After a sunset flight and lots of wandering round Barcelona in the wrong directions we made it to our hostel just gone midnight, and attempted to work out our route North. In the morning we had (unbelievably expensive) coffee and cakes on Las Ramblas before setting off on our (also expensive) coach to Lleida, our halfway point to the Pyrenees.
Our coach dropped us off near Decathlon, Europe’s version of Go Outdoors and… Well, it would be rude not to. We emerged victorious with a t-shirt, a watch and some camping gear, and set off on another coach to the next town. Here we missed our joining one and followed two taxi drivers around looking for a hotel while they complained about our Spanish. We eventually found one up a dark alleyway, just needing a nice neon sign, but it did have WiFi.
In the morning we sat in the square next to a fountain and rediscovered our favourite pastry from our trip to France last year, and drank fresh orange juice while watching the birds play in the water. We made friends with our waitress and her American flatmate, and she invited us to stay on our way back in exchange for some English lessons. They live next to a climbing wall and have a pet pug, so we might take her up on the offer.
Our journey deeper into the mountains continued, and we followed the turquoise River Ara through the valleys to Torla-Ordesa, the last stop before the Ordesa national park. We hitched the last 3km after the bus stop, but to be fair, it was an extremely steep zig-zagging mountain road.
Armed with our rucksacks and two (heavy) carrier bags of food we set off into the wilderness.
After our time spent camping before, you would think we’d have learned to check weather forecasts before doing this sort of thing. We found a perfect spot next to the river, hung up our hammocks, and settled down for bed after cooking up some noodles. The first few flashes of light convinced us we were being surrounded by people with torches about to kidnap us… And then the thunder started. We slept fitfully at best, huddled on the ground under our tarp, wrapped in a hammock, our fingers and toes very numb.
While our more adventurous sides wanted to press on and ignore the clear flaws in our plan (we now know the area has a Yellow Warning for storms this week), we turned back in the morning, stumbled around in a post-all-night-party daze, and booked a hotel for the night. The receptionist even threw in a free pity balcony. We had a thick hot chocolate at a café, looking very bedraggled, and spent the day exploring the village, which looks like a German market town at Christmas met the Swiss Alps, with less snow and more walkers.
Later we watched the clouds roll in from our balcony, and the lightening strike across from us in the valley.