A Travellerspoint blog

Tuesday 29th December

Had a walk round Jaca, then discovered our kitchen tap had decided to give up the ghost! It seems motorhoming is one problem after another. Still Hymer is getting old so I suppose these things will start failing in her. We decided to head for the city of Pamplona to try and get some internet access and find a motorhome shop. Also at this point Tom had really packed up as well and was no use, so we would either have to get him fixed or buy a new one. We looked round some shops, found some internet access and after seeing the prices of new GPS systems, made contact with my friend and fellow band member Paul. We then packaged Tom up and sent him off to the UK for Paul to fix, Cheers Paul. Onto the next problem, the tap. After searching the net we established the one shop we could find was near San Sebastian on the coast. By this point it was already getting dark and we didn’t really want to stay in Pamplona, so we headed off towards the coast to park up ready for the shop in the morning. A few hours later we were driving around Andoain and missing Tom to tell us where to go and stop for the night. As before we left I had downloaded motorhome stop over places for Europe onto him. We followed a sign to what looked like a nature/picnic area and after a steep climb found a spot for the night. We also realised how France had spoilt us, as it has Aires specifically for motorhomes to stop in. Where as Spain doesn’t, so it’s a case of finding a spot. This is always harder in the dark, especially as we never like staying in lay-bys by busy roads

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Monday 28th December

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Today we were off to Spain. We exchanged our one empty gas bottle for a full one then headed for the border across the Pyrenees. Tom Tom was directing us, but we were having problems with him as he kept turning himself off then not finding any satellites. So Lorna ended up driving up and down some very small windy mountain roads, till we found the main road again. Then it was into a long tunnel through the mountains and into sunny Spain, only it was raining. We stopped the night in a car park in Jaca surrounded by Spanish motorhomes.

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Tuesday 22nd December – Sunday 27th December

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Got up to yet again more rain, grabbed our ski stuff and caught the free bus up to the ski station. Had our first lesson with our instructor Oliver. Learnt the basics to get us started and more importantly stopping. After the lesson and a little practise we headed up to tackle our first green ski run (green being the easier runs, blue harder and red and black ones we won’t be touching for a long time!). We did fine if not very slow until the final part where the green run was closed and we had to go down a steep blue part. Well I went head over heals and a ski came off and I landed on my face! But never less I was now hooked on skiing.

The next day we got up early again and off to our second lesson in almost blizzard conditions, not much visibility on the slopes. We learnt some more including harder turning and did some more runs. Then headed back to motorhome very wet and cold.

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Christmas eve we got up to heavier rain and aching limbs and decided to have a day off skiing and stay inside warm and dry.
Christmas day, woke up cold so heater and water on to boil. Well wouldn’t you believe it we run out of Gas! What a day to run out. So I wondered round the village in the vain hope we could get a bottle, a couple of shops were open but no gas. We knew the supermarkets etc that sold the bottles would be shut, but we headed back down from Gavarnie with the hope a Campsite we had seen would be open to sell us a bottle. Luckily they were up and open so a brand new bottle was bought, as they didn’t have the type we had for us to exchange our empty one. So at least now we could be warm for Christmas as well as being able to cook. But now the rush was on to get back to the Village and get some breakfast and catch the second and last bus to the ski station for our Christmas day skiing. After some very quickly eaten toast and tea, we managed just to the get the bus. When we got up to the ski station the sun was out and we could finally see the views of the mountains from the slopes. We had a few hours of good weather skiing, although the snow was rather icy, some chips and beer. Then we decided to do the high run, although still only a green, starting 2400 metres up. It was wonderful views and scenery coming down. Then back to the motorhome for wine and a lovely Christmas veg roast dinner Lorna managed to cook up on 2 hobs. The Skillet we purchased (two large pans that fit over each other creating a mini oven) has so far been a great investment. Then presents and more wine, good times.

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Boxing day it was back up to the slopes for our third and last lesson with Oliver, this mainly due to the cost! The weather yet again was almost blizzard, but Oliver took us on some blue runs, to make sure we were turning well. Because of the weather and not being really able to see in front of us, we had a short day and back to the motorhome to do some Christmas over indulgence on food and wine, and even a film on the laptop.

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Sunday was our last day skiing, as much as we were enjoying it, it’s not the cheapest. It was a lovely sunny day and there had been snow last night so the slopes were great to ski on. We did some more blue runs ourselves from the top and had a great day skiing, enjoying all the views. The time had now come though to return our Boot’s and ski’s. So we said goodbye to Gavarnie and headed back to the aire at Pierrefitte-Nestalas. We had really enjoyed the last day skiing, feeling like we were getting it right and able to actually ski, so hopefully this wont be our last time on the slopes.

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Friday 18th December – Monday 21st December

Headed back down towards Lourdes and around for a few days. Basically waiting till the 22nd for our first ski lesson. In Lourdes we decided to give ourselves a small budget of 7€ and hit the shops to buy a present each. We ended up getting stuff from the same cheap bits and bob’s store, just some random stuff, but something that we could open on Christmas day.

On Monday 21st we headed back to the Aire at Pierrefitte-Nestalas and had a lovely but cold walk along an old train line towards Cauterets. Then off back up to Gavarnie to be ready for tomorrow and collected our Ski’s and boot’s along way.

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Thursday 17th December

Woke up to a very cold motorhome! This was probably to be expected mind, as we were 1250m up in the Mountains in December and this would have to be something we would need to get use to. The day was foggy and the roads not great to drive from the snow last night, and Lorna had the task today of guiding us safely back down the mountain roads in these conditions. The fog was clearing when we came into the Pyrenees national park, en route to the last ski station Gavarnie, and the scenery was spectacular mountains covered in snow and gushing clear mountain rivers. We came into Gavarnie but as it was lunch and everywhere would be closed decided to carry on up to the ski station that was still closed. Now this is where the road became interesting and Lorna got a little nervous, as the roads got smaller and higher with hairpin bends and slush and snow still on the roads. So I took over driving and when we started slipping on the roads a little we decided it was time to try these new snow chains and they did work well, grip was suddenly something we once again had as we continued the up the crazy road with great views but sheer drops! We then reached the ski station 1700m up, and new straight away this was where we wanted to ski. The sun was out shining on the tips of the mountains, and all around such wonderful views. The scenery was picturesque and we knew we were high up by the fact the mountain opposite us had clouds around it the same level we were! After a walk around we started the task of heading back down the mountain road we could see winding down before us. Before we entered the village we passed a snow covered Aire surrounded by mountain views, that we will probably use as long as we could put up with the cold. Back in the town we decided that when we came to ski we would use the ski bus up to the resort then doing that drive again! We parked up and had a wonder round, everything including the Tourist Information Office was closed and it was past the French Lunch break. The village was dead, apart from the odd person around preparing the village and their shops for the stat of the skiing season in a couple of days time. We really liked the views, village and ski resort and decided this was where would spend Christmas and learn to ski, that is along as their ski school could speak English!

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We stayed the night up in the car park 1300m up but decided we would head back down to lower grounds for a few days after before we came back up to ski. As apparently the temperature rises a degree every 150 metres down, but don’t quote me on that.

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Posted by marklorna 11:47 Comments (0)

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