We’ve had a whirlwind first few days in Spain. Jennifer, Jean and I arrived on Sunday to the local family’s excited greeting – the girls seeing the Grandmother for the first time in over two years was pretty huge.
Back at their house Bob cooked a fabulous paella – he has been taught the local skills by his brother-in-law and we sat about fending off jetlag.
Then on Monday we drove about five hours to the West, to the Pyrenees. It would have been a pretty boring drive for the locals, but for the rest of us there was much excitement in seeing giant bulls on the hills, sweeping fields of sunflowers, and hilltops surmounted with ruined castles.
We are staying in a fabulous converted monastery perched above a lush, green valley. The air is fresh, the only sounds are birds singing and the temperature is perfect. Sitting on the patio out the back with a beer is a little slice of heaven. Followed up by a three course meal as the sun sets takes it to the next level.
Tuesday saw us drive to the beautiful village of Ainsa and then on into the national park for a walk into a fabulous gorge complete with ancient hermitage. The walk was perhaps just long enough to justify a ridiculously huge lunch looking up at the Pyranees mountains while he bells of the nearby church echoed off the cliffs. (I have a feeling that we’re going to talk more about the Spanish approach of lunch at 3 or 4 and then dinner at 9 or 10.)
On the way back we stopped at Ainsa again and explored the castle and old town at the top of the hill. It is a small town of cobbled streets bordered by a range of lovely wooden doors.
On Wednesday we woke to the entire valley shrouded in mist, but it burnt off to reveal another clear, lovely day. We had had rain forecast for both days but beyond a couple of drops on Tuesday it’s just been perfect.
We drove to a nearby valley where even during this hot, dry Sumer waterfalls streak their way down the hills which mark the border with France.
After coffee on a terrace looking up the valley, we followed the river slightly up into the hills through a dappled forest. We were far from alone as this national park attracts thousands of walkers – wherever you looked there were boots, backpacks and walking poles.
Our next planned idea was lunch at a place called the Kangaroo Trout but there were no tables available. So instead we spent the next hour making puns about the fact we ended up going to the the town of Plan. Plan is pretty unremarkable apart form a small church and a bar that we were told would have provided amazing deserts if it had been open. So the plan for flan in Plan…
Back in out Monastery friends of Bob and Anna’s arrived with their two kids which sent all four kids in to tailspins of excitement, complete with appropriately disapproving glares from the girls’ grandmother as our dinner of suckling pig descended into friendly chaos.