Over the Top

Friday 16th February 2024

We woke up this morning and it was tipping down, first rain since leaving U.K. but the dogs still had to go out, well done Christine.   Of course this rain changed everything as it was forecasted to continue all day so sadly we changed our minds on our “touristy” things, we will have to come back some time in the future.   Also, and against our better judgment, we decided to have the hotel breakfast; Christine was fuming at the charge for breakfast but with everything closed we had little alternative.   The exorbitant charge would have been acceptable if the breakfast choice was comprehensive, we’ve enjoyed better selections in far lesser hotels at more realistic prices.   Naturally we paid for the surroundings, chandeliers from the ceilings and a spacious area but it would have been perfect, “no moaning” had the quality of what was available also been 5*.   The “only” choice for “hot food”, and I use the term “hot” sarcastically were congealed mushrooms, hard scrambled eggs and what purported to be sausages, sitting on a hot plate that was either not working properly or switched off.   When Christine’s pointed out the fact the the food was cold, all the lady in charges did was go to the three pans, stir the contents and walk off; total disregard towards their guest.   This was a shame as we had, up till then, enjoyed our stay at the 5* “Belfry and Spa Hotel” here in Lourdes.

Lovely comfortable bedroom

Scooter back in the car followed by everything else and still raining, we decided to just get on our way and come back another time.

We cleared the hotel around 1100hrs and headed straight into the foothills of the Pyrenees, a bold decision being winter using a lesser main road but with all this rain we decided to go.

Upside down sign!

Driving along we noticed that nearly every village sign we passed was upside down.  I had noticed this a couple of times on previous days but hadn’t thought anything about it, but today it was consistent, every village we passed through had their entry and exit sign upside down.   What a strange thing we thought so Christine googled this and low and behold these actions are deliberate, they have been taken by the French Farmers, part of their protests against the Brussels bureaucracy and the new regulations that are coming to all farmers across the eu.

Lovely views, bit scary in places though!

After the leaving the foothills we started the climb, still raining.   The tortuous route was very scenic and quite exhilarating, though Christine being on the outside wasn’t too happy, there was a regular call to “slow down”!!!!!   This road, not only being very twisty, it was quite narrow, the sort of road common back in the 50’s before increased traffic called for big roads and duel carriageways, still it was one of the “lesser” routes across the Pyrenees; I was enjoying myself though!!!!   As we climbed with the rain still coming we were parallel with the clouds and at some points above them until everything eventually settled, we were above the snow-line.  No rain, yeah🤣🤣🤣 oh no, it’s been replace by snow😡😡😡 but fortunately the roads had previously been salted so as it snowed the road became slushy.

At least the roads were clear

We eventually reached the top and it had stoped  snowing, the sun was out with a brilliant blue sky and we stopped in the enormous “empty” car park close to several ski-lifts and gave the dogs a run-round.   Rosie was fascinated by the snow but all Tom-Tom wanted was to run after the ball and do his “doings”.   We knew Andorra was a big ski resort but were surprised haw many ski lifts rather were, no doubt a lesser known ski centre but a ski centre all the same and used mainly by the locals.

Snow everywhere, roads slippery!

Once we started our descent three important things happened; the roads on the Spanish side were far better, the snow and rain had stopped and most importantly, it was clear blue skies and very, very sunny; yeah!!!! 

We had pre-booked a hotel in a small village called Burbaguena, a few miles south of Zaragoza, nothing special as it was a quick stop, but reading the reports on trip advisor the consensus was “good value for money” and “excellent” food.   We eventually pulled into this-out-of-the-way place around 1530 and whilst checking in asked if we could have some food, only to be informed the kitchen stops at 1500hrs.   OK, we will eat tonight only to be told, “as we hadn’t booked a meal there was no available table”!!   Right; is there a restaurant around here? No, but we may find somewhere in one of two adjacent small towns, about 10kms away in opposite directions; no help here as he concluded the booking-in process.      To be fair to the chap, he was running around like a headless chicken; the restaurant was very “full, (good sign) and he was the barman, the waiter, the receptionist and clearer-upper.     Disgruntled, we headed back to the car and drove to one of the towns, a small, old walled town, very pretty but couldn’t find a restaurant, either open or closed, but we did find a Carrefour Express open so swallowed hard and bought some cold meats, cheese and bread to eat in the room later.  We also filled up with fuel, “Spanish prices”, 👍.

Back to the hotel I took our overnight stuff and food bag upstairs, whilst Christine headed out with the dogs.  Ver pay conveniently there is a cycle track that looks like a deserted railway line running through the hotel grounds, win, win in that department!!!

Around 1900hrs I popped downstairs to get a bottle when the guy we had had dealings earlier suddenly offered us a table.   We think the back story to this is: as we were heading out earlier and disgruntled, we bumped into a lady coming in the door who was friendly and welcomed us to her establishment.   Now we “think” she is part owner with the guy who previously said “no tables available”, and seeing us unhappy probably asked the question after we had left.   We put two and two together, we accepted his offer for a table tonight!!!

Though this establishment, the sort of place you would drive straight past when looking from the outside, was heaving and apart from us and another English couple, was full of Spanish; good recommendation.

Christine had a very tasty and cooked to perfection Solomillo, and I enjoyed a whole Pulpo, excellent and their wine list seemed to cover everything.  We are so glad we got to eat there, the reports were right, the food was excellent and as one would expect in an out of the way place, affordable.   Our bedroom was a different story. Yes we had a nice balcony and it was a good sized room with two singles, but the drains in the bathroom honked, we decided we would give the shower a miss!!!

This place, it is what it is, a convenient night stop for transiting Spain with good reputation for excellent food, would we use it again??, the jury is out but possibly🤔🤔, it is certainly an ideal place with dogs and a bargain at £43 per night

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