Chapter 2: Adios Barca, Hola Prague

Ended up heading to Prague with a couple of Seattle guys, should be fun

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Currently writing this on a flight from Barcelona to Prague. Fun fact: I hate flying. Airports are horrible, turbulence freaks me out, and I spend most of the flight in a state of pseudo-anxiety. Plus we were six minutes from missing the flight. (One guy actually did. More on that later.) Pretty ironic that a kid who loves traveling hates flying so much eh?

Barcelona has been an absolute blast for the last five days. Great weather, beautiful beaches, amazing food, and fantastic people. Sadly, all good things must come to an end. My initial plan was a trip around Spain, before heading into France and the rest of Europe. (Map for reference):

However, my new American amigos invited me to fly to Prague (Czech Republic) with them, so I’m going to hit the Eastern European tour a few weeks earlier than expected. A few thoughts on my travels so far before a recap of the last few days.

On Meeting New People

Before this trip, I romanticized the prospect of flying to a foreign land on a whim and seeing where the wind would blow me. However, when I landed in Barcelona last Wednesday, reality began to settle in. I had moved across the world to a country that doesn’t speak English, where I don’t know anyone. It’s pretty intimidating once you are in the thick of it. What if there are no Americans/English speakers in the hostel? What if everyone else is traveling with friends, and it’s hard for me to find a group? Self-doubt is dangerous when you are halfway across the world from everyone you know.

Here’s the thing, literally everyone that is traveling, especially via hostels, is going through the same mental gymnastics. If you go to the bar and say what’s up to some other travelers, you are going to make friends quickly. Telling people that I quit my job last week and bought a one-way ticket to Barcelona has been an effective ice breaker. If you’re social, you’re going to meet people. I have made friends from Seattle, LA, Nola, Berlin, and Madrid in my short time here. It’s pretty cool hearing other people’s stories.

Random Stuff

  • In Georgia, it’s cool meeting people from Tifton. In America, it’s cool meeting people from Georgia. In Europe, it’s cool meeting people from America. Your “home network” expands as your distance from home grows. I wouldn’t think I would have a ton in common with some dudes from Seattle, but we have been having an absolute ball in Spain. There is nothing better than sitting at a bar and hearing a “what’s up man” or “that’s sick” from a few seats down. Tribalism is real, and seeing Americans abroad is awesome.

  • The funniest conversations happen when someone who speaks rough English is talking to someone who speaks rough Spanish (or German, French, etc.). Countless misused words, terrible pronunciations, and a million errors both ways make for a ridiculous dialogue.

  • I swear all humans are practically the same, regardless of the place they call home or the language they speak. Liverpool and Chelsea fans get just as fired up as Falcons and Saints fans. Guys try to impress girls, and they get clowned by their friends when they get rejected. TikTok is an international phenomenon. And I swear everyone loves cryptocurrencies.

  • We have been taught to view others through a binary lens. There is a right and wrong side to every argument. As a result, we tend to put people In these arbitrary groups based on their beliefs. Republicans over here, Democrats over there. Finance majors vs. liberal arts. Rich or poor. Either someone agrees with you on an issue or they disagree with you. It’s an incredibly shallow perspective to take, but we’re all guilty of it. I’ve been abroad before, but never on my own like this. It has given me a great chance to objectively evaluate others’ thoughts on different issues. People have so many different life experiences that shape how they view the world. It’s cool to see all of these objectively.

  • I love listening to music. If I’m out for a jog, in the gym, hanging out in my room, or really anywhere, I’m blaring something. That being said, I have felt much more immersed in my environment when I’m listening to what’s going on around me as well. I love hearing the sounds of the city. Different accents and languages from around the world. Little things like people speaking to their dogs in Spanish (which is pretty wild that Spanish dogs “speak” Spanish. Seems obvious, but still weird to hear). If you’re somewhere new, turn off the music, and experience the area with your ears as well as your eyes. You’ll get a lot more out of it.

  • European roulette wheels only have one “0” instead of two. For my degenerate gamblers, your odds are much better here. (No I didn’t go to a casino. Yes I probably will at some point.)

  • Vacuum-seal clothing bags are a must. You’d be surprised how much stuff I fit in a hiking backpack.

  • Girls in Barcelona are gorgeous, but you’re playing language roulette when you try to talk to someone lol. Good luck hombres.

Time for a recap.

Friday, August 27th

Friday was chill, at first anyway. I spent a couple of hours writing on the terrace while my dorm mate Jules went to the beach, and I later met him there at 1. One of my friends who lived in Barca for a year or so had given me a ton of restaurant recommendations near the beach, NAV Pizza being one of them. He was spot on. It absolutely slapped. Massive ‘za for $8. It’s hard to find good, cheap food in Barcelona, so if you make the trip NAV is a must have.

After lunch I went back to the beach and read for a while. There is a constant wave of dudes just walking around selling mojitos, beers, waters, and blankets, and honestly they’re annoying af. Literally the real life version of videogame NPCs that you go out of your way to avoid. I passed on the mojitos for the most overpriced strawberry daiquiri of all-time: 12 euros or ~$14 at a beach bar. It was worth it. After the beach, I hit the gym again and headed back to the crib.

Hostels always have the best food and drink specials in town. 16 wings for $9, two mixed drinks for $6, a bucket of beers for $10, etc. If you go to Europe, stay in hostels. If you stay in hostels, take full advantage of the food and drinks. Jules had met a girl in Barcelona, and she met us for dinner and drinks at our bar. The three of us went out that night, but it was largely uneventful. See, all of the bars in Barcelona close at 12:30 (even though people party in the streets til like 5 AM. COVID bureaucracy strikes again!). With the early close times, people tend to not leave the bars once they get in. We kept getting caught waiting in long lines outside. We ended up walking around the city for a while and hitting the Dow Jones bar again before close. We were back at the hostel by 12:30, and Jules left to hang out with the girl while I planned on going to sleep. As I was walking in the hostel entrance, I overheard someone yell at the security guard, “I’m from Atlanta, GA man! Let me come in and grab a beer!”

For context, the hostel rooms and bar are connected on the inside, but they also have two separate outside entrances. This guy was trying unsuccessfully to get into our bar, but the place had just closed. I was curious, so I said, “Atlanta? I live in Buckhead.”

“Buckhead!? I used to tear up Buckhead. I went to Kennesaw State back in the day. I’m 37 now though, so that was years ago. My name’s Phil.” My first thought was Phil was the classic “reliving his glory days” guy. That being said, I wasn’t ready to go to bed yet, so I figured I would humor him. Phil had a buddy with him too, Bren. Bren was a trip. Dude was a 33 year old from London, and he loved clowning Phil. The two of them were best friends, and they had lived in Barca for the last 10 or so years.

“You wanna go out with us young blood?” asked Phil.

“Sure, I guess. Bars are closed though.”

“Ah we’re locals, and my wife and kids are out of town. Let’s go find something to get into.”

At this point, I figured Phil was 100% a sleezeball. That being said, I was curious enough to tag along.

We end up in an Uber down to the beach where everyone would congregate after the bars closed. After about 20 minutes, I’d had enough of my newly adopted Uncle Phil, and I caught a metro back home. Phil kinda sucked. Weird night.

Saturday, August 28th

Rylan and Tanner hadn’t done much the day before, but we all met at the beach around lunch time today. Rylan and I both got a bit scraped up front squatting rocks (not a whole lot of options for leg day stuff),

and then we set up camp near the ocean. They had a small magnetic chessboard, and we ended up playing chess for a while. Several Europeans walked over to play. I guess it’s a popular game overseas. One guy in particular, Gabriel, is studying to get into business school. We chatted about that for a while, and then his roommate came over and started talking cryptocurrencies. I guess crypto really is a global phenomenon at this point.

Chelsea and Liverpool were playing that night, and there is nothing that Europeans love more than football. Chelsea managed to pull off a tie while playing down a man, and the crowd in our hostel bar roared with excitement. One of the guys from the beach told us about a street party that night, so we figured we would check it out. We met another American, a New Orleans guy named Michael (wearing a Saints polo, disgusting) at the hostel bar. He was working in London, but came to Barca for the weekend. Our entire extended group went to check out that street party, and it was ridiculous.

Thousands of people just piled in the neighborhood streets. I still have no idea how that is better for COVID than bars, but whatever. There was even a live band set up in the middle of the crowd. Just a 10/10 ridiculous vibe. We ended up heading back to the hostel around 2ish as the crowd dispersed.

Sunday, August 29th

This was a cool day. I woke up around 10:30 and took the metro to Park Güell. The park was designed by renowned architect Antoni Gaudí, and it was beautiful. A view of the city, incredible sculptures, and intricate buildings combined to create an awesome environment. Gaudí designed some incredible stuff.

There is a cathedral on a hill overlooking the entire city, and I wanted to go to the top and check it out.

Google Maps said it was a four mile, two hour hike up hill from Park Güell. I started walking. The views from my trek up the mountain were awesome. I passed through small, terra cotta-esque neighborhoods and wooded trails alike on the way up. I ran out of water along the way, but I saw water running from a pipe about an hour from the peak. A couple of Spanish mothers and their children were playing in a small park near said water, and they told me it was clean. Guess we’ll see if I get Montezuma’s Revenge.

As I got closer, I heard children screaming. Sure enough, I soon saw a rollercoaster, ferris wheel, and mechanical airplane on top of the hill. When I finally reached the summit, I discovered that this peak contained a cathedral, theme park, and Grand Floridian Hotel. Such a ridiculous trio of attractions all piled together. That being said, both the cathedral and view of the city were incredible. 11/10 worth the climb.

I took a bus/metro back to the hostel (much faster return trip), and started packing for the flight to Prague in the morning. Jules and I hit the pizza place again, then I came back to the hostel to hang out with Michael (NOLA guy) in the lounge. Rylan, Tanner, and I finally booked our hostel for the next few days in Prague (nothing like last minute planning). Michael was headed back to London in the morning for work, but he told us to come chill in England soon. Considering you can only stay in the Eurozone for 90/180 days on a US visa, I’ll probably be spending some extended time with our British brothers.

Monday, August 30th.

Flight is at 8 AM. It’ll take 30-45 minutes to get to the airport by metro. I accidentally put Rylan, Tanner, and me on the wrong train lmao. Now it’s 6:15 and we finally get on the right train. We scramble to fill out our preflight info for entry to the Czech Republic, and we have no idea how to check in for our flights. We make it to the airport at 6:50 for our 8:00 flight, but security won’t let us go through without checking in. 7:05, I find the EasyJet (Spirit Airlines of Europe) desk, and get checked in. Tanner makes it down there after me, and Rylan realized that he had booked a flight for two weeks out instead of today. Dude couldn’t get on our flight, and we were already scrambling to make it ourselves. Tanner and I were the last two on the flight, but we made it.

Side note: the lady sitting next to me was from Andorra. (Kudos if you can find that country on a map. It’s literally the size of Tifton, GA). I didn’t know anyone even lived in Andorra. She told me the skiing was great, may have to check it out.

Anyways, we land in Prague at 10:05 AM, and have a text from Ryland:

I guess the man found a flight with a Swiss layover. Bout to head to the hostel now. Hit me up with your Prague recs.



See below for the previous and next chapter: