World Perspectives Program Blog

A bittersweet departure from Andorra

By Anna McGrade, ‘20

Today we left Andorra and started the last leg of our European adventure in Barcelona, Spain.  Leaving Andorra was very bittersweet.  On one hand, we didn’t have to hike up another mountain.  On the other, we were officially ending our Earthwatch program in Andorra.  This meant no more shoving our faces with chocolate and cookies at rest stops, no more tagging small rodents, and no more baby birds.  

Finding chicks in a nest box during our daily rounds at each site was possibly the best experience of all, no matter your interest in birds.  Normally it’s not every day that you get to feel tiny, fluffy bodies nestling up in your hands, but for us it was.  

The hiking was definitely challenging, though.  How Jana managed to do it all with a 50-something pound backpack without keeling over from exhaustion is a mystery.  

But every day, the hike was worth it. The sites were positioned all over the valley, and the distance we hiked was directly related to the view we got from our destination. On maybe the post painful day for everyone, we found ourselves at the top of a mountain, with a panoramic view of the entire valley.  

If we had somehow managed to go the same distance with less work, say by driving, we wouldn’t have appreciated the view the way we did.  We had done the work, and the view from the top was our reward.  A couple of times in the beginning of the trip, we even sang a few lines of “On top of the world” by Imagine Dragons. 

Even with this daily gratification, we were sure we wouldn’t miss the endless hiking and sweating.  We even made light of Bernat’s warning that Barcelona would be just as hard.  

And despite our hopes, there was neither a pool nor a decrease in walking in Barcelona. We did take the Metro to the rough vicinity of our destination, but there was a lot of walking to be done.  

We visited the Park Guell, which was beautiful but swelteringly hot. The park was designed by a famous Catalonian architect named Gaudi.  The buildings were all unique and interesting, and the benches were surprisingly comfortable, despite being artwork as well.    

We were all dying for a cold drink by the end of it. Even outside of Park Guell, the architecture of Barcelona was gorgeous, managing to combine the classic buildings and modern renovations without destroying the beauty of the place.  

We will all miss Andorra, but now we are in a beautiful city, one step closer to home.


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