Archive for the ‘Pyrenees 2009’ Category

The Long Journey Back

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

Started the day with normal breakfast, packed the Landy and headed for the border of France up the valley. We drove for approx 30 minutes crossing down through a lovely picturesque valley stopping off up a track for 11 seconds. We drove for a couple of hours dropping into a nice French village which had a market on we walked round and bought a French stick for lunch. As we came out of the shop down the one way street Sharon an Richard came by and stopped. Asking how they were doing, Sharon seemed to be struggling a little but is made of stronger stuff than us! We said our goodbyes and carried on to a lovely river where we had lunch when we pulled up we drove a little way into the river realising it was very rocky bottomed reversed out and had our stick with soup an Pringles mmmm lovely! A man was down by the river in a car but after a while he came and babbled something in French then took numbers of the cars and the bike on the back; strange!
We drove for a couple more hours stopping for walk around a shopping centre. A little more driving before finally getting our just deserved STRAWBERRIES mmm! A little while later we were on outskirts of Bordeaux where we pulled in for the night stop had quick shower and when Porl got out he thought the window was still open so popped his head out of the window and ended up banging his head causing us both to laugh hysterically – as I had shut it hoping to cool room with air conditioning.
At 2000h we walked to a nice little French restaurant sat outside and had beautiful meal, I would say it was the best of the trip so far. We took a gentle stroll back to hotel and got ready for early start tomorrow.

Ski Slopes

Friday, June 26th, 2009

Woke earlier than the alarm but still feeling tired with all the late nights and early mornings, got ready as usual followed by a poor breakfast. We were shocked of hearing that Michael Jackson had died and it wasn’t long before I had received 2 jokes regarding him and kids. Set the bikes ready for a 1030h leave, we had decided to head off for the ski slopes. The first track lead through some back streets of Panticosa and the village next to it. The first bit looked like a footpath leading from the top of the village to the bottom, it was very steep with water channels very so often which flung us in the air.
The start of the track was very easy for rider and passenger as we wound up the mountain hillside taking in breath taking scenery of the blue lake and massive mountains.
Pantecosa Resevoirs

Porl and I headed off in front of the others and saw a very hairy looking beaver type animal. We headed deeper up into the mountains where the scenery just got better and better, before long we were on the ski slopes and every so often there were snow cannons which looked quite weird. We came across a group of wild horse and several fowl. We first stopped by a large crystal clear lake where Porl spotted another beaver like creature but less hairy.

We took several photos and chatted about skiing for a while before deciding to go up the last stint to the piste, again Porl and I left before the other to give us a head start up the very steep mountain. It was quite comical trying to get up as we needed the speed but it was a little bumpy. Half way up we noticed one of the beavers dead in the path and shortly after Porl had to start riding the clutch but we ran out of steam and started rolling backwards where I had to jump off very quickly.
Only having to walk 30 yards or so I jumped back on before we reached the top where the views were out of this world. Again we took several photos including a go at panoramic.
Pantecosa Panoramic

We had a spot to eat which all we had with us was some Bombay mix which I ripped the bag open by mistake.
After dinner we slowly headed down, passing the dead animal I had to take photos! We next headed off towards the ski carts to have a little look, before heading back down to the bottom where we had a lovely ice cream in a bar where we sat in the sunshine and decided what to do next. We thought we would have a little drive around to find a new restaurant but had no luck due to it being out of season. So before long we were in the hotel garden drinking and deciding what to really do for tea. The gentleman here was very good with English and we learnt a bit from him, one of the things he said was the beaver type animal is a Marmot (Marmota marmota). We decided to go back where we went last night for tea and have a la carte.
It was about 1815h by the time we had finished the drinks and headed back to the rooms for a rest where Porl and I fell asleep for about 30 minutes. Porl had a bath again then I had a shower and watched strongest man for a while before meeting up for tea.
We were quite disappointed by the a la carte so decided to have the same menu as last night. This got me a little worried as the fish I had intended to have was not on the menu, after deciding to have what we thought was char-grilled pork he said the fish was available so I had that, not taking in Clive’s advice from last night that “you can’t go wrong with pork”!
The starter was really nice and so was the fish so I was quite happy, the pork turned out to be a really nice piece of beef steak apparently. We all finished our desserts and chatted for a while before heading back to the hotel to pay up as Russell and Pat are leaving at 0600h in the morning. We said our goodbyes before deciding to write today’s blog. The room had a mixture of flies, moths and daddy long legs which Porl was trying to batter to death with a towel whilst I tried to write the blog. It is now 2333h and I am all done for the night.

First Time For Everything…

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Woke at 0730h started to pack the bags for our next hotel, met for breakfast at 0800h very nice it was too, Richard appeared to tell us of his plans and that Sharon could not walk so they were going to stop where they were and have the day to rest Sharon’s leg and he was going to fetch the Duke from Pamplona to see if Sharon would be able to get on it when needed, so we packed the Landy up paid the bill and headed off.
We were soon on our first track and started to climb was getting pretty good Clive was leading when he came to a stop because a bike was coming towards us the lad pulled up next to us and in his best English said that the track would be very hard for our cars it was only just passable on a bike so he said not to carry on so we turned round and did a little road work, the tracks where not too bad today, some were better than others. We had a little drive up a river, up the side of a rock face, all in the name of off roading. At lunch stop I really needed to do something that I had never done before, turns out bears are not the only ones to do it in the woods!
We did 150 miles today approx 65ish off road. At approx 1730h we started to head for the Hotel in Panticosa which is a nice little Skiing resort with the chair lifts etc still in place.
The Hotel is ok, but they didn’t do evening meal so we had a little walk into town. What a disappointment it was for me, I chose the wrong dish as the waiter could not explain it too well and Clive saying you can’t go wrong with Pork; I ended up with pigs trotter – just fat and bone… MMMMM! We spoke to Sharon and Richard to see how they were and they said Richard is fetching the BMW in the morning and Sharon will try the Ducati by lunch time to let us know how they are planning on getting back.

A Bloody Tough Cookie

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Got up normal time but feeling really tired today, Porl went to see if Pool was open but it sadly opened at 1000h. Got ready for breakfast which turned out to be amazing with plenty of choice from dried fruit to hot buffet, cereals to croissants, toast to cold meats. None of us wanted to leave but started to get bikes ready deciding we were only going out for a couple of hours.
Set off at 1045h, 15 minutes later than planned yet still feeling a little rushed for some.
Headed off towards a hill at the top of the hotel which was really rocky and bumpy to the point I kept loosing my footing and on one occasion I kicked Porl’s hands off the bars with both of us totally out of control we just started pissing ourselves with laughter. Came to a challenging spot after flying up the hill with ease as there were a few fallen trees in the way. This is where I got on foot and the bikers enjoyed the challenging routes around them, where i got a few good shots. Sharon over riding a lump and ending up way amongst the bushes was very amusing. Finally reached the road after getting around 5 fallen trees and thought I had lost my glasses so all followed our footsteps not finding them I looked deeper into my bag and stupidly found them.
Followed the road around which was mostly rocky but easier, going through a reserve we reached the top of another mountain and started heading down the other side. Coming to one bend we noticed Sharon on her side, she had taken the corner approach wrong and too fast as there was a lot of loose gravel on the track. She had taken a nasty gash to her knee but played it off as nothing had happened, Porl had a proper look and realised she had to go to hospital.. we couldn’t believe how she had taken it and wanted to continue to ride even without cleaning it. After a little heated argument Porl, Richard, Sharon and I headed off the mountain leaving Russell and Clive to continue whilst we headed for Jaca hospital. Reaching the hospital about 1430h we left Richard and Sharon to it whilst we go her passport, clothes etc. What a palaver all this was but had to be done. Clothes were in room but had no key, Passport was in Pinz but no one about or no keys. We blagged our way into room and got a few things before heading back off to hospital. Waited around until about 1615h after a X-ray and 20 something stitches, Sharon still wanted to ride but had been advised to take it easy fir 24 hours at least. Doctor seemed really friendly and helpful. Headed into Jaca to get pain killers before getting back to hotel.
After getting back to the hotel much later than planned Porl and I got ready for the pool which turned out to be a nightmare as the outside pool was being repaired and the indoor one turned out to be an expensive spa for 24Euros for 90 minutes. We scrambled back into the changing rooms before running to the bar. We sat and drank for a couple of hours before having another lovely meal.
After dinner had finished we all sat outside for half an hour drinking wine Anne and Pat had bought from Jaca earlier.
Settled down for bed around 0000h with the intentions of Porl riding his bike with Sharon in the Landy with me tomorrow as she was starting to struggle to walk with the leg stiffening.

A Long Day

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

Got up normal time of around 0730h and went straight for breakfast, which was the normal toast and cereals. Clive nicked some bread and ham for his sandwiches! The bill seemed really expensive at 330e for 3 nights.
Seemed a long time everyone getting ready, as usual we seemed to be hanging around for an hour or so as we are well prepared. Bad case of flies around us whilst waiting, seemed that Sharon had rubbed something in my hair night before! Just before leaving we all had a group photo with the peanut man and saw a Jay which I tried to take a photo of too.
Set off on the back road to Hecho then off into the mountains heading towards Jaca where we are to stay for 2 nights. Some very dusty tracks but interesting to drive as we had to dodge so many pot holes. Stopped on a narrow track for a cuppa and rich tea, which was cut short by a wide load combine harvester, so we set off again and went through several farm fields and shingle hills before stopping at a road side under trees for dinner. Tried the cheese we bought on the first day which was nice, but not as strong as it smelt.
Set off again towards a little village which had several tracks leading out the back of it, but came across the long awaited monastery which was beyond belief how it was set on the mountainside in amongst the rock face. Camera died here unfortunately so was a mad panic to charge again. Soon came to difficult sections which was nice and challenging but possible. Clive went off whilst we stayed in a field to check if track was passable, Clive decided it was ok, but Porl had to reverse down the track out of the field which was really scary as the angle, approach and edge was all challenging. Guiding Porl through the track for a while was awkward, I need to improve on my signals. A few hundred yards later it was impassable and all had to turn back on a very narrow road. We then noticed another track by which point Anne and I had swapped vehicles. Clive leading the way we had to push back several trees or drive on narrow windy tracks. This was a really good off road lane but sadly came to an end by an old disused house. We headed back towards the village and I noticed another track leading out but could not see how far it went on but we decided to give it a go.
At this point the village must have been laughing and thinking we were mad. Following the track it had many ruts and challenging routes which made the day very interesting. Again we were sent back near a disused house which was quite a way down the track at this point people were getting frustrated and hot, so we decided to call it a day and go to hotel now. On way back around track Clive let me drive the Steyr-Daimler-Puch Pinzgauer for a little while.
By about 1830h we had reached the posh hotel where Clive insisted we had to park the Landy elsewhere. It was at the middle of hillside overlooking its own golf course in the valley.
We all got settled in and scrubbed up before having a lovely meal. Shower was fantastic, heated mirrors et al in the rooms. Looked like Clive had made a very wise choice, as this seemed maybe a little cheaper than last stay.
After the dinner we went into the lounge for a couple of drinks before going to bed.

Mishaps and Mishapes

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

Woke up taking the piss out of Porl because he didn’t come home alone last night, that’s right he brought a carafe home… and didn’t he regret it!
Went down for breakfast a little later than normal which turned out to be the same servings as yesterday.
Set off for the other side of the mountains to yesterday, started off on a really nice lane but somewhat cold in the shade as it was only 1000h. I had put some foam to extend the seat as I was half on and half off and although at first this helped, the damage had already been done. We headed off deeper into the mountains and saw a snow topped mountain range which we tried to find a way up but only mountains opposite had tracks although after going half way up we were blocked by a locked gate.
Headed back down and took loads of photos at a bridge and waterfall. Just before here we saw the damage an avalanche had caused recently.
Headed off around the corner onto a nice looking route which would have taken us closer to the snow topped mountains but was cut off by road works, the people were adamant we weren’t going across even if we could have made it. Sharon pointed out a humming bird to me which was absolutely amazing to see from two feet away, so small, fast and beautiful, unfortunately didn’t get a shot.
We stayed here and had lunch, hoping the workers would disappear for their siesta but no such luck. The ladies went for a walk and spotted all sorts of fantastic wild life and brought back some wild strawberries which were really sweet but very very small, didn’t quite make up for Clive not stopping on way down but were good.
We got back on the bike and headed deeper into the hills seeing some breath taking scenery. We hit a track that was very muddy but dry, and had to cross the river, I tried taking photos of everyone as they crossed, with the exception of Sharon, who hit a rock and started flying towards me on one wheel so I ducked for cover! Trying to capture as many photo’s as possible throughout the day, having quite a giggle along the way, Richard and Sharon snidely ganged up and switched our bike engine off and then pranced around on their bikes whilst I took shots.
By now my bum has gone beyond recognition in terms of shape, feeling etc! We headed back into Hecho after a long drive back, desperate for an ice cream we looked around the whole village not seeing much open we headed back for the bikes, realising we had lost Clive and Russell. Suddenly they appeared and said half the shops were open, amazed, we went to have a look and ended up having a Magnum with nuts.
Before long the day was over and we had showered up for tea.
Starters was a vegetable soup with cheese and home made croutons for a sprinkling. The main was chicken with a creamy mushroom sauce and chips. Whilst pudding was Mille Creme, which was a creamy thick milk.
The owner gave us a free shot of a 1% alcoholic drink which was made with small berries, tasted similar to aniseed sherry, very weird drink indeed but I drank it!!
Once we had all finished we decided to show the photo’s so far, seemed that people lost interest quite quickly, but they were impressed!
It’s now 2315, so I had better go to sleep as we have a long journey ahead of us tomorrow to the really posh hotel which Clive keeps saying we are only allowed to go if we park the Landy out the back out of harms way! Damn, Porl is snoring and the wind is howling again, will I ever get to sleep?


Sunday, June 21st, 2009

Woke up around 0730h for 0800h breakfast which was a self service of toast, muesli, cornflakes and cheese, salami and chorizo.
Got the bikes off and ready for the day as we were going up into the mountains. Within a few minutes of starting we already lost the track which caused a bit of confusion. At this point we also lost Richard and Sharon. Following the limited car track, we soon came to another stop where a barbed wire barrier was blocking our way. Luckily someone before us had twisted the fence so that the bikes could be pushed over the posts. Following this track a while longer it turned into a walking path only, thus making it very challenging for riders as it was very rocky. Russell fell off at one point and didn’t look too amused of where we were.
We came to a path which went two ways, down or very steeply up. Clive decided to give the up and over track a go but struggled from about a 1/3 of the way. The rest of us waited 10 minutes or so until he returned.
Carrying on down the track we found a road which we followed for a while before finding a nice place just on the edge of Hecho by the river for lunch. The river was ice cool but crystal clear/blue. The afternoon ride was quite relaxing taking on some magnificent scenery in. We rode up this mountain road stopped at the top to take photos and you could see the road twisting up the side of the rocks. We went up a track that said no entry for cars or bikes which went for some 4 miles before coming to a dead end. The laugh we had coming back down we left the others to meet them at bottom, at one point Porl had actually lost me off the back because of the size of the pot hole we, it hit launched me sky bound. We both giggled like little girlies. Arrived back at Hotel approx 1800h to find Richard and Sharon not too impressed having left them earlier. We met them both early for diner had few drinks before the rest joined us The meal consisted of boiled rice spring rolls tomato soup drizzled over the side for starters, hake in creamy sauce and ice-cream for pudding. Once finished we sat and talked about not leaving anyone behind again we are all on hols together and we all stay together

Fun In The Wet

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

Awoke way too early, feeling the brunt of staying up late. Packed last few things into Landy as we were moving on to Hecho. Had a lovely breakfast but same as yesterday.
I went into the village to take photos whilst the others got fuel.
Left Ochegavia by 0940h and headed up into the mountains by a gravel track. Even though it was only a gravel track, it was somewhat busy including an artic truck which over took us. Some lovely scenery including a logging area that looked challenging but sadly couldn’t do it because of bikes on back of cars.
Stopped for a quick tea which had UHT milk gone off, which was lumpy but ok.
Headed off over several more mountains seeing breath taking scenery, some tracks were no longer accessible so we found a nice picnic area by a river to have dinner.
Got back on the road after a 30 minute stop, saw a great photo opportunity under a bridge by a river.
We headed off into a really picturesque area with great dirt tracks and massive mountains in the distance. Half way down the lane, it said vehicles were not allowed past, but Clive said it will be ok, so we followed suit! We had seen 2 of the best green laning areas to date, not particularly challenging but very very interesting. There was a new road being built en route which added to the scenery. We came across a river which we were going to follow beside but decided to give it a go. First Russell went up stream then us in the Landy, followed by Richard and Sharon who almost disappeared on her Honda XR. Porl and I then went down stream but sadly had to turn back due to a thick bush stopping us. The day was drawing to a close but still had 40 miles to do, which caused a bit of friction as some wanted to continue via green lanes others wanted to get to hotel. Ended up going main roads, which took about 30 minutes. Found hotel just outside of Hecho, a really mountainous area which is in a valley. Unfortunately seems to be a very windy night, maybe situated in a wind tunnel.
Settled in as we are now staying here for 3 nights, then met up for the meal at 2030h. Today’s starter was salad, of which I ate more of but still left too much, followed by pork chops, chips and sweet pepper followed by cherries or ice cream for desert. We then sat in the lounge over looking the mountains having a few drinks before going to bed around 2330h. Going back to room, you could hear the wind howling past the trees, looks like its going to be rough tomorrow.

A Hard Days Holiday

Friday, June 19th, 2009

Woke up at 0730h to Porl and myself doing synchronised alarm jumping and both saying ‘oh bloody hell’.
Within the hour we went down for breakfast, comprising of orange juice, tea, toast, biscuits and cakes, all in a really posh room.
Starting the day took a while as we were deciding whether go by car or bike, the intentions were to go on bike but the weather was looking poor. By about 1030h we were on foot/bike up a track that could only cope with riders… What a challenge that was, zig zag, rocky, wet grass up very steep hills for about 1.5 miles. Heat made the walk pretty bad, let alone the people struggling on the bikes. An hour and a half later and all exhausted we stopped for the first tea break and dinner.
The afternoon looked like it was going to be nicer with blue skies appearing, so we set off for the hills. Sadly heading in the wrong direction, it wasn’t long before we were in the clouds which was getting cold and wet, hardly seeing much further than 10 yards, and water dripping off our glasses and faces we drove higher and deeper into the French hills where the weather worsened. Before long Porl had me in stitches nearly wetting myself 3 times. We all decided it was time to trace our tracks and head back down, it was a really eerie sense of silence with cows bells in the distance; coming from the cows but not being able to see anything.
Heading down slowly we reached warm air pockets again which was a blessing as Porl and myself were only in shorts and tee shirt.
We realised that the track we did this morning was wrong, so headed for the right one, which turned out to be much easier and more like a track. Before long we had gained a couple of hundred feet and the tracks were becoming difficult to find even with the GPS and maps. The fields were plastered with thistles and thorns which caused Porl to give me a verbal because I nearly threw us off the bike, flinging my feet past his shoulders!!!
Spending some time going back and forth trying to find the track we decided to go off course hoping to find it… not really reaching it we looked further a-field for new tracks. Finding some nice tracks we started to have fun bouncing about on mud tracks and what a giggle it was.
Nearing an end we decided to do one more track, and this had to be the funniest of the day, Richard could hear Porl and I screaming through the brambles grazing our feet and legs. By the time we got to the end we realised we had ended up where we had lunch. Deciding whether we were to go back via road or the reverse of our mud track, I realised we were plastered in blood and flies.
Richard, Sharon, Porl and I decided we would reverse the mud track whilst the others headed back to the house.
On our way back we came across a bull, cow and two calves which was a bit worrying, the bull had the biggest b*!!*(&s you have ever seen!
Once back at the house and all cleaned up it was 2000h so we decided to go and eat at the other restaurant in the village. The menu for 15Euros was a selection of local produce, we said we would have what he recommends, which was asparagus for starters and lamb for a main. The meal was really nice, lamb was most tender I had had.
Porl was extremely excited with the fact we were in a ciderie, which had a large keg and a self service tap! Some ciders later and after a pudding of solidified milk and sugar, similar to [what?] we paid up and realised all the drink was free!
Entering the home at around 2330h we have stayed up chatting and typing this, now being 0115h we have decided to call it a night.

Such Great Heights

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

All woke quite early and had our first proper French breakfast, comprising of toast, cereal and orange juice, tea or coffee.
After packing the vehicles we set off through very misty mountains, the day looked like it was going to be drizzly and horrible, but before long sunshine started to appear as we got higher and higher, suddenly we were above the clouds and it was the most amazing scenery.
I had never seen mountains above clouds without being on a plane. The cows and horses all had cows bells, clattering away, at this point we had just crossed the border and we were finally in Spain.
As we passed over the other side of the mountain we had reached our first green lane, which was very muddy and barely a track let alone road. Stopped for lunch, which was our first taste of the usual ham and brie sandwiches which were home made on the bonnet. By this point it was blistering sunshine as we drove through a couple more green lanes before reaching Ochegavia where we were all to meet up for the first time and stay for two nights.
By 8.30 all eight of us were over the restaurant where we had a mixture of lentil soup, fish soup and rice salad for starters and pork ribs, chicken with roquefort cheese. Pudding comprised of rice with cream, ice cream, flan and a tart. The food was very nice, and despite all my salad luck so far, I managed to get away with it tonight.
We all went for a little walk around the village before going back to the house. Stayed up for a while chatting and uploading a few images. Went to bed at 1230h