The past 48 hours have seen me, an everyday Aussie girl, through Portugal and Spain, and I just boarded a Chinese airline in Italy to get to India. No wonder I’m feeling a bit of culture shock.
Note: it is now a week later as I finish this post. I truly have found it difficult to process my mind here and put into words what I am experiencing. Please bear with me if entries are a bit scattered.
From Monday night through to Wednesday afternoon, I spent a total of forty-something hours in airports or on airplanes.
Forty hours straight.
Four flights, three countries. Planes, buses, taxis, different languages and new currencies.
I couldn’t quite work out if my head was spinning from all the chaos and change and people rushing around me, or if I was thriving on being in an airport again and thrown into the vortex of the traveller’s world. Probably, both.
I love airports.
Being in an airport is always good.
I’m either on my way to visit loved ones, or heading into an adventure – be it another city, state, or even new country or continent, or I’m there to pick up someone from their own travels, full of stories and fresh memories. And sometimes they have pianos that beg to be played right there in the thick of bustling people.
In true backpacker style, I figured I’d save myself €15 by heading to the airport with them and sleeping on the floor, right there ready to fly the next morning. Admittedly, the notion of using the flat mat I had carted around this whole time and never yet pulled out was also appealing; it wouldn’t feel like it was such a waste of space and weight in my pack if I got to use it at least once.
As luck would have it, I didn’t.
We got to the airport at 8PM so the guys would have plenty of time – and we weren’t actually sure how long it would take to get there from the city, so had plenty more time up our sleeves as it was.
It didn’t occur to me that security might not let me through customs the day before my flight.
The others had gone through first when the security man pulled me up and said I couldn’t go further. Which meant there was a very abrupt, unexpected, awkward goodbye over the check point. Under the very vigilant observation of Mr Muscle, Glen and Iley took turns reaching over the threshold to hug me goodbye, all three of us with stunned looks plastered on our faces and disbelieving laughs in between well wishes for each other.
And that was the end of that.
I headed back into the main departures area, unsure whether to trek back into the city, find a hostel close by, or to just eat and sleep out there. After some to-ing and fro-ing, I went with Option #3.
After an extravagant €30 airport dinner, I went and found a good place for a ‘bed’. And I do get the irony of spending €30 on dinner while saving €15 on a bed. But really, when we take into account that I would have had to also pay for a bus fare to the city and back to the airport again in addition to dinner and brekky anyway, it meant that I spent around the same amount and got a fabulous meal of baked monkfish, my last bottilla of rioja, dessert and a coffee. The bed was a good sacrifice.
Have you ever been in an airport with no one else in sight? I can now say I have. And it’s a very bizarre feeling: part eerie, part scary, part wheretheheckiseveryone?, part playgroundalltomyself.
I did find a good area around the back of the information desk. I think this airport must know how many poor pilgrims are scrimping their last pennies together after a month on the road, because the seats were pretty perfect for stretching out on, the lights were dimmed and there were power points a-plenty. A few weary travellers did have a similar idea to me and were already stretched out along the seats, so I wasn’t totally alone in that big dark building.
Having so much time there also gave me the idea that some of you might actually wonder what I fit into my trusty green pack. What does one carry across Spain? What did I carry?
- Flat mat
- 2x bike shorts
- Hiking boots (yep, these were IN my pack for approximately 600 out of 900km)
- Sneakers (IN my pack in the first photo)
- Sleeping sheet – this was actually genius of me, if I don’t say so myself. But I do. You pay around $60-80 for a standard sleeping bag liner, which is all you really need for this time of year on Camino – but Lincraft sells similar material for $2.50 a metre. I bought three metres just to be sure, and with a little help from Mumma Duck made my own for a tenth of the price. See? Genius.
- Blow up pillow
- Lion plushie hand warmer – thank you again Mumma for making me take the necessities 🙄😉
- Microfibre towel – oh, Sarah, meant to tell you, someone STOLE the one you let me borrow one night before Santiago. Who does that?! Gross! I got you a nice pink one to replace it 👍🏽
- Peregrino shell
- Alice the Alpaca
- Party hat
- Concentrated laundry detergent
- 2x singlets
- 1x dress
- 2x t-shirts (for jammies/chilling in of an afternoon)
- New dress
- New long sleeved top
- Thermal microfibre jumper
- Windcheater jacket
- 3x pairs of socks
- 2x crop tops
- 3x pairs of undies (plus the ones I was wearing, makes 4x all up)
- Phone charger + external battery
- Passport + purse
- 2x corks – one from my first bottle of real French champagne, one from an afternoon by the river in Najeera with the Italians
- Little key ring torch
- Daddy’s powerful blinding torch
- Journal, gift book + kindle
- Scissors, spare pen, sticky tape
- Pilgrim credentials
- Toiletries/other necessities – deodorant, Vicks, shower gel, exfoliator, nail polish, hand sanitiser, hair ties, toothbrush/toothpaste, Vegemite, Nurofen, anti-histamines
- Burgos bell – Andrea got one of these for Frank, Paolo, himself and me: we ring them each morning and night and remember each other across the world. Italians love well ❤️
As well as my ukulele, sandals, hat, drink bottle, clothes line (the elastic rope strapped to the front of my bag which was a brilliant brilliant present before I left!) and my phone, this was all I needed to live with.
* * *
I apologise for being tardy with the uploads.
I am still getting my bearings here, and in the process of switching a few different internal gears.
But so far, India can be described as vibrant and chaotic. I don’t expect that to change much.
I love it already.