Friday, June 12, 2009

Day 7: Confranc to Jaca

Another gorgeous day to wake up to, clear blue sky. We awoke early had breakfast and were on the road by 7.30am. I was so happy as we were back on the mountainside. Alongside of us we had the river Aragón which we crossed a few times. The first 2k´s we followed a wooded riverside path and then the next 3k´s was tree lined rocky path sometimes earth and scree and then onto very large gravel, or you could say rock. On the side of us were scree slopes which looked quite scary as one could imagine that sometimes the scree comes tumbling down. On the other side of us was often a steep drop to the river Aragón. We then walked onto a flatter area of low wooded hills and fields with stone walls. We had sunshine the whole day and beautiful blue sky. It was very hot by midday and my arms got quite sunburnt, unfortunately put on sun block a bit late, know better for tomorrow. On the way to Jaca I had pinned my socks onto my backpack to dry and somewhere on the way I must have lost one so now I am minus a sock, which leaves me with one pair of socks, until I can find a place to buy another pair. Syl has kindly offered to lend me a pair of hers if I need them. When we reached Jaca we could not get into our accomodation as they only opened at 4.00pm and it was just before 3.00 so we left our backpacks at the door and went off in search of a resturant for a meal. We had a delicious salad and then went back to book in. We are so lucky to have free interent where we are staying and have been able to catch up on our writing for the blog.

Sil - A rocky road to Jaca
When we walked along the road today we realised that we hadn´t seen the main part of the town of Confranc Estacion. Sometimes you arrive at your destination, shower, wash clothes, find a place to eat or shop for food and once you have seen the main attraction (this time it was the beautiful station) you don´t have much energy for further sightseeing. Today rocked! We rocked! The paths were rocks! We rocked and rolled on narrow rocky paths at the base of scree slopes on large gravel stones, crossing shored up landslides and scree beds. We kept climbing up and then going down to cross the road and walk on the other side. Then back again we go, down to the road and climb up the opposite hill. At one stage we had to duck to walk under the overpass of the main road above us, circle around the concrete supports and climb up the other side.
On one long winding rocky path we heard cowbells and kept trying to look through the hedges to see them. And then, around the corner came a shepherd and his enormous flock of sheep and goats, many of the larger animals with cowbells around their necks. We stood aside to let them pass (it was a bum to bum traffic jam!) and it seemed as though the flock was never ending. Another shepherd and his dog brought up the rear and he said that there were over 300 animals in the flock.
After exiting the countryside we entered Castillo de Jaca on a very steep village road down to the main village and highway below. Most fortified towns were built on high ground and this one was no exception. Going down, down, down we marvelled at the locals who have to walk up and down this winding, steeply graded road every day. We stopped in a lovely shady public park for biscuits and cheese and filled up our water bottles before continuing. The signs have changed from the blue and yellow of the Amis St Jacques to a combination of those and yellow arrows. It is amazing at how much you depend on those splashes of yellow. At one stage we were walking with a Frenchman from Bordeaux and missed the arrow pointing down a steep flight of wooden stairs to the road below. We retraced our steps and went down, down, down once again to join another rocky road.
There is a steep climb up to the outskirts of Jaca and then a fairly long walk into the town and to the albergue following yellow arrows and brass shells in the pavement. The albergue is very modern with cubicles and beds instead of bunks. The showers are good and the kitchen well equipped. It was closed when we arrived so we left our packs in the foyer and returned to a lovely street restaurant we´d passed on the way. We were all dying for salad so gorged on delicious fresh salads before visiting the Farmacia to buy some extra padding for our feet

Val - Minister of Nutrition Today was a lovely walk and I had to sing:
"I am walking to Pamplona
All the way to Spain
I am walking to Pamplona
In wind and sun and rain
When I get to my albergue
I will be just fine
If I have nice hot shower
and a little glass of wine".
On the way to Jaca I had pinned my socks onto my backpack to dry and somewhere on the way I must have lost one so now I am minus a sock, which leaves me with one pair of socks, until I can find a place to buy another pair. Syl has kindly offered to lend me a pair of hers if I need them. There is nothing worse than catching a glimpse of yourself in a shop is not a pretty sight...however, I am sure that they modelled the wonder bra on a woman carrying a back pushes you in, up and out. Unfortunately, the stirnum strap then pushes you down and makes the smallest look well endowed but hanging low. I also look for Real Estate Offices in the hope of finding an innovative way of displaying properties but as with other countries I have not found any to be better than our own. English still has the best shop fronts. We arrive in Jaca, it is gorgeous the sun is shining, it is buzzing...pavement cafes and shops...but the shops other than the food ones, do not interest me because I cannot carry (until I get to Pamplona!).The restaurants open until around 4.30pm and then only open again at 9pm...our accommodation has a 10pm curfew so we will not be able to eat tonight. The service is good, but quite rightly relaxed and we would never get a meal served and eaten by 10pm. And so we decide to have a late lunch. Whilst I would like to eat my way through a 4 course meal, we are desperate for fresh vegetables and greens. Marion and I share a huge salad Ensalada Especial Verno for 12euros. It has a small leaved green salad as its base, similar to watercress but I cannot remember the name...we do not get it in SA. The salad has melon balls, ham, tomatoes and feta and is absolutely delicious. A vino tinto accompanies this.Well two actually. We then go and settle into our accommodation and shower, wash the flipping clothes which you know will not dry and have to be pinned on your back again. Then we get free internet access, two computers. We have to make up for 7 days of posting, 8 if you count that we start on Day minus if you started reading on Day 1, scroll back down because you have missed some! We type away until 9pm then discuss the plans for tomorrow - it is now 9.25pm and then Marion and I decide to sneak out for a glass of wine. We are told that the place closes up for the night at 10pm and so you must be back. We go into the village and find a lovely wine bar...barrels outside for tables, great wine list and wine cellar inside, tapas and lots of food to buy. We do not have time to study the wine list so quickly order two glasses of Chardonnay. Beautiful wine glasses and just the right temperature. We sit under the evening sky
watching all the locals looking happy with their children playing in the streets. Service again is very relaxed and we only get our wine at 9.40pm. We enjoy it and then realise that we still have to walk back so we call for the bill. I am struggling to find the correct word for bill and Marion simply signs to the waiter and he understands. He comes with the bill (1.60 e per glass) and I only have a 20euro note so we have to wait for change. As he moves away he stops at two tables to take their order but he is discussing the wines (quite rightly) with his customers and Marion begins to count down the time...9.52, 9.53....we are desperate, as he finishes with the last customer we run inside - not time for translation and I just hope he understands some English or the desperate look of two 50 somethings who have to be in bed
by 10pm...."Excuse me, excuse me...please the bill...we are staying at the Refugio and have a 10pm curfew"...he smiles wonderfully, and hastily gets us the we are walking out I see Chirizo made from deer and wild boar...only 3.40 euros for a huge pack, I pick it up but Marion looks desperate...9.57....we are wearing crocs and quickly move into a speed walking motion and we make it inside just as the lady is zipping up her bag and walking to the door. Phew! Then to bed........

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