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Thread: Monta˝as - Time for a trip report?

  1. #1
    Petri is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jan 2004 Helsinki, Finland Posts: 7,968
    What happened?


  2. #2
    amyb is online now
    SBH Insider Joined: Apr 2008 Glen Cove,L. I., NY Posts: 27,561
    ran out of gas? Locked keys in the car?
    Remember Yesterday, Dream About Tomorrow, But Live Today.

  3. #3
    Petri is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jan 2004 Helsinki, Finland Posts: 7,968
    That was the parking spot for the first 3-4 hour training hike :)


    On the third day, we were on the ground and I was looking up -- "I wonder if it would be possible to hike up there.. probably not without a helicopter".












    Well, after some serious hiking uphill, things started to look a bit different. Had we known..











    Unfortunately we didn't have a helicopter. And things weren't quite flat up there. Nor was the drop covered by trees but anything from rock walls to gorges.


    Let's see how the pictures turn out and if there will be a real trip report :)

  4. #4
    amyb is online now
    SBH Insider Joined: Apr 2008 Glen Cove,L. I., NY Posts: 27,561
    A great photo op and a real climbing/hiking challenge. I'll wait right here for the results of your trek.
    Remember Yesterday, Dream About Tomorrow, But Live Today.

  5. #5
    Peter NJ is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Dec 2002 Highlands NJ Posts: 6,807
    great pics..more please
    The last of the famous international playboys

  6. #6
    MIke R is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: May 2003 Stinson Lake - New Hampshire & Provincetown - Cape Cod Posts: 51,935
    awesome...I would love that...I swear I think you are one of the few people I could travel with....LOL.....I seem to love and value what you love and value
    "When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace" Jimi Hendrix

  7. #7
    Petri is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jan 2004 Helsinki, Finland Posts: 7,968
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike R
    awesome...I would love that...I swear I think you are one of the few people I could travel with....LOL.....I seem to love and value what you love and value
    LOL.. The feeling is mutual :)

    It doesn't come as a surprise that I booked Laura's return flight two days before we left for the trip -- and the last day of accommodation a day before leaving.. Rest of the accommodation was booked a week before and the outgoing flights two weeks before the trip.

    Last sunday, while walking around in Barcelona, Laura realized that she didn't print any papers about her return flight -- and I couldn't remember if I had booked flights for her in the first place.

  8. #8
    Petri is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jan 2004 Helsinki, Finland Posts: 7,968
    As mentioned earlier, this was also the day to start a 6-week vacation so we celebrated to occasion with champagne at the airport.



    .. and as it was difficult to get reasonably priced tickets, we spent some frequent flyer miles and got ourselves business class tickets.

    With a great crew and service on the 3.5 hour flight, we enjoyed champagne before, during and after the dinner.







    .. and despite drinking almost a full bottle of champagne each, we managed to spot the famous Millau Viaduct in France.



    A full bottle of champagne does make flying pretty nice experience. Despite the "italian strike" at the Helsinki airport, everything was breeze at both the airports. I think the flight was 20 minutes late but we didn't notice it with all the champagne.


    And for the very first time since ages, we actually took the airport bus from the Barcelona airport to the city. Our hotel was next to the Plaša d'Espanya which also happened to be the first stop for the airport bus. Fast, cheap and convenient.

    We were staying at the B Hotel, quite a new design hotel with a great roof-top pool area.




    Plan for the next ~10 days was quite simple.

    For the first weekend Laura and other finns would be attending a Rumba festival with plenty of dance sessions. Meanwhile I would walk around the town a bit, it's been 10 years since the last visit. The festival finished with Havana d'Primera concert which I also attended. Great music, great performers, great audience.

    For the next full week we would get ourselves a Mini Cooper Cabrio convertible and drive around a bit. First to the La Rioja wine region for couple of nights and then to the base in a small town of Ainsa in the Pyrenees mountains next to the French border. From there we could drive to the Ordesa and Monte Perdido national parks for great views and hikes of all kinds.

    On Sunday we'd return back to Barcelona and on Monday I'll fly back to Helsinki and Laura will stay in town for another week with a friend to study spanish.

  9. #9
    Petri is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jan 2004 Helsinki, Finland Posts: 7,968
    Barcelona



    Barcelona is a great city. Plenty of green parks, hills, next to the blue mediterrean sea, and usually blessed with perfect weather. This also means that the locals know how to enjoy their life.



    Seafood is excellent and there are plenty of great choices. Actually we were very surprised how good selection of fish and other sea creatures were available in the supermarkets and stores, even hundreds of kilometres inlands. Spain does have plenty of great ingredients and some of the foods are superb, but we still prefer the Italian food culture.




    Mercat de Sant Josep food hall had the greatest products one can imagine available. I spent every day of the trip wondering if I should a full Iberico leg back home.

    Well, I didn't but I did eat Iberico ham every day.



    Our hotel and Plaša d'Espanya were next to the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya and it's Font Màgica, the Magic Fountain of Montju´c.



    Barcelona is known for the Gaudi buildings but with the heat above 30C, I didn't fancy queueing with the other tourists.



    They are still building the church. They started building Sagrada FamÝlia in 1882.



    Like the other top tourist sites, Park Guell was pretty crowded as well.



    .. but the street musicians there were worth the climb (mostly outdoor escalators, though).



    .. and even the 13 gooses were still there at La Seu Cathedral. Each goose represents one year in the life of the martyr Santa Eulalia, a young girl tortured to death in the 4th century by the Romans for her religion.



    And La Ramba, the main walking street in the city, with it's street artists (and scams) was just like we left it 10 years ago.

    We left Finland to "escape" the traditional Midsummer festivals. It turned out that on 23rd June they celebrate similar San Juan in Catalonia as well with plenty of traditions. For example people have bonfires and if you jump three times over the bonfire, you will be purified and your problems burned away. It was quite a noisy days at the Plaša d'Espanya.

  10. #10
    Petri is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jan 2004 Helsinki, Finland Posts: 7,968
    La Rioja

    Rioja wine region is some 600 km north from Barcelona, almost on the Atlantic coast of Spain. It's also on the border between Basque country and rest of Spain.



    On our way up north we saw the Greenwich meridian, the zero longitude for coordinates. I never realized it was so clearly marked :)

    Spain had excellent motorways and at least during a working day, relatively little traffic. Superb driving everywhere, exemplary signs and returning the rental car to the Barcelona airport was one of the easiest we've seen.




    We were staying in Hotel Viura, another new, small design hotel in a small town of Villanueva de ┴lava. The deals we managed to get with all our accommodations were just great, superb price/quality ratio.

    When we checked in, the front desk guy recommended that we book the winery tours the next morning as especially the english ones are quite difficult to get. "They are not prepared for us", he said. We were wondering what he meant.

    We didn't really want to do much winery tours as they all look the same. Visiting the stores, the public spaces, tasting rooms and restaurants would be plenty enough, we thought. Lunch with the wines, what would be better way to taste their offerings but with the matching local foods?

    We had no special wineries in mind, Rioja wines are pretty solid performers. We got some excellent borchures from the hotel and I had Air Canada's "Top 5 Design Wineries in La Rioja" article.



    La Rioja is a beautiful area with small medieval villages on hills surrounded by vineyards and mountains. I believe Laguardia is the main village in the area (excluding the larger cities).



    We had dinner in Laguardia on the second night and all of the village was having a fiesta, not San Juan as in Barcelona a few days earlier but another one. Religion, what a great excuse for celebrations. The local teenagers had a samba band playing.




    We decided to start with Bodegas Ysios. We had never heard of them but they must be something special with such a building, right?



    The front door was locked so we didn't get in. Nice area, though.




    Bodega Antion looked nice and it looked like it had a small hotel as well. Not so fast. Both the front and rear entrances were blocked with chains. Nothing was happening here.




    Our third stop was the famous MarquÚs de Riscal. It's also a Starwood hotel property so it must be a great place for a lunch.

    Well.. you can't really drive to the place itself. The visitor parking is further away and there's a guard to the actual building. All the gates are locked and there is a smaller building with a shop and tasting room.



    At least we finally managed to get ourselves a glass of local wine. I stole some peanuts from another table.




    Next stop was Bodegas Baigorri with a beautiful elevated glass building, views to die for across the vineyards.

    Like most other places, the signs say that the place is open from 10 to 18 and there are tours at 11, 13 and 15 by appointment only. Well, guess if the door was open?




    Ok, no problem. Next stop is Bodega Vi˝a Real. Why not, these wine tours are happening pretty fast this way.

    Damn, the road to the winery is cut with a chain. Laura stops the car and I start walking to the front yard. If nothing else, I should at least get a good picture of the building. A guard yells at me and tells me not to take any photos.


    Now we know what "they are not prepared for us" means.

    Seriously, I don't get it. Why do these people build these amazing landmark buildings and sites and don't let people in? Where are all the cafes, restaurants, shops and other small facilities to build the brand with random visitors? A lot of people drive from the other countries to Spain and could bring back home boxes of wines very easily.

    I can understand that they may prefer to have bookings for winery visits but it shouldn't mean that everything is locked rest of the day. We've had random visits and lunches in all the other wine regions and countries and dropping by without an agreement has never been a problem. In Rioja (Spain in general?) the winery visits probably work fine if you book everything in advance for a strict tour but that's like traveling in a tourist bus with a set program.

    Our best winery visits were in Chile where we met the winery owner/winemaker, took some bottles of wine and coolers filled with local cheeses and other food, walked to a small sun deck next to the vineyards and set up a picnic -- chatting, drinking, eating, and looking at the wine growing. These folks could have at least have a terrace with tables so that people could have picnic of their own -- with the wines and food from the winery's shop.




    It would have been better idea to skip La Rioja and spend these days on the Mediterranean coast.


    We did buy a bottle of wine to bring home, though. Ysios 2005 was 18 euros at the supermarket and expensive compared to all the other 3-6 euro wines (it was actually quite funny to see wines that cost less than an euro a bottle). Such a landmark building and wine that costs several times more than the average, it must be good, right? We'll see.



    On our way from the Pyrenees to Barcelona, we stopped by in Vilafranca del Penedes to visit the Torres winery. Bodegas Torres is the largest winery in Spain and has operations around the world -- if anyone, they must have excellent visitor facilities.



    They were just locking the door when we arrived and we couldn't see any shop, lunch restaurant or anything open. We ended up having a lunch in a small neighborhood street corner diner in the town, next to the passing motorway.

  11. #11
    amyb is online now
    SBH Insider Joined: Apr 2008 Glen Cove,L. I., NY Posts: 27,561
    Great buildings-thanks for taking us there. (Now we will not have to do it ourselves.)
    Remember Yesterday, Dream About Tomorrow, But Live Today.

  12. #12
    katva is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Nov 2009 Posts: 4,764
    Quote Originally Posted by amyb
    Great buildings-thanks for taking us there. (Now we will not have to do it ourselves.)

    Funny!

    Petri---thanks for sharing all the photos----I love seeing the architecture and design of different places, and these wineries are fantastic!
    If you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room :)

  13. #13
    amyb is online now
    SBH Insider Joined: Apr 2008 Glen Cove,L. I., NY Posts: 27,561
    By hooking up with this travel savvy forum, I have seen things I never expected to see or learn about. Thank you all for posting OTHER destinations as well as our beloved SBH!
    Remember Yesterday, Dream About Tomorrow, But Live Today.

  14. #14
    Petri is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jan 2004 Helsinki, Finland Posts: 7,968
    The Pyrenees - Intro

    "The Pyrenees (also spelled PyrenÚes, pronounced /?p??r?ni?z/; Spanish: Pirineos or Pirineo, French: PyrÚnÚes, Catalan: Pirineus, Occitan: PirenŔus, Aragonese: PerinÚs, Basque: Pirinioak or Au˝amendiak) is a range of mountains in southwest Europe that forms a natural border between France and Spain." -- pretty simple.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyrenees

    While Barcelona is a great city and I wouldn't mind spending a few months there, I thought we might want to see something different in Spain. By accident I saw some amazing photos from the mountains in the Pyrenees and started to dig deeper.

    Without a "grand plan", I settled with Parque Nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdido. It's been a national park for almost 100 years and the area is also an UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It's almost in the middle between the Pacific and Mediterranean.

    It's easier if one settles somewhere and drives from there around, for which I found a small, mid-evil or medieval town of Ainsa. And if the weather turns bad, we had an option to escape to France some ~20 miles away.



    We didn't have any expectations but the region was a pleasant surprise. It didn't look like the mountains in Bulgaria but more like Switzerland or Northern Italy but with less tourists and people spoke spanish. The houses were proper stone houses for the winter weather and things looked pristine. Small villages here and there, usually on top of a hill.



    Ainsa was not a party town but one could easily see that it had plenty of visitors during the high seasons (this is a ski region as well). For example no tourists, not even the visitors staying in the village, could drive to the village. We had to unload/load our luggage at the entrance to the main square, walk to the hotel, and park our car behind a castle next to the village.



    Our hotel was on the east side of the plaza, far right on the plaza picture. Our room had a view to the outside of village, to the mountains. Beautiful. It was a small place with just eight rooms, reception was in a small souvenir shop next door and closed in the evenings. Sort of B&B without the hosts, not very expensive, officially two stars but I'd give it four, it was just perfect. Great breakfast as well, we didn't need any lunch.







    Everything was well restored and looked very picturesque. Simply beautiful. Very similar to e.g. the villages in Italy but with about 1000 times less tourists -- good! A lot of small shops, though. There's also the Ainsa Castle, which was home to the Aragonese Royal Court of Sobrarbe during the early years of the Spanish Reconquest. There is also a new Eco Museum which exhibits the Pyrenees ecosystem in great detail.



    Next to Ainsa was a super beautiful lake, the shade of blue was just amazing due the minerals from the mountains. There was a big power plant at the other end of the lake, quite far away.




    For some odd reason we actually ate twice in the same restaurant. The food was pretty good, mostly local plus plenty of seafood, but I think we enjoyed the atmosphere most. They didn't speak english. They had a new guy as a waiter who was pretty clueless. Most of the customers were spanish. Everything was very informal, food arrived in random order.



    Laura was thirsty and I graved for wine. So we ordered "a bottle of mineral water and a bottle of wine, red wine". We got both. They never asked what kind of wine we'd like. And we got just one wine glass initially. It was a 5.50 euros bottle of local wine and it didn't taste bad at all. On the second visit we ordered the next expensive wine (7 euros) on the list. The didn't have anything above 10 euros anyway.



    The dessert was one of the best. A perfect cafe cortado, similar to the macchiato in Italy. The dessert had some kind of local goat cheese, the texture felt almost like ice cream. On top of that, nuts in local honey. Looking at the offerings in the local stores, the region must be known for the wide varieties of honey.

    Anyway, 40 euros for two, a lot of food from iberico ham to octopus, desserts, cafes, bottle of wine. Not bad.

    BTW, we never tipped during the trip. We may have rounded something we paid in cash but there was never an option to tip.

  15. #15
    Rosemary is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jan 2010 New England Posts: 4,354
    Wonderful reporting! Thank you for taking me to places I will never visit. Beautiful pictures, as well. Please forgive me- the winery tour was hilarious. Never has so much wine never been drunk.

  16. #16
    Purplejeep is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Oct 2004 MD, SBH Posts: 258
    Petri - I am sorry I did not read this sooner- I have been in Barcelona since the 1st of July - perhaps I passed you in San Josep market(I was there a few days ago)! I have been on my own wandering about, so I would have enjoyed meeting you. I am headed for London today to catch up with family and friends before returning to Barcelona next week. Enjoy the rest of your holiday!

  17. #17
    Petri is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jan 2004 Helsinki, Finland Posts: 7,968
    Pyrenees - The first hike

    First of all, we're not mountain people as such. There are no mountains in Finland.

    We do enjoy doing interesting things; climb the dynes in Namibia, snow-topped volcanos in Chile, abseil to caves in New Zealand, do the Sydney Harbour Bridge walk day and night, whatever happens to feels fun to do - touristic or something that will hurt your muscles for days, or anything in between.

    We've never really climbed any mountains with professional gear nor have the skills to do so. The climb in Chile to the volcano was about as "pro" as we've ever gone..



    .. and we'd do everything again. Our plan for the Pyrenees was just to hike up there, somewhere with great views. We had some route ideas but not really any idea what to expect. Laura isn't quite comfortable with heights but we'll survive as long as it doesn't look too deadly.


    We started with a half-day hike, "easy" by all the definitions. It took about an hour to drive from Ainsa to the end of a small road where the path started, next to a small (about three houses and a church) village.



    A nice spot to showcase our cool Mini Cabrio convertible as well. The booth was super small so we actually had to put our luggage on the rear seats.



    In this photo the village is in the middle, far right. One can see a few roofs there. The first part of the route went pretty much at the same level across the photo to the right, behind the rock corner. At the end was a nice spot for a lunch and to see a waterfall and several deep valleys around.

    One option was to return the same way but one could join another route by going up. The first part was pretty steep path uphill to the "yellow level" on the picture. From here the route was on the yellow areas towards back to the village.

  18. #18
    Petri is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jan 2004 Helsinki, Finland Posts: 7,968
    Here are some photos from the route:











    There's actually people down in the valley by the circular river pools.






    After going uphill we got into another level:









    What was nice that the route was actually clearly marked, one way or another.








    And finally, back to the village.






    Ok, nothing challenging but a nice way to spend the hours. It was hot and the sun was shining. We met a few other people, couple of families, but people didn't seem to be aware of the upper route back to the village. The upper route was part of another, longer hike up to the mountains.

    A good start and promising region. The photos just don't do justice to the views, drops and changes in altitude. We had no trouble following the routes, the terrain was just perfect for our non-existing gear and things looked very good for rest of the trip. A baquet with some iberico ham was a good lunch with a few bottles of water en route.

    A great day for these tourists!

  19. #19
    Petri is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jan 2004 Helsinki, Finland Posts: 7,968
    Quote Originally Posted by purplejeep
    Petri - I am sorry I did not read this sooner- I have been in Barcelona since the 1st of July - perhaps I passed you in San Josep market(I was there a few days ago)! I have been on my own wandering about, so I would have enjoyed meeting you. I am headed for London today to catch up with family and friends before returning to Barcelona next week. Enjoy the rest of your holiday!
    Cool!

    Laura is still there until 11th July learning spanish so you may well have passed her somewhere!

    I was there on the 23-27th June and just one night 3-4th July..

  20. #20
    Petri is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jan 2004 Helsinki, Finland Posts: 7,968
    Pyrenees - The second hike

    A new day, new mountains. We picked another valley with a bit different scenery and longer ascend. There were two major options, one to a series of waterfalls and the other to a plain. Both sounded good but as the waterfalls route was up and down the same route, we chose the latter.



    This time the route started behind a hermitage and went almost straight into the forest. Uphill, uphill, uphill and uphill. Straight up.



    Occasionally there was a slightly more open spot and you could see that you're actually getting somewhere. Sweating process, though.

    At some point we actually heard a car driving and were wondering wtf? The route crossed a small gravel road several times and later we figured out what it was all about.



    We could also see the waterfalls (the other route) from up there. Not quite sure if we had made the right choice at that point, we could see some snow on our level on the other side of the valley and it would have been great to touch snow in the middle of the summer.



    Laura isn't doing a poop there, just digging the bag for some sun protection :)



    The reason for the road was that there was actually a small farm on the plain. Plenty of cows with their calfs, a few horses too. It turned out that Laura is a bit scared of cows -- lions in Africa were perfectly fine, they either attack you or don't but cows just stare at you with their crazy eyes and you don't know what they are up to. That was a funny moment for sure.



    Our destination was at the end of the plain where we could see several waterfalls coming from the mountains.



    Looked like a perfect spot for a lunch as well, don't you think?

  21. #21
    Petri is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jan 2004 Helsinki, Finland Posts: 7,968


    We had lunch on the big rock on the lower left side of the above photo. Laura also figured out it was a nice spot to enjoy the sun while I was hiking uphill to the waterfalls -- I could hear and see the remarks "Don't go there!". I could swear she was just giving a thumbs up and challenging if I can go any higher.









    In the heat and sunshine the cold mist from the waterfalls and blue water was just "yelling" -- jump in!


    After a while, it was time to go back down. The beautiful thing about the mountains is the variety of scenery. The fauna takes different colour, shape and form at the different altitudes and even the rocks can be anything from dark grey to almost white. Just beautiful.



    BTW, Telefonica has built a great mobile network here. We had great reception (Just sent a few texts.. honesty) but we never saw any cell towers. I recently read about a dutch woman who was hiking in Spain and was missing for two weeks. She had fallen into a waterpool of some kind and while looking for her, they also tried to triangulate her last known position from the cellular history data. Interesting.

    The route back down was pretty simple as we just followed the gravel road we had passed before. We also got a nice view to the waterfalls on the other side of the valley.



    And the valley itself.



    We also got to witness some mountain action. There was a helicopter flying pretty low on top of the mountains and we saw some Guardia Civil's looking uphill with binoculars.



    There's a helicopter in the center of the above photo.



    It's still there, almost right in the center.



    And after a while it gets up, and flies to the parking lot in the valley. I guess someone had a bit of an accident or similar and needed a ride. Or perhaps someone was trying to escape from Spain to France to get their bigger, crispier baquets. Hard to say, I didn't have the telezoom with me on the camera (zooming into the photo did reveal it was Guardia Civil heli).




    The waterfalls still looked beautiful from another angle. If we had been a bit smarter -- and woken up earlier, we could have done both routes -- and had we known that the hike up to the waterfalls starts from the other routes return path.



    And we could even spot the edge of the plain where we had just been. The small waterfalls in the middle of the trees are part of the stream that started from the waterfall where we had lunch. Also the other waterfalls in the plain lead to this single stream.


    Another great day for these tourists!

  22. #22
    MIke R is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: May 2003 Stinson Lake - New Hampshire & Provincetown - Cape Cod Posts: 51,935
    beautiful...excellent
    "When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace" Jimi Hendrix

  23. #23
    katva is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Nov 2009 Posts: 4,764
    LOVE these reports! So glad you took the time to post all the photos and descriptions. We also want to spend some time in Spain (we have a long list!)---want to go from Barcelona to San Sebastian, and see the Pyrenees along the way!
    If you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room :)

  24. #24
    amyb is online now
    SBH Insider Joined: Apr 2008 Glen Cove,L. I., NY Posts: 27,561
    Again Petri-Thank you for exploring the nooks and crannies in destinations I shall never get to explore. I so enjoy your comings and going.
    Remember Yesterday, Dream About Tomorrow, But Live Today.

  25. #25
    Petri is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jan 2004 Helsinki, Finland Posts: 7,968
    The Pyrenees - Third hike

    For the final day it was time to do something longer, basicly a full-day hike in the main valley of the national park. During the season one can't drive to the park itself but one has to leave car to the nearest village and there's a bus connection every 20 minutes.



    Already on the way to the village our travel was troubled with those crazy creatures that stare you with their big eyes. Scary. At least to the driver :)



    There it was, one of the many majestic mountains in the valley. Perhaps we would end up somewhere up there, perhaps not. We didn't really have any idea where the route would take us. We actually had two route options, majority of ascend would be the same for both of them so we decided to go up and see which one we'd prefer. The other one was considered advanced for the terrain.



    Going uphill was rocky but unlike the other routes, it had some flatter parts and there was plenty of space. One didn't really have any idea how high up one was in the forest. The route was going both up and deeper to the mountains.


    (PIC A)

    until things started to clear out and we could start to see the mountains and rock formations. Looks awesome, doesn't it?




    (PIC B)

    We eventually reached the waterfalls that was the end for the first part. From here we had the two different routes, both going to a "terrace in the rock wall" to different directions. 100 m difference in altitude.

    We had something to drink and settled down, and as we were feeling pretty good after the ascend we decided to go uphill to see the higher route first. It can't be too bad?



    The scenery was getting better and better as we hiked uphill.





    We finally reached the highest altitude on this route. And soon enough, a spot that was described as "walking on the bedrock". I thought it meant walking on a large, flat stone surface but it was a damn steep stairs of rocks with a narrow path and a stream going over it. One misstep and you roll down a bit until you hit the straight fall of hundreds of meters.



    This was a place where our government decided it was a good spot to turn back and try the other route instead. And to check that the description for it doesn't include the word "bedrock".

  26. #26
    amyb is online now
    SBH Insider Joined: Apr 2008 Glen Cove,L. I., NY Posts: 27,561
    Well done, Petri. A great hike and super photos.
    Remember Yesterday, Dream About Tomorrow, But Live Today.

  27. #27
    DaveM is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Jul 2007 Posts: 234
    Petri

    Wow and thank you! For how long are you in Spain (are you still there?)?

    We are beginning a trip on Monday which starts in Barcelona, then driving to Biarritz and San Sebastian; so directly and intentionally through this area. The pictures are so beautiful you are causing me to consider taking more time en route -- and also helping us choose the route. Ainsa looks quite charming, and the lakes to the south too!

    I am curious if you drove across the Col du Tourmelet? (just north of the Parque Ordesa), as it is one influence in our planning?

    We'll be in Barcelona from the 12th to the 17th, then San Sebastian area after, in case you might still be visiting and would like to have lunch, etc. I'll have my wife and two boys 12 and 14.

    Oh, and your Rioja comments and pics are great too, as I will now consider reservs . . . impressive architecture!

    Dave


  28. #28
    Petri is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jan 2004 Helsinki, Finland Posts: 7,968
    So we turned back and started walking downhill to see the other route. It started from the waterfall and we were wondering if we should have lunch somewhere.

    The other route was going quite steep uphill next to the waterfall and scenery was getting better all the time.



    We could even see the place where we had turned back on the other route. There are two rock formations on the top, just below the right one is a lighter green/yellow area. The bedrock is next to it.



    Another great view to the waterfall.



    And we settled for a nice lunch spot. I was looking downhill a bit and noticed that some ~20 meters away the trees end and it looked very much like the edge of trees on the PIC B on the previous post. Hmm.



    After the lunch we packed and the route continued next to the trees. High up but "protected", at least in our imagination.



    ... but.. but.. if one looks at the PIC A in the previous post, there's the mostly green stripe that goes along the mountain. That's where the route was going and it wasn't all trees. Far from it.



    Laura started humming to focus on walking and to keep her legs from shaking. We thought that it we go across here, rest of the route will be by the trees and we'll be safe.





    The views were fantastic.







    And hardly getting any easier or covered. There was something very psychological about having a few tens of meters of steep downhill with rocks and a few trees, followed by a straight drop from the terrace. We knew it was relatively safe as long as we keep our feet on the narrow path and don't do any missteps.

  29. #29
    Petri is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jan 2004 Helsinki, Finland Posts: 7,968


    We continued. The instructions said that hiking on the rock terrace would be "gently descending" and it would finish by a waterfall.

    It wasn't descending, it was going up here, and down there. We couldn't help wondering if we were on the right path? The only other people we saw where by the first rocky part, sitting under the single tree having lunch -- and they had full rock climbing gear with ropes and everything.

    It felt like there were about a thousand corners where you couldn't see what was coming -- and just hoped it would be the waterfall. It never was.



    Photos don't capture the dimensions well but looking at the trees give some idea.

    Laura was wondering about the Nike slogan. "Try harder", was my first thought. "Just do it".

    Finally we started to hear the sound of a motorway, which is also known as the sound of a waterfall from distance. A few moments we could even see it, still far away but we knew this was the right route and we were approaching the finale.



    .. and part of the finale was this nice, narrow path on a green meadow. Too bad the meadow is pretty steep and there's a straight fall down -- the express exit.



    While preparing to descent, we enjoyed a view of the valley itself.



    And finally found the waterfall.



    And while kissing the solid earth, we took the final looks up to the mountain. The route went there on the upper terrace.



    And we even found a map. The big "rock" on the right is the piece of mountain we went around on the rock terrace. The first waterfall was between those two "rocks" and our torture ended on far right on the map.




    Ok, it wasn't too bad. But the requirement to be extra caution perhaps took away some parts of the ability to enjoy the views and the grande picture. From the photos I noticed that I could have stopped to take photos much more times but didn't.

    The national park itself was superb, not crowded (there were both more and less advanced routes available so that everyone could enjoy their visit) and everything was clearly marked. And instead of big fences and concrete viewing platforms there it was pretty much all natural.

  30. #30
    Petri is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jan 2004 Helsinki, Finland Posts: 7,968
    That should wrap it up.

    We enjoy Spain a lot and I spent several days learning to pronounce the "ce" in Barcelona properly, putting your tongue between the teeth. I believe they do that only in Spain, not in Latin America. The next step could be spending a few months in the country and actually learning some spanish.

    We continue to hike in the mountains. The sceneries are just unbeatable. But we'll check the routes more carefully so that we can both enjoy the hikes to the fullest. Altitude isn't the issue, the proximity of the fall is :-)

    Rioja is worth a visit, like any other wine region -- with "mandatory" winery bookings. Our interest in more in the combination of wine and food so we like to see it matched with local foods, or see the winery match their offerings with various food. Likewise we prefer affordable wine, not the fancy ones. They didn't seem to cater this type of interest particularly well but most restaurants we had dinner in preferred local wines so it was kind of covered.

    Barcelona is one of the great cities in Europe. The amount of mandatory sightseeing isn't too huge and the city has a great vibe, there is always something happening. Check out the events in Montju´c. Festival Grec de Barcelona has activities across the summer.

    I want to go back. Absolutely.


    Tech bits;

    I bought a Vodafone prepaid SIM card for my MiFi device. It never worked, I called the english customer support and they had some kind of a "major technical problem". No idea what it was but all our accommodation had internet access so it wasn't a big deal.

    For navigation I bought a classic Michelin paper map for Spain and Portugal. They are nice for the generic route planning and they mark the scenic routes well. That worked exceptionally well with our convertible as I was able to plan the route to enable plenty of time with the roof down (~100 km/h seemed to be the comfortable limit). To navigate through the cities I used Offmaps2 on the iPad. Smooth traveling and driving in Spain was easy.

    OffMaps2 was also useful to locate the petrol stations next to the airport. Our cast cost ~210e for a week and if we had returned it without the tank full, they'd charges us 370e.

    All our accommodations were about ~100e a night. Eating out was inexpensive.

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