European Escapades

Glorious Sunlight in Open Spain




Blue skys and majestic rocky terrain
Blue skys and majestic rocky terrain

With us at 1820 metres above sea level and the tunnel entrance before us, we move forward into a dark inky blackness. Lights try to illuminate the interior, but from the contrast of the snow blinding whiteness of our departure point, they offer a feeble attempt in comparison. Once in and our headlights spear forwards assisting us, as our eyes adjust to the new light levels and slowly as we progress forward, we begin to make out the details with tunnel itself. It is straight for one thing and has a gentle slope downwards for another, the curved sooty walls broken by the occasional rectangular recesses pointing you towards the emergency exits. The tunnel continues on for over three Kilometres, infrequently curving for a short while in almost imperceptible long wide arcs, as we traverse the almost straight line ahead. We are travelling at a easy 50 KPH. As we straighten for one last time a bright spot of whiteness come into view and grows larger and brighter as we approach. Other colours of blue, brown, red and mottled greens start appearing as we near the exit and into Spain.

This river should be renamed Rio Azul
This river should be renamed Rio Azu

As we leave the tunnel we are greeted not by the whites of a winter snow, but a beautiful cloudless azure sky and the stark reds and greys of a wild rocky landscape. Below us in a valley is the start of the river Cinca, straight out of the mountainside and winding its way down gathering more water as it goes. Beneath the clear blue sky and the grey riverbed, the water sparkles and shines with freshness as it travels with us down the Spanish Pyrenees to our destination ‘Peña Montañesa’ just outside of Ainsa. I personally would rename the river to the Azul or blue river, as it charmed me from my first glimpse and made my first impression of Spain a memorable one. As we moved down into the foothills, we can see large jagged bits of rock jutting upwards out of the landscape, and as the new tarmac shines black in the sunlight we spot a curved piece of the old road. It looks sad and grey with some of its metal crash barrier still in place, as we take a slightly wider angle around the bend on the hillside. It’s at this point we realise that the jagged flat top rocks are not natural but the remains of the old road that litter the side of the new. It’s as if once the new road was in place the old was just left to decay and crumble back to nature, with no attempt to assist in its obliteration or removal. I guess it’s cheaper that way, but I never like it when a job seems half finished, and this is what it felt like. The utter beauty of what surrounded us was somehow sullied or scarred by it presence.

The most perfect of settings
The most perfect of settings

We finally make it to the campsite and are greeted by shouts and screams of children, a hive of bustle and activity as we pull up to the reception. We see some people playing tennis in the courts to the left of us and a group of riders plodding along on their horses heading for the hills beyond the campsite. Quad bikes sit alongside small mopeds outside the activity centre. We spot the swimming pool to our right and this is where all the noise is coming from; it seems Spain is open and busy. We are greeted in English by the receptionist, thankfully, but I cannot help feeling somehow inadequate after the fine job we did in France conversing with the people we met. Booking in at reception took no time and we were given bundles of leaflets and info on the area and the activities we could do during our stay. Finally we are taken to a relatively quiet spot in the campsite by an assistant on a moped, where we have views of the Pyrenees we so recently left.

The most perfect of settings
The most perfect of settings

Setting up the campervan with spring water and electricity, we then take a wander into the heart of the site to explore. The reasonably stocked supermarket is there, and amazingly enough open, and beyond that a restaurant and bar area leads to the swimming pools where we heard so much fun and laughter coming from when we arrived. With all the contrasts of the day and me only throwing a snowball just an hour or two ago, we decide to sit down by the pool and use our first bit of Spanish that we have learnt, for just such an occasion.

‘Una cerveza y un vino tinto, por favor’

This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 14th, 2010 at 12:48 pm and is filed under Travel Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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