Trucos para aprovechar los albergues del mundo

Para los latinoamericanos que quieren aventurarse en Europa, una forma más económica es quedarse en albergues. Con la tasa del euro 5 veces más que el real brasileño o 50 veces más que el peso argentino… Por eso es muy difícil pagar por un buen hotel, especialmente cuando se viaja solo. Primer, hay algunos preconceptos que no pueden existir antes de su viaje:

Albergue es un hogar para jóvenes de 18 años?

Sí, hay muchos jóvenes, pero también jóvenes de 40 años o más! De mi experiencia, lo digo que eso cambia si la ciudad es también un destino cultural de excelencia. En OPorto, donde hay mucha cultura, estaba en la misma habitación con una señora con casi 60 años. Ella me invitó una vez para tomar té y tenía muy buenas historias de sus viajes por el mundo.

Albergue es hogar de las personas que viajan solas?

Lo que siempre he visto son personas independientes para hacer todo. Algunas viajan solas, pero lo más común es duplas o grupos de amigos solteros. Es muy importante saber que cada uno tiene flexibilidad en su viaje, las personas del grupo se separan y se mixturan en otros grupos también. Lo más importante: tu escalabilidad de hacer amigos es muy grande.

En Hamburgo, conocí una mujer que viajaba con dos niñas de 9 años: su hija y una prima. Añadime a su programación del día, fuimos al musical y la museo de miniatura. Lo resultado fue que también nos divertimos mucho como adultos.

Albergue en Hamburgo

Pero entiendo si te parece difícil compartir un piso con extraños. Si nunca te quedaste en un hostel, el secreto número uno es saber tu limites de privacidad. Con eso, puedes crear tu proprios momentos para tenerla. El secreto número dos es estar abierto para lo nuevo y rendirse a sí mismo para divertirse con el grupo.

Cuándo estuvo en Granada, mientras el desayuno, pregunté para las personas que compartían la mesa si quisiera ver el espectáculo de flamenco por la noche. Al momento, nadie se interes. Por la noche, casi al momento de mi partida, una chica me estaba esperando en la recepción. Fuimos juntas al espectáculo. Conclusión: la chica no estaba en mi mesa del desayuno, y así mismo la información la llegó.

Si te da vergüenza hacer lo mismo, una forma infalible es preguntar en la recepción del albergue. ¿Qué actividades organizan para el día? En Montevideo, Uruguay, yo había planeado pasar la noche de Año Nuevo en la playa. Cambié de idea cuando la chica de la recepción me dijo que tendrían una fiesta en la terraza. Fue una noche muy divertida, con cerca de 20 personas. El otro día, fue más fácil tener compañía para ir a la playa.

La terraza del albergue de Montevideo

La regla de oro para que tu estadía en un albergue no sea un desastre

Es muy simples: el buen comportamiento. Si eres educado, el otro muy provavelmente también será. No significa que tienes que siempre sonreír y tornarse amigo de todos. Pero nada hay que temer. Todos son personas normales, con el mismo deseo de hacer buenísimos recuerdos de viaje. Y comparten la misma voluntad de no tener problemas.

La parte práctica de eso es quedarse preparado para compartir. En un albergue, vas a compartir 3 ambientes: la habitación, el baño y la cocina. Para cada uno, hice un listado do que se necesita llevar en tu maleta para que tengas una buena experiencia – y más económica también.

Trucos para compartir la habitación

Pregunta en el check-in para quedar con la cama de abajo de la cucheta.

Máscara para dormir, para no despertar siempre que alguien enciende las luces cuando llega por la noche.

Tampones protectores de oído, si eres muy sensible para ruidos y los tengo siempre, especialmente si alguien en la habitación ronca)

Candados para sus bolsas, si hay un casillero, a veces tendrá que pagar extra.

Recuerdo: Si hay baño dentro de la habitación, es mejor quedar en la cama más lejos. Yo prefiero que haya uno en la habitación porque así es compartido com menos personas.

Trucos para compartir el baño

Si eres loco por limpieza, pregunte en la recepción cuál es el horario de limpieza de los baños.

Chanclas normalmente el piso es frío y no está limpio…

Toalla de secagem rápida, yo pienso que el talle más pequeño para tener más espacio en tu maleta. Pero también puedes pagar más para alquilar una toalla del albergue.

Neceser de viaje con gancho, es muy práctica para poner donde quieras.

Todos los artículos de baño en miniatura. Es más práctico, pero si te quedas largo, entonces no es problema comprar todo en el destino.

Secadora de pelo portatil para viaje, pero a veces la recepción tiene para alquilar o prestar

Recuerdo: Si quedas eternamente en el baño, es probable que haya una cola de personas esperando…

Trucos para compartir la cocina

Por supuesto, es mucho más barato preparar la comida en el albergue. Puedes ir a fiestas solo para beber, y usar su dinero para comprar boletos de atracciones locales. Elige un hostal con un supermercado cercano.

Rotulador permanente para escribir tu nombre en la bolsa de plástico o en el empaque de alimentos que se compara y deja en la nevera.

Botes en miniatura para especiarias, si eres un foodie como yo y quieres tener siempre tener tu comida saborosa.

Botella portable es muy práctica si quieres tener más tiempo y también controlar mejor tu alimentación mientras el viaje.

Recuerdo: si no lavas tu platos bien, quizás el próximo que va usar también no estará tan limpio…

Cocina en el albergue del OPorto

¿Y si a mi me gustaría quedarme solo?

En estos momentos, puedes usar la área comunal del albergue muy temprano, antes del desayuno – las personas aún duermen. Y yu habitación a la hora del mediodía muy probable no habrá nadie.

Pero también hay un signal de buenas maneras que todos comprenden cuando quieres quedar solo: pongas tu auriculares. Si quedas en tu habitación o adonde vayas, para un café en la cercanía o un parque, si quedas tranquilo con tu auriculares, nadie va hablar contigo.

En Budapest, me quedé en un albergues que tenía un piso sólo para mujeres, con cocina y sala extra. Fue muy tranquilo porque una cantidad más pequeña de personas tenían acceso a esa área. Yo pudo meditar y hacer yoga todos los días en la habitación, sola, por el mediodía.

Una curiosidad: los mejores albergues donde estuve hasta hoy están en Austria 😛 En Asia, los precios de las pensiones de familias locales son muy más baratas y las recomiendo.

My top 5 coffee houses experiences around the world

I was naive. I did not belong to the world of coffee houses endless crawling.

Everything started in Germany in 2003 when I went to a very known coffee house in Tübingen, Café Atrium. It was a warm summer afternoon, but I and my two friends wanted to take me to this place and I fully enjoyed the great cappuccino they had. Life changing!

From that day on, I developed a real relationship with coffee. For good.

I did my B.A. in South Brazil, where people are simply addicted to it. The world largest coffee beans producer, unfortunately, has not my gold medal for coffee beans taste. But has one of my favorite coffee places in the world!

To all coffee specialists, please notice that I did not picture here an experience of cupping nor analyzing coffee beans genetics nor taste receptors. That is a very important role but restricted to coffee specialists. Here I mean a “great joyful moment while having a coffee drink” as a life experience, following my own cognitive psychology and momentum feelings. I really like the places I listed below, where I have been at least in twice different opportunities, alone or with friends.

To me, they mean a real example of comfort food. Understand how I structured this piece of happiness I want to share with you:

Environment: Am I empathic to the business proposal? Does the coffee house levels up my inspiration? How careful is the decoration?;

People: How good is the attendance? How do locals interact and talk with visitors? Do I belong to the client profile?;

Quality and variety of coffee drinks: Do they serve Arabica beans only? How are they involved in the roasting and production processes? Is there a big variety of drinks?

1- Conditorei Café Schober-Péclard, Zurich

Classic. The decoration is wonderful and I confess I was intimidated the first time I entered. It looked such an exclusive fancy tiny chocolate store. By the time I entered, I discovered a cozy world: there is a Grand Piano inside of their wonderful classic “salon rouge”, which made me feel inside of a classic castle tea room. There I could find the most polite people ever — maybe all around the city, by the way. One night I stayed there until it closes, and I had a great experience: they played the Édith Piaf most classic song for 10 times or more until all customers stood up and make themselves “comfortable at home”. Secretly, they did not know that was not bothering me at all, because I was loving the place, the song, the company. They have delicious sweets and chocolates and they use coffee beans from a swiss roastery. I had many espressos there trying to equilibrate the sweetness of the place. This 100 years Café is located in Old Town, just ask for the “sweet corner”.

Christmas decoration makes it more wonderful. Credits: Sissa Granada

2- Sayuri Healing Coffee, Bali

Raw-vegan. People there seem to enjoy life at another level, they are always calm and do care about health and nature. The first time I went to this coffee place, I melt completely. They have such delicious guilt-free sweets and I loved the idea I could taste them all. Workers were very attentive when offering their food courses – not in that cheap marketing way – and, of course, I joined one of them: “raw desserts chefs”. It matched perfectly with my intention of leveling up my healthy food practices in the kitchen. This coffee house is located in Ubud, a very spiritual neighborhood, and you can see many yogis arriving there after their practices. I had great conversations and met very interesting people there, from chefs to business people making themselves comfortable with “healing”. There, I tasted for the first time an Asian coffee too. I still prefer the central American ones, but I enjoyed the vegan Japanese one they serve.

Made myself double comfort. Credits: Sissa Granada

3- Café Cultura, Florianópolis

Cultural. There are books everywhere, about all themes. They are a perfect companion for a cup of coffee or a great excuse to start a conversation with someone nearby — not that this is really necessary, as I see Brazilians as the world’s most sympathetic and open people. Once I went there with two friends, I took a poetry book and we started reciting poetry to each other. Magical! I just stopped when my almond milk latte arrived! This coffee house has their own roastery and uses the best Brazilian coffee beans. They offer the biggest range of coffee and milk drinks from these 5 top places I chose. The same for food, I have already joined brunch and dinner there. There are also good tables for people who want to work from their laptops, as I am just doing right now.

4- Truth Coffee Roasting, Cape Town

Hipster. The energetic environment I could feel from the sidewalk, with their very motivated doormen. By the time I enter, it was like you inside of a theater. The way waiters dress and care about everything is amazing. Food is great, also with a big assortment from breakfast to dinner. They have wonderful worldwide coffee beans and the roastery fellows were very attentive once when they explained and showed me different grains and processing way of doing. The atmosphere was simply perfect to make an endless espresso tasting. I was only two weeks in Cape Town, but my Airbnb was in the same street, downtown the city, so I came back there to try many different espressos and I can definitely say this artisan-roasted coffee house rocks!

Such a creative place. Credits: own business

5- Deutsche Bank Quartier Zukunft, Berlin

Business. This place is a very modern concept of banking, mixed with coffee and lounge area. It has many rooms available to do meetings, in a very modern environment. People made me feel home with their friendly attendance, especially at the coffee comfy sofas. I joined a mastermind there once and came back other times to work on my notebook. It is located in the middle of Berlin, it is really easy to arrive. They offer coffee beans from a german roastery and delicious classical bites. I usually had a soy milk cappuccino — in Germany the cup is huge — and the waiter already know I liked with plenty of cinnamon on it!

Very modern. Credits: own business

12 must know facts before going to Bali

While volcano activity slows down the tourist industry and give nature some rest, still there are human exploitation in every corner. The paradise, where everything is wonderful and cheap — sure, things are super cheap if you make money in euros, dollars or pounds — is a wonderful place, but has its own limitations and I believe travellers must be aware of them.

If you are going to Bali with no worries about payments and cleanness, come back to usual Bali tourist guides!
If you are saving tons of money for the Bali dream and will cross the world to go there, better be aware of the following potential “adaptations” you might do:

Plastic rubbish is everywhere

No, they do not recycle; yes, locals throw away garbage on streets; yes, you will swim and snorkel with plastic wastes; no, they do not clean the beaches nor have a public policy for that. I visited only two islands in Indonesia, Bali and Gili, and in most of their beaches there were plastic in the sand and in the water. Actions: clean by yourself — or ignore it. I saw many coffee and yoga businesses that dedicate time to “beach clean open session” which is really a good opportunity to make friends.

Offers and left overs everywhere

Bali island is mainly hinduism — which is only 10% of population of Indonesia — and they have the ritual of offering everyday, usually brunch time. The offer is cute: inside a natural basket made of banana tree leaf, they put flowers, food and incense together and let in their local businesses, on bridges protections, inside their vehicles or simply on the road. The sad parte is that street animals, as dogs, ducks, birds, come to eat all offerings — and mess up a bit. The result is that you have to be careful when walking not to step on them — or their left overs — an make streets dirtier.

Typical offerings — inside of a gym studio in Bali

Too much animals everywhere

Well, Bali has a richest tropical diversity and all animals love to be there — not only humans. Everybody wants a space. All houses are rich of ants, insects and if you do not clean properly, the big ones will come too, as mouse or snake. In most of districts there are rice fields just besides houses or roads, which are great environments for animals. If you are not in a hotel but in a normal local house, you may need to use insecticides in your place or clean it everyday, especially during rain season — all animals looks for a non wet safe place. One good tip is to not eat anything in your room. The smell attracts animals and you probably do not want to sleep with them.

Too much noise everywhere

As any other religion, hinduism has ceremonies with singing, dancing and partying. The bad thing is that their temple are open walls and we can clearly hear their celebration — three times a day according to the period of the year. Temples are everywhere. Forget about a quiet neighbourhood. The thing you can do is make sure a community house, a palace, a temple and a mosque is not in your block. Also verify their religious activities calendar: they simply close the streets for ceremony or procession. The noise is such a reality that during the first day of Balinese calendar, March 17th, they practice “Silent Day” and literally nobody goes outside their home for 24h. It is a sacred holiday and everything is not allowed to be open — even airport or hospitals.

Too much smoke in the air

If you ride on scooter and needs to take main roads in the crazy traffic jam, please use a mask to protect yourself. All locals use masks. After a ride you will need a shower. They say the traffic in the capital, Jakarta, is even worst! But smoke also comes from the burnings they do constantly. The usual burn is from dried grass or plants. They also do that to scare animal in the surroundings. The worst is when they decide to burn trash and plastic…the smoke is black and has a terrible smelling. Be prepared to have neighbours that does this twice a week if you are not in resorts area.

No public means of transportation

No bus nor metro. You will have to find a private way to go to places: taxis or scooter/car rental. If you have never taken left-hand traffic, you can easily get used and learn. The real problem is that streets are narrow, there are no traffic lights — only in the mains 4-lines roads — and too many tourists with their scooters. Yes, it is chaotic — not so bad as India or Thailand — but still locals are used to it and it can be a safer options to always have a driver. If you are driving alone, always double your estimated arrival time and make sure to disinfect your skin if you have any “small accident”. In rain season, traffic is chaotic due to flood and streets closed; in sunny season, traffic jam doubles.

Everything is far

The island is big (6 million inhabitants) and it is impossible to make a complete round tour on the same day. It will take minimum 1h to reach a different area: by car, it is minimum 3h from north-south and minimum 4h to east-west. Bali has many different cities and districts — beach, jungle, downtown, zen — and better you choose the one you fit the most to stay a while. There are plenty of things to do inside of each city (ex: Ubud, Denpasar, Kuta) and I would say it is not worth it to go and come back on the same day, it will take lots of your time. And do not forget traffic jam will be waiting for you.

Few imported industrialised goods

As usual in all non-developed countries, it will be hard to find you beloved Nutella— only in specialised groceries and gourmet markets. All imported things are expensive even after you change to your currency — forget about cheese, they have absurd prices in Bali. If you have diet restrictions and need gluten free stuff for example, the cheapest and easy way is to go natural and local. For sure you can find your favourite european/american conditioner whatever there, you will just need to search longer — and pay extra.

Locals workers do not speak english

No, they do not understand everything you say, even though they always answer “yes” with a pleasant smile. I noticed it can be dangerous if you only do yes-no questions, you might receive back a “yes” as an answer and receive the opposite. Instead of asking “could you prepare a cappuccino with soya milk, please”, better ask “which milk options do you have?” and wait for the answer. Locals are really attentive and will find a way out to understand you — if you have patience and time. In a local massage studio once, after trying to explain the massage I didn’t wanted, I simply took a paper, drawn a human body and they finally understood the massage to be done. For sure, there is always the easier alternative of going to “western places” where people speak better english and you can pay more for convenience.

Pushing tourist industry

Yes, all stores and local markets will be full of those people who tries to sell you everything. They seem to speak better english and will insist a lot! Another thing is that locals know you are a tourist and they will make prices higher for any service you ask for. If you find local places and local services, prices can be 2/3 cheaper and lowly. I am not including luxury and “exclusive” services here. It may sound impolite, but a tip to survive is not to stop to listen to them — only if you really want to buy something, sure!

Western people who doesn’t fit

Europeans or americans who made Bali their new home does not fit in 1st world country. Sure, there are so many reason involved, but the most commons I noticed was money, career or spiritually related. They simply cannot afford living in Europe with their jobs or they are rethinking their careers or their lives. All yoga studios are full of completely lost people and that want to find a way to connect themselves with themselves. Of course, there are typical tourists too, who just travel for fun and see Bali as beach vacation! According to people I talked with, I could clearly see the difference of behaviour of western people who decided to stay from the ones who are in a 2-week fun mode.

Meditation group – no locals

Services “tricks or treat”

Bali business people are really smart in making money. One common strategy is to sell minimum 10-pass package for a cheaper price than single class or session. Nothing wrong in that, until you discover the package was 1-month valid only and non-transferable! Bali has such a variety of cool and unknown services, that probably the next week you will find a better yoga studio or a cooler co-working… so you will probably end up with many passes in your hands that you will not manage to use. My suggestion is always buy a single ticket and forget those commitments — specially if you are in the discovery mood. Another marketing trap they use a lot is “made from western to westerns”. Usually only the owner of the business is a western and all employees are locals. That is probably the best solution for local economy — but I admit I got nervous when I went to a doctor (which trial conversation was made by a german specialist someone recommended) but the next procedure itself was made by a local. Sorry, it may sound prejudice, but I didn’t like when I paid for a mango that tasted more like an avocado.