There are certain decisions we all make that change the trajectory of our lives. Ideally, they are well thought out and pertain to a major event such as choosing a university or starting a new job. They don’t usually come about at 4:00 in the morning as you deliriously stumble your way through airport customs, but as you can probably guess by my specific, bizarre reference, this was the case for me. It was a night in June of 2015 at the very start of my first trip to Georgia when I realized I had not yet booked a place to stay. Panicked, I turned on my phone and quickly checked through the internet and booked the first place I found: Why Not Hostel. The name felt fitting for my current situation, so I decided to go for it.
Upon arrival, (after an incredibly fast taxi ride) I had no idea if I was at the right place. Wandering through a quiet alleyway, I finally saw a sign for the hostel pointing towards a residential alcove. Could this be it? I thought. I decided to check anyway and walked into what looked like a housing complex and was immediately greeted by a family of cats at the foot of the outdoor steps leading to the building. It looked more like some family's place instead of a hostel, but none the less, I bent down to pet the cats. They just seemed so friendly. As I did though, I noticed another sign, pointing up the stairway for the hostel. I guess this had to be it. I ascended the stairs and entered.
I had no idea what to expect, but the second I caught a glimpse of what was inside, I felt right at home. The whole place was decorated in a warm, welcoming way, and another cat, bigger and more orange than the ones outside, walked by and rubbed up against my leg. The girl at the front desk, having just woke up, introduced herself and took me around to see the rest of the hostel, which included a balcony, nice lounge area, and 30 (later reduced to 18) person bedroom. Despite my deliriousness from jetlag, I was instantly mesmerized. However, this was just the start.
I was told there was a free breakfast, so, always looking to save money, I made sure to be present at the table the next morning. I was expecting the standard toast, jam, milk and cereal that are common for most hostel breakfasts, so when these items came out, it was little surprise to me... but then there was more (a lot more). Next came a tray of freshly sliced red and gold apples, then hard boiled eggs sliced in half, and granola with yogurt! To drink, not only was there water, but coffee, milk, and multiple pitchers of tea. It was all included, and it was magical.
I didn’t quite realize it yet, but things were now in motion that would affect my future and gravitate me back towards Georgia. Since I enjoyed the place so much, I remained in contact with several of the staff, and after quitting my job in the summer of 2017, I messaged the manager, Krzysztof and asked if I could work there. He quickly agreed, and I soon found myself back in Georgia, only now for a much longer stay than before. Now I got to work behind the scenes and see the inter-workings of hostel administration. I met tons of awesome people, had my fair share of Georgian wine and chacha, made friendships that will last well into the future, and after a while, it began to feel like my second home. But then October came and things changed.
After seven years as one of Tbilisi’s most vibrant and welcoming hostels, Why Not Hostel unfortunately closed its doors in the location where it had been since the beginning. Even though it had only been part of my life for a few months, I couldn’t help but feel melancholy as I helped break down the furniture and bed frames and load them onto a moving truck. My first home in the country had closed. But this was not the end. The old spot on Tabukashvili St (my first home in the country) was no more, but it is currently operating out of a new temporary spot and a move for 2018 is already well into the works. Where it will be and what it will look like is still uncertain, but what I can tell you for sure is that I’ll be working there and I’m certain the staff will create a new, welcoming house for visitors just as they did before.
For other stories about the hostel, please click the following pictures: