Naked Old Men, Edinburgh and Harry Potter

Posted on / by Alex Berger

Though I hate to start a post off with stories of naked old men, I’m afraid that’s how today’s story begins.

It was early, about 8:30AM.  Nate was still asleep.  The rustling in the room, and sound of the door clicking shut roused me from my slumber.  I rolled over and opened my eyes, groggy but slowly sliding towards awareness…my eyes adjusted to the light and came into focus.  I could hear the ever present sound of a light rain outside and the usual clicking, thuds, and dull roar of a hostel.

As my eyes swept across the room I was greeted by, what I can only say, was a waking nightmare.  Quietly grunting from exertion, our elderly roommate was standing in the center of the room completely naked.  Well, not completely naked. As he stood facing away from me – the ever present, massive, cross with thick chain still adorning his aged, wrinkled, hairy body – he silently grunted away while he carefully and judiciously toweled himself off.

Surprised and rather disturbed, I slammed my eyes shut and rolled to face the wall as quietly as possible.  In an act of thoroughness, the grunting and heavy breathing continued for what seemed like an eternity while he continued to carefully dry every inch of his body.

With a sigh full of lament, I resigned myself to the fact that I’d just gained another priceless hostel memory that would plague my mind but make for an amusing travel/hostel story.

Our Day in Edinburgh

Nate and I had both done Edinburgh before.  Despite our familiarity with the city, it still had untold secrets to share. After a lazy morning we struck off to locate lunch and had the aspiration that we’d climb Arthur’s Seat – the hill pictured above – which serves as a beautiful backdrop for Edinburgh.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be.  By the time we reached the Royal Mile a steady rain and light breeze halted us in our tracks.

Knowing that the following 5 days would include a crash course in Scottish weather, we both elected to take things easy instead and wound down towards a movie theater I’d found during one of my previous visits.  Perhaps a quarter of a mile away from the main train station, the theater was close enough for a quick escape. Pausing to take advantage of one of the 2 for 1 specials present in most English and Scottish pubs, we decided to watch the recently released Harry Potter. After all, we were in the city that inspired the movie and about to dive into the countryside where most of it had been filmed – what movie could be more fitting?

The theater was nice, and after getting seats at the start of the stadium seating, I quickly realized the purpose the rail/bar in the Harkins back home serves. After the 2nd person turning to walk up the middle isle used my knee as a railing to steady themselves I couldn’t help but roll my eyes and lament a railing’s absence.

The movie itself was fun – and set the stage for the countryside we’d be getting into the following day.  In fact, one of the places we paused during the 5 day tour of the highlands was within eyesight of where Hagrid’s hut was filmed.

With smiles on our faces after thoroughly enjoying the movie, we made our way back through the city streets, spent some time on the Royal Mile, and then elected to head back to the hostel and make a lazy evening/afternoon of it.  We relaxed, watched some TV in the common room, wandered the streets a bit more, and then got caught up on some of our blogging and photo uploads before turning in early.  We had a 6:30 wake-up call in the morning.

Alex Berger

I am a travel blogger and photographer. I also am involved in academic research into the study abroad and backpacker communities.


  • Chloe
    January 28, 2011

    If it makes you feel any better, I had a similar moment in San Francisco – woke up at 6am to our roommate (I’d estimate in his late 50’s), putting the fan on (because he’d just smoked a joint), and rubbing baby oil into his legs. He then put his sleeping bag on his head, and hovered in front of the fan for about 15 minutes.


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