Europe Jul/Aug '14

We weren't really planning on having a European holiday this year, but circumstances conspired against us. So... erm... who were we to argue? smile

This was only three weeks, but we squeezed in some of our favourite places in the French Pyrenees (including a stage of Le Tour of course), before finding some new favourites to add!

Then over to the Ariege, on to England where we almost saw some blue skies (yes - in the 'summer' even!) before back to France, Andorra (a bit quiet but Vall d'Incles - wow!) and finally a couple of nights in Barcelona.



Dinner at Monestir de Les Avellanes. Excuse my confused look. Long flight & bit of a drive. Plus the red was chilled! wink Welcome to Spain smile


Pre-breakfast walk around grounds of monastery (pictured) we're staying in. Don't get to say that very often!


Spanish breakfast. Lots of beautiful prosciutto & other meats, & some sweet cakes. Yum! Lucky we had that walk first!


Messing about at Col d'Aubisque. Pratiwi so excited to be back in France couldn't help herself around the bike! wink


Our route from Spain to this week's accommodation took us over the Aubisque/Soulor. Tragic huh? #MaybeItWasPlanned wink


Awoke in cloud so went to local market in Arrens-Marsous. Very friendly butcher invited Pratiwi to join the staff! grin


Hautacam climb at 3 days to go. Sorry for bad picture, don't have my big lens & is from bedroom window of our gite grin


View from window of the gite & then from the garden. Little stream right next to us. Just another day in paradise smile


Heading out on today's hike. Starting by Lac du Tech, we soon warmed up in the morning sun. Such a beautiful place.


On the way to Cabane de Bouleste. Pratiwi doesn't trust me to take enough pictures of the stunning scenary. WTF?! wink


More views on our hike up to Cabane de Bouleste.


Lots of mountain flowers up high (these above the cabin we were officially walking to). I think these are Iris, yes?


Lunch stop by a little stream. Bread, saucisson, madeleines, banana. View! Lovely smile


9km later... back down by Lac du Tech. Such a nice way to spend a few hours.


See tiny horizontal scratch on cliff from left to centre here? That's the road between Cols Soulor & Aubisque! #Epic


An easy walk today to Lac de Soum. Not sure what the waving of baguette pieces is about. Maybe Pratiwi was hungry? wink


The sort of shower rings found in the gite. Happens that it's run by a carpenter's wife & each is hand made. Nice!


Treats for our picnic desert picked up at a very nice patisserie in Arudy. Nom, nom, nom! tongue


Today's slightly overcast hike: beautiful Plateau de Benou. Kindof flat here (it's a plateau!) but check the views.


Dinner in Laruns. Oh look, some kind of thick soup dish with half a roast duck thrown in for good measure! Nom, nom!


This is Lac de Bious Artigues. Pretty, but this is only the bottom of today's walk. Can't wait to see what's the top!


The valley one could return via (we don't plan to do that today), forest clearing & appearing above the trees.


Lac Roumassot made a nice spot for our lunch stop. Then more climbing, this time past a waterfall toward more lakes.


Passing the middle of the lacs d'Ayous. This is the rather tiny lac du Miey... and 'puddle' next to it wink


8km & 900m vertical later: Col d'Ayous! Arrived rather sweaty, but yes that is snow on the ground. Time to head back.


View West from the Col d'Ayous. Yes, I know... but this is the ugly side! wink


View East from Col d'Ayous. Ah, that's better! Although you can't actually see the lakes we passed from up here. Doh!


Lac Gentau front, lac du Miey behind & Pic d'Ossau over the valley. We're heading to refuge d'Ayous (right of lake).


Refuge d'Ayous. At 1980m up was pretty chilly in the shade. A few people camping by the lake. Would love to try that!


Time to head home. Past the lakes, amazing views, waterfall, cattle (mooooo!) and the rest.


What's going on here? Guess we were supposed to be striking a pose, but were having too much fun by the look of it wink


Wasn't all mountains & lakes, we also passed some beautiful green forest & streams. Today really did have everything!


Driving over the Aubisque/Soulor again today. Plenty of mist & cloud made for some... erm... 'interesting' pics!


Stopping off to look at a castle while we pass. You know... as you do! For the curious: this is Chateau de Mauvezin.


Tourist snaps in Seix, Ariege. We were going to hike to the nearby cascade but this was only break in a rainy day sad


Dinner at the Auberge in Seix. Big juicy steak & wine as reward for... oh, erm... sitting relaxing all day. Ooops wink


Random col on today's drive. This is the Col de Port. Bit chilly up here for the middle of summer! Brrrrrr!


Evening sun streaming through the greenery of a pub garden. In England. In summer. No, not joking - it can happen! wink


Dinner with some old folk in Le Bistro wink Not France, but Wentworth! Festooned with flowers & tasty. Nom, nom, nom tongue


Went for a pre-breakfast stroll around the block. Discovered the neighbours are a bit ostentatious wink


Just a typical pub lunch in the English countryside... wink tongue


Few random snaps from the English countryside. Grey skies. Green hills. Old pubs & beer. #TypicalEngland #HopeValley


Pratiwi likes the breakfast one is served in an English country B&B. And I should hope so! Nom, nom, nom! tongue


Interesting stuff parked next to East Midlands Airport. Ah, it's an Aeropark apparently. Plus obligatory clouds pic.


Back in France. Straight to the supermarche to pick up lunch. Then the obligatory picnic stop by a sunflower field smile


Wondering round Quillan like tourists to get the day started. Overheard lots of English being spoken in that market.


Rennes-le-Chateau: famous for a little tower & church, & conspiracy theories leading to a mention in several novels.


Pratiwi can always eat another duck. I order salad to be healthy, which comes loaded with prosciutto & feta. Oops wink


Little stroll to Belvedere du Diable this morning. Nice view, but really rather humid. #WePreferHighMountains smile


Heading up to Andorra. That road is the N20 from Ax-les-Thermes from whence we came. Yes... slightly entertaining wink


Relaxing on a sunny hotel terrace in Soldeu. Ahhhhh..... smile


We have a day to kill in Andorra so... a hike! This is the flat-ish bottom section of the route along Vall d'Incles.


The walk proper starts as we turn to follow the Riu de Juclar. Many waterfalls on this section. Simply stunning!


Looking back down the valley. Can you tell this was a great day? wink Happy hiking photos smile


Lunch spot: Refugi de Juclar. Nippy at around 2300m up. Lake next door would be prettier if it hadn't been drained sad


Heading back to the start. These views are even better when you don't have to keep turning round to look at them! smile


Pratiwi was dreaming of splashing about in a mountain stream all day. Brrr, icy! I showed her how to relax instead wink


Heading back to the car. Last mountain walk of the holiday & it's been a cracker! It's even nice walking on the road!


Rather overcast day at Park Guell. Terrible light for pics so cue some random tourist stuff. Spot the silly selfie wink


An average Thursday afternoon on Las Ramblas. Said it before: real cities like this make Sydney look like a village!


Wondering through Las Ramblas either side of lunch. Bright squares and dark alleys. Contrast central!


Pre-lunch tourist snaps in Placa Reial.


Lunch in Placa Reial. It's Spain so paella on the menu despite temps in the late 30s. Sizzle! Lucky there's beer too!