2020: Best B-Sides in the Year of C

2020, phew. So thankful it’s over, like y’all.

In what regards the project behind this blog, there were some disappointments and yet some valuable lessons to be obtained.

On the minus side, two pretty amazing trips went to oblivion: an intense week in Mexico in Easter, and a super exciting backpacking trip through the Balkans in the Summer.

Yet, there is some interesting travel to be reported. Local then national, like you’d expect. An interesting switch in expectations from the early months through the quarantine ridden times. Well, we’re here and thankful, and here it goes.

You are most welcome to click on the links for a more detail write-up of each destination.

11. México

Hard to believe I was there, on the footsteps of Hernán Cortés. Lots of intense experiences packed in a week, with highlights in or around Veracruz State and Puebla.

San Juan de Ulúa, Veracruz. The beginning of an epic journey for Cortés…and me!

10. Ski mountaineering in Aigues Tortes National Park

It was long, the skiing was less pleasant than expected, and I froze my ass on the last days….but hell was it beautiful! Five days of ski mountaineering in the Pyrenees, almost completing Carros de Foc, perhaps the most classic route in the Pyrenees.

9. Barbate, Cádiz.

Cádiz, oh Cádiz. Our week in and around Barbate combined quirky and beautiful, and featured prime beach days and culinary delights.

8. Ibiza in August

It was fun to zip around Ibiza on a scooter. Such a privilege to enjoy the coves without the traffic and the club crowds. Really, what a great time with no pressure to be anywhere at any time. And. With. Her.

Right here!

7. Huelva, Spain

I was envisaging the week in Huelva as a repeat of the glorious past holidays in Portugal. Well it was almost that: lots of family fun, infinite golden sand beaches and inexpensive, delicious food. The only caveat was the sea water – cloudy to the point of hiding your own feet and, worse, the jellyfish.

6. Camping in Albarracín, Teruel.

COVID-19 had it that Summer 2020 would be devoted to local travel. It felt safer, less uncertain, and it felt right to do one’s best to fuel our own economy, which was so devastated by the pandemic.

And that led to a wonderful discovery, Sierra de Albarracín. That’s right: the kind of place you’ve heard wonders about but that is too far for a weekend, not glitzy enough for a longer vacation.

Well – it’s awesome. Just go!

5. Riaño, Province of León, Spain.

There’s something pure, pristine and no nonsense about hiking in the Riaño mountains. Beautiful valleys and summits, yet other hikers are few and far between. Last year I visited classic summits such as Mampodre and Peña Ten. This year it was more B-Side, with highlights such as the beech forests in Argovejo or Gildar towering over the infamous reservoir. If you have your own wheels or are willing to rent them, get your mountaineering ass to Riaño!

4. My local hills: Sierra de Guadarrama

Always there, just a short drive away, offering plentiful opportunities for day hikes, trail running and ski mountaineering. Experience the freedom of the hills just a stone throw away from Madrid.

3. Colmenar Viejo, Madrid

So close and yet so often ignored. As a long-time Tres Cantos resident, I am as fond of Colmenar as the Pilgrims of the British Crown. But hey, you have to admit, their landscape is just awesome, as I discovered on hikes and runs from Puente del Grajal on Río Manzanares.

2. Tres Cantos

Yes, that’s my beloved and be-hated hometown – boring but beautiful under the right light. Too bad that light had to come with a pandemic.

That’s it. What a sense of freedom those Spring evenings, as we enjoyed the first strolls and runs after the strictest lockdown in the world.

1. My (South facing) balcony

Space, views, meditation. A place to contemplate the passing of seasons. To observe rain, hail and snow but also enjoy the sunshine and plan future travel over a beer on a Sunday morning. Always facing the right way – sunbound.

Thank God for my additional lebensraum!

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