Three and a half months after our friends first started to arrive to begin celebrating our wedding and spend time with us travelling around Southern France, I am now in a small village in Northern Spain, the Southern Pyrenees to be precise with my friend Gemma. We decided after much deliberation to head to Spain anyway after deciding initially not to go a few weeks ago.
Things changed and we thought it a good idea to continue south after spending a week in Provence with my darling wife Karine and some of our friends from Paris. The weather was turning and the further south, the closer the equator. Well, that was my thinking anyway. How wrong was I? It was cold and the wind was blowing like crazy when we arrived in this tiny village.
Gemma had organised the accommodation and it was just beautiful. The house was at the top of the old village centre and had been standing there for about three hundred years. The small rooms, low ceilings and the exposed beams in the roof gave me a fair idea about not only the size of the people in years gone by, but also just how cold it can get down here in the winter.
I had been climbing here about a year ago with my friends Simon and Monique and we had a great time just hanging out and spending time in the nearby village of Organya. For Gemma and I…….Looking out of our living room window, the towering cliffs of limestone provided a spectacular backdrop to top off the entire experience.
I knew we would be doing some climbing here but what was also needed was some calm, peace and relaxation as well. I realised I was a little tired and had lost some of the zest that my friends know me for. So I just settled in and took everyday as it came. Waking early, studying french, drinking coffee and reading a great book made the mornings super chilled. Some days I would walk down to the patisseria for baguettes and “pain chocolat” for Gemma. There was absolutely no rush………very Spanish indeed!
Climbing was a pleasure again and Gemma was just happy to follow me up any route that I decided to do, which made the whole process super fun. We really didn’t do any hard routes and most of the climbing was truly beautiful. The rock was a mix of conglomerate at the base with clean beautiful limestone on the upper walls. A little technical at times, but mostly just good straight ahead vertical/slab climbing.
The calmness of this trip was truly making a good impression on me. Days were simply enjoyable again and so was the climbing. I was missing Miss K, as she was back at school and studying hard, but it was only a short amount of time apart and we would be together again.
Our host Albert was without a doubt one of the most caring and attentive people I have ever met in my travels. He was going out of his way to make our stay truly special. One night he brought dinner to the house for us. It was incredible. A traditional Catalan Frittata with beautiful bread and olive oil, along with some of the best locally brewed beer and wine from the region. We had a great night laughing and talking about travel, village life and the political situation in Spain.
Gemma and I could not thank Albert enough for making our stay here truly “tranquillo”. Everything was fantastic and the area is incredibly picturesque and rural. Dairy farms, local cheeses, chorizo, beers and pastries make it all worth exploring.…….If you are ever thinking of spending time in Spain and going climbing in or around Oliana, be sure to find Albert at Narieda Rural and tell him the Australians sent you…….