well, maybe it is easy with exorbitant amounts of money, but that defeats the purpose of cheap travel… so let me tell you the somewhat hilarious story of getting to paris.
i feel like the most difficult part about european travel is actually getting up into the air. diana and i bought our tickets through ryanair, europe’s premiere dirt cheap and bare bones airline. these tickets tend to be cheap for a couple of reasons, like you have to pay for any checked bags, unprinted tickets, overweight carry ons, etc and then they BOMBARD you with advertisements over the PA the entire flight. (my favorite was the “ryanair girls” holiday calendar. don’t worry- i bought each of you one for christmas!) they are also cheap because they tend to be at real inconvenient times. either it is at 11 pm or in our case, 7 am. the big issue with a 7 am flight is in the fact that the airport is in madrid, and to get there from alcalá with no car, which is 3o minutes away, one must take the renfe train… which doesn’t start until 5:30. since taxis here are expensive, diana and i decided that sleeping at the airport, aka being homeless at its finest, would be the next best thing. her spanish friend told us we were crazy. i call it adventurous.
so we went to the airport at 2 AM, on the last possible metro of the night. it turns out a lot of people had the same idea as us, so we basically looked like a bunch of refugees camped out all night, like some scene in contagion where everyone is trying to get out of town, or a zombie apocalypse. after brushing out teeth in the bathroom (yep), we found a nice spot to crash next to the policemen. they’d keep us safe! diana slept. i did not. airport floors are not exactly known for their cushion. also, i was afraid that if i fell asleep, some gypsy would come rob me, even though diana was wearing her money belt, and all my money was in my shoes.
morning (or 5 am) came relatively quickly, so after a “good night’s rest” we found our terminal, checked in, and got up in the air. i think this picture pretty much sums up how we were feeling after spending the night at the airport.
another great thing about ryanair is that they fly you into bogus airports. we flew into paris:beauvais… which is an hour’s bus ride away from real paris. at least the drive was pretty! seriously, little beats the french countryside in the fall.
the bus dropped us off at a metro station, and we were disoriented, to say the least. thankfully rachael had already figured it out, and led us in the right direction to meet her so we could go to our hostel. after countless transfers and stops, we were in joinville le pont, which isn’t paris either, but was the only place we could find a cheap hostel. rach had done a mapquest search for our hostel and taken some pictures of maps from the station, so we figured we’d be able to get there no problem… nope, definite problem. we wandered around for a good hour trying to find the hostel. i asked three different people on the street how to get there (in french!) and we got about three completely different answers… which could have had to do with the fact that i do not, in reality, speak french. after staring at maps, walking in a few circles, and thanking the heavens above for that little blue moving dot on my phone, we found our hostel. oh, and i should probably mention it was about 200 meters away from the train station.
the paris hipotel hippodrome! whatever that means! it was… well, it was cheap. and it had a good view and pink toilet paper, and we got to ride up to our floor in the crushed velvet padded elevator because the main one was broken. and just that last sentence alone makes me wonder if we were actually in a hostel or in a brothel. who knows? also, the decor was quite lovely, as diana demonstrated.
what can i say? you live and you learn. (and get WAY lost in the process) you stay in shady hostels with trundle beds whose sheets may or may not be clean, after traveling for about 12 hours, you hardly care. adventure, people! we live it.