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July 3, 2015

Spain was warm, and yet, a little cold. I flew into Santander, which by the way, appears to have a rather casual approach to border control. I then took the public bus downtown. Emily and Brian met me at the bus stop and I grabbed some food from a cafe across the street. Less than an hour in Spain and I already was struggling to order food due to the language barrier. That evening we stayed in an airbnb which was some random Spaniard's apartment. Nena was napping when I arrived. That evening, I slept in the exercise room. There was also a rather awkward shower if I remember correctly. In the morning, our host made us breakfast and poured everyone fresh-squeezed orange juice, which was very thoughtful (for those keeping score at home, I don’t like orange juice).

We left the somewhat industrial port city of Santander and drove up to San Sebastian, a beautiful city on the city. There, we parked under a farmers market and walked though town to the older part of the city and up though some gardens to the fort that overlooks San Sebastian. I wore flip flops which cut into my feet by the end of the day because we had walked so far. For food, we ate delicious tapas and sipped wine. We also stopped for ice cream and I bought a watercolor souvenir. That evening, we drove to Zumaia where we had a camping reservation. The camp site we were saying at overlooked the beach and had some semi-permanent seasonal residents (is it still camping if you bring your refrigerator?). Brian warmed up a bit for his race and went to bed. Nena and Emily began their routine of acquiring wifi access. I watched the live music and after nightfall, I went down to the beach and explored an old mining conveyance used to deliver minerals to ships waiting off the coast. When I got back, Nena was still awake. It thunder stormed.

July 4, 2015

We were supposed to celebrate being American today, according to Nena’s spreadsheet on which she organizes her life. Brian ran a trail marathon this morning and we cheered him on. The gift for entering the marathon was a wooden stool, which didn’t do us much good given the amount of space left in the car. Volunteer divers were doing a clean-up of the town’s harbor that data as well. Also, parking was nearly impossible, but Nena did a good job finding a space. Emily was fairly confident at the start that he would come in the top 15 or so runners, which surprised me because everyone looked so serious. Brian came through – the dude is fast. After he recovered a bit and took a shower under the firehouse locals had suspended in lieu of shower facilities, we hit the road again. We passed through Pamplona, just a few days before the running of the bulls. It seemed we could not sync-up with when Spaniards ate; every café we tried to eat at was closed and it was Sunday so it was not possible to buy groceries before heading into the mountains.

July 5, 2015

We camped in a lovely field/campground and took a bus to Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park in the morning. The park has cirques and waterfalls and some swimming holes right off the trail. Nena’s sunglasses were the only part of her that got to enjoy the swimming holes. It was Nena’s birthday, so on our way through town, I distracted Nena in the grocery store so Emily could buy here some candles and dessert. That evening we celebrated and met a woman who was walking the G11 which is a long trail that goes through the Pyrenees. See seemed sad that she did not have a partner for the hike. By this point in the trip I was staying up about 3 hours later the the rest of the party – maybe I just needed less sleep?

July 6, 2015

We drove onward to the town of Espot, where we would stay two nights. We found a campground that we could walk into Parque Aiguestortes from. Bread and croissants were delivered in the morning and there was power, internet, and a pool (camping in Europe is basically glamping). In the evening, Brian and I went for a run up the trail we would hike the next day.

July 7, 2015

We hiked up to an alpine lake in Parque Aiguestortes. Nena and Emily went swimming. I took a lot of photos on the way down so it took me an extra hour to get down. Afterwards, we all took a brief dip in the pool and made dinner over the camp stove. I was very thankful that Emily spoke some Spanish and that others had planned meals, etc. I could just be a participant!

July 8, 2015

We drove to a hotel near the airport in Barcelona and returned the rental car. We snuck more people in the hotel room than we were supposed to have. I think Nena slept of the floor, but I don’t remember. The air conditioning was very nice. We settled up expenses. I had a chocolate milkshake at the hotel restaurant. People seemed tired from the driving and not super interested in socializing.

July 9, 2015

I was the first to fly out so we all got to the airport/train station early. Norwegian air to Norway, then Oakland. Over an hour to get through customs in Oakland. Taylor was kind enough to pick me up.