Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Prancing Around the Pyrenees

This is our last day in Spain. After almost 7 months and around 30 campsites in Spain and Portugal we are heading over the border tomorrow to France.

We are camped in a wonderful site in the Spanish Pyrenees surrounded by snow capped peaks and lovely alpine style villages. From the camp we have access to walking trails that have aided our fitness campaign. After weeks on end of bad weather, we were feeling unfit and slightly overweight (hardly surprising if you‘ve been following this blog).
Local Village of Biescas - there's always a white van in the way!

Campiste and Facilities
The campsite has very fabulous facilities, especially the bathrooms. However, there is a curious (if very clear) notice in the ladies loo “INTIMATE WIPES PULL PROHIBIED TO THE TOILET RISK OF SHOOTING”.
Walking pic

Walking pic
On our walk - 12th century monsatery

After 4 days of abstinence we fell off the wagon in a big way culminating in our final Sunday Lunch. We adore Sunday lunch in Spain, not that other countries don’t do it well, but there is something special about it in Spain. The campsite has a marvellous restaurant that locals and tourists alike flock to – not so unusual in Spanish campsites.

We drank a wonderful local Gewurtztraminer, spicy and floral with a racy acidity. A most unusual wine for Spain, but as usual, Lawrence consulted our favourite wine guru Hugh Johnson* for tips, and came up trumps once again.

We had a very wet and cold day last week and I decided it was a good time to do a complete wine inventory, and sort out the magic cupboard. Well, what a surprising morning that was. We found wine we had bought in France 8 months ago that we had completely forgotten about. The next 2 nights were spent in high style drinking Grand Cru Classé St Estephe and Saumur-Champigny. We also found a Cremant de Loire which we will quaff to celebrate Anzac day next week (any excuse). Of course April 25 is also the one year anniversary of the 2nd operation on my ankle. Our total inventory is 65 bottles of wine – yikes!!

Speaking of weather (yes, we are obsessed about the weather), it has continued to be warm and sunny (apart from that one morning). After our long walks in the mountains, we have come home to flop in our sun lounges and do some late afternoon bird watching in the supine position. This is my kind of birding! Lying in a comfy chair, possibly a glass of something tasty, binoculars at the ready, watching kites, vultures and eagles whirling about on the thermals above us.

Bird Watching Pyrenees Style
We’re enjoying the long warm evenings and the pleasure of eating alfresco at 8pm, cooking on the barbeque – what a treat after our wet, cold winter.

We seem to have developed a rather strange habit of stockpiling local food and wine before crossing borders. On leaving France we stocked up on cassoulet and French wine, on leaving Spain for Portugal we stocked up on olive oil, jamon and wine, on leaving Portugal, we stocked up on olive oil, wine and cheese, and on leaving Spain again we are stocking up on wine, olive oil, sheep and goats cheese, chorizo, sherry and jamon. It’s as though the next country will not have enough tasty food and wine to satisfy our appetites! But can you blame us when we just bought a case of decent white wine for 16 euros (no, I’m not kidding).

We are really going to miss fabulous, wonderful, surprising Spain, but are looking forward to arriving in France. We will head through the Somport Tunnel and pop out into the French Pyrenees. Our planned route of the Col du Portalet has been closed due to an avalanche!

A bientÔt.

* We love Hugh Johnson (and we are sure he loves us), and our favourite quote from him is “I don’t score out of 100 because I don’t know how”. This is a subtle but very firm dig at Robert Parker’s 100 point system which has absolutely no methodology behind it.  We, of course, loath it also.

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