We bid adios to Pamplona and commence the trek east, towards the Pyrenees. I’ll be glad to leave the heat behind, mountains are usually a good place to be on a hot day, especially when the UK media is broadcasting stories of a European heatwave they’re calling El Diablo. Excellent.
We pass harvested golden fields to drive along one of the “green routes”, so marked for its natural beauty.
And I can see why, with rocky hills worn into unusual shapes and the showstopping colour of the Embalse de Tess lake: the most stunning turquoise you could possibly imagine.
Even in Norway, I’ve never seen water like it.
We had planned to make the Pyrenees today, but instead are side tracked by Jaca. Originally intended as a quick post lunch stop to see the Ciudadela, one of only two surviving pentagonal citadels in Europe, we’re charmed by its picturesque setting and settle instead for the rest of the day.
It’s another hilly spot (great work out, being in Spain) rewarded by the old town atop with origins dating back to Roman times, 2nd century AD.
Jaca is an early example of women doing it for themselves, being a town that held off the Moorish invasion in 795, largely due to the bravery of its women folk. I do love examples of women giving no fucks, whatsoever.
The pentagon shaped Ciudadela, built of stone in 1591, is finished with corner turrets, a moat (now dry and containing a surprise) and a rather grand drawbridge entrance gate.
One small problem… it’s siesta and it’s therefore in the process of closing.
I find it amazing, that in a town that runs on tourism, the major attraction is closed for most of the afternoon.
There’s a consolation prize though, and as far as they go, it’s a good one. Deer, lots of deer, in the moat, including a sweet spotted fawn. Want, especially that little Bambi. They’re hiding in the shade making them a bit tricky to photograph, but I do my best. After hundreds of deer signs and seeing only one tiny deer, I’m very excited to see these.
We lap the Ciudadela and then the town. There are quite a few religious orders here: nuns bustle about the business of being nuns.
It dawns on us at one point in the afternoon that this will be our last day in Spain. It’s this that seals our descion to stay – we can’t leave without a final farewell dinner.
We while away a happy hour with a vino tinto or two and then head for an embarassingly early dinner at 8 pm.
Oh dear, we’re the only ones in the restaurant for a while. The locals don’t eat until 9 or 10. Works for me, Chris, not so much. *Sigh*. Our meals are a blend of Spanish and French influences, quite fitting, given our proximity to the Francia (as the Spanish call France) border.
Eventually we wander home under a twilight sky. I’m glad to be in France soon, but I’m really sorry to be leaving Spain, its natural beauty, exuberant flavours, delightful wine and welcoming people.
As a fitting finale, a golden scallop shell, the symbol of the Camino de Santiago, points our way home. Jaca is on one of many pilgrimage paths to Santiago de Compostela.