Monthly Archives: May 2013

As soon as I declared the news of my move to Barcelona, I started to receive messages of friends and family that told me how much I would love Barcelona and its surrounding. I’m not going to lie to you: I knew that as well – even before I set my feet on its ground. You see, any place that has beaches and mountains a short distance away is already high up on my preferred list.

On my third day in Barcelona I had already visited the beach. And on my tenth day, I had been to the mountains.

My trip to the mountains was a relaxed one. No steep ravines or glaciers – just nature at its finest.

Montserrat is a popular hiking, climbing and trail running destination. Its geological structure was formed over millions of years and has given the name it is known for today. In Catalan, Montserrat, means saw mountain.

Montserrat, Catalonia (Spain)

Montserrat, Catalonia (Spain)

Can you see why?

Montserrat is an easy ride away from the city of Barcelona. There is a cercanías (or… slow train) going every hour from Plaça Espanya towards Manresa (R5). When purchasing your ticket, you’ll have to decide whether you want to reach Montserrat by Cable Car (Aeri) or Funicular (Cremallera). Make sure you know which ticket you’ve purchased as these leave from two different stops and they are not interchangeable. This means that, if you get off at the wrong stop, you’ll have to wait for a full hour to get the next one or be brave and hike your way up (which isn’t easy).

Montserrat, Catalonia (Spain)

If you are not afraid of heights, I really recommend to take the Aeri – the view is impressive!

Montserrat has many different trails that vary in difficulty and distance. The fun thing is – you can combine many of them together creating a hike that meets your objective and physical condition!

Since I was a bit lazy that day and only arrived around 1pm, I didn’t have time to see all I wanted to see (in fact, I missed out on one of Montserrat’s main attractions – the Monastery). I did manage to hike to the highest point, Sant Jeroni (Saint Jerome) and back. Here are some of my favorite shots.

Montserrat, Catalonia (Spain)

Montserrat, Catalonia (Spain)

Montserrat, Catalonia (Spain)

Montserrat, Catalonia (Spain)

Practical Information

Route: From Sant Joan Funicular (upper station) to Montserrat (via Sant Jeroni and Flat of Els Ocells) – Montserrat Route nr. 5
Elevation: 320m
Length: 7.5 km
Duration: 2 – 2:30 hrs
Difficulty: Fairly easy (although there is a sharp ascension to Sant Jeroni)

Have you been to Montserrat?

Masca is a tiny and remote village in the Northwest of Tenerife. When I say tiny, I really mean it – Masca is home to merely 80 habitants. Its access is an adventure of its own. Well, for visitors, that is. – Us locals are used to the twisting and turning of narrow roads that go down the sheer side of not one, but several mountains.

It’s not for the faint-hearted.

Masca Ravine, Tenerife (Spain)The view over Masca and its ravine

The village itself has charm and a rural taste of Tenerife. It’s the starting point of one of the most popular hiking trails on the island – the Barranco de Masca (Masca Ravine). Once you start the descent into the valley, you quickly get a chance to test your fitness.

The hiking path sinks quickly into a deep gorge, following the twist and turns of the hills around it. It goes over streams, through tunnels of reeds, over large rocks and even through a small cave. Soon, you find yourself in a Lost World.

Masca Ravine, Tenerife (Spain)

Masca Ravine, Tenerife (Spain)

Masca Ravine, Tenerife (Spain)

Masca Ravine, Tenerife (Spain)

Masca Ravine, Tenerife (Spain)

Masca Ravine, Tenerife (Spain)

To be honest, my pictures don’t make justice to the spectacular landscape in Masca. It’s quite simply breathtaking.

The barranco walls grow taller the deeper you move into the gorge. After 2.5 hours, we emerged onto Masca beach – on time for our well-deserved picnic.

Masca Ravine, Tenerife (Spain)

Masca Ravine, Tenerife (Spain)

From here, we took a cooling plunge in the Atlantic Ocean and allowed our skin to soak up the warmth of the sun until our water taxi arrived.

Well yes, we took a water taxi. I was wearing new hiking boots which weren’t ideal for this terroir, as I discovered on my challenging way down.

Note to self: high boots give better support on uneven surfaces. And Masca is completely uneven.

In my defense: most of the casual hikers that venture their way down the gorge book a water taxi to take them to the next village, Los Gigantes. This short ride for 10 EUR per person allows you to not only see the entire ravine from the sea, but also takes you along the Acantilados (cliffs) de los Gigantes – one of my favourite views of Tenerife and a great place to go whale watching.

Los Gigantes (Tenerife)Acantilados de los Gigantes – One of my favorite shots, ever.

From there, it’s a mere 23 EUR cab ride back to Masca, which in turn is about a 20 minute car drive from Mesón del Norte (one of those traditional restaurants that is really worth the drive!).

Practical Information

Route: Descenso del Barranco de Masca (descending the Masca gorge)
Elevation gain uphill: hardly any, unless you walk the same way up again
Elevation gain downhill: 625m
Length: 6.8 km
Duration: 2.5 hrs
Difficulty: Easy (Moderate, if walking uphill again!)
Wikiloc:Barranco de Masca

Life rarely goes as planned

Swing dancers in Vila de Gracia, Barcelona

The day I quit my job in the finance to pursue a career in corporate communications and events, I knew it was going to be tough to adjust to my new lifestyle lifestyle. I knew I would have to climb down a few steps of the corporate ladder and adjust my expenses to a lower salary.

But what I did fail to think of back then was how hard it would be to get a job in a new industry in the first place.

Although I secured a 3 month internship to gain industry experience, I know that this is only temporary and soon, I’d be facing uncertainty again.

Do this, move there, give up or go home.

BCN2013

My worries had been blurring my vision. I wrote lists of options, pros and cons and juggled with my future. The easy choice was to quit London and move somewhere else. The more painful alternative was to stay in London and continue to send out numerous job applications hoping to get a response.

None of them felt quite right.

And then I realised there was a third alternative. I reached out to my network – friends, alumni, family. If I could get one more experience in the industry, I would, hopefully, be fit for London’s competitive job market. Soon after I started, things began to fall into place – I got in touch with someone I knew from Uni who had also changed career paths and had landed a job in a small events agency in Barcelona. A few calls later, I got a temporary contract to work at the 15th FINA World Swimming Championships!

So, what’s next?

Cadaqués, Costa Brava (Spain)

For the next four months, I’ll be living and working in Barcelona. Sure, at the moments it’s something temporary – but it’s also the invaluable industry experience I am currently short of. It’s 4 months in a city I had never visited before, so I’m surely covering my need of travel and adventure as well. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that this city happens to be in the Mediterranean coast side and offer some of my favourite dishes in every corner bar (pincho de tortilla, anyone?).