Spain has more than one surprise tucked up its Mediterranean sleeve. In addition to the celebrated flamenco of the south, the controversial popularity of bullfighting, the sweet-salt taste of paella and the many other flavours that coalesce to form a stereotype, Spain has a wild and rugged outdoors.
Up in the northeast of the Iberian peninsula, the region of Catalonia has plenty of international sparkle. Barcelona and the Sagrada Familia, for example. The medieval city of Girona, as another. The beaches of Costa Brava, the art and eccentricity of Salvador Dali and much more besides.
But this week, I’m lucky enough to be off for a week of adventure in the Pyrenees: hiking, cycling, flying, riding and canyoning across Catalonia’s corner share of this mountain range. I’ll meet boxers turned award-winning chefs, ultra long distance runners and who knows who else besides?
With my mind still reeling from last week’s events, I’m hoping that the combination of muscle burn, cold water shocks and surges of adrenaline will somehow jumble up to form a soothing and refreshing tonic.
If not, I’m sure I can take comfort in the food. Catalonia’s quite keen on gastronomy – and I’ve already had my first taste of pizza in a glass. And it’s not every day you get to say that.
Disclosure: I’ll be travelling through the Pyrenees with the Catalonia Tourist Board, although, as ever, I am free to write, photograph and ramble on about whatever I want. If you’re in to twitter, you can follow along on the #InPyrenees hashtag. If that means nothing to you, how about checking the Inside the Travel Lab page on Facebook? And if that’s all too much, then just sit back and wait for the articles to appear here…once I’ve got my breath back and had a hot bath.
UPDATE: Hot Air Balloon Pictures in the Pyrenees