Café Crem

Art, Music and Words around The Coffee Table

In Camera, in Absentis

Phew! I only now feel like I’m getting my breath back after our little sojourn across the mountains. Consequently, I feel I can sit down and put an entry in that falls into line with Miki’s new idea. After all, our recent trip is OUR immediate past life! Shelley remarked recently that she wanted us to post some pics of the trip, and who am I to argue with a woman? 😉

So, a few photos to whet your appetite and give a little flavour of that strange, thrusting landscape that straddles two countries, and feels like neither one nor the other. We made great progress Northwards on an amazing new highway built with countless millions of European money, the scale of which was amazing, enormous viaducts spanning deep valleys, and the feeling that some giant hand had scooped aside the mountains to allow the highway passage. We took several days to travel up through Spain, overnighting in Picnic areas on the way. The weather remained fairly sunny throughout, but as we passed the town of Huelva and began meandering through the not-so-highway standard roads that threaded us into the Pyrenees, the skies darkened and the temperatures inexorably began their slow decline. Our immediate destination was the Somport tunnel, which wends its way beneath the living rock for nearly 9 kilometers. It was opened in 2003 at a cost of over 250 million euros. It was the strangest feeling, entering the bowels of the earth on a snow free, darkened Spanish side, and emerging in France, to this:

After the Tunnel

I half expected to see Perry Como sauntering across the road, languidly singing “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow”! Thus began our switchback ride down the French side of the mountains, and, following a route that took us through Oloron Sainte-Marie and Pau, we finally arrived in Tarbes, home of Miki’s parents and the capital of the High Pyrenees. An interesting few days ensued , as, between getting the Motorhome road-tested, I had to use all my willpower to resist Maman’s delicious crepes, as I had just begun a diet, and Miki had to use all her willpower not to strangle her Father, who frustrates and delights in equal measure. We stayed for the first time in our newly refurbished attic apartment at the top of Miki’s parents building, which afforded us a wonderful view of the snow-dusted Pyrenees from our bedroom balcony. I was also the grateful recipient of a new Marshall guitar amp from Miki!! (I spent the remainder of my time there looking at it.)

Some days later, and loaded up with cheese, sausage, and crates of wine, we set off on an easterly course towards the Atlantic coast, with the intention to cross the Pyrenees near the picturesque town of St.Jean Pied-de-Port, traditionally the beginning of the “Chemin de Santiago de Compostela” – a pilgrims way that runs across the Pyrenees and along the Northern Spanish coast for a back-breaking 886 kilometers. It’s apparently the route St.James took. Apparently.

Unfortunately, picturesque wasn’t on the agenda as we pulled up for the night in St.Jean, with heavy rains, low cloud, and even lower temperatures. Still, drawing on my British steely resolve, we put the kettle on and watched the telly, undaunted. As you can see from the next picture, the clouds were snaking like ghostly tendrils around the low-lying hills, giving our impending climb back into the mountains an edge of menace.

Cloud Cover

Next time: In the pilgrims footsteps – the easy way!

You can see some watercolour travel sketches from Miki in her blog (but she started to sketch a little bit later on in the trip, as the outside stopped to be that awful big grey mass…)

Kev Moore

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April 6, 2008 - Posted by | Art, fun, humor, life, personal, travel, writing | , , , , , ,

12 Comments »

  1. This is what I call a story Kev and there is in every story something for everyone. For me it was the photos, your way of telling a great story and “Chemin de Santiago de Compostela”.

    Did you know that Paulo Coelho is offering (Complete and Free) The Pilgrimage @ http://tinyurl.com/5ktvml

    Well done keep them coming my friend.

    Comment by Michael | April 6, 2008

  2. Thank you Michael! You know, I start these entries intending them to be a stand-alone piece, but I get so caught up in them (such as the Madrid passport saga) that they tend to become, as this one invariably will, three-part min-epics! Thanks for the link I’ll check it out.

    Comment by kevmoore | April 6, 2008

  3. […] If you want to read about this trip, please go to Cafe Crem […]

    Pingback by Somewhere in La Rioja… « Infinity + some + 2 | April 6, 2008

  4. I’m loving this Kev! Going on the adventure with you. And yummmm, so green are the hillsides. I must admit I got a little car sick with all those switchbacks (yup, I can get it even in my imagination).

    Comment by Susan Cornelis | April 6, 2008

  5. I must confess that I was very frustrated at that point of our trip. I had driven through Saint Jean Pied de Port about 30 years before, had found it beautiful and had always promised myself that I would come back one day and stay a while there. I wanted to make some sketches then, but I had no chance, not even from inside the motor home: one couldn’t see anything outside, except a grey wet mass!

    Comment by Miki | April 7, 2008

  6. And I must say that rain is highly overrated. It really brings nothing to the party, tourism-wise. It’s normally wind-driven, frequently cold, and always, and….this is the clincher for me…wet. I hate the rain. Give me sunshine. Sunshine is good.

    Comment by kevmoore | April 7, 2008

  7. @Susan: Miki insists that when I’m throwing the motorhome around these precipitous mountain bends, and she’s paralysed with fear, I’m at my happiest. This is an outrageous accusation and I seek to distance myself from it entirely. (it says here)

    Comment by kevmoore | April 7, 2008

  8. […] In Camera in Absentis, Part 1 […]

    Pingback by One everything for everyday of the year! « Infinity + some + 2 | April 7, 2008

  9. Ok I am back from Infinity and off to In Camera In Absentis, Part II. this is wonderful the mini epic complete with visuals and commentary. Well done. here here!!!

    Comment by Michael | April 7, 2008

  10. […] In Camera in Absentis, Part 1 […]

    Pingback by Crosses everywhere, like bad herbs « Infinity + some + 2 | April 8, 2008

  11. […] In Camera in Absentis, Part 1 […]

    Pingback by NO to perspective and NO to straightness! « Infinity + some + 2 | April 9, 2008

  12. […] In Camera in Absentis, Part 1 […]

    Pingback by Yellow Rain, yellow rain… « Infinity + some + 2 | April 11, 2008


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