''Peaks Of Europe'' June 19 2016

A real life travelling story from Paula López


Since I was very little, my parents have encouraged me to travel a lot and thanks to that I'm now able to appreciate the benefits it has on my self-growth and personal development. I’m sure that’s what made me be the person I am today.

The trip I remember the most fulfilling is probably the one we did last summer to Los Picos de Europa National Park (Spain), and the one thing I'm sure about is that I will never forget it.

I was extremely excited while packing my bags and getting into the car; a 3 hour trip was waiting for us until arriving at our destination. We had booked a room in a small hostel. We knew the name of the village, but that was actually all we knew. So we blindly trusted our GPS and put all our faith that it would take us to the right place. Even though we were all really looking forward to arriving to the final destination, the spectacular views on the way made us almost forget about it. Half way, we went through a not more than 50-meter-wide canyon. By the road, there was a river flowing quickly through the amazingly hairpin bends of the rocky walls. That left me absolutely speechless during most of the car trip.

Outside the canyon the views and most varied landscapes were still gorgeous. We were slightly closer to our destination as there were only 20 km left. Suddenly, the light around us decreased. We looked outside the car window and saw how a massively lush forest embraced the road, and almost felt how the car was swallowed by the density of the leaves. For a while, I had the feeling that I was completely lost in the middle of nowhere I had ever been before, just surrounded by trees and that was all I cared for at that moment. But after a while, we were out and again looking for the hostel. Only a few scattered houses could be spotted from our car, lost in the immensity of the valleys. While being stunned by the views once again, we heard a voice in the background: “after 10 meters, turn right” it said. Then a “OMG, here!” and a sharp turn of the car followed. In less than 3 seconds, we managed to go back to reality and get onto the right road; a pretty narrow and downwards-directed one. About 15 houses formed a small village a few meters below us. And there we were; on top of the world, alone, breathing peace.

All I wanted to do for the rest of the day, was just sitting down on the terrace, fetching a book and staying there, only accompanied by the gentle breeze and the mutter of trees. And that’s exactly what I did until tiredness beat me.

The next morning, I woke up to the soft light of the sun coming through the mountains. From my bed, I had a perfect view of the whole valley. “I’m in paradise” is all I thought right after, while getting ready for the trek.

Our main aim that day was to get on the cable car that would take us 1800 meters high in the mountains and then make the way up to a shelter. While going up on the cable car, I saw everything getting smaller and smaller under my feet, as the rocky mountains grew huge. Their majesty made everything down there seem insignificant.

The feeling that overwhelmed me when I got out of the cabin and had a look at the view is anyways indescribable. I just got near the edge of the abyss and stared for a long time at the greatness lying underneath my boots. I was absolutely charmed by the vision and could have stayed there all day, but we had a long hike ahead so we started walking. Even though it was the end of the summer already, there was still some snow at the highest tops. We started on a rocky, dry and steep area, and had walked for about and hour when the scenery changed completely to an amazingly bright green and vast plain in front of us. This new sight, and a bit of chocolate, recharged our batteries and pushed us to keep walking. I was amazed when I discovered that the ground I was stepping on, 1800 meters high now, had been seafloor about 310 million years ago. That explained the fact that we found tons of sea animals and shells fossils stuck on the rocks. Unbelievable!

Finally, after a 2:45 hour walk we spotted the shelter at the rocky horizon for the first time. Just one last effort was enough to reach the finish line. Tired and hungry, but totally worth it. The views from the shelter were as well breathtaking. At that point, I sat on the edge of the lookout and gladly ate my well deserved lunch.

I can’t tell how long I stayed there for, but trust me nothing would have been too much. At that point, I felt so proud of myself and glad I had made the long hard way up to there because it was fully worth the effort. Everything was so calm and peaceful I just wanted time to freeze and allow me to enjoy forever the silence. There was people around, but for me, it was just me and the mountains. We both looking at each other, sharing breath and time.

That trip completely changed my mind, since it has taught me that life is worth living even when our soul weakens, that the world is full of wonderful places we should not go by without visiting and that humans are just a small piece of this whole being the Earth is. Definitely, travelling broadens your mind to unknown limits. For me, it can be said louder but not clearer: dream big, travel and grow.