Lifestyle

2008 I pack my backbag again and left Belfast. I didn’t wanted to stay in social benefits. Since then I have been around in Europe without much income. Tips for survival.

Each year I have to leave Barcelona. Sometimes during their Pascua holidays end of March, early April but at latest by the end of June. The weather is becoming unbearable hot for me and there is a mass of tourists everywhere. My brain doesn’t work in this heat and the mass of tourists make me very nervous. There is now protests going on in Barcelona with signs and graffiti everywhere: “Tourists go home, immigrants welcome”, so obviously those tourists has pissed off also locals here. I’m considering myself to be forced immigrant here, so supporting those protesters.

Also libraries will be closed in Barcelona during August, so obviously I have nothing to do here then besides drinking. This year I started my trip towards Paris in July as I wanted to get my new MacBook sorted out. It was getting too expensive for me constantly change the screens of old one, so at least MacBook Pro screen is protected by glass and should be more durable. And somehow my iPod stopped working in one morning. I had some money left from my computer budget, I purchased myself a new iPod as well. But after two days, old iPod started to work again just showing that battery is empty? Before that it just refused to show anything. So, I had two iPods now, expecting to sell that old one in eBay and use the newest one. It had even back camera, which somehow lack on old one.

I needed new back-bag for the trip. Somehow the 9 EURo back-bag has lasted well over the winter but was too small to carry all my clothes and computer, so I made a choice to buy a bigger one for 19 EURo. But same evening the straps broke and after some days, other stitches broke as well so obviously I had to buy a new one for the trip. So, I made the choice for 29 EURo, hoping that more expensive would last more. I was wrong. When reaching Paris, this one of the straps went broke and when now reaching back to Barcelona with it, it was a total rubbish. At least, I had small spare one here.

Anyway, I got very quickly from Spain to France and stopped in Nimes as I usually do. It’s better to have few euros for the train to get out from Barcelona. Earliest years I just walked over Badalona and Maresme and it was taking days to reach a place, where you can hitchhike properly. But, when you get to the train, there is no ticket control in St. Susanna and you can just walk out from platform to the next village where national road turns towards Girona and there is good place to start hitchhiking.

But it was meaningless to stay in Nimes longer as the place, where I could get good free breakfast was closed for July-August. And their social restaurant, where the five course lunch will cost you only one euro is closed for summer period as well. You can find this restaurant in Rue Richeliau and it’s named “Table Ouvert”. You have to be there around 11.30 as French people are very strict to start their lunch exactly at 12 a clock.

So I went back to motorway trying to get ride with my “Paris” sign. Once, I have even got a direct ride to Paris from Nimes, but usually if I’m lucky, then somebody will take me after Lyon and there is high possibility to get directly to Paris from some gas station.

This time, I wasn’t so lucky. After several hours waiting, I just changed the sign to Verizon and got picked up immediately. This truck went even little bit further and I continued with Paris sign from a gas station before Lyon. It was very hot summer day and went hotter, when I got my ride passing Lyon. Even the car was air conditioned, the driver noted me outside thermometer increasing to 38-39 C. When car stopped, it was showing 42 C. When opening the door, I rushed inside the station

conditioned rooms thinking that now way I’m going outside to hitchhike. I would have passed out in this heat. And it was already evening, over six a clock. At least, there was WiFi in that gas station and when sun went down, I went outside to have a little nap and continued hitchhiking early morning during sunrise, when temperature has decreased.

Paris wasn’t so hot anymore and by the end of August, it went much colder and rainy. Exactly like weather in Barcelona during some cold winter days. I have joked before, that I’m lucky to have two winters in year. One in Barcelona during January-February and another in Paris August-September.

I had especially purchased myself a new leather jacket from eBay (UK seller) for my Paris period. However, it was same kind of crap as the back-bag. After few days of wearing it, the leather from right sleeve was torn, so I had to throw it away. However, Paris is good place to find free clothing. People there just put the clothes, they do not need to boxes nearby trash cans where Romanians can collect them and sell for few Euros. I was lucky to find a leather jacket for myself this way before Romanians. The first one was brown, so not much my color but after some weeks I found the black one exactly to my taste. And wearing it since then. So, finding something free is in much better quality, than spending huge amount of money for it.

And I had plan to do some programming work in Paris, that’s why I actually traveled there. I put this extra iPod for sale in eBay hoping quick cash from it (more than half of the price, I had paid few months ago for it and I was lucky to get small iOS app writing gig from UpWork (previous eLance). But just before finishing this gig, one morning my new MacBook didn’t come up. And when it sometimes did, it refused to save anything to local hard drive even hard drive test went thru perfectly.

After a several visits to Paris Apple store (you have to be very early there to get a appointment to Apple technician), they tried to reinstall Yosemite. But during this process, hard drive just refused to create a new partition, so now I had totally dead computer. As hard drive tests went thru, I expected the problem to be in cable. It was totally useless to visit those Apple repair shops there. I just wanted to know, do I have to change the cable or hard drive and left them my computer for diagnostics. After several hours, those repair shops told me to throw the computer away, claiming it to be useless piece of metal! Obviously, I didn’t go for such kind of idiotic idea and hoped to be back in Barcelona, where I had a screwdriver and extra hard disk from my old MacBook.

Trying to sell the extra iPod from eBay didn’t went well. The guy, who was a winner of the auction never paid and never answered to my mails. So, I had to wait something 25 days to be able to cancel the process. Meanwhile, after I have cleaned and updated the iOS in Apple store, I somehow had not closed the box very well and being in bottom of my back-bag, the start button had somehow broke. And obviously I did not had any tools to fix it. So, instead selling it, I had to throw it away.

So, I was again in the situation to earn myself passive income, which means just sitting in the street. Other means of my passive income, like Google ads or publishing book to Amazon are making me too little money for survive.

I had plan, that maybe I could get a job picking up apples or other fruits in France. Sometimes, I have had a such kind of luck. This time, I decided to use Job Office (Pole Employ). It would have been much convenient for me just to write applications and expect to be notified, where and when I have to be to start the work, instead of visiting the farms and asking for a work.

But, as I noticed in the beginning, without a local phone number, I can’t even apply. So, I borrowed some money to buy myself cheapest mobile phone with local SIM card. I made more than ten

applications for work and no-one ever got back to me, so as I expected, the Job Offices are useless organizations to get a job everywhere, including France.

Besides drinking wine, there are other useful activities to do in Paris in this period. Parc de Villete runs free film festival starting after 14th of July until end of August and their selection has been very good. After that, there is youth short films festival in Parc Butte du Chapeu Rouge (Port Lilas) with music playing first, then some old lady reads her poetry and afterwards you can watch the films. Usually six to eight of them in each evening. However, this year it was so cold and rainy during their festival, that I was able to visit only few days and didn’t saw the winning films. But after releasing my first book, I had become member of writers groups and collected myself a significant library of free eBooks to my iPod to read. So, I finished my yearly reading challenge of 50 books very quickly by spending most of the time sitting in bus stops and reading an eBook.

Paris even had solved my problem to charge the iPod without a computer. After Apple Store tried to recover the Yosemite, the computer went so dead that it even didn’t charged my iPod anymore. And as my USB charger I had went broke long time ago, I had a problem. But Paris had sorted out the problem for me. They just had put USB port to every bus stop, so people can charge their iPhones and iPods. After some time, they started to limit this charging time for 10 minutes, so you had to change the stop to continue charging, but on Sundays and nighttime it was unlimited. Paris is true Smart City with free showers, toilets, meals, WiFi and now even USB ports and Barcelona has lot of problems to catch up. Especially having enough toilets and showers for people to use.

Anyway, by the end of September, when there was some sunny days promised ahead, I decided to start my trip back to Barcelona. From previous years I know, that it is practically impossible to get out from Paris to the Lyon motorway, so hitchhiking towards Orleans is only option there. This means a long walk to Massy, where motorway turns towards Orleans and national road goes there as well.

From Orleans, I started to hitchhike to Limoges early morning, but it was so cold wind, so I went back to river, where I slept and spent some hours to warm up in bushes there. By the evening, I was in Limoges. The Social restaurant asks 1.50 for the breakfast and fantastic five course meal there leaving next day towards Toulouse.

Somehow the social restaurant in Toulouse doesn’t offer anymore warm meals. Only a pack of small bread, piece of cheese, 10g of pate and apple. Wasn’t much to feed me, but thanks to one Jesus evangelist, who donated me ten euros, I had enough cash for my trip forward and on next day, I was in Narbonne. The town, I have been stuck several times before. Somehow the driver, who took me from Toulouse was thinking that the best place for me to continue towards Perpignan will be last resting place on A61, where no-one ever stoppes and I had to walk something twenty kilometers to Narbonne. It was nice village road which was named Wine Road. But French people had already picked up their wine grapes, leaving only very few for me to collect.

Anyway, next day I was already grossing French-Spanish border and as usual, had to walk first three kilometers where first very Spanish long town starts with expensive supermarkets, car parkings and Romenian prostitutes. It’s called Frontiera.

When reaching to the end of this town to continue hitchhiking, the rain started. So I found truck drivers resting place on the cellar of one supermarkets, where I drink wine and charged my phone until it was already dark. So, I had to wait next day to continue with another pack of wine.

The showers there cost something 3.50 and obviously where too expensive for me (or anyone) to pay. However, I talked over the cleaning lady and got a shower for one euro. That’s the way, how we do business in Spain. Obviously they have problem to collect taxes, when businesses should charge ridiculous prices.

Being fresh, I got a ride to Figueres very quickly and got stuck there. It hasn’t been my first time to be stuck in Figueres or between Figueres and Girona. Being frustrated on next day, I just started to walk towards Barcelona holding my sign and by the late evening, one young guy stopped and took me to Girona. Again, it was too late to get any ride for Barcelona, so I had to wait next morning. Meanwhile, I just walked back to city center hoping some food and to collect tobacco. I didn’t had any luck with the food and there was only cents left from this ten Euros I got in Toulouse.

When next morning one girl stopped and promised to take me only little bit forward, I took the ride and she donated me two Euros. And she stopped in the place, where a road turns towards Hostalric. From my previous travels, I know that taking this road to Barcelona could be more convenient compared to national 2, which goes over small villages by the sea. So, it was again lot of walking until somebody stopped and took me little bit further. But this walking was profitable for me as I found several one euro coins on the road. As cars seems to be crossed those coins, they were scratched, but I hoped that they are as good as any money. Finally, one German guy with his motorhome stopped and took me to another side of Barcelona. He stopped in Molins de Rei for me as I expected it to be nearest to Barcelona. Glad, that I had those coins, so I was able to buy train ticket from machine and got myself to the city center. But when I tried to use them in shop, they didn’t accepted those coins.

So, being happily back in Barcelona, I just hope that I could get now my MacBook fixed and start to do something useful to get new back-bag, sleeping bag for winter and boots sorted out.

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