Spain: Barcelona, Begur, & Girona
Long time no talk. I hope you are all well in the time of COVID-19. I certainly have had my ups and downs, but things have evened out recently. This forced stillness has been good for me, even if it left me without a job for a short while. While unemployed, I hustled my butt off and started my own consulting firm called Coco Canary Consulting and have had the fortune to find consistent work for the foreseeable future. Yeah, I know, I’m one of the lucky ones. If you happen to know anyone who needs evaluation or communication assistance, send them my way!
Anyway, in this post, I will be sharing about my experiences traveling to Spain in 2019 with my partner, Michael. I gave a brief synopsis in my previous post but have been meaning to expand more on the experience. I will split this post into three sections: Barcelona, Begur, and Girona. These are the three places Mike and I went to while in Spain. I even made a video! You can view it on my Youtube page linked here: Spain 2019 – Barcelona, Begur, & Girona – Short Film. Enjoy!
BARCELONA: FRIENDS, A WOMEN’S CONFERENCE, AND THE USUAL TOURIST SITES
A week after I submitted my master’s thesis to the University of Minnesota, Mike and I were on a flight to Barcelona. We knew where we were staying in Barcelona, but otherwise, we didn’t have much of a plan. Though we had some ideas. Mike lived in Barcelona for 3-months a couple years back for a coding boot camp called Iron Hack. So, we knew we wanted to check out his old stomping grounds. And Mike had figured out a way for us to go hiking in Costa Brava through a Meetup group. Otherwise, Spain was an open book.
We landed in Barcelona a little after 9:30 am (a total 7-hours difference from Minnesota-time). Michael’s friend, who we would be staying with, wouldn’t be home from work until the evening. So, we decided to explore the city with our backpacks in tow (we also hoped this would help fight the inevitable jet lag that would hit us that afternoon).
Out first destination was Basílica de la Sagrada Família. Mike wanted to take me to his old neighborhood, which happened to be a couple blocks away from this opulent, unfinished basilica. Sagrada Família has been under construction since 1882 and was designed by the famous Spanish/Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. Mike and I weren’t able to go inside, but we got a good look at it from the outside. It’s a beautiful building, though the gaudiness is a bit much for my personal taste (no pun intended).
To continue the Gaudí theme, Mike and I visited Park Guell, one of Barcelona’s largest and most scenic public parks. Mike had never been, and we decided it would be nice to get a stellar view of the Barcelona cityscape (as seen in this post’s banner image). Walking along curvy paths and through topsy-turvy architectural features was pretty fun. You could tell there was a lot of thought and intention with the design of this place. The more I explored the park, the more I was slowly becoming a Gaudí fan.
After a long day of walking around the city, Mike and I wandered our way to his friend Kons’ apartment. She and her roommate were kind enough to let us stay in their extra room for a few days. Kons fed us bread, cheese, and slices of meat (a Catalan classic), and shortly after, we were whisked away to a Queer Women’s Conference where one of Kons’ friends was playing music.
And yes, that is a giant vulva in this picture. The conference was about empowering queer women’s voices, so in context, the vulva fit in quite nicely.
Mike (perhaps the only male-identifying person in the whole place) and I had a lovely time. The venue was beautiful, and the music was terrific. We couldn’t have asked for a better way to end our first night in Barcelona.
The following day we slept in until the late morning (we needed it!). Kons the night previous had shown me how to use a Moka pot and, oh my god, I made the best cup of coffee in my life. Maybe it was the coffee grounds, or perhaps it was the Moka pot, but anyway, Wowza. What a great way to start the morning. Mike and I decided to take the day easy. We visited Iron Hack and then spent the rest of the day at the beach. Mike even braved going into the water (you can watch him do it in the video!).
BEGUR: HIKING AND SWIMMING IN COSTA BRAVA
The next day, Mike and I woke up bright and early to catch a bus to Begur with a Meetup group. Begur is a town nestled in the coastal region of Costa Brava, but we didn’t spend much time in the city. We were on a mission to go on an epic hike along the Mediterranian Coast.
The trails were rugged, and the climbs were steep, but the views were out of this world. And, we lucked out with good weather as we hiked among the coastal cliffs.
Our final destination for the day was a beach on the outskirts of Begur. Resting in the shade on the beach was the perfect thing to do after an arduous hike. Mike, again, went into the Mediterranean, even though it was painfully cold. Initially, I watched, wincing at the idea of submerging myself into the icy water. But, my mind was changed when I saw how pleased-as-punch Mike seemed while swimming. I hadn’t brought a swimsuit, so I stripped down to my sports bra and underpants and dove in. And, man, it was freezing! Though, after my body got accustomed, I felt more alive than I had all week. I also felt the happiest I had felt for a long time (Did I mention that writing my master’s thesis and submitting it right before my trip put me into a funk?). Anyway, after the swim, Mike and I joined a couple other folks to eat pallea, a Catalan classic! It was delicious and a fantastic way to end our day in Begur.
Before traveling north to Girona, Mike and I spent one last day in Barcelona. We mostly slept, did laundry, and hung out with Kons and her friends. I also made one final delicious cup of coffee with her Moka pot (and yes, I did eventually get myself a Moka pot—thanks to a friend—and have been making coffee like that ever since!).
GIRONA: CATHEDRALS, SUNSETS, AND GAME OF THRONES
The next day, in the early afternoon, Mike and I caught a train to Girona. We were sad to leave Barcelona, but we also were feeling ready to get going and to explore a new part of Spain. Maybe you are wondering why we decided to go to Girona? Well, first, Mike had heard good things about it from friends and had never been. And, second, Michael’s mother went decades ago as a young woman hitchhiking and backpacking across Spain and said it was a cool place to check out. And, lo-and-behold, it is a beautiful medieval town! And, little did we know, many scenes of the infamous Game of Thrones series were filmed here (especially the scenes from King’s Landing and Braavos). I actually haven’t watched much of the show, but I read all the books!
Though we only had a half-day in Girona, we took full advantage of it. We walked through the old town and hiked our way up to the city’s most celebrated icon, the cathedral.
We continued to explore the top of Girona’s old town. We didn’t have a map or a plan. We just wandered, looking for the highest place to watch the sunset over the Pyrenees Mountains. We eventually found a university that had a tower you could climb to the top of, which also connected to a wall you could walk on. This is where we watched the sunset (as seen in the image above). Once dusk settled in, we wound our way back to the cathedral and found narrow steps leading us back to our hostel. While walking, we found a restaurant that had tables set out on the cobblestone stairs. They served wine and pizza. How could we say no? While eating, Mike and I reminisced about our time in Spain and daydreamed about what was to come with the rest of our trip.
After our dinner, we walked back to our hostel and slept hard knowing full well that we would have to wake up early for a train to Lyon, France.
Thank you for reading.