Sunday, October 28, 2007

Oh no, there's a Brittany!

A disclaimer for all those named Brittany, or who know people with that name: I have nothing against the name; if you read on you'll realize why my title is the way it is.

The hostel is closed now; our last guests left this morning. We had a busy enough weekend to end it off, including the best-behaved Haggis group ever. I probably need to explain that last statement, and it will allow me to reminisce about tour groups anyway.

Haggis refers to Haggis Tours, a company that offers backpacker tours generally to "Wild and Sexy Scotland" as they put it. They come in busloads of 30 to 60 people, and are renowned for being a piss-up on a bus, that is they travel from pub to pub and see some scenery in a hungover fashion along the way. In recent times, they have moved from having just the usual mix of Americans, Australians, Canadians, and Kiwis in their 20's to having older people and people from other countries. We have had Haggis groups this summer that included Indian young people living in London, Chinese young people living in London, and French middle-aged couples. They are generally better behaved then the regular Haggis groups.

We often get teenaged foreign school groups in as well, which can be nice because they don't get drunk, but since they can't go to the pubs they tend to make more of a mess of their rooms, because they sit around having snacks in them (and seem to turn bags of crisps upside-down and shake the contents all over the floor). They also run around in the hostel a bit as well if not controlled. Still, they're not usually as annoying as the drunken backpacker lot.

So when we got lists of names of people on the Haggis tours, we generally check them out to see what we're getting. On Friday morning, I got this weekend's list, and after scanning it uttered: "Oh no, there's a Brittany". Because, of course, there's not really anyone older than their mid-twenties with a name like Brittany, and it's stereotypically American, so the worst type of group possible. You do get Canadians with names like that as well, and probably Aussies and the rest (if there's a Kylie, odds are she's Aussie). To be honest, the Canadians on the Haggis tours are just as bad as the Yanks in terms of misbehaving (and sometimes being annoying, with the Yanks whinging about how everyone hates them because they're Americans, and the Canadians going on about how we have better health care than the Yanks (or something like that)). Not all of them are like that, but there's enough of them that when American/Canadian Haggis groups come in, Alysha and I will allow our softening Canadian accents (under Scottish influence) to come out entirely, so that we don't sound (to the average Scottish ear) like the annoyances that have descended on the village.

But, as I mentioned, the group this Friday was great. They were all American students studying in a program on British women authors for a semester in London. Alsyha and I hung out with some of them at the hostel, and they were all friendly and interesting people. Half of them were in bed by 10-11pm, and the rest were back from the pubs before Alysha and I later on. So with this Haggis groups there was no people running through the halls in the earlier hours. There was no bottles being thrown at cars, no running on the roof, or cursing at the night porter (that was done all courtesy of one lovely Canadian girl on the previous week's Haggis bus). There was no couples making out on the bonnet of the manager's car, with bottles in hand, like I had to chase away last week (they seemed quite scared of me, even though I just politely asked them to move, and they moved over to the church wall until the police moved them along). There was no teenagers running around on the roof, pissing off the roof, or vomiting in the fire stair behind my room (that was French kids, whom I yelled at in Canada's two official languages). There was no drunk people trying to come in the back windows by my room, or other drunk people locked out of their rooms wandering into mine looking for a place to sleep.

That all sounds pretty rough, but that's a whole couple of months condensed into a paragraph. Plus our usual hostel guests are easy-going and friendly, with the exception of the few unhappy people and those that would be better off staying in a hotel than a hostel. But that's a whole other story.

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