May 14, 2018

Arriving in Barcelona on the very first day of 2018 to Marine’s gleaming face was a relief and in our sleep-deprived state, we began jumping around, eager to explore the bustling streets of Barcelona. We were both in a place that we’d dreamed about for so long and we didn’t want to waste a single second.

Barcelona would be the starting block to a five-week journey that would take us to icy peaks, vertical faces and show me a continent I knew very little about. Our Objective was simple; flood our senses with as many experiences as possible for as little as possible.

A little background as to how Marine operates. She is a type of French-Amazonian-woman-warrior. Even though, she’s in the final stages of her PhD. She juggles multiple conservation projects, guides photographic tours around the world, and last year she was training for ultra-distant trail runs. She does all of these things with a philosophy of Vite. Bien. Efficacy  (French for Fast. Well. Efficient). When you don’t have a lot of cash, but you have the aspiration to see everything, you’ve got to do some planning. This was how we did BCN.

We cast away our bags in our little Airbnb in the heart of the city and with a map in one hand and a camera in the other we hit the streets. Barcelona is famed for its tapas, narrow hand paved streets, churros  (a Spanish doughnut) and, quite simply, its Spanish flare. Sagrada Familia, the famed architectural spectacle was one of the few things that we had budgeted for, while everything else: the stunning parks and gardens; plazas, and markets were free.

The best way to see any city is to walk it flat. We planned out a vague route, packed a little pack with water and some snacks and put on the comfiest, lightest and most supportive pair of shoes (I wore the Hi-Tec V lite Wildlife for my entire trip).

There was gentle Spanish guitar illuminating our path as we wandered the maze that makes up the city. As a Cape Townian, it’s pretty easy to navigate because we have a thousand meter high mountain as a reference, but I had no chance in this labyrinth! That being said, you don’t really want to know where you’re going, that’s the best way to see the city. We had the whole day to get around and we began to clock big distances. Walking from one side of the city to the other, up hills to palaces and down along the Mediterranean Sea worked our legs and got those endorphins going. On our first day out, we clock more than 25 km without trying too hard- there was just so much we wanted to see, plus we got lost more than once!

The buildings and incredible street art kept us wide-eyed and engaged throughout our journey. Night fell and life was injected into the city. Musicians took to the streets, bars began to buzz and we became ravenous for an authentic tapas joint that would refuel us for an unknown evening adventure.  Places like Las Ramblas (the most touristy spot of BCN) are fun to check out for an hour or two, but like most tourist traps I found them to be cheap & nasty with a heavy price tag. We found a cosy and delicious tapas joint, where two stocky Latin-blooded men sang opera for a small crowd.

Barcelona is known as “the beating pulse of Europe”. We understand why.  


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