Dreaded Tuesday…we were anticipating rain and St. Girons did not disappoint! I will not melt. I have been cold and wet on a motorcycle before. This day will end. Positive (LOL) thoughts as I pulled on longjohns preparing for my three layers with rain gear. I was born for the life at Chateau Beauregard – must I leave?
We met two brothers motorcycling from the Netherlands. They joined us in the morning and we chatted about our trips in the tranquil, pastoral setting. We bolstered ourselves with hot coffee and we’re off – light rain, green valleys – absolutely beautiful. The farmland is lush – taking us past the medieval castle at Foix – on third the distance.
Encouraged, we began to climb again – this time Haute Garonnes. More snowy mountain peaks at the top approximately 2000 metres. It was very barren terrain, but would be amazing for hiking. My consolation is that in order to see the peak, you have to be at the peak. Sounds brave, but you look down and can feel trepidation as you can see the next hour of your life unfolding before you even get there.
I held the camera to buy my passage off the ‘hill’ on the motorized donkey with my mobile photojournalist prowess. Hairpin upon hairpin all carefully executed by my Beloved.
We happened upon a lovely village to stop for lunch – a place where the ‘real’ Tour de France passes through – Ax les Thermes. We shopped a little and found a ‘yellow shirt’ for our grandson. I tried pizza Napolitaine (it has anchovies!) and My Beloved had delicious lamb chops – all for under 30 euros – a good deal for 2 people!
Before we went up again, we needed to gas our bike – so we sidetripped for about 10 minutes into Espagna. What a difference in the ‘feel’ of Spain. We rode by clay pots and weird little cars to the gas station. 9 hours in French mountains – 10 minutes at a Spanish gas station. As we pressed on toward our destination, we stopped at the roadside where we picked precious poppies – we were completely surrounded by French Resistance history. Small markers that listed the names of young children who lost their lives during the war were sobering. I pressed the delicate poppies to bring them home as reminders of the fragility of life.
Our final part of today’s leg of our Harley tour was the ascent in the Pyrenees Orientales toward Andorra and the ultimate descent to Vernet les Bains (thermal springs abound through the mountains). It was a harrowing set of hairpins at 6000 feet in the fog. I was DONE. I felt I had handled myself well on the bike but I couldn’t do it anymore. God, in His mercy, got us to the bottom of this mountain range. I was casting my anxiety upon Him, but it was misery the whole way to Vernet les Bains.
Once there, we located our quirky hotel – The Princess. We decided to opt out of 7:30 dinner and wanted to get creative at the grocery store. We spent 25 euros and had two bulging grocery bags filled with goodies. We set up our hotel dinner picnic and ate to our hearts content overlooking the restaurant and making jokes about the people who will pay 100 euros for terrible food. We relaxed and unwound from the tough journey over the rugged terrain. Simply put – we love spending every moment together.
So we dined, shopped, bought gas and ate like sumptuous kings – our days spending (included little gifts for our family) was $143.00!