently I happened to see the Bollywood movie “Queen”. Here Queen had stayed in a typical youth hostel at Amsterdam alongwith her friends. That took me 25 years back and reminded me about our stay at a similar place.