I haven’t even had time to write about Barcelona, because as soon as we arrived we had to prepare to leave. The plan has always been to live in Barcelona, put the kids in school (maybe homeschool) but to raise them here in Catalonia, speaking English at home with us, Catalán in school or other activities and Español on the street. We would have a lovely little flat, settle down, perhaps I’d go back to school and become an Arabic translator, maybe my husband would offer drink & draw tours around the city, but we’d raise our family here and travel during the summer.
We were a little late in arriving. It’s summer. Time to travel!
So instead getting an apartment and letting it go unused during the summer, we found a rental on the beach about an hour outside the city and got ready for our big summer plans:
We’re biking across Europe, in the most literal way possible, from the Atlantic coast in Saint-Nazare, France —- all the way across 8 more countries —- until we reach Romania and the Black Sea in Constanta. It’s a 4,000 km biking trip that we haven’t trained for at all, we don’t have bikes and we’ve never done anything like this before, never mind with a one year old and four year old.
It’s daunting, but seems so doable.
Despite our terrible fitness levels, the course is quite easy, just 40 km per day (about 25 miles), which even if we’re going really slowly is no more than 2.5 hours of biking a day. Plus we chose a route that is specifically known for having absolutely no hills. It’s the EuroVelo 6, a marked trail that follows the rivers across Europe, so we’re always at sea level.
I made a little page to track our journey and updates.
When do we start? Why this Monday, of course! We’re doing a six day test run up the Costa Brava, the coast north of Barcelona, which we’ve explored a bit and love. We’ve been living in L’Estarit, a truly gorgeous and absolutely deserted beach town, right up until June-ish when all the vacationers come flooding in (it’s still lovely, just not so deserted).
Then we’re taking the train to Pamplona, because I want to ride a little bit of the area around San Sebastian and the Southern coast of France because it looks so amazing and we can buy bikes there too. Then we’ll probably grab another train from Bordeaux up to the starting point of our journey around Saint-Nazare and Nantes — then head east until we can’t go east anymore. We should arrive at the Black Sea around the first week in September.
Of course we’ve never done anything like this and I’ve planned this trip like I plan most trips… with just enough detail to convince myself it’s possible and that’s it. We’ll be going through parts of Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, and Bulgaria. Somewhere on the Serbian/Romanian border is something called the Iron Gates and it looks amazing. We’ll be camping, trying to convince farmers to let us use their empty field for a night, eating lots of amazing local food and spending time with our kids without so many distractions.
Plus, we’re going to get fit!
Right now, I’m writing this from my terrace in the Costa Brava and all I can hear is the roar of the Mediterranean. I am really excited about this summer, it feels like a fresh start for us, and one of those great big adventures that make the best stories. I can’t wait to find out how I feel when I step into the Black Sea and I have 4,000 km, 10 countries, three months of travel behind me. My kids will be bigger, Drew and I will have changed, and I’ll know a part of the world that right now is so abstract to me. I think I’ll just wade into the water, pick up a stone smoothed by the waves and just laugh and laugh. I have no idea why we decided to do this, but here we are, at the start.