Day 3 | Rain Stopped Play
Just like yesterday we heard the rain as we woke. Just like yesterday we were totally unprepared for the day ahead… but to be fair we had already seen the weather forecast and we kind of knew that a Plan B would be needed.
We didn’t leave the apartment until around 10:00am – hoping like yesterday, that the rain would ease as the day progressed. It didn’t. We had to find petrol first so we headed off to the supermarket. Gerry’s card was rejected so he tried mine but that was rejected too. We tried another card and that was also rejected. At this stage we thought perhaps there was a problem with the pump so headed off to another supermarket to try again. We chose a pump where we could pay at the desk… just in case our card was rejected again and we could pay by cheque. In the event this is exactly what happened but as our card had been rejected there was a little concern about our cheque! Eventually, after handing over our Carte de Sejour and other ID the cheque was happily accepted and we left with a full tank of fuel. After checking with our bank app we learned that the problem was with the bank systems and not us… so it was resolved later when we needed cash (phew!)
According to our schedule we should have walked today from Urdos to the Somport Pass… and back. A stage that would take us to the high point of this camino, and the end of the Arles and the start of the Aragones. However, watching the rain it wasn’t looking very promising! We drove onwards, through Sarrance where we figured that it must rain a lot here… it seemed to get heavier as we arrived, even the car lights came on! Onwards through Bedous and Accous where we walked yesterday, but today the hills were cloaked in cloud and still the rain came down.
We arrived at Urdos and parked and decided to have a cuppa before starting. Maybe the rain would stop? We walked down out of the village to a campsite and the sky was black but I knew that we’d pick up the GR and Camino markers from here. We thought we’d chance our luck and see if perhaps like yesterday the weather would improve. We walked back along the trail to the old part of the village and onwards along another glorious valley. We’d not gone more than a kilometre out of the village when the heavens opened again. It really wasn’t a day to be walking up to the pass. Reluctantly we headed back to the car.
We had our picnic in the car and watched lorries thunder through the village; the locals must despair with the speed these vehicles come through. We ate as the rain tumbled down. We considered our options as it was unlikely to be much more walking today. We have limited time to walk this route and we already know we’re not going to walk every step. So we decided to drive through the Somport Tunnel and visit the Station at Canfranc. We had planned to spend some time here when walking that stage, so by doing it today we’d save some time by doing it on a rainy day.
We finished the picnic with a banana for pudding and another hot drink. I like to eat my banana crushed/sandwiched between two rice crackers… and I like to sprinkle a little salt on my banana. Gerry is always horrified by this so I said I’d have a poll of readers… if more folks felt my choice is a good idea then he has to try it himself tomorrow (so folks… think salted caramel… and vote yes 😀 ) Edit by Gerry…I think it is disgusting !
I wasn’t sure what to expect with the tunnel but I know I never expected it to be quite so long! My thoughts meandered back to the tunnel we had to walk through on the Sanabres and I was very relieved that it wasn’t over 8 kilometres long! We popped out across the border in Spain and it wasn’t raining! It was however very very cold and Gerry decided it was certainly weather that you’d expect at a ski resort! He had opted to wear shorts again today… because it was warm in the apartment this morning!
Canfranc station is enormous! It was opened in July 1928, was constructed on a grand scale to serve as a major hub for cross-border railway traffic. Its main building incorporates elaborate Beaux-Arts architecture, featuring 365 windows and 156 doors, along a length of 240 metres! The station experienced numerous highs and lows during the Spanish Civil War, while being extensively used during the Second World War as the “Casablanca in the Pyrenees”. International services came to an abrupt end during 1970 following a major train derailment that damaged a key bridge in France. However, today local government plans to reopen the international line and to redevelop the station as a hotel, in February 2020, funding for both the relaunch of international services and the station’s rehabilitation was made available by the European Union.
We explored for a while but gosh it was cold! So we headed back to the car and a hot drink; en route I saw my first yellow arrow! Once refreshed and warmed we headed back to France via the tunnel. I sang to Gerry as he drove… I had Adele in my head :
I dare you to let me be your, your one and only
I promise I’m worthy
To hold in your arms
So come on and give me the chance
To prove I am the one who can walk that mile
Until the end starts
I looked across at Gerry seeking some romantic response but instead he shrugged as he drove… and told me that I’d come a close second to Winnie… the cat!
We carried on along the road we’ve driven so often. We passed a farm and we both noticed a certain parfume! Gerry asked out loud… when farmers go on holiday do they think the air always smells funny when they’re away from the farm? He has a point! We chuckled as we drove into Oloron. We had one last trip to make before returning to our apartment. Last night the owners of this fabulous holiday home (https://www.escargotbleu.com/en-GB/accommodations/ossau-cottage.html) told us about a rather special shop here and as it was such a rainy day we felt like this was the perfect time for a spot of shopping. Chocolate!
It’s a popular place and the car park was full; we found a spot in the overspill behind the building. Thankfully everyone was wearing a mask inside and the doors were kept open. We followed the line of folks looking from shelf to shelf… there was sooo much chocolate! We saw a corner with unlabelled boxes; a surprise box! One kilo of Lindt chocolate for 7.50€. That seemed a bargain to us! We grabbed a box and headed to the check-out. Thankfully our card worked perfectly this time and we were also given a free chocolate chicken in an easter bucket… one of my friends messaged me and told me she loves Lindt chocolate so the chicken now has her name on it! We headed back to the car and opened our box… so many bars! I told Gerry we had to walk 20km before we could eat any… but we could make one exception so we chose a dark chocolate with bitter orange… it didn’t last long but oh it was yummy!
It has stopped raining so before heading home we decided to go for a walk around Oloron. We’re so glad we did. The cathedral is beautiful. The building was huge and inside the walls were decorated with glorious artwork. Outside we meandered through the streets (found a cash machine that worked perfectly) and headed back to the car. We chatted and laughed and just enjoyed the sight-seeing. Gerry made another bad joke and I laughed and said… “I’m so lucky to have you” to which he replied “I know”
We had a wonderful day sight-seeing and meandering… this is a beautiful area and I wish we had more time… but the camino calls us onwards!