So, since Barcelona is close to the beach and the mountains, it's kind of a perfect combination. If you remember my ski trip to La Molina in January, I wasn't overly impressed by the skiing in Spain, though. So, a couple weeks later, in February - Carly, Alejandro, Vita, Ratko and I headed to check out Andorra for the first time.
PhDs In Andorra: Mountainous Beauty 2 Hours From BCN
Wow! Well, I was the only one skiing both days, and I realized how much I loved it! As you can see in the photos below, the others went for a long walk in the mountains one day, and snow-shoeing the other day. (Colourful snowshoes, huh?! I remember the ones we used to use in elementary school gym class in Canada being brown and boring...)
The group classes of ski lessons the first day were kind of horrible (apparently "intermediate" includes people who still use snow-plough as a technique). So, I forked over the dough and paid for a private lesson. Wow, was it ever worth it!
As luck would have it, my friend Angelica was also in Andorra for her birthday weekend. (She's also a PhD student and is just about to defend her thesis! - remember when we went on our study trip by the beach last April in Salou?)
Angelica's friend Manu ended up being my ski instructor - that was totally not planned! He is an amazing instructor originally from Argentina, who has a Phys Ed degree and tons of experience. He was such a good instructor that I became more confident again - it had been 6 years since I'd skied, remember?
So, I booked him for another set of 2 hour ski lessons two weeks later. However, nobody I knew wanted to come skiing with me. No problem! I love Meetup.com, and I just found a bunch of skiing groups, picked the most organized one, forked over more dough, and headed back!
Meetup: When You Travel With Strangers
So, I got really lucky, actually. I met a group of very awesome local people (some of whom were originally from Venezuela!). I got to speak Spanish the whole weekend, which I miss! The group pic below was after our first night skiing. Well, Friday night was simply going out to dinner at - unfortunately -a total meat house. There is not a whole lot of vegetarian food in Andorra, so it was lucky that I brought a lot of apples, protein powder and rice cakes!
(Yes, I'm still training and on a high protein, low carb diet and super strength training with my personal trainer. Unfortunately, it's not working too well (or, working incredibly slowly, I should say). In fact it's stumping a whole lot of professionals as to why, but that's a story for another time...)
It turns out "After-Ski" bars are a whole lot of fun! The party starts around 5:00pm once the ski trails are closed for the day. There were some middle aged women in sunglasses and ski gear that started dancing on tables around 5:30pm, and it got crazier from there on. We left around 8:30pm so we could find a place to have dinner, but the party went on without us. Below are a few pics of the awesome time we had!
|Abarset After-Ski Bar, Andorra (From back left: Pedro, Mariel, Javi, Xavi, Bea, Quique, Sapna, Zory & Pedro)|
Barcelona: The Ideal Life
So, I really can't complain about living in Barcelona. The only hiccup is the economic situation, which I'm trying to solve for myself through my blog venture, The Teaching Cove. It only started a few months ago, but I'm working on a few products that I'll be selling soon! Ebooks and courses for English teachers, of course! So, if you happen to know anyone who may be interested, please send them my way. I can't believe I have 846 people signed up for my free resources already!
Oh, and I loved this "Go Skiing & Adventure BCN" Meetup group so much that I'm going with them on an overnight boat trip for San Juan weekend (June 24th). We'll be spending 2 days on the boat and 3 days in Menorca. Apparently you can see dolphins come right up to your boat. I can't wait!!
Stay tuned for my upcoming posts - my annual tribute to my beautiful friend, Stephanie Wertz (I still miss you every day, Steph), and this week's upcoming visit from Kim and reminiscence back to my Oxford days. (Actually, I should say, a visit from Dr. Kim, who recently finished her DPhil in English Literature!)
Have a great Sunday!