Saturday, 20 February 2010

frustated in St Jean de Luz

After an active week in St Jean de Luz (skiing, flamenco, running) I aimed to continue my diet regime with a day of raquettes. Heading inland I drove towards the Foret d'Iraty some 70 kilometres away. Passing behind La Rhune the landscape changes quickly. High mountains and steep valleys engulf you. Picturesque Basque villages nestle amongst the forests. As I headed beyond the lovely town of St Jean Pied de Port (Saint John at the foot of the mountains) the road became smaller and the ascent steeper. St Jean Pied de Port was razed to the ground by Richard the Lionheart in 1177 and was once part of the Navarre region of Spain. It is still a Basque bastion with the language spoken widely here.

Rising above the valley the road started to challenge my vertigo. The views were enormous but I was intent on focusing on the road. I soon reached the snow line and the drive became slower. With 15km to go snow started to appear on the road and fall from above. The going became ever slower. Cars could be seen deserted at the side of the road. I put on my snow chains and ventured on upwards, slowly. The trees were thickly coated in snow and the temperature plunged. With 2km to go I stopped. Ahead of me on the hill were a line of abandoned cars. Cutting my losses I reluctantly headed back to St Jean de Luz. The winter braderie is on this weekend so I cheered myself up with some retail therapy. I will try again next week.

Basque of the day:- danger :: arrisku