Stories

Simon’s Hostel Stalker

This story speaks to the true crime fanatic in me. The storyteller is one of my great friends, Simon. I met Simon through a pal that I worked with at Travel Joy Hostels (RIP) here in London. Simon and I bonded over our hostel living lives and our shared love of travel and I now consider him my token guy friend (I literally have no others). He is also the friend that I made sit with me in Holland Park while I held up THE SIGN.

Simon’s story starts when he first moved to London. He was staying at the St. James’ Hostel in Earl’s Court for about four months. Cheers to all you out there that have survived living in a hostel that long! It’s difficult, I know. This was Simon’s first time abroad by himself and he was really looking forward to the hostel way of living. He became friends with the staff and other long-term guests (as you do when you are desperate for friends) and was enjoying the chill atmosphere of the hostel. One of the coolest parts about living in a hostel is the ability to meet complete strangers and all come together to form weird and random friend and family groups.

During Simon’s four-month stay at the St. James’ Hostel, he met a man. This man (let’s call him Fred) was about forty years old with an English and Swedish background and a Kiwi accent. They would converse and be friendly towards one another, as you do in hostels, but weren’t instant besties. Fred was very eccentric, always carrying a bag full of healthy food, and was always (always) on his computer. Now, this doesn’t sound strange at the moment, but just wait. When you’re living in a hostel, you tend to be extremely open-minded. There can be some very strange and interesting people you run into, but in the end, you’re all in the same boat: strangers that are traveling abroad. So, there’s really no room to judge others. Which is probably why Simon didn’t judge Fred for being so odd.

Simon eventually moved out of the hostel and into a flat. He continued to travel, and then returned a bit later to London. During his time out of the hostel, Fred was always in contact and messaging over Facebook. They stayed in contact with occasional friendly messages here and there, but nothing too serious.

Simon’s life wasn’t exactly going as well as he dreamed after he had returned to London. He was struggling with finding a job because he wasn’t sure if he would be staying in Europe or not. Fred happened to be in Prague around that same time and suggested to Simon that he come out to the city and they could meet up. In Simon’s mind, he thought, “Why not? Might as well travel around Europe a bit more before I head back to Australia!” But in my mind (while listening to the story) I thought, “Run, Simon! Run!”

So, he went to Prague. Simon and Fred caught up in the city and everything was completely fine. Actually, it was pretty nice! For Simon, it was like catching up with an old friend that made him feel nostalgic about the old days back at the St. James’ Hostel. They would just buy food, walk around the city, and talk. Remember, this was a time when Simon was struggling with the “what the heck am I doing with my life” scenario that we’ve all found ourselves in. He needed some support and as an expat in Europe, didn’t really have anyone else to talk to. Simon ended up being in Prague for about four days and ended his trip on good terms with Fred. When Fred suggested they meet up in a different city, he didn’t think it to be strange.

After traveling to Germany and Milan, Simon happened to run into Fred again in Nice (bum, bum, bum). They both continued traveling together to Marseille, and then later on to Barcelona. At this point, it was not just the two of them traveling. They had a little friendship group going that consisted of a couple Argentinean girls they had met when they were in Prague. The group spent the next month basically just hanging out in Barcelona (tough life, right?), but eventually, Simon knew it was time to move on and try to get his life together.

This is where the plot thickens! Simon found a job at a hostel in Rotterdam. It was a new area and was a good place to make some money and apply for new jobs. When he was telling me this story, he remembered that Fred had tried convincing him to stay in Barcelona with him, but his mind was already set on moving for this job.

About a week or two after Simon moved to Rotterdam, he received a message from one of the Argentinean girls. She had asked him if he could have a word with Fred. Apparently, this guy had gone crazy and was acting strange and the girls weren’t sure what to do. So, Simon being the good guy that he is, took one for the team and messaged Fred. The Argentinean girls (sorry, girls, I don’t know your names) were correct and Fred continued down the crazy train and lost it at Simon via messanger. “He was just saying weird and crazy things and called me an Australian parasite,” recalled Simon. I’m not going to lie, I chuckled a bit at that comment.

This is where Fred really gets going. The hate messages via Facebook would continue to Simon. It seemed like Fred’s goal was to turn all the friends against each other and make Simon into the bad guy. Fred would block Simon and then shortly unblock him just to sent more hateful messages. He even went to the extent to message Simon’s brothers! Simon’s twin brother received a message from Fred saying that he hoped he knew that his brother was a snake and takes advantage of everyone he knows. Remember, this was after Simon called this man a friend and spent several MONTHS traveling Europe and getting to know him. How crazy is that?

It’s not over yet, friends. There was a Brazilian girl that Simon had met back when he was originally in London who ended up being deported for whatever reason. Simon received a distressed message from her asking if it was true that he was the one responsible for her deportation. Yikes! Fred had apparently convinced this poor girl that it was Simon’s fault she was deported. “I tried explaining to her that of course it wasn’t me, there’s just a crazy guy that is trying to ruin my life! She just didn’t understand,” he told me. Simon eventually ended up going to the police with this information, but they were useless, as no violence had been done. He just continued to block Fred online and that was it for a while.

After Simon moved back to London, he would occasionally go visit his friends at the St. James’ Hostel. It was a tradition of theirs to gather together every Monday night to watch Game of Thrones (I’ll never understand the obsession). One particular Monday night, Fred was there! Simon saw him sitting across the room on the sofa and remembered thinking, “Oh, here we go.” For the entire show, Fred has his hands up hiding his face. It was like he was pretending to be relaxed, but you could tell he was actively trying to hide. Once the show ended and everyone left, Simon waited around until Fred went to make a move. “We need to talk,” he sternly said to Fred.

I have never seen Simon angry before, so I would have given anything to be watching this next conversation between Simon and Fred. Simon basically unleashed on Fred for the next thirty minutes outside of the hostel. Fred’s claim was that Simon had never given him his gloves back, which Simon had repeatedly tried to mail back to him. Once Simon had let it all out, he just agreed to give the gloves back and asked Fred to never contact any of his friends or family again or he would get the police involved. That was the last time they had spoken.

A few weeks later, Fred had apparently tried to book a hostel using Simon’s email. He says he’s still not sure how he did it, but all he had to do was cancel it through the email he received and that was the end. After I asked Simon if he had heard from him since then, he said, “he would always just do all of these little, petty things that had no point. He always had a fake name and multiple accounts, so I could never find him when I tried to look him up. I haven’t heard from him since, so it’s been alright.”

And let’s hope things stay that way. I definitely will not be befriending older gentlemen that are always on their computers in hostels anytime soon, that’s for sure! Unless they lend me their gloves!

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4 Comments

  1. Audrey Hasslocher

    April 6, 2019 at 9:44 pm

    Oh wow!!! So creepy!!!!

  2. Elina

    April 7, 2019 at 7:33 am

    Wow, that is crazy! Maybe Fred suffered from some sort of a mental illness – doesn’t excuse his behaviour but it does explain it. Hope he’s found better friends since then!

  3. Vinita

    April 9, 2019 at 10:38 am

    Wow! Well written article I have seen today.

  4. Elizabeth

    April 13, 2019 at 12:54 am

    What a crazy story! There are so many strange people out there. Also crazy that Simon could live in a hostal for 4 months! I don’t even do hostals for one night anymore, lol.

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