Day Six - Mountain Bound

May 8, 2002

Well wouldn't you know it? It is raining again in Spain. We leave the Monasterio de Piedra after a jog through the park, and a late breakfast snack. We have a long drive a head of us through the industrial town of Zaragoza, and up the foot hills, and then into the Pyrenees. We make a stop for an afternoon lunch in Barbastro at Monasterio de Pueyo. In July 1936, 20 monks were shot by the militia here. Another great lunch with a fantastic view from the mount where the monastery was built. Spring flowers were in bloom all about, but it was still cold.

The town of Barbastro, founded in the ninth century by Jalaf Ibn Rasid Ibn Asad, is built on hills and down in valley areas near streams. It is quite picturesque. It was one of Muslim Spain's most northerly outposts, today it is just a scruffy little town at the boarder of the foot hills.It was conquered in 1064 by Sancho Ramirez, taken back, and then again in 1101 by Pedro I.

 view from Monasterio de Pueyo

View of the country side, with orchards about.

 flowers on the way down from Monasterio de Pueyo

The picture doesn't due justice to the many wild flowers we encountered while in Spain, these were particularly colorful and drew our attention.

 Plaque for Monasterio de Pueyo

Plaque of the Church - build from 1290 to 1300. This hill top Monastery commands 360 degree views, and was the site of the July 1936 murder of 20 monks by the republican militia.


Arties - a mountain town in the Catalan Pyrenees. The area is known for skiing and hiking. We were very cold here. As it is pretty high up and there, and although there wasn't snow on the ground it wasn't too far up from us.

 map of rive from Nuevalos to Arties

This was a good drive, a long drive, but good roads, and nice scenery. The stop for lunch in Barbastro at the Monasterio de Pueyo was a nice break. Great views during this drive as we entered the Pyrenees, with the switch backs, and rivers, and lakes, and mountain passes.

 Street scene in the mountain area of Arties

The towns are fairly tiny, as you might imagine, and cater towards skiing and hiking. It was quiet during early March, as skiing has wound down and they await the Summer hikers. We looked in a lot of shops for sweaters for Paula, but didn't buy, as the mountain town prices were high.

 snow in the hills - we would find out how much

It was cold out and given our lack of cool weather clothing, made for brisk walks to and from dinner. We dined at Casa Irene, a small and expensive place, that apparently counts the Spanish royal family amongst its faithful customers. We had a five or six course price fix meal, that was very good. It is considered the best restaurant in all of Val d'Aran. The next day we took a mountain pass road up and across the pass, in a snow storm. Thankfully, we reached the top before the snow really started to stick to the road. On the way down it was one switch back after another - perfect for a summer sports car drive. The cumulative drive and road conditions the next day made Paula pretty car sick.

 green valley in the Pyrenees

We came upon this valley the following day, after the snow and at the bottom of the switch backs. Tiny little villages would just pop up.

 

You can't really tell from this picture, but the rocks in that river are pretty huge boulders. The water was really moving through this tiny river and I imagine, periodically floods the town in the right conditions.

 

There were very pretty buildings and painted buildings all about. A lot of character in this town.


Day Seven - Arties to Cardona via secondary mountain roads

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