I have never been hiking before, but I can say with confidence that Costa Brava was the absolute best way for me to be introduced to it! Although challenging, it was hard to be in a bad mood when nature, the sea, and good people surrounded me. I also had the opportunity of riding a sailboat in the ocean, something else I have never done!
The day started off with a trip to the ancient fishing village Calella de Palafrugell, where we saw the preserved charm of its narrow streets and some traditional fishermen’s dwellings before tourism arrived. I also saw the Interpretation Centre Sa Perola that was constructed in the 18th century by the Calella fishermen where their fishing nets used to be bleached. This was just another instance of how Spain preserves its history and culture. Even though there were many people, tourists and locals alike, at the town beach I still felt the genuineness of Calella. In Chicago many areas are modernized and lose the history that made those areas what they were. There is also gentrification of neighborhoods happening all over Chicago causing valuable culture to be virtually erased. Calella could have been reconstructed to be more modern and tourist friendly, but it is clear that preservation is prioritized. Something that I greatly appreciate.
Next we headed off to the main attraction, hiking the Costa Brava! We ventured on a coastal footpath from Calella de Palafrugell to Palamós. It was about 9 miles long, but I had nature, the beautiful view of the sea, and visits to the beaches to help me get through it. Before I started the hike I was slightly dreading it because I was afraid that I would not be able to complete it, but by the end of it I actually felt refreshed. Now do not get me wrong I was exhausted, but it was just a physical exhausted. Emotionally I felt rejuvenated, almost empowered in a way. I really have to stop negatively anticipating how things will turn out because I have proven to my self time and time again that I can overcome many obstacles. I exceeded my expectations of this excursion and got to experience nature in its purest form along the way.
Speaking of which, I believe being surrounded by nature greatly influenced my mood. The tranquility and lack of stress from being in the city had me at one with myself. One thing that I always worry about constantly is time. In Chicago I am always obsessed with my commute time, if I have enough time to complete tasks, how much free time I have (or do not), how much time will I have to sleep, etc. It often causes me to get overwhelmed and slack off. But during the entire day of this excursion I did not check the time once. I was so invested in my surroundings that I did not feel the need to worry about time. I was present, something that I rarely allow myself to be.
To end the day we boarded a sailboat that was built in 1915 and sailed the sea! I got to witness teamwork as we guided the boat along the waters. It was a relaxing and rewarding way to celebrate our accomplishments of hiking the Costa Brava.
Experiencing nature and being present has me planning on ways I can incorporate them into my life back in Chicago to improve my mood and wellbeing. I am learning that balance is key in life.