The Flying Pig Hostels Amsterdam - Pig History
The history of the Flying Pig Hostels Amsterdam
An interview with the Pig owners
Almost 20-years-ago the Flying Pig’s founding fathers, Ronald & Willem, started their trip around the world. At the age of subsequently 19 and 20 they first set foot in New Zealand and during their stay on the island they stumbled upon an empty kiwi hostel containing 20 just as empty beds and not a single backpacking soul in sight. Being young, reckless and full of dreams, they convinced the owner of the tiny hostel that they were the cut out managers for his place. The chief Pigs moved into their kiwi hostel, sat out on the porch in the breezy sunny afternoon and made themselves comfortable..10 years later I’m sharing a drink with them on a chilly autumn afternoon. Our next beers are just being poured as they start to recall some vivid memories of those young, ambitious and crazy times…
How did you guys manage to turn this empty hostel into a busy backpackers place?
“Well, we have to admit” Ronald starts while sipping from his fresh yellow brew; “even though the hostel started to flourish when we were there, a lot of the credit has to go to Boswell”. As I have never heard this name before and the grin that follows this remark makes me want to find out more, I present them with my best puzzled look. Willem smiles and responses; “Yes you’re right, Boswell, did have a great part in our success” As they go on I start to understand that Boswell was actually an innocent, young New Zealand Sheep! Living on the hostel premises, she became the face of the very first Flying Pig hostel.
They further explain to me how after a couple of crazy nights, they spray-painted the poor animal pink: “and a star was born!” It turns out it was Bosswell´s appearance that convinced many travellers the Flying Pig hostel was the craziest and best place in town. “However, not everyone was mad about her remember?” Willem grins back at his partner and tells me; “Our next-door neighbour hated Boswell´s pink guts”. “Every time we lost track of Boswell we could hear this loud screaming echo over the field”. “WIIIIIILLLLLEM!! GET YOUR F*CKING SHEEP OUT OF MY GARDEN OR I’LL SHOOT IT”!!
How did you come to the hostel name the Flying Pig?
The hostel itself got its name after a memorable party night “which we can not seem to recall properly anymore” the guys explain. “ It has something to do with the cartoon figure the Flying Pig, alcohol and us not being able to make it in life… or something rather” … (silence).
Did Boswell ever make it to Amsterdam?
No she didn’t luckily, but with the opening of the Flying Pig Downtown hostel we did receive two actual pigs as a present!” After giving them their ´Flying´ Pig names (Garuda and Lufthansa), Ronald and Willem provided a home for them in the basement of the newly opened location. But little Piggies grow up (Dutch pigs are known to become humongous) and so they started to burst out of their establishment. “We tried to find someone interested to take them off our hands, but only the butcher seemed keen to take them on”. “After all that time we spent together we really couldn’t let them be turned into bacon” The guys finally found Garuda & Lufthansa a new home at a kids farm, but not until they had spent fortunes on vets, injections and legal papers!
What are you guys doing these days?
“We realize that we have been fortunate enough to turn our hobby into our profession and it has surely turned our life in anything but a boring ride!” We have received several awards and the hostels have been doing really well up to now, who would have thought when we first started out! They agree that even though they are proud of their great achievement: “We do need to keep on working to maintain this position and we need to try to come up with new and fresh ideas all the time, but that’s what keeps it fun”. We just really love the backpacker philosophy and still go travelling ourselves as much as we can”. “It helps us to gain new ideas too!”. “ We are also 2 very proud dad’s now, so life has changed for us in these ten years but that backpackers thrive will probably never leave us”.
Meanwhile it has started to rain outside so we decide to order one more beer. Thus many more fond memories of the good old days come drifting up while the afternoon passes us by…