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I accidentally walked the Camino de Santiago de Cataluña

If you ask me about the Spanish Costa Brava, I will immediately put a smile on my face. It was 2018 and I was living the best life I can now imagine. I was 21 years old and experiencing my second Erasmus in Spain, recently broken up with my boyfriend and thought my life was tough. So tough that, around April, three friends and I decided to rent a car and drive it from Tarragona, where we were living, up to Gerona, a road trip through the marvellous Costa Brava.

We started the journey making some stops along the coast, sometimes just to take pictures, some other time spending the night in bungalows. We passed through the precious beach of Tamarit, then quickly stopping by the beautiful Torredembarra, up to Sitges and its super relaxing view. We drank beer on the shores of Tamariu, then we walked the colourful streets of Cadaqués, my personal favourite, and finally, in Cap de Creus, we climbed a small hill and then shouted to our demons in the middle of nowhere.

Once in Gerona, after hugging goodbye my fellow travellers, I joined two friends of mine met in Palma de Mallorca the year before, during my first Erasmus, and all of the romanticism of the journey so far turned into pure adventure.

Since Gerona, we planned everything day by day. First, we bought a bus ticket to Lloret de Mar, very peculiar for its party style and for its casinos. We stayed the whole afternoon there, drinking cheap sangría and updating each other about our lives. As the day went by, we decided our next stop: Manresa, a little town 70 km north of Barcelona. We then discovered it was connected to a path called Camino de Santiago de Cataluña, also known as Camí de Sant Jaume: from Manresa, it was possible to reach the Monastery of Montserrat, one of the best points of interest of the path.

We spent the night in a hostel in Manresa, planning to leave quite early the morning after and reach Montserrat on foot. If you look up the walking distance between Manresa and Montserrat on Google Maps, it prepares you for a five-hour walk, but in the end, it actually took us 8 hours, with only two stops and full backpacks.

My memory of that day is very joyful. Mind you, I was on my period, stopped for peeing only once and was definitely wearing the wrong shoes. But hiking for more than 8 hours into wild nature, coming off a true Erasmus student lifestyle, therefore lacking sleep, with two really good guys, listening to the sounds of nature and sharing a common goal; it was like meditating.

In fact, the Catalan section of the Camino de Santiago goes back to the IX century, when it was already an important point of pilgrimage. It starts exactly in Cap de Creus, and its ending point is in Alcarràs (Terres de Lleida). Five hundred years later, the habit fell due to wars, but it came back in the XX century and, since then, thousands of people experience the Camino, moved by spiritual, cultural or touristic reasons. In 1993, the path has become Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

I remember my legs moving forward by inertia, fighting the need of rest mixed to the awareness that no public transport was available on the way: therefore, the options were either walking or staying in the middle of somewhere in Cataluña.

The best feeling was the last half four, walking on the road with the sight of Montserrat in front of us, a tall, grey mountain resting below a high, grey sky.

Exhausted, we reached the top and then rested a while admiring the breath-taking Montserrat, enjoying a nice liberating and satisfying feeling. Then, we took a train to Barcelona, and I took another one back to Tarragona.

About a week later, I was back to my Erasmus life, a new solid love for the country I was living in and reinvigorated in a way only nature can do.

Articolo a cura di: Bianca Petrucci

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