For future reference, Barcelona Airport is very bad for sleeping, unless you have something soft, like a giraffe’s belly.
One of the disadvantages of totally spontaneous travel is that you’ll often have to pay more for flights, because their prices change depending on availability. Or, if like me, you don’t want to pay more, you’ll have to take flights at shitty times, or with shitty connections.
I only bought the ticket the day before the flight out of Lisbon, and I actually didn’t care which of several cities I fly into (Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Krakow), because I wanted to see them all, and they are pretty close together, so I knew I can just take ground transportation once I get into any of them.
As it turned out, Prague was the cheapest, so I got that. However, the cheapness came at a price – an overnight layover in Barcelona. It was 1am by the time we arrived in Barcelona, and the huge waiting areas were all pretty much empty, save for a few sleepers and a few cleaners.
Protip: If you are planning on sleeping in an airport during a layover, don’t go out of secured zone (there’s always a marked exit point-of-no-return). If you go out, you won’t be able to get in again until the next morning, since the security checkpoints probably won’t be open until then. Outside of secured zone, security guards are more likely to wake you up, because they don’t know if you are an actual traveller or a hobo, and they don’t want hobos sleeping in airports. In the secured zone they know you have a ticket, and will tend to leave you alone.
I wasn’t disturbed by security guards, but still, the airport was the worst to sleep in, because the floor was marble (cold and hard), and all the seats have immovable handrails. It was terrible. Next time I’m gonna bring a sleeping bag…
The first thing I did after checking in at the hostel was to get groceries. One of the guys on staff happened to be going as well, so I tagged along. This is Australian guy #3.
He used to be a crazy traveller (before taking an arrow to the knee), and has apparently stayed in 65 hostels. I don’t know how he is still keeping track – I am at around 10-15 and I lost count already! He said this one is the best one he has stayed in, so he decided to stay for a few weeks. At some point, they offered him a job there, because hey, if you are staying there for good anyways, may as well get paid?
Hostel staff – the only job you can get by simply refusing to leave.
The next day I went on a free walking tour. If you haven’t been on a free walking tour yet, you should! They have free walking tours in just about every city, and it’s absolutely the best and cheapest way to get a nice overview of where everything is, as well as some history of the place. Of course, they aren’t actually free. It’s more like a name-your-own-price sort of thing. People usually tip the tour guide in the end, though there will be no pressure at all for you to tip, and some people will just walk away. Tours are usually pretty awesome, though, and most people tip happily. Tipping 5 to 10 euro ($6-12 USD) is the norm.
It was a nice and sunny day. We had a nice 3 hours walk around the old town, and ended up going to a traditional pub for lunch.
Prague was once the capital of the Holy Roman Empire, and unlike later capitals like Vienna, a lot of Prague remained unchanged to this day. Walking through the gate into old town is like walking into a time machine. All the old buildings and structures are still there, and the ground is still as it was before. Walking into the market square surrounded by all the important buildings and cool statues, you can almost imagine yourself as a 13th century trader dropping by and stopping for a few days to trade with the locals. It was amazing!
The best part of Prague history for me is the defenestrations (the act of throwing someone or something out of a window). The first one was the result of the Catholic vs Protestant conflict. A guy by the name of Jan Hus began by questioning the luxurious and wasteful style of the Catholic church, and called for people to live their lives and worship their god in a less materialistic way. He actually got quite a following in Prague. Of course, the big Catholic guys didn’t like him. They called him over, held a secret trial, and executed him.
His followers in Prague were outraged. They marched to the town hall. Some very bright person inside the building decided to throw a stone at them… bad idea!
They stormed into the town hall, and threw all the council members and the mayor out of the window, and poked them with sharpened wooden sticks to make sure they are dead. Obviously that solved all their problems… and started a war.
There were several more defenestrations in Prague’s history, including one case where someone apparently committed suicide by jumping out of a window… and closing the window behind him. That was not by Czechs but by a Russian. When in Rome, do as Romans do?
They also have a very cool astronomical clock from medieval times. It’s the oldest clock still working today. The different dials show the current time in multiple time systems, position of the sun, position of the moon, and length of the day. It’s amazing engineering!
Adam tower is the one on the right, and Eve tower is the one on the left. Adam tower is slightly bigger than the Eve tower, to shield her from the rising sun in the morning.
There is also a non-sexist explanation… that I have forgotten. There is still debate among scholars on the true intention of this difference.
Roommates for the night were 3 American guys working in finance. They were slightly obnoxious when drunk, but since they are nice otherwise, I’ll let them keep the “beautiful” label. Also, it’s relatively rare to see Americans travelling. On my trip I have met more Canadians than Americans, which is pretty amazing considering the fact that there are about 10x more Americans than Canadians on Earth.
To be continued…