Here it is, folks--the long-awaited Hamster Hotel writeup! If you're just joining us, the short story is that we raised enough money to send our friend Michelle to a hotel in France where you live like a hamster for a night. More background, as if you really need it, is here. Michelle's recap of the experience follows.
I arrived in Nantes ready to fulfill your hamster fantasies, but lacking any idea how I would actually get to the hamster hotel. Thankfully, I received multiple text messages from the Hamster Villa so Amber (my fellow hamster) and I managed to find the Hamster Villa after about 80 minutes of searching. The Hamster Villa was hidden away with a few other studios and doctors' offices in a little courtyard behind closed gates. This is when it occurred to Amber and I that we had 1) no idea which door led to the Hamster Villa and, 2) that we had no keys to get in. Again, the text messages proved helpful: the keys were available at a Laundromat (naturally) which was a 10 minute walk away. After another 30 minutes of searching, we found the Laundromat – just before it closed – and successfully retrieved the keys from a locker inside.
About two and half hours we got off the plane in Nantes, we finally entered the room. The Hamster Villa was incredibly tiny – I’d say it was only 60 square feet. This is possibly even too tiny for two hamsters, let alone two adults pretending to be hamsters. The hamster wheel took up so much room there was no space for actual furniture, and the bed was lofted in one corner of the room.
Still, the room managed to have more amenities then the tiny room I actually live in France: it did, after all, have a hamster wheel, a toilet and an espresso machine. A plastic bowl of “hamster food” (oat) hung over the espresso machine, and there was a tiny kitchen with a microwave and plates. Amber and I quickly found the hamster hats and put them on as we explored the tiny room. There were many bizarre art installations and a chalkboard in the bathroom which was filled with messages from prior visitors.
There was also some reading material, including a book about hamster care (left in the bathroom of all places), a comic book entitled “Serge, the Hamster from Hell” and a novel with an illustration of a man running in a hamster wheel – which seemed to have little to do with actual hamsters and everything to do with using shrinking as a metaphor for existential crises. I set to reading the book about hamster care, and used many of the pictures therein as inspiration for hamster poses during the hamster photo session.
Then, Amber and I decided to drink because we heard that hamsters like alcohol. So, we went to the Hangar a Bananes (Banana Hangar), which is literally where bananas were hung up to ripen but which is now a place where you can find lots of tropical and pirate themed bars. At the end of the night we climbed up into the tiny hamster bed – again, too small for hamsters – and dreamed sweet hamster dreams.
To all my friendly donors, thank you for making
possible. All in all, I really liked Nantes - it's kind of like
Baltimore (old port town, revitalized industrialized areas, kind of
weird), and though I don't plan on going back to the hamster hotel, it
wasn't the worst experience I've had here in France (that award goes to
the time I got smacked in the face). I hope everyone enjoys the
pictures. I would gladly accept more donations
if there’s anything else you’d like me to check out in Europe
(for example http://www.cnn.com/2009/
I would like to thank Michelle for being brave enough to go to this bizarre hotel in the middle of France, and for being a good enough sport to agree to wear that insane hamster hat and take these awesome pictures. Before we go, here's my absolute favorite: