Simon crossed the Pyrenees by train from Toulouse to Barcelona (via Latour de Querol, infos on, with the cargobike and trailer rather unproblematically taken aboard. The rest of the family joined him by plane from Berlin in Barcelona. They had taken a one month break because the nights in the tent were too cold for mother and baby who couldn’t easily sleep in sleeping bags. And the trains in England had torn a serious hole in our wallets.

The cycling lanes in Barcelona were narrow and often without foreseeing opportunities to turn through the parallel car lanes, but nevertheless surprisingly well developed. And Barcelona has lots of opportunities to have fun with kids: our favorites were the Big Fun and the Illusions museums, the beach, the gondolas and palm-tree slalom with the cargo bike.

After a few days, we visited a little community further south called Familia Feliz, situated in a picturesque village not far from Benicarló.

Then we moved into a small apartment in Sanillés de Lleida near Andorra, which was to become our home for three weeks. The idea was to stay in a place until Christmas because heading further south would have meant getting back further, and after six months of traveling it was time for a bit more stability. So we had asked a couple of places whether they had kids around the age of our older one and room for us, and Sanillés offered both.

The place used to be a hotel until the 1960s or so, but was shut down because owners and managers hadn’t bothered to care about new regulations. After about two decades of abandonment, a British couple discovered it and bought it. The sons of the family didn’t quite agree what to make of the place, so some serious investment into making it an eco-community was undertaken but neglected once the driver of this vision had to leave to take care of a relative. So there’s plenty of room, land, (thermal!) water and a really beautiful natural environment, but unfortunately no common vision and engaged people to drive it. But for us the presence of a half-german family with three kids the age of ours and a cosy little apartment was what we needed, and the other two inhabitants as well as the person in charge and the two dogs were good company for our little family retreat in the Pyrenees. Our cargo-bike and trailer felt like built for taking a couple of kids to the village or other places in the nearer environment, and the other family had a very practical van with lots of seats that they shared with us for further explorations.

Soon enough the first snow fell, and before we had taken the time to visit the cities of Puigcerdá and Andorra, we were already on our way to the train to Barcelona to spend another two days there before heading to Tübingen via Toulouse.

Once again, Barcelona treated us with nice temperatures and nice spots to explore. The trip to Toulouse was long but beautiful, both thanks to a snow storm that had beautifully covered the Pyrenees, including the rail tracks north of Latour.

In Toulouse, we were hosted by my first couchsurfing host in probably about 5 years – about the time we’ve become a family. Pierre picked us up after a long trip, let us sleep in the rooms of his kids for three nights, and shared dinners with us. We felt very welcome and were happy to see couchsurfing work even as a family with kids that still have rather rudimentary table manners.

Then a TGV took us from Toulouse to Paris, where we managed the stressful change from Montparnasse to Est stations, and after a ten hour train ride we arrived back to Tübingen in order to spend a couple of weeks with the grand-parents in Germany.

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