28.12.2012 - 28.12.2012
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.
We said goodbye to Spain today and returned to France. In honor of our imminent return I decided to make French toast for breakfast-well that was my official line. In reality I had to get rid of five eggs, left over milk, stale bread and icing sugar left over from making shortbread before we left. The kids seems to appreciate the sentiment anyway.
I discovered the GPS in our car was no longer working, or at least the input interface doesn't work but fortunately I had packed along our own portable GPS so we were back in business after some delay caused by trying to troubleshoot the problem. I am constantly being stretched to take such problems in stride and I think I am making progess but you might want to check with the kids. All of this travel is developing a lot of character.
I wasn't really wanting to part with too much more cash for tolls so I investigated what alternate routes we could take instead of shelling out 40 euros to drive some wide featureless roadway. Instead of heading along the coast we could cross the Pyrenees. It was unclear if such a trip would be very snowy but we loved our encounter with this range of mountains when we were in the Lourdes area so we decided to give it a go.
Our new route was a couple of hours longer than the original but was well worth the time (for me at least, the kids slept through most of it). We climbed from sea level to 2000 meters over a long and windy climb through mostly uninhabitated countryside. When we reached the summit we saw a ski resort in the distance but no skiers due to the lack of snow; another sign of climate change. We descended into a beautiful inhabited mountain valley (mountain valley is an oxymoron Hannah points out) only to have to climb out again. Unbenownst to us we had crossed over into France possibly when we crossed the summit. The whole trip was in sunshine on a road that often didn't qualify as a two lane road. Our journey over the next ridge of mountains was even more beautiful as we followed a river our entire way through the range which involved a good number of narrow gorges that have been chiselled out just enough to let some traffic through. I have a grainy video clip that illustrates a bit of what we encountered.
I have added an additional clip since people liked the first: More Pyrenees Driving
We have now settled down in a very small village 20 minutes from Carcassonne which we will visit tomorrow. It is a beautifully wood heated cozy refuge that was established by a British couple six years ago. We will sleep in comfort tonight.
Just in case you have not been using the zoom feature on the map on the top of our blog here is a close up of our tour of the Iberian Peninsula. You will need to change the zoom or move the map to see our more northern travels. We have travelled about 5500 kilometers by car so far.