Climbing up big rocks and small rocks

I have just a tinge of a coffee jitter right now and I’m liking it. So, I’ll take advantage and tell you two stories at once again. I’m justifying the delay of the first story by saying….okay, no excuses, must’ve just been lazy last week…and the delay of story two by saying I woke up from a 14-hour bus ride around 7 am on Monday (exhausted, natch) and Tuesday was my day to feel human again, so…WEDNESDAY it is. Today, I woke up before my alarm, so I assume that means I’m fresh again.

The first weekend in September I took completely off. It’s tricky to know when to work and when not to work when I set my own schedule, but for some reason, I decided I wanted/needed two days off last weekend, like normal people. On one of those days, the roomies (minus two, plus one extra person) and I decided to take a hike up to Tibidabo (which makes me think of my Medieval lit classes and the frase “Intellectum Tibidabo”–something about giving wisdom? It’s Latin, not really my thang.)

The hike began in the city…and then you just keep walking. I don’t think I had a firm grasp on how long a two hour (plus?) hike would feel, but let’s just say it was a workout (and while I’m no Serena Williams, I consider myself of at least average-good fitness level, post-breakfast and caffeine). We even had to squirrel our way up what I am convinced is a path only meant for the urban goat. But! Alas! We made it and were rewarded by spectacular views, our packed lunches, a trip to the church’s crypt (crypy! [not really. just liked that they shared some letters]) and an hour or so of relaxing at the café up top. On the way back down, I got to see a few new streets in the city, too.

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Starting in Gràcia

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See the church at the top of the hill? That’s where we’re heading.

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Into the wild…dry, Mediterranean forest.

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We made it. Church and amusement park! Guess which is which.

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A perfect view of the city.

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A less perfect view of us.

(How’s that for a quick summary?) Like my other out-of-Barna adventures, it is always refreshing to do something that breaks a sweat and feels like an exploration. Check plus!

This past weekend, I took the bus up to Paris…and discovered a new podcast, Criminal. The plan wasn’t to stay in Paris, but to magically meet up with five other people who’d be arriving at different places and different times and go off to Fontainebleau, a HUGE forest about 45 minutes outside of the city (I think it was Napoleon’s forest, but don’t use me as your phone-a-friend on that one). Magically, we all found each other (and the world’s most expensive cafè-au-lait) and we did it!

So, here’s where you may be a little incredulous: we camped! As much as I’d like to think I’m not a total princess, I also don’t love camping. I went one night this spring and the tent was humid at night, hot in the morning; the ground was hard; the wind, noisy. GAH. All too much for me. But, these were new friends so I had to be on my best behavior and be a good sport, and I think I was. And right when I thought I was at my limit (like on day one when we were bouldering in the forest until the sun was completely set…and then faced a 7 km walk back home), miracles happened (like on day one, when we popped out of the forest…and into a DELICIOUS and cheap pizza place and toasted to our achievements, swapped funny stories [one of them involved one guy’s dad involved in mishaps with a landlord, others involved unusual uses for ping pong balls]). To avoid another parenthetical aside, miracle two happened on day two when I was pretty pooped from hiking/climbing all morning and we walked out of the forest at 4 or 4:30…and then walked back to the campsite for naps! EEEEE. I lurv naps.

Other small happy things: we were on a beautiful, grassy campsite next to a river (and surprisingly, no bugs!); we had access to terlets and showers; on night two, an AWESOME band played spot-on covers of old American country songs; the town where we were closest to (Samoreau) was like where they filmed the animated Beauty and the Beastjust that cute; and it didn’t rain on us too much (in fact, the wettest I got was walking to the bus stop in Barcelona!)


Walking through a HUGE park on our way to pick up crash pads.


Just one of the adorable towns surrounding the forest.


First day climbing. A., the one on the rock, is the one who invited me and she is rearry good.


I don’t think I made it up this route. I was also pretty noy-vous at this point since it was my first time climbing on rock in…forever.


I spy…a river.


The other side of the camp site (these people were smart…tents right next to the bathrooms!)


Walking along the river path (still various km away from the climbing forest). Just the slightest hint of fall on the trees.

IMG_8176Group shot on la Roche Eponge (the sponge rock!) on day two.


Pretty tired, but loving the view on day two.


Taking shelter from the rain and having our Aldi-Couscous lunch under a rock.


Watching the other climbers…and taking a nice lil’ break.


And my turn! This was the route I liked the most (okay, so I only tried like 4 or 5 total. But…it counts!)


Scenes from my walk to the boulangerie, an ADORABLE, French-only bakery that seemed to serve just the 10 people that lived in town. To my great enjoyment, there was even a little combo tobacco-grocer-newspaper-coffee shop next door, where me and the men of the town stopped for a quick coffee at the bar in the morning (a place with decor that hasn’t changed in at least my lifetime…)


A side view of the village church and a monument to the villagers lost in WWI. This town won an award for its flowers and it’s easy to see why!

In sum, berry berry beauty-full, worth a visit for more days (and in a queen-size bed with percale sheets?) and a really nice crew. I even got to speak Catalan with the girls! It seems totally weird to me, but I have spoken more Catalan on this trip than Castilian/Spanish.

I’m trying to keep this one short so I can go do my work this morning, so peace out, girl scouts.              


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