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Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Another cave

Last week at the end of August I went to another cave, this time near Jaca, in Villanúa. The cave is much smaller than the French system of Bettharam, but it's really rather impressive. I went with the choir as part of the celebration of Witches' week:
güixa is witch in Aragonese dialect and it's what they call the cave there. I didn't take photos, but others did, so I've copied them from Facebook.



We did two mini-concerts to small audiences: the second one there were fewer listeners than singers, unless you count the bats and one mouse!





The path to get to the entrance is rough, but once you get into the cave there's a clear, well-lit pathway, and there are some impressive rock-formations as well as an important colony of bats.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Caves and berries

Yesterday the weather was a little bit dull. However, we went on our planned route into France through the Portalet mountain pass and ended up in the Hautes-Pyrenees in Betharram, where in 1903 they discovered a great network of caves. You park the car and then are taken by bus to the entrance. There's a warning; the temperature inside the caves is 13º C. You are led by a guide in a uniform which looks as if it has been handed down for many years, complete with a black beret. The caves are long and deep. There are stairs which go down about 400 metres, I think they said. Stalagmites and stalactites, funny rock formations, a ceiling formed by being a river bed, short boat ride and finally a train ride to the café and gift shop. About an hour and a half. I didn't take photos, so I've put a link for their website.
http://www.betharram.com/ 
The gift-shop is a pretty modernist building. Next to it was a nice picnic shelter where we could sit and eat our sandwiches. Betharran is a two-hour drive from Jaca, through beautiful, very green landscape.


Sunday morning was bright and we went to France again, this time up the Aragón valley to Le Somport for an easy walk around the cross-country ski circuit. It's a lovely place for picking (just a few) raspberries, blueberries and occasionally wild strawberries. 
raspberries

fern

blueberries

a lonesome pine



Today, this is obviously the flight path for a lot of planes!

The mountain in the background is La Raca, in Astún

This vapour trail was spectacular.




Thursday, 13 August 2015

Ibón d' Estanés

Early this morning there was a thunderstorm. Thunder, lightning, rain and hail. We weren't sure if we'd be able to go ahead with our outing to the mountains, but it was fine, though a bit cloudy. We had a pleasant walk, not too hot most of the time, and a bit windy on the top.
From the car park at Sansanet, it´s about 90 minutes' walk up a steep path to the mountain lake. After we'd been walking for a few minutes, we passed some young men, one of whom was carrying his music with him and sharing it with the other walkers. It made me cross; not really the place for that.
Anyway, with lots of stops to get my breath back we made it to the lake.
Although we started our walk in France, the lake is in Spain.




This is a Carline thistle.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Holiday part 2: the Pyrenees

On Tuesday we took the car and drove to the eastern part of Huesca, a town called Castejón de Sos, dropped off our suitcases in the hostel and went on to the Boi valley in Catalunia. I'm not sure if it's hotter than ever these days or just hot, but it is very hot at the moment. The Boi valley contains a Romanesque treasure; well, several, but one in particular, the church of San Climent de Taüll.


                                                                                                  You can see it's got a really high tower for such a low building. Once it opened, we were able to climb up the stairs, which were only slightly more than ladders up to the  top. Great views! Then back down to where there was a really wonderful presentation about the frescoes which were removed from the walls in the early 20th century and are to be seen in a museum in Barcelona. By projection, they re-create them in situ. I loved it!
There are two Romanesque chapels in the village. The one with the high tower, San Climent wasn't open when we arrived, so we went to see Santa Maria, which was free.


The frescoes are re-created, I think.




We missed the cheese fair!



This is a view from the village square








They like their food!



This is the door of a big house in Castejón de Sos

Lovely knocker!
Site of a medieval hospital
The next day we went to Benaque and Llanos del Hospital. It's a valley where they do Cross-country skiing in winter, and excursions in summer. When we arrived they were turning cars away from descent to the carparks because they were full, so we parked on the road. By the time we left a few hours later, the roadsides were also full.






alpine dianthus




Monks' hood



Signposts to everywhere!














In the afternoon we went to the village of Roda to see a rather curious church, built as a cathedral.

La catedral de Roda de Isábena



ourside capitels

The crypt is visible here; it's an unusual interior.


San Valero's tomb

polichrome





pretty cloister


You're not allowed to sit here




and then we went to the little church of Santa Maria de Obarra, in the country

Nice decorations on the outside!