Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sleeping at Barajas

Back in 2009, we used to buy 6:30 flights for our weekend trips because those were the cheapest flights.  Because of that, we would have to take the metro to the airport around 1:00 am, and sleep there until it was time to check in for our flight.  A cab all the way to Barajas every weekend is out of the student budget.

EasyJet - Madrid Barajas T1
The first time we slept at Barajas, on the way to Granada, I got really sick.  There are no chairs before you check in, and the tile floor is really cold.  We had packed sandals, t-shirts, and shorts since we thought it would be warm in Andalucía.  As the semester progressed, we learned to bring snacks for overnight airport stays.  By the time we got to our Paris trip in November 2009, my host family started sending me with a little nylon sleeping bag.  This really, really helped.  Aside from trying to watch your luggage and purse, an airport is just not an easy place to snooze.

On the way to Paris in 2009.

So far this year, I've been booking flights that don't require me to sleep at the airport.  I decided my airport snoozing days were a thing of the past.  Then, about four weeks ago, I found a very cheap flight to Krakow that left at 6:30 am.  I couldn't resist.  Old habits die hard I guess.  So here I am, once again, at Madrid Barajas Airport in the middle of the night.  It's 1:41 am, and I'm chillin' on that same, cold floor by the EasyJet check in area.

The difference in my Barajas overnight stay this time is that before I came to Madrid, I thought about how to improve this tradition.  This year, I brought a travel sleeping bag, which doubles as my comforter here, to set between me and that freezing tile floor.  I have a scarf to cover my eyes to block the light, a purse for a pillow, a healthier snack, and warmer clothes.  I'm a pro.  A pro at sleeping at the airport.  I realize that's sort of a strange area of expertise.  Buy hey, anything for a cheap flight.  My travel sleeping bag is so awesome - you can zip it three different ways to adjust how warm it is.  Thank you, North Face!

On the way to Krakow in 2012. 
Despite all this fantastic preparation, I'm still not asleep - obviously, since I'm writing this at 1:47 am.  Only three more hours until I can check in...  Really though, I think the not sleeping has more to do with me personally than any of the surroundings here.  Sleep has never been my thing.  Fortunately, I planned ahead for that too, and I brought this book so I could write.  I would have brought a novel, but I'm not so into reading lately.  If only Barajas had free WiFi...

You know, the one thing I like about sleeping at the airport is that you're way early for your flight - there's no rush whatsoever.  "Punctuality" may as well be my second middle name - I'm totally obsessed with it, so this setup works out nicely.

On the way to Lisbon in 2009.
Some people might be concerned about sleeping through their boarding call, but I don't sleep, so that's not really an issue here.  Perhaps this would be an issue for Marissa.  Besides, Madrid Barajas Terminal 1 doesn't announce boarding calls over the PA system anyways.  Nonetheless, I always set at least two alarms to wake myself.  But they usually just wake the people snoozing around me.  Barajas is like a giant sleepover party at night.  People - lots of people - literally camp out for early flights.  Well, it's mostly students.  Real people would just buy a later flight.

And...we've arrived at 2:00 am.  You know, there are certain funny memories that I have from sleeping here.  It's more than an uncomfortable night on a cold floor and a bizarre sense of camaraderie with tired, travelling study abroaders.  There's the "Voice of Barajas."  Of course, since this is Spain, they announce everything first in Spanish.  But then, this man with a sort of British, but not really British accent enthusiastically tells you to watch your luggage.  My friends and I always cracked up laughing when we heard those recorded announcements.  And yes, even if you're lucky enough to catch a few minutes of sleep the, "Voice of Barajas," will invariably wake you, regardless of the hour.  He speaks at the hour, fifteen minutes, and the half hour.  And then you can't go back to sleep because you start thinking about the accent.

2:18 am - Considering doing some airport yoga.  I need entertainment.  And exercise.  The trick would be watching my backpack and purse.  I'd have to wear them.  Hmm...not worth it.  I don't even like yoga.  Wow, I almost wrote yogurt.  Maybe I really am tired. 

Oh, and if you're concerned about safety, rest assured - I'm not actually asleep in any of these photos.  I agree that it would be unsafe to be completely asleep and not watch your belongings at the airport.  However, on nights like these, sleep really isn't in the cards. 

1 comment:

  1. This is the greatest post ever. First one I've ever read all the way through. Love Love Love. Seriously. You brought me right back to my travel days, and oh how I don't (but really do) miss this.