Our visit to the beautiful Pyrenees Mountains along the boarder of Spain and France did not work out as we had hoped due to some unfortunate events. We were both very sick with the flu and our rental car got a flat tire.
Pyrenees Mountain Holiday
Just as we had done in the Dolomite Mountains of Northern Italy two years ago, we elected to book a hiking holiday through Collette’s Mountain Holidays. They are an English company geared toward the avid hiking traditions of the British. For some reason, they love to hike. Collette’s offers three levels of guided hikes, easy, moderate and difficult each day. Breakfasts, boxed lunches and dinners with free flowing wine are included in the package. Before the evening meal, there is a happy hour to discuss and plan the hikes for the following day. The dinners are served at one long table so the hikers can discuss the hikes of the day and build camaraderie. I’m certain I won the award for fewest miles hiked in a week, zero, and fewest happy hour meetings attended, zero. However, I was too sick to attend the awards banquette so I’ll never know. The week was spent constantly coughing and hacking in our small room with a wonderful view from the balcony. The maids must have been in awe at the immense volume of Kleenex in the waste baskets daily.
The Flat Tire
Not yet fully bedridden, the first day I drove the rental car up some steep canyon roads near the town of Torla. The river was a beautiful blue below some very jagged Pyrenees mountain peaks. I’m driving slowly, pulling off and letting others pass as I’m checking out the scenery like any aimlessly wandering tourist. When I finally get up to speed on the main road it becomes apparent I have a flat tire and immediately pull over. Changing a tire now days is nothing like when my dad taught me, gosh, 50 years ago. Why should something change over the course of only 50 years? No bumper jacks, in fact, no bumpers. A special tool is needed to remove the plastic lug nut covers from the special theft-proof lug nuts. Of course, the directions for all of this are in Spanish. I try to use the iPhone and Goggle translate programs and mainly see caution and warning signs throughout the directions. Even the instruction booklet index was useless as ‘tire’ did not appear anywhere in the 300+ pages. FYI, the Spanish word for tire is neumático. Traveling through Spain it became evident the Spanish have a different word for everything! I tried to solicit help, but gave up since it was getting dark and I eventually changed the tire myself, stepping in dog poop somewhere in the process.
The tire was in such bad shape I had to purchase a new Michelin tire in a nearby small town. The transaction was conducted entirely in pantomime. By the way, the low tire pressure light never came on until after the tire was changed. What good is that? Of course I took out none of the insurances offered by the car rental company. I’ve since had to fill out two accident reports and sign various documents in Spanish. All is still under investigation by the rental company.
Panticoso, Spain, Ski Resort
Near the end of the week we felt compelled to get out a little and took the ski area tram ride to the top. Who would have thought there would be a herd of horses there? Sadly, I was told these are raised to be shipped to France for dinner….
Photos from Our Balcony
The sheep seen from our balcony wore loud bells around their necks. This could have been an irritation, but it was actually fairly pleasant for some reason. The brook cascaded down a very steep incline so we had that sound in the background, helping to drown out our coughing fits. I tried three times to get a picture of the sheepherder retrieving his sheep in the early evening, but failed miserably each time….
Two weeks later, we are out of Kleenex and getting better.