Friday, June 12, 2009

Day 6: Borce to Confranc Estación

Leaving Borce

Misty hills

Fort fu Portalet - an infamous prison

Deep, green lake
Leaving the river - climbing
Crossing into Spain
Camino Sign in Spain

Col du Somport

Somport Ski Lodges
Walking down the pass in Spain

Flowers on the route

So far we have been so lucky with our accommodation, it has been really good and we have had super food. The weather has also been good to us, only a bit of rain in the beginning ideal walking weather not to cold or to hot. We do need to start off with a fleece and after a short time take it off, have to say our spats are wonderful as they keep all the dust and bits and pieces off our socks.
The scenery was magnificent mountains all around us. Could see quite a bit of snow on the mountain top.
Although it was a tremendous day and I thoroughly enjoyed it, at the same time I found it my most difficult day so far. It was all uphill to the Col du Somport. We walked on the road which I found very hard going and it wound round and round all the way up to the top. Lots of huge trucks coming and going to and from Spain. One had to be aware the whole time, sometimes hardly any shoulder, so when a truck came passed you had to stand as close to the side as possible.
What a view at the top of Col du Somport. Walla!! we were all of a sudden in Spain! We stopped at the top for a coffee and then wound our way down to Canfranc Estacion.
A long hard day but enjoyed every minute.

Was a bit stiff this morning although Borce is only about 630m. Last night we made a decision to walk on the road to Somport. The CSJ guide describes the road route as being more scenic so up the road we went - and up, and up, and up.

For the first four hours we couldn't see higher than the tops of the trees due to the heavy mist but when the sun did break through we caught glimpses of snow capped mountains and craggy peaks.
Whereas I was feeling a bit flat and wooden yesterday on those rocky, river paths, I went up like a steam train today and it was Marion´s turn to feel like a wooden doll. We stopped more frequently, not only because of the climbing but because the sun finally came out and was burning down on us. We climbed from 636m to 1600m at the pass. What a welcome sight and a good stop at the cafeteria for a drink and a rest.
It is 7.5km down to Canfranc Estacion and once more we opted for the road rather than the steep path down to 1200m. On the road a fellow in a 4X4 stopped us and gave us a card for a Casa Rural in Canfranc Est. I had emailed Peppito Grillo about rooms but when we got there we rang the bell a few times and nobody came, we found the La Tuca Casa Rurul and booked in there. A charming house with very comfortable rooms at 20€ person bed and breakfast. We visited the stunning station which was used in the film Dr Zivago, and then went back to our Casa and asked about dinner on the terrace of the house next door. 9pm she said. 9pm!! Oi. We went back to town and bought food for dinner which Val will tell you about.

Val - Minister of Nutrition
We set off early so breakfast is not worth mentioning.
I was expecting it to be really tough by the description and other peoples comments but perhaps it was easier on the road. It certainly did not compare to walking over the Alps so that was a pleasant surprise.
We made it to the top and had coffee, two in fact..heaven! It was a lovely little cafe (and bar) and reminded me of the pub at the top of Sani Pass. We were soon on our way down and into Spain. Somport has a great Ski-ing resort, lots of new building going on. The contrast as we get into Spain is striking. The sky is suddenly blue and the people wear clothes with colour and they just look healthier with shining hair and skin. There is a huge amount of building going on we trust they have escaped the recession. Good for them.
As Syl says we are staying in the place where they filmed Dr Zhivago and I shall be getting the film out when I get back...the station is an extraordinary piece of architecture. Our rooms are bright and cheery and the owner has put a lot of effort into the decor. We decide that tonight we will eat out and there is a restaurant next door with tables outside. It is a lovely evening. At 4pm we have a glass of wine and I translate the menu...we all get excited and decide on our choice.
Now for those of you that know me well and for those of you that have followed my previous blog, you will realise that I am not eating in the restaurants, side cafes etc. And so, this trip for me is so far gastronomically speaking a disappointment.
But things are looking up, Confranc is full of pavement restaurants with tapas menus everywhere..and so I decide that tonight it is going to be the menu Sugerencias Hecho Para Ti - I am so excited I take a picture of the menu...I am going to have Esparragos blanco con bacalao y de jamon -which translates to something like Asparagus, Salt cod and worth a try. For Segundos...I chose Margaret de pato en salsa frambue...which I hope I have translated correctly as Duck.
Right, do we need to book and what time do your open? 9pm she says! Too late, we are starving and no one can wait another 5 hours. And so it is off to the supermarket once more for bread!
However, the evening meal turned out to be a was a lovely evening and we bought a carton of red (vino tinto...pronounced beeno tinto and remembered to lisp when we said thankyou...grathias!!) we bought bread, pate and cheese, cocktail olives, peppers and onions (our own tapas) and finished off with Lindt chocolate orange. The pate was chunky pork with a light surround of jelly and would make any half decent pork pie feel unworthy. We laid out our feast on a park bench and sat on the pavement. I had bought 2 goblets for Marion and me and we at least drunk our wine in style...a fellow walker came past and marvelled at our his broken English he said"well there is no compromise for some things" right!
The supermarkets are heaven and I am so tempted to buy to take home but will wait until the airport...I will smuggle as much duck as I can carry....I have however bought Martin some dried chillis as he loves cooking with these and some saffron...not sure of the quality and the price 3.8euros probably suggests that it isn´t great. The supermarkets carry a tiny selection of everything until you come to the food...anchovies 3 times the size we are used to, whole sides of hams, cheese, smoked salmon, caviar - there is not one clothes shop in the whole what does that tell you?

No comments: