Yes, it took a long plane ride through the night, but we finally arrived in Barcelona, Spain, and were able to go and look at the statue of Columbus pointing east over the Mediterranean Sea. (Yeah, I’m just as confused as you are.) I was excited about getting to explore this great city, but I had one big problem, my head still floated in a different time zone. So like so many other travelers who hop from continent to continent, I tried to figure out how to get over my jetlag so I could enjoy my trip with a clear head. I had an even harder time with this time because we arrived at 8 o’clock in the morning and we had the whole day to deal with this feeling before we could go to sleep and try to adjust to the time zone that we were in. So I thought I would share with you how I attacked this problem, and hopefully they will help you if you ever find yourself in a similar situation.
First off, never lie down. That will kill you every time. Even if you think that you are just doing it to rest for a little bit so you can recover from the way your eyelids feel super heavy, it will not help you. You will eventually close your eyes and you will never recover from the mistake. You will find yourself waking up at two o’clock in the morning ready to take on the day. Which if you find yourself in Barcelona, it might not be a big problem because the bars stay open until 4 o’clock in the morning, but what will you do after that?
Because you shouldn’t lie down, the obvious thing to do is to walk around the neighborhood and check out the sights. It will keep your mind active and it will also allow you to know where the things you really want to see are. I suggest that you do not go into the museums and the cathedrals yet because you will not be able to enjoy them the way that you are hoping to, but there will enough going on around you that will allow you to keep you awake. It is also when your freak radar is on high alert, and you will see some of the greatest moments on your trip, things that will make you laugh, like people dancing to jazz music across Spanish plazas, or strange advertisements pasted on stores to attract you interest.
If though I recommend that you do not go into anything significant, that does not mean that you can’t still get a cultural experience. Hey, that is part of the reason we travel in the first place. The best way to do this is to enjoy the architecture of the city that you find yourself in. Europe has a lot to offer in this department, and I had found a new corner of Barcelona that I did not know existed. I always assumed that it was a more modern city ruled by the art work on Antonio Gaudi, but I discovered the medieval part of the city that was built on the ruins of Roman buildings. It has amazing gothic buildings and give you the feeling that you are in Europe. Find this part of the city you are in because there is a treasure around every corner that you turn.
Lastly, find the crowds and enjoy the local cuisine. Your mind not be in the right place to have deep conversations with these people, and if you don’t speak the language really well, you are not going to be able to do it anyways. But it is fun to people watch. There are so many stories in a city like Barcelona, and you can exercise your mind by trying to tell them. You will also be able to start to pick out the difference between the locals, and the ones who are out there for vacation. (Don’t worry, they are doing the same thing with you.) It is a great way to exercise your brain without making a big fool out of yourself, and as a writer, it is a great way to collect stories for later use.
The food is really important too. Don’t go big on your first day. You will have an opportunity later to have that relaxing meal that you are looking for. Try to sample the local flavors. If you find yourself in Spain, you can do this by eating tapas. They are small bites that allow you to taste a little here and little there. It also allows you the pleasure of hopping from place to place. You can have a small tapas at one place than you can skip across the street to try a different one over there. It will engage you enough to keep you awake and willing to stay up even though your eyes my burn and your head might float around the stratosphere.
There are many other things that you can do to try to get over jetlag, and people are always willing to offer their advice on the subject, but these are the things that help me. You might still want to go to bed early and that is okay. I went to sleep last night at 8 o’clock which is ridiculous, but I was able to sleep throughout the whole evening and woke up at 6 o’clock to take on the second day in this city. Each night I will stay up later and later and within a couple of days I will be on this time zone, and I won’t be up at weird times wondering what I will do while others are sleeping.