Well, with the little wimpers of my ould mate Damo who came to Spain for a visit. Damo was the guy who showed up to our house on the Monday of the week we were due to leave to help out for a few hours, and managed to leave on the Friday. I think we owed him a bit of a “thank you” trip, and we did our best to deliver. More on that in a minute.
Our Spanish lessons firmly under our belt, and probably partly forgotten, we had to cross over from the Atlantic ocean area, over the Pyrenees and over to Barcelona. It’s a superb part of the world, and we did our best to see some of it on our way over. We had been using a garmin GPS waypoint file of places to stop called “AIRES” which usually have points that you can fill with fresh water, discard the not-so-fresh water and park overnight for free. We happened to hit on one that was right outside of a Spa and pool complex, so we had a day of dossing about in the sun, and going through a pool that had enough water jets, spouts and nozzles to massage you in places that you didn’t know needed massaging! We also went for a run-cycle, which is where Sarah runs, and I cycle along beside. I’m learning! We went from here to the town of Huesca, which has a superb tourist office and gives out great maps. They gave us enough tips to keep us in the area for a month, but we had to pick just a few things to see. We tootled off to see the “Castillo de Loarre” which was a very impressive castle set on the side of a large hill. I recognised it from a previous trip to this area in 2003, but its amazing how just a few years can cloud up the details. Either way, it was great to see it again.
After dinner, we decided to drive a bit further, and went to Riglos to see the large monoliths there that stand proudly over the small town.
We parked over night in the town car park, and headed off in the morning. The weather was damp and dismal, so we didn’t get the views in the mountains we were hoping for.
We went to see the Monastry of “San Juan de Peno” and this is incredible, as it is built into an overhanging rock. Well worth a stop if your in the area.
We went up to a National Park called “Parque Nacional de Prdesa Y Monte Ferdido” which has just one road in. We went in late evening, to see would the sun eventually break through, which it did’nt, and we went back to the town to park as overnights in the national park are forbidden, so we parked up at a farmers gate-way, no problem at all.
When back in the town of Torla, we spotted the local fire crew doing a bit of trainning with their unimog, so a bit of mog bonding had to take place.
The next morning we went back to the park for an hour or 2 as we did’nt get to see it very well the night before, and it’s just stunning. For folks who really like their hiking, this is a great place to visit.
Then, it was back to Barcelona to have a drink with my mate Frank Bergman, who I had worked with in Dublin many years ago. From Barcelona, Sarah few to Italy for my sisters alternate-hen party and the aforementioned Damo arrived. Damo arrived into Girona airport, so I had a bit of a dash (Dash and Unimog are rarely seen in the same sentence, so he now knows how quick I had to drive to get up there to meet him!). We headed off for a couple of days of touring about, telling yarns, eating blue steaks and drinking a few beers – though he didn’t help much with that.
We visited the town of Rippol on our way to the higher Pyrenees, and it was just a handy stop over. The next day (a Saturday), we drove about until it was time to head for a town (we had picked Solsona), and somehow decided to agree with the gps that a little gravel road was a great idea for a short cut. This track took us through some of the best scenery we had seen, and a brilliant little coffee-stop. I was looking around for Julie Andrews to march a dozen or so overdressed kids in for tea!
Once we got to Solsona, we found ourselves in the middle of a festival, part of the “Festa Nacional dels Paisos Catalans” and got to see some human tower building, fireworks being set off by dozens of happy 8 yr olds,
And of course, a bonfire, and a guy who must have been in trainning for drinking wine from a power hose.
The next day, we stopped off in Montserrat on the way back as it’s a very impressive spot.
Once we got to the campsite in Barcelona, we decided to take a walk through the city when it transpired that Damo was going lame from all the walking so we just took a look at the fountains at “Place de Espanya” which are amazing at night. By the time we got back to the Mog, Sarah had returned from Italy, and all was well with the world, as she was watching the footie England v Italy.