Wednesday, October 04, 2017

and another!

The Sorede trip is like a whirligig of beautiful events, spinning into one long dance that is both fast paced and absolutely dazzling!

Today the sun is brilliant (so Mediterranean!), the weather perfectly warm (I'm guessing low 70s F, or low 20s C), our ambitions are tremendous.

We want breakfast of course. That's a given. We trot first to the square for some fruits at this new and lovely store...


... and then the four of us drive down to the superb bakery for the usual breads, coffees and such.


We shall ignore the fact that Nina spilled freshly squeezed orange juice all over the table. It happened after I took the photo.

And now we pile in the car and under my expert driving and sense of direction (none are required -- the trip is a breeze!), we travel the short distance to Banyuls-sur-Mer.

Some of you may know this town from reading past Ocean posts. Others, the wine folk among you, may know it as producing the distinctive drink -- Banyuls, a fortified wine served as an aperitif or digestif. Sweet and bitter at the same time -- it is this area's specialty!

But we do not come for Banyuls-the-wine. We come because this is where the GR10 -- the footpath that spans the Pyrenees from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean -- ends here. Or, originates here, depending on whether you're hiking west to east (the preferred way) or east to west (our way, though please do not think that we are hiking to the Atlantic coast; we are ambitious but not crazy!).

Banyuls changes your perspective on this whole region. Everything elsewhere is low key. Banyuls has a pulse that's more pronounced. It is not a beachy summer vacation place. It is a coastal town that does business with the world. And from the perspective of the hiker, Banyuls is magnificently placed at the foot of a beautiful chain of mountains. We are not in forested hills here: this is a land of scrub and vineyards and oak groves and and stone.

The four of us have different climbing ambitions today. I'll just address my own: I am on fire! Raring to go! I apologize to the others and sprint forward. Water to the right, vineyards like quilt pieces all around, mountains to the left -- yeah!


I pass a sheep farm. I look at them, they look at me. I have the better view.


Mountains. For a while, it's all about the cascading mountains. You can see all the way to Spain! (I'm poking fun here: of course you can! Spain is a mere 10 km from Banyuls.)


Mountains and sea, sea and mountains, mountains and sea...


All trails lead to a summit, but of course there are so many summits! This is my summit for the day. It calls for a (time release) selfie.


And now it's all downhill, no?


Well not exactly.

I'm still speeding like the demon and so I think I have time to do a little side-trip and still not keep my friends waiting.  Here's the thing about the GR10: it has all these local off shoots. Trails that lead you to interesting places in case you want to digress. So I digress.

I head toward a sea view. If you had a really good magnifying glass (or if you zoomed in on the photo, but really, don't bother because it's not worth your effort), you'd see the vast expanse of the shoreline heading north.


Its lovely, but then it's all lovely. Every last piece of this hike.

There are some trail bits that are incredibly steep. You cannot possibly step down. You need to sit on your butt and hope you'll slide without a calamity.

I come to the spot where a small stream is flowing out of a spout embedded in the rock. I remember it well. Ed dunked his head here and drank like a camel. This time, two women are sitting at the spout and filling bottle after bottle after bottle (old Banyuls bottles) with water.

Why? -- I ask.
Oh, the hips! Good for the hips. And the other parts of the body! Very special!

I fill my little water bottle and put it in my pack. I'll bring it to the table tonight and offer miracle cures to my friends!

And now, a mere four hours after heading out, I am down at the car and Diane is there too and as the others are still stumbling on the rocks somewhere above, she and I go down to the sea front to grab a coffee at one of the numerous cafes that dot the coastal road.


Eventually we all reunite and it is late of course and the sun is about to begin its descent, but we are very very close to the artsy coastal town of Collioure and this is perhaps the most popular tourist destination of the entire region, so of course we must stop and take a look.

But it takes us a while to find a parking spot and so by the time we set out to explore, my stomach is begging for lunch. A late lunch to be sure (it's after 5), but still -- food! We need a spot with sunshine because suddenly it is pretty cool in the shady walkways that border the sea. Hey, how about this place?


It's perfect.

Squid with a parssillade dressing, catalan veggies, potatoes.


The place is full of French people enjoying this still sunny evening.


But it's time for us to set out and explore. You could spend many hours walking this way and that way in Collioure, but really, the best way to appreciate the town is to head out to the chapel that juts out in the old port and look back. Oh! See that small tower on the mountain (to the left)? That was our hike! And the old port and the fortifications in town! They're all so incredibly beautiful!


Someone asks -- can I take a photo of you three? Well of course!


Images of friendship... Of traveling together... of the four of us walking the stone wall to the light house of Collioure...


Of the happy married couple....


We have all had a grand day!

So much love floating around the mountains, all the way to the sea... so many steps taken, so many stories shared...

And so I end this post with what? With cookies! We enter the store where the assortment is delicious (cookies with pear pieces or dried orange slices? Clever!).


We pack a bag, find our little car and head home to Sorede.