Budget travel, as you know for sure, is not all about nice hotels and cute bed&breakfasts (although we all love those, don´t we?). When your budget is low even among the poorest guys, you need to level it up with unconventional ideas. And since that couchsurfer´s comfy couch is not always free, here I am with the collection of the five strangest and most uncommon accommodation spots I have spent a night at.
Cemetery in Spain
Maybe it is spooky, but a cemetery ground is flat for sure – which makes it good for a night of camping. However, when I was walking the Camino de Santiago more than six years ago, I didn´t even own a tent, not to mention that my sleeping bag was as shitty as they get. At the time, I wasn´t planning to stay outside, but since I had a long day of walking, all the beds were taken when I finally arrived. Not even walking five extra kms to the next village could save me. Fortunately enough, a girl who got to stay in an albergue (a pilgrims hostel) borrowed me her fancy sleeping bag and so, in spite of laying next to Francesco (1894 – 1978) I had a night of sound sleep.
Cloud forest in Colombia
The Colombian paramo is a natural wonder – this wetland is filtering the rainwater and making it drinkable. It is basiccaly a big natural sponge high in the mountains that catches the raindrops and humidity in its mossy beard. The cloudforests owe their name exactly to the everpresent fog that forms around them. One surprisingly sunny day (it is always raining in the paramo), we were hiking across the Chingaza when the night caught up with us. The paramo being so wet, it is practically impossible to find a spot to put up a tent. Besides, 3000 m above the sea means a cold night. This time, we were lucky that someone has cut the trees on a square spot for cows to graze – which is illegal as the paramo is a protected area. We set our tent there and watched the most beautiful sunset, put on all of our clothes, sleeping bags and an emergency blanket all the way from the USA and slept very well until the morning when the rain and wind have caused a leak and we had to evacuate, pack everything wet and walk down the mountain to the next camping spot to dry our stuff.
Another one from the Camino de Santiago; this one, however, was converted into an albergue for pilgrims. Still, it was an uncommon place to spend a night at. The rooms were tiny and full of people, while the former podium hosted the kitchen and instead of audience, people were having their dinner.
Abandoned hotel in Italy
I have stayed in three abandoned places in Sicily in 2016 and two of them were hotels. I am still undecided which one was the most scary. The first one was on the top of the hill, near a charming little medieval village of Erice where we hiked during a hot afternoon. While it was hot enough to sleep at the beach down in Trapani in September, Erice being a few hundreds of meters more up and windy was a different story.We saw the door was half open and didn´t hesitate much before jumping in. The hotel was full of strange sounds and to be able to sleep, we first checked all the rooms to make sure we were the only guests. The unsettling noise of the wind and cracking of the walls kept us up almost all of the night, however, we enjoyed the fact that there was no need to pack the tent in the morning.
Police station in Cambodia
For me, Cambodia is the ultimate land of wonders. We have spent quite some time hitchhiking and sleeping in random villages – whichever roof that shields a fruit seller from the sun in the day is usually a good fit for the night as well. A couple of times we asked the locals if we could hang our hammock near their house and they redirected us to the police station. Surprisingly, the policemen were always beyond welcoming to us, once offering us a dinner consisting of a peanut soup and some roasted dog meat (which we ate), while on another ocasion letting us sleep in the cell of detention. That´s what I call a night to remember!
House of an Imam in Albania
This is the most recent of all of the listed places. Some days ago, we were walking from Elbasan, looking for a safe spot shielded from the wind. As it has been raining a lot lately (it is the end of october after all) we found all of the places to be rather wet and muddy. The empty construction sites were whether too dirty or inaccessible. When we saw the green mosque with lights on, the prayer ending just at that moment, we felt there was a chance for something better. The mosque had a little roof in front and was on a concrete ground – we asked the imam if we could set our tent right there for the night.
See more of Albania in my Photojournal from Tirana!
Instead of that, the imam said: “Why would you sleep outside? I have an empty house where you can stay,” and took us to his home. There were two houses that belonged to him, one of them serving for guests. That´s where we slept that night. The imam and his family were so kind that they even brought us warm dinner which we gladly (and avidly) accepted. The bonus was the lesson of Albanian language we got from the kids from the neighborhood.
Read more: Hitchhiking Albania Adventures
These are the weirdest places I have slept at; while I like having a night of calm sleep, the nights in the hostels are not the ones I remember. Sometimes, traveling on a tight budget makes you jump into the adventure head on – and isn´t it the way travel should be?
What are the strangest spots that you have slept at? Would you welcome a stranger to your house?