Coming back after three months of travelling in South America, it was a bit harder than expected to get into the normal life again. The restlessness in me really caught my thoughts, and my mind slipped more than once back to travelling. Not that I don't have a good life here in Mo i Rana, but beeing thrown back into the dayly routines was brutal! :) I had to do something, and the constitution day (17th of May) was accompanied with a couple of public holidays this year. So the time was set, but where I did not know. Time and budget wasn't going to make this a very far journey. First step was to find a cheap airline ticket to London from Trondheim. Norwegian had good offers there, and further on I planned to use RyanAir. A very good alternative from Stanstead, and lots of destinations. A couple of days before departure the desition was made. A ticket was booked for Bayonne in France, and the return was booked from Montpellier. I was going to the Pyrenees! A mountainrange streching from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean Sea, where it separates France and Spain. The plan was to zigzag this range during the five days. Not really me having such a tight schedule, but this was all I could get then.
Day 1 Bayonne
Good to be on move again. My car was waiting for me at the airport, and I soon set course for Bayonne. Am driving a Peugot 206 this time. Got here quite early and found a place to stay rather quick. Parked the car, and first stop was the Irish pub and a pint of the black stuff. Life is good! Bayonne is a very nice small city in the french part of the Basque country. Quite as I imagined it would be, with narrow streets, many bridges and smiling people. But not many people speaking english. Also quite as expected. :) The weather is quite nice too in spite of some clouds. The church here is also worth mentioning. According to the Lonely Planet guide they started constructing it in the 12th century. It is an impressive building, especially thinking of its age. It strikes me that even the smallest place have an oversized church in these catholic countries. Religion is obviously a bigger part of the life here.
Day 2 Small towns, big towns
First real driving day today. Set sail for the Pyrenees, and Spain after some more wandering around the streets of Bayonne. Saturday today and it was a very lively market going on by the riverside.
Day 3 Disney world??
Really felt my old age this morning! aiaiai.... Hadn't expected it to kick in that soon! :) Luckyly I had the room until noon this day! After getting my old limbs moving again, and the alcohol out of my body I said good bye to Pamplona. And instead of going north I headed south for the real countryside of Navarra. At least that was the direction until I came to Tafalla, a nice town on a lazy sunday. After a quick lunch here I went east and north again, and drove through a really beautiful landscape with some truly amazing villages with very narrow rocky streets. San Martin de Unx, Larga and sevaral more. And most of them had a more or less ruined church or castle which the village was built around. Some of the places seemed like the time had completely stopped a hundred years ago! After a while the road started to climb up again towards the Pyrenees, and the border was crossed for the second time. On the way I had a stop at Lumbier and walked around the falls there. Not really any falls to speak of, but the very short canyon had lots of birds of prey circling over it. I guess the food was all the pigeons living on the cliff walls.
Day 4 More mountains and villages
Left Lourdes after another visit to the cathedral, and aimed for the Pyrenees again. Life is good! Today the roads and the small villages were the main attractions again. Narrow roads fit for my personal Rally Pyrenees. Roads twisting and turning over the mountain, around house corners in the scattered villages. The small mountain towns really impressed me again. Houses hanging in the hills. Stone houses, some partly in ruins, and always a church and/or a small hill fortress. The day was mostly used for driving, and just admiring the landscape. Crossed the border for third time and ended up in a town called el Pont de Suert. Life is indeed good, sitting here in this town philosophying about life in a small restaurant. The scattered restaurants here seem to be full of life, and it strikes me that almost everywhere else in the world people tend to be more outgoing than in Norway. We have a different culture for sure. No place like home! :) We are indeed a strange breed!
Day 5 Andorra and Narbonne
Constitution day was celebrated with no less than four bordercrossings. As usual the Pyrenees was the main goal of the day. Raced through a dozen more small idyllic villages and set course for the tiny country Andorra. For a small country they really got huge traffic jams! Spent hours in queues here, before I found a small sideroad, and took a sightseeing in the higher parts around the capital, Andorra la Vella. The weather was turning colder and the snow fell lower and lower in the mountains. But I managed to also spend some time in the capital before it started to snow there as well. After stocking up on very affordable single malt whisky, I headed further north in the country. As the road got higher the snow got more and more intense, and soon there also was a slush on the road as well. Just like home! :) After a while with visibility less than ten meters I started to descend down from the mountains again, crossed the border into France, turned south, briefly flew over spanish soil again, took highway N116 towards the Mediterranean and said goodbye to the Pyrenees for this time. The landscape swiftly changed, and so did the weather. Driving through green fields in more and more sunny weather. And suddenly I could see the ocean in the far distance. The drive ended in the beautiful town of Narbonne. Enjoyed the sun here, and actually ended up in a karaokebar. Usually I really keep a good distance to such places, but this was special. Jean-Paul a man maybe in his late sixties/early seventies complete ruled there! Good to know such people exists! The last night on french soil for this time was spent discussing meaning of life, with Jean-Paul singing old classics in the background. Santé!
Day 6 The Mediterranean Sea
After enjoying the sun in walking around in beautiful Narbonne, I had to start thinking about my flight that was leaving from Montpellier. Wanting to feel saltwater between my toes I didn't bother to stop in the city, but raced for the beaches. Driving in dense snow and subzero temperatures yesterday, I didn't really imagine that I was going to walk on a sunny beach in almost thirty degrees! I ended up in the town called la Grande Motte. Obviously a place with a lot money circulating. The forest of masts standing up from multimillion yachts at the harbour there didn't really conceal the fact. The casino wouldn't even let me inside the building! With the luck I usually have in these places, it might have been a good thing for me! :) Anyway the weather was far to good to spend inside a casino, no matter how fancy it might be. Soaking the sun until the very last minutes I sadly had to leave the summer and fly back home again. At least to Stanstead. Stayed at The Bushel and Sack Hotel, which is really recomendable. Huge rooms, the price was affordable and best of all, transport to and from the airport was included.