Donkey Crossing

Welcome to Donkey Crossing! Donkey Crossing is an on-line account of one Limey and one Yank living one Dream. From September 2006 until the end of 2007, we plan to visit friends and family on five continents and immerse ourselves into various cultures, natural phenomena and ways of life. We hope you enjoy our tales and visit often! Cheers, Jason and Rachel Napoli

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Heading For The Hills...Spanish Style
After ten memorable days of eating, drinking and exploring our way through the streets, parks and museums of Barcelona, we were ready for a change from the urban mood and pace. It was time to discover rural Spain. We waved goodbye to Spain's Mediterranean cultural capital and headed deep into the Pyrenees Mountains.

We made our way toward the hills in our Citroen C2. This compact car had more 'Va-Va-Voom' than you might think, which resulted in an encounter with a courteous, but unrelenting, Spanish police officer. Enough said.

Our first stop was Olot, a small town in a pretty region of northern Catalunya. We hiked up and around many of the region's dormant volcanoes, enjoying greenery, woodland, and picnics along the way.

We stayed at a cosy 'Casa Rural' near Olot with pleasant mountain views and friendly Catalan owners.

Taking full advantage of the kitchen facilities in our 'casa', we enjoyed several home cooked meals with local 'vino tinto'.

We were gently awoken each day by curious cows peering into our windows and jangling their cowbells.

The region was full of heavily pruned trees like these, which would soon bloom into gorgeous greenery.
Heading even further into the hills, we made our way towards Parque Nacional Ordesa, a stunning National Park in the Aragonese Pyrenees. We ended up in Gistain, the most remote village we could find. We were awestruck by the surrounding green valleys dotted with stone shepherd huts and crowned with snowy peaks.

This friendly dog was our self-appointed guide, inviting himself on many of our hikes around Gistain.

We couldn't resist veering off the path to scramble up this hill. We were rewarded by 360 degree views of the snow capped Pyrenees; a truly incredible experience.
Our accommodation was a gorgeous 'Casa Rural', converted from a medieval home in the heart of Gistain. When we weren't enjoying beautifully prepared regional specialties, such as blood sausage and roast lamb, courtesy of the casa's owner and chef, we were sitting belly up at the village bar drinking cava and feeling rustic. What a life.
Gistain is truly a rural village. There are no foreigners living in the village, and few foreign visitors. The sight, sound and smell of sheep being herded through the village streets is a typical one.

France proved to be the ideal destination for a day trip from Gistain. This sign showing the border is actually in the middle of a long tunnel through the mountains.

We ascended above the snowline during our day trip to France and enjoyed a bracing hike in the snow.

Our brief visit to France was great, although we were anxious to get back to Gistain for a soak in the jacuzzi and a hearty Spanish dinner.

Another breathtaking view of the Pyrenees.

We may have found our mountain paradise. The Aragonese Pyrenees proved to be one of the most stunning landscapes we have ever encountered. Coupled with wonderful, inexpensive accommodations, excellent food and Spanish rural culture, we both felt delighted to have discovered this part of the world. We will no doubt stay longer next time. We could even be the first foreigners living in Gistain. How hard can sheep rearing really be?

Next on Donkey Crossing: a brief glimpse into our low profile visit to our home turf...Chicago!

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