One of the best things about living in Barcelona is the fact that everything you could want is close by. We’re right on the sea with crystal clear waters just to the north and beautiful sandy beaches just to the south which are perfect for the summer. For the winter all you need to do is hop onto a train and head inland for a couple of hours and you are in the spectacular region of the Pyrenees. To be honest though we don’t utilise these assets as much as we should, all too often we have an excuse as to why we can’t go. Which is why when I got a call from Juan on Friday afternoon asking me if I wanted to go walking up a snowy mountain I suddenly had a million things I remembered I had to do over the weekend. Fortunately Juan doesn’t take no for an answer and persuaded me to join him, Shaheer and Sabri at some ungodly hour of the morning to catch a train from Arc de Triomf station.


After a snoozy two and a half hour journey we arrived at Ribes de Freser and alighted to our connection which turned out to be a mountain train that could take us all the way to the ski resort of Vall D’Nuria at the top if we so wished. Of course we only stayed on for one stop where the trails began and the snow was just starting to nestle on the ground.
We set off fully geared for the wintery conditions but soon peeled off the layers as the sun filled valley actually made for warm trekking. Even from the off the views were outstanding and my camera barely had a moments peace. I got some great snaps and some daredevil rock walking from Juan for a great picture almost led to him being blown off the side of the mountain, it’s a cool photo though, well worth risking your life for. Shaheer took the sensible option and stood next to it.
As we moved on we rounded the side of the mountain and into an area of blustery winds and shade from the sun. The snow increased in depth, the temperature dropped significantly and we all fought with the wind to put those layers back on before our fingers went numb.
We stopped for lunch about halfway up, perched on a ledge watching the wind pick up the snow from the tops in whirling twisters. The mountain train rolled out of a tunnel below our feet but not one of us wished we were on it, in fact I felt sorry for anyone who wasn’t experiencing the clarity of the views and the crispness of the air we had while munching on our sandwiches.

For the rest of the walk the camera took a bit of a back seat as we were well behind schedule and so we picked up the pace. We had a couple of stops for a beautiful gushing waterfall covered on all sides with snow and ice, we came across a beheaded mountain goat half buried in the snow followed a little later by a live one nosing around for some hidden grass. We eventually reached the pinnacle of our journey, a viewpoint overlooking the Hotel and its frozen lake, although the strength of the wind and the -4 temperatures made taking decent photos a bit of a struggle. We quickly left and headed to the hotel but due to the wind (or more likely a lack of concentration) both Juan and I ended up skidding and bouncing down the path on our bums. It was a nice relief when we sat down in the warmth of the canteen where a decision was made that we had taken too long to get up, it would be dark soon so an attempt to walk down would be dangerous and so the only course of action was to guzzle three bottles of wine and sample some of the local cuisine.


The locals certainly got some entertainment from us especially when Shaheer and Juan disappeared to the toilet only to reappear outside in the snow sporting nothing but their boxer shorts and dancing like a couple of madmen. Sabri dutifully took it upon himself to steal their clothes and a half naked chase ensued around the grounds of the hotel much to the amusement of everyone in the canteen.
So after a couple more bottles of wine to warm up the poor clowns we, of course, managed to miss our train down the mountain and had to wait another hour to catch the last one down. At the bottom of the hill we had a few minutes to spare before our connection arrived so Juan nipped into the supermarket and got, yes you guessed it, another couple of bottles.

We finished our trip back in Barcelona at the steak house for some well deserved grub and a drop more vino. Well actually the grub wasn’t well deserved, we’d done more drinking than we did walking but it was a great way to round off the day.

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