So I’ve been here in Paris, France, for over a month now, and I finally feel like the culture and experiences are starting to seep in. But more on that later, because it’s been a while since I’ve updated, and there has been a lot going on.
Last weekend, five friends and I took a trip to Barcelona. We left on Friday (VERY early in the morning, by the way) and got to Barcelona (or BarTHElona, as it’s pronounced by Spaniards) about mid-day. Let me sidetrack for a moment and talk solely about my experience with transportation.
We flew RyanAir (the low-cost airline), and the only airport that flies RyanAir near Paris is called Beauvais. Well, in order to get to Beauvais you have to take a bus. You meet the buses at a metro stop called “Porte Maillot,” and from there it is an hour ride to the airport (the buses coordinate with RyanAir flights, and they leave three hours in advance – so you can’t just show up and take the bus when you want).
Well, that may sound simple enough, but when it’s 5 a.m. and the metro isn’t open, options are somewhat limited. So the next best option was to a) take a taxi, or b) miss our flight. Naturally, we opted to take a taxi. My friend, Fed, picked me up at 5 with his taxi and our 15-minute taxi ride cost 25 Euro (i.e.: $35). When we were all finally at the bus, we got on and drove an hour to Beauvais. Here comes the really interesting part.
We check in for our flight, and waited at one of the three gates for our flight to arrive. We got on (with priority boarding, I might add) and we’re finally so excited to get to Barcelona. Then the plane takes off … making this excruciating buzzing noise that sounds like the whole contraption might just fall apart and send all of us flying into pieces to the ground below us. Once we reached “cruising altitude” the buzzing stopped. I think this is the moment when my stomach about dropped and I was pretty close to having a nervous breakdown, as were Brooke and Margaret, who happened to be sitting on each side of me. At that point I was thinking that the buzzing was normal and when it stops is when you have to worry…
But to make a long story short, we made it to Barcelona OK (the plane did not end up crashing, contrary to my beliefs the entire hour and a half trip…) and we had to take ANOTHER bus to get to central Barcelona. After another hour and some minutes on the bus, a metro ride, and a short walk, we finally arrived at our hostel. (Note: it was my first time in a hostel, ever).
Well, the hostel looked exactly like a dorm. You rent your towel and sheets for 3.50 Euro and you are given a “locker” with a “key” to put all of your stuff into (the door on my “locker” had fallen off so I had to cram all of my stuff into Brooke’s locker…) The room we were in slept 10, and there were six of us, so there were four random people we didn’t talk to that weekend. Talk about awkward. Oh, and the second night I came back and someone had stolen my pillow. But it’s all part of the experience (at least that is what I kept telling myself at 4 in the morning when I found out I didn’t have a pillow…)
My take on hostels is the following: if you’re a student traveling, experience it, it can be fun (and they’re not all completely sketchy – this one wasn’t) and have a true “hostel” experience. From the hostel we found fliers for a “Party bus” and we bought tickets and we spent our Friday night with 30 other students/young adults experiencing the city. I would recommend this to anyone traveling with friends who want to have a great time. You meet other students, it’s a great deal ($ wise), and you get to truly experience night life.
Saturday night was just as exciting and we went to a “hip” club called Razzmatazz, which has over five different rooms with different types of music, and TONS of people. The line to get into that place when we were leaving was longer than it was when we had come in!
Barcelona was a great place to visit and a very beautiful city. The beach was a great change from the rainy, cold streets of Paris, and all of the beautiful Gaudi architecture surrounding the city made the trip even better.
I’ll end this post and continue with my French adventures on another one, seeing as how this post could well be considered a short novel.