“Where are you staying in Mossel Bay?” A passenger sitting across the aisle on the bus asks me.
“No clue, to be honest. I haven’t really planned things out at all. It’s the off-season though, I’m sure I’ll find something!”
“You should check out Santos Express Backpackers,” the driver offers after eavesdropping on the conversation behind him. “It’s a train hotel, and it’s right on the beach.”
The bus swings down a hill and into Mossel Bay. Along a patch of green grass sits a half dozen bright blue train cars looking retro and completely out of place. It’s like a scene out of a hipster’s imagination.
I drag my bags down the hallway of the narrow train hotel and tuck into the tight space of my room. I have about 3 feet by 7 feet of space in the room, and I’ve paid $30 per night for the space. I can’t help but realize that I’m paying about double what’s normal for the novelty of sleeping in a motion-free train.
I toss my bag into the bit of space on the floor, slip myself out of my jacket, and plop down onto my back. With my feet pressed against the end wall and my head resting against the other, I look through the window and out onto the sea just a couple dozen feet in front of me. Reaching out, I lift the window and let the salty air wash into my cabin. The space might be tight, but the location is priceless.
At night, I sleep to the sound of waves kissing the sand, and then wake to a perfect South African sunrise.
In the end, there really is nothing quite like waking up on the sea. It doesn’t matter if I’m staying in a 5-star resort, a sandy campsite, or a tacky train hotel, there is no coastal location in the world that is overpriced to me.