Travel Hobby At The Landmark and Central Pyrenees – Spain

On September 2004 I went to the central Pyrenees (Spain) with my wife. We don’t like arranged travels and we prefer to travel on our own, because we think is the only way you can get in touch with the real country and its people. This way of travelling is harder and more expensive than others, but also more pleasant, relaxing and, that’s the best, gives you a different point of view on the culture and way of life.

After my experience here you have my advice if you plan to travel on your own to the central Pyrenees. You have to understand that this is MY PERSONAL POINT OF VIEW and that it is not my intention to criticize the people or culture of the mentioned places. You also must take into account that these observations are from year 2004. Things might have changed (either in the right or in the wrong way) since then.

Travel to central Pyreness

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This was a round trip to the central area of the Pyrenees, starting and ending at the city of Barcelona Find hotels in this city / area, because we have taken our car with us with the ferry from Mallorca Find hotels in this city / area. Although it would have been possible to get to the Aran valley, our first destination, in only one day, I preferred to split the way in two journeys and so start the holidays in a more relaxed way.

So, the first day we just moved from Barcelona to Cardona Photos of the area, a small village where the most interesting things are the impressive and well preserved castle on top of a hill, the ruins of a roman bridge and the salt mine. We have booked a room in the castle (Well, I should say that the castle now holds the excellent Parador Nacional de Turismo de Cardona ) and after a restful night we went to the old salt mine, with its curious and unique salt mountain . This mine is no longer in production and some of the corridors of the higher levels can be visited in a very interesting guided tour. I certainly recommend you this visit if you pass by Cardona.

From there we drove towards Solsona and then, by the C 14 road towards La Seu d’Urgell and Andorra. However a few km. before La Seu d’Urgell, at Adrall, we took the N 260 towards Sort Photos of the area where we stopped for a late lunch. Then, following the C 13 we drove up to the Port de la Bonaigua (2072 m) where you enter the Aran valley Find hotels in this city / area. A little after we arrived to Vielha (Viella), the capital city of the valley, and went directly to the Parador Nacional de Turismo de Viella , where we had booked a room for the following nights.

As I had already been in the Aran valley in the past, this time my main intention was not to visit the valley itself, but make some radial excursions. So, the following day we decided to go to the National Park of Aigüestortes Photos of the area for a short walk by the surroundings of the “estany” (lake) of San Maurici . We went with our car till Espot, where we had to park it because you can’t drive inside the park. However in Espot there is a regular service of 4×4 “Taxis” that for a reasonable price take you by the trails inside the park. In our case the Taxi left us near the Estany de Ratera (a small lake a few hundred meters above the Estany de Sant Maurici) and we went by foot till a close viewpoint where you can enjoy an incredible panoramic of the lake and the surrounding mountains. From there we walked down to the lake, by a narrow track that passes by the waterfall of Ratera, and finally bordering the lake leads to the Taxi’s stop, where we took the next Taxi down to Espot.

The next day we left Viella again and went south by the tunnel towards the Vall de Boi (Boi valley) Photos of the area, famous for the many Romanesque churches, most of them well preserved. Apart from the architectonic beauty of the small villages of this valley, its natural environment is also exceptional, and if you like open landscapes I can recommend you take the road that goes up to Taüll and the sky resort of Boi-Taüll, from where you will enjoy beautiful views of the valley.

We possibly planned a too short visit to the Boi valley (I hope to return there sometime and spend some days at least), but as we already had some hours left we drove by the N 260, passing by some semi-abandoned villages Photos of the area, and went to the close valley of La Vall Fosca Photos of the area. We had already been there some years before, so it just was a short visit in order to enjoy again the natural views that this valley offers.

The following day we had arranged a meeting in the town of Viella Photos of the area with a cousin of my wife, that by casualty was spending his holidays in Vall de Boi, together with his wife and their daughter. We spent the day visiting the town of Viella , doing some shopping and having lunch together.

Well, it was time to say goodbye to the Aran valley and move to our next destination, so we left Viella by the N 230 southwards and some km before Pont de Suert we took the N 260 towards the National Park of Ordesa. Near Castejón de Sos we made a short visit to the Benasque valley Photos of the area. In a few hours we drove by the road that follows the valley and got a first (and very positive) impression of what this valley was. It’s certainly in my list for some future, longer visit. Continuing our way by the N 260 we got to Ainsa and took the A 138 that leads to Bielsa by the banks of the Cinca river Photos of the area, where we took a narrow road that goes along the Pineta valley Photos of the area, at which end the Parador Nacional de Turismo of Bielsa is located. This is the most incredible place where a hotel can be, amongst the mountains, at the foot of the Monte Perdido and in the middle of one of the most beautiful corners of the Pyrenees, with no other buildings in dozens of km around. Some years before I had made a quick visit to the Pineta valley and I was very impressed, and now my dream of returning there for a longer stay in the Parador Nacional had come true!

The Pineta valley is at the east of the National Park of Ordesa Find hotels in this city / area, so the day after we decided to go to Torla Photos of the area, the natural entry of the park, and made some excursion by car by the surroundings (you can’t drive inside the park). When you get to Torla there is an incredible view of the town, up in a small hill, and the huge mountains of Monte Perdido in the background. The village of Torla itself is worth a visit, and the surroundings of the church are specially interesting, offering breathtaking views of the mountains.

From Torla we drove towards Bujaruelo Photos of the area, by a ground trail, along the Bujaruelo valley. This is a nice excursion either if you do it by car or by foot. From the trail you have excellent views of the mountains and the many water streams going down the slopes. Bujaruelo is actually nothing else than a mountain refugee beside a beautiful and well preserved roman bridge, but the environment is a dream.

When I had been in Ordesa, some years before, I made a nice excursion by foot, from Torla, along the ordesa valley, till the “Cola de Caballo”, a waterfall at the end of the valley from where one of the routes to climb Monte Perdido begins. This is a quite easy walk that I can certainly recommend you. The only drawback is the that you will meet hundreds of persons along the track…it’s not exactly what I would call a solitaire walk…

The following day we had planned a excursion by foot by the Añisclo gorge Photos of the area. This is a marvellous gorge carved by the Vellos river. There is a good track that goes up following the river towards the heart of the National Park, offering the spectacle of a virgin nature at its best. I have no words to describe this place…you will have to discover it yourself…

With the pictures of the Añisclo gorge still in our minds, the day after we had no other choice that leaving the marvelous central Pyrenees and drive towards Barcelona, however, we still had time for a short excursion by a narrow, but the good, road that goes up toward to the village of Plan Photos of the area. In Barcelona we took the ferry back home and back to everyday routine….but, fortunately, the Pyrenees are so close that I’m sure it was not the last time we spend our holidays there….

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