European Escapades

Particular or Funicular

11

Apr

2010

The fun with Funiculars
The fun with Funiculars

As we sat outside enjoying the view from our campsite, we could discern on the one of the numerous mountain tops around us a large cross. With the binoculars it looked impressive and we noticed a vertical scar running almost from the base of the cross downwards and out of eye sight. We guessed that this must be the Funicular built on the mountain called ‘Pic de Jer’ and what was going to be our first step into the Pyrenees. From the camp site it was situated to the south, on the other side of town from us. So before we could investigate the Funicular itself, we had to walk down to the centre of town, past all the ‘bric a brac’ and hotels and then out the other side.

It seemed as we walked down the river embankment that there was a hotel for all nationalities in Lourdes, Including the Hotel Windsor, the Hotel D’Espagne, the Hotel Tara and the Hotel De France to name a few. Everyone it seems was welcome in this town. It was at this point we found the ‘Aires de camping Car’ which was situated on the river running through Lourdes and for the money, I.e. Nothing we felt it was a beautiful spot to park up for the night. We considered it, but wanted to get over the mountains the next morning so decided to stay above, in our nice family camp site for the night instead. What seemed like a little stroll out of town turned into a two mile walk to the base of the large mountain on which the funicular was situated. A Funicular by the way is like a cable car that instead of travelling up a mountain suspended by a cable, runs on a track just like a train, only it goes uphill at a rather alarming angle and is counterbalanced by another car coming down the hill at the same time. Which from our point of view as you ascend the mountainside on a single track and see another large cable car coming downwards towards you on the same track, can be rather unnerving to say the least. Just when you think a collision is about to take place, the track splits in two and you pass each other with only inches on either side.

The view from the top of the world, Almost
The view from the top of the world, Almost

The price for a return ticket on the said Funicular was a costly €9 each. It bites into your budget and would be costly for a family, but once you are on top of the mountain itself, you are on top of the world and the exorbitant fare becomes a distant memory left at the base of what is a very high peak. The view from the top was worth every penny and although we balked at the beginning, I would now recommend the trip to anyone that visits Lourdes. Once you are at the end of the very high line and disembark, you suddenly realise that you have not been taken all the way to the top of the mountain only to a staging area. This particular staging area is where you can enjoy the view supping a nice cool beer or investigate the myriad of caves that wind through the mountainside. The entrance to the caves is up here and a ticket for entry can be obtained from below. We were here for the cross though, the one that we had seen through our binoculars and the actual peak to the ‘Pic de Jer’.

A small dirt path leads to the cross above us
A small dirt path leads to the cross above us

This meant our uphill climb was not at an end. I must say the Funicular made the second part of our journey easy, although the walk from town (the first part of our journey) was quite a walk in the afternoon sun. The third and final leg to the summit was going to be the toughest part of the journey so far. Frances was slightly queasy as her vertigo kicked in, and she was grateful to get away from the mountain edge, and start the journey onwards. The trail was a small dirt path upwards into the trees and scrub, holding onto the mountainside. Breathless and puffing strongly (OK I was puffing strongly) we ascended the path, as it wound upwards first one way and then the other, turning back on itself numerous times as we climbed higher and higher to our goal. On finally reaching the iron cross we looked out towards the south and realised we had only touched the foothills of the Pyrenees and this baby of a mountain was nestled in the shadow of its parents. The parents we were going to attempt to conquer the next day as we headed for Spain.

The large Iron cross we could see from our campsite
The large Iron cross we could see from our campsite

So with our assisted pilgrimage complete we head back down the mountain towards the staging area and the cafe we had passed for our reward, a nice cold beer. We sat on a bench in the afternoon sun enjoying our two beers and looked out over Lourdes and the surrounding countryside. If life is a series of perfect moments then this would be tagged as one of them, as the inspiring view lifted our spirits. Views that cannot be described in words, only experienced. Experienced by those who choose to travel and find such places. It maybe that you are lucky enough to live in a place such as this, but sometimes when one is surrounded by beauty you fail to notice it exists. It takes a stranger to point out the obvious to you. It is for this reason our escapade began and for this reason we will continue our search for many more beautiful places and perfect moments on our journey of discovery and adventure.

This entry was posted on Sunday, April 11th, 2010 at 6:31 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.

One Response to “Particular or Funicular”

  1. TeamSlinky Says:

    May 17th, 2010 at 10:33 am

    Ely comes to mind when you say “It maybe that you are lucky enough to live in a place such as this, but sometimes when one is surrounded by beauty you fail to notice it exists”.

    Well apparently anyway, tourists are so dillusional at times hahaha. Looks pretty spectacular in that part of the world anyway.

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