My love, the Pyrenees

As an EVS volunteer, you have two trainings during your voluntary service: an on-arrival and a mid-term one. I was just entering the 9th month (out of 12), so it was high time for my mid-term training.

According to my invitation, I had to go to Narbonne, a small seaside town of some 150 km far from Nîmes. Since the training was during the working week, the first thing I did was to check Google Maps for places to visit the weekend before and after. I chose the Pyrenees: I’ve already been to the western part of it and it was amazing, so my target was the eastern part this time.

I was browsing Couchsurfing profiles as usual, and I soon found a host living in a village deep in the mountains.

Perfect, I thought.

So after two trains, one bus and 9 hours of travelling, I made it to this small village called Porta, 10 minutes from Andorra and Spain, with more horses than habitants.

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On the way to Porta

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I went there for 3 days without any planning but I knew that I just cannot get bored in the mountains, with my camera…
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGetting bored wasn’t a possibility also because my host was a ski instructor and likes challenges, so he took me to the ski resort, to Porté-Puymorens where he worked. Since I’d never been skiing nor had I seen a ski resort before, it wasn’t a surprise that I felt like a kid who sees snow and mountains for the first time in her life. I had to collect all my energy to be able to focus on skiing and not only on the view…
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After the initial “what the hell is this on my feet” feeling…
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… I first managed to stop without slipping …

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…. and little by little, I seduced those naughty slopes (Lesson No. 1: if you lose control over your big feet, you can always just fall, it doesn’t hurt!).

Unfortunately, by the time I had learnt how to handle the skis, the bigger slopes, the speed and even the jumping (ain’t no joking here, I jumped!), the ski resort closed but these 2-3 hours were more than enough to understand why so many people are crazy in love with this sport. The view, the strong sun, the speed, the adrenaline and the ski resort bars…

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Since the ski resort didn’t close only for that day but for the whole season, we looked for other – obviously outdoor – activities: hiking. But for hiking, you need some food for a picnic, and for that, you need to go to Spain (especially if it’s Easter Monday).

So we arrived to Puigcerdà (Catalonia) and the difference between the two sides of the border was obvious, even if the distance was only a few kilometers: in Puigcerdà, the streets were just cleaner, better maintained, and of course, happy, loud people everywhere in the streets (sorry, France, I still love you).

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Since it was Easter Monday, I could immerse myself in the Spanish traditional food for this holiday, for example I got to know this brioche (sweet) with boiled eggs:

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But we got ham and cheese instead, awesome ham and cheese.

Armed with Spanish food, we did a short sightseeing tour to admire the best face of the spring: the cherry blossom.

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The next stop was a small French village, Dorres where we started hiking. I’m not sure if I’d ever had this experience before: we met basically nobody on the way and when we arrived to the top of the mountain, to a small abandoned chapel, all we could hear and see was some birds, the wind and ourselves munching the well-deserved lunch.

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View to Dorres

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Chapel of Belloch

Then we continued to my host’s family’s farm: caressing ponies, feeding horses, chasing wild cats…

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After this ultimate nature experience, the perfect closing was a fiesta in Spain. Why in Spain? The party never ends and the tequila costs 2€… I was convinced.

With 3 hours of sleep and a feeling of not wanting to leave, I continued my trip to the EVS training…


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