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Sunday, 21 June 2015

Hoz de Jaca

Today we went for a Sunday afternoon trip. Not very far, to the Tena valley, past Biescas and turning right to cross over to the other side of the Bubal reservoir. Then up a steep, winding road which still had the padding that had been put up for the 10,000 cyclists taking part in the Quebrantahuesos road race the day before. Wow! Strong people!
Anyway, we parked in the village of Hoz de Jaca and walked to a viewpoint over the reservoir. What
 a viewpoint!

There's this amazing platform which sticks out over the void; you walk on a metal grid which you can see through. I could overcome my slight feelings of vertigo but one woman who was there at the same time as us was incapable of stepping onto the grid.
While we were looking out over the reservoir some birds flew quite close to us. There were two bearded vultures, known here as quebrantahuesos or bone-cracker. They are quite rare these days and it was great to see them. The others were Egyptian vultures, known here by the name "alimoche" 

Resultado de imagen de bearded vultureBearded vulture. It's not my photo!Resultado de imagen de egyptian vultureEgyptian vulture. Not mine either.

You can see the platform in the distance.


Pyramidal saxifrage, almost finished.

Tall campanulas

Some kind of stonecrop

Then we found this newish fountain in the village.

You can see some of the mountains behind it.

Monday, 15 June 2015


Gijón by nightAsturias is a long way from Jaca. The itinerary for our first day works out at 591km, broken down into 299 to Castro Urdiales, 153 to Llanes, 46 to Covadonga, 9 to Cangas de Onís and 84 to Gijón.That was on Thursday. On the way home on Sunday, Gijón to Ribadesella, 62 km, another 62 to San Vicente de la Barquera, 56 to Santander, and finally 368km to Jaca. 548 in total. I think the difference between there and back is the Covadonga bit.We were lucky with the weather. It's been very hot, but while we were away it was quite dull and threatening. I know that in Jaca it rained a lot, but we hardly needed the umbrellas and raincoats we'd taken. I say hardly; yes, it rained, but we missed most of it.Well, a quick stop in Castro Urdiales, dinner in Llanes where we had time to go for walks. I remember stopping there many years ago to pick up the keys for the house we were renting in Sobrepiedra, near Cangas de Onís. When we went to the agency office on Saturday it was closed with a sign saying it wouldn´t be open till Monday. What a panic! I remember we went to the local police for some help. Of course the agent turned up after dinner (maybe four or five o'clock) and sent us off with a complicated set of instructions for the back-route to Sobrepiedra. That was where 5-year-old David saw a mouse in the kitchen.Anyway, back to our trip: Next stop, the sanctuary of Covadonga.I like these bottlebrush plants Callistemon citrinus . The church or basilica is behind it. 
There's a well-trodden path down to a shrine in a cave, above a waterfall. There are waterpipes where people can drink down by the waterfall.  
Like many of these "holy" places, it's in an amazing natural environment.
For lack of time and being on a big coach, we didn't stop in Cangas de Onís to see the bridge with the emblematic cross.
Here it is from Google. The cross is the symbol of Asturias.
Ok. Gijón. Hotel. Supper. 14 stories or storeys of rooms. Two lifts, one for two people, the other in theory for six, but when there were six of us in it, it refused to go and had to be reset. Nice long walk after supper onto the seafront. Another nice long walk, a paddle for some, the next morning. I wished I hadn't taken my caghoul.

This was the limit of our walk.
We had dinner in the hotel and in the afternoon set off for Pola de Siero where we were to give the concert.
This is the inside of the parish church San Pedro.
There's a garden at the church and we did some posing for photos...

Unfortunately most of the men were elsewhere so they missed the photos. After the concert we were taken to a centre where our kind hosts fed us and gave us local cider. It has to be presented in a special way:

Holding the bottle as high as possible and the glass low so the cider is "beaten". It's handed to the drinker who tosses it back immediately, leaving a drop in the glass which is used to clean it out and put back on the table for the next drinker.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Flowers in Somport

On Saturday morning we took a picnic to Le Somport, just over the border in France. In Jaca it was not a bad day, but as we approached the mountains we could see clouds caught on them. Arriving at the ski resort it was dull, misty and bitterly cold. We went for a long, brisk walk around the cross-country ski circuit, enjoying the spring flowers and the glimpses of the mountains. It was muddy, and there were patches of snow in secluded corners. On one misty stretch of track I saw the rumps of three or four roe deer which disappeared silently into the mist. The ground was very heavily worked by moles and wild boars.
Alpine squills on a bank angled at about 45º.

I didn't know what they were, and couldn't find them in any of my flower books, so I posted a photo on Facebook and my cousin suggested squills. That gave me a clue to follow. 

Then I googled squills and found which confirmed what Christine (my cousin) had said. It's a lovely blogspot. 

These are some kind of  orchids growing on a rough slope among the molehills and boar-rootings.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Zaragoza, from high up

The Pilar basilica in Zaragoza has a lift which goes up one of the towers. The views are great!

Although the flood waters from two months ago aren't as extreme as they were, they are still quite high.

looking straight down


Spiral staircase to the top

The leaning tower of San Juan de los Panetes from the Plaza del Pilar