Full disclosure: before I headed off to the Balkans, I’d been warned. This job is fast-paced, my editors told me. You won’t be getting a lot of sleep, former Researcher-Writers cautioned. Solo travel can be exhausting, every single travel blog promised. So yeah, I knew what I was getting into.
That being said, up until my last few weeks in Montenegro, I’d been pretty proud of my ability to balance my sleep schedule. Sure, sleep sometimes proved elusive, but I’d always manage to make up for it the next day. I perfected the art of napping on public transportation. I knew when it was necessary to call it a night. I had grown quite skilled at saying no to another game of Egyptian Ratscrew (look it up!) in order to get some rest. And no matter how noisy the hostel dorm got, I always managed to secure at least a couple hours of shut-eye. Sleep and I? We were on great terms.
All that changed, however, the night before I headed to Budva. To be fair, I couldn’t have known what was in store for me. I’d spent most of that fateful night hanging out by the beach with some friends from my hostel. I returned at a fairly late, but still ultimately reasonable, hour. I was staying at a place I knew and trusted dearly; it was one of those unicorns of a hostel, that combined working air conditioning with curtained (curtained!) beds to create an environment ideal for a good night’s rest. Foolishly, I looked forward to that night’s sleep: I was excited to wake up the next morning, well-rested and ready to explore the beautiful beaches of Budva. Oh, little did I realize.
I was scrolling through my phone when everything changed. The door creaks open. It is shut, gently, carefully, considerately. I didn’t realize it then, but the night had just taken a turn. Nothing would be the same again. The bathroom door opens. Rushing water, brushing teeth. Someone climbs into their bed. Silence, for a moment, and then – SNORE.
Before anyone judges me, let me just say this: I can deal with snoring. I fully understand that when you stay in hostels, you’re taking on the risk of noisy roommates. Usually, in this situation, I would just pull out my ear plugs and call it a night – except this snoring was unlike any snoring I’ve ever heard before. In fact, to call it “snoring” feels like a gross euphemism. This noise – this din – sounded something like a 200-pound human trying to pass a hairball (that actually might’ve been what was happening?). It sounded like a chainsaw and a lawn mower had gotten into a fight. It was so loud, so aggressive, so labored that I was begrudgingly impressed. It’s kind of amazing, to be honest, that the human body is capable of making noises so excruciatingly deafening.
Within minutes, everyone in that room – except for our beloved Snorer, of course – was wide awake. We pulled back our curtains in a moment of tragic solidarity, desperately looking around the room to confirm that we were not alone in bearing witness to the most extraordinarily ear-splitting snores known to man.
We began discussing – at full volume, mind you, because the Snorer was not about to wake up regardless – what to do. Do we wake the Snorer up? (we tried. He was soundly asleep. Hey, at least someone in that room was). Do we try to roll him on his side? (Look, if he wasn’t waking up, he wasn’t rolling). Do we sleep in the common room? (the common was locked. We checked). Eventually, every single other person in that room resigned themselves to that same tragic fate: there would be no sleeping tonight.
Whatever. I tried to look on the bright side; I’d pulled many an all-nighter in college, so I knew all I needed was a good night’s rest the next day. I arrived to Budva bleary-eyed, but not bitter. If anything, I was grateful to have witnessed this remarkable testament to the innate human ability to make noise. I’m convinced that on that night, I heard the absolute upper limits of human snoring.
Genuinely, I wish Ripley’s Believe or Not had been there to record the thunderous noises that filled our hostel dorm, because it was truly an unbelievable night. That’s the thing about travel: you’re constantly coming across remarkable sights, incredible sounds, and unparalleled experiences that expand your worldview. And believe me, my worldview was definitely expanded; my standards for the measurement of sound have forever been redefined.
Lydia packed two pairs of shoes for her travels in Slovenia, Croatia, and Montenegro. She is counting on her well-worn, well-loved sneakers to carry her through coastal markets along the Adriatic, majestic ruins of ancient cities, and Balkan national parks. She also packed a pair of festive sandals, intended for long walks on the beach and questionable hostel showers alike. She considers this an exercise in versatility. When she isn’t carefully curating the most austere of packing lists, Lydia enjoys crafting incredibly niche Spotify playlists and reminding people that she is from California.