To Pyrinees and back, Pt II
It wasn't a castle location but we couldn't miss a chance to visit Aguas Tuertas in Western Pyrinees (Natural Park of Western Valleys). Before heading to natural park, we stocked up on veggies, seasonal mushrooms and borrajas in one of Jaca frutarias.
The road through the canyon of Valle de Hecho is very narrow at times and due to narrow tunnel passes it may not be suitable for big motorhomes. Overnight stay at Guarrinza parking at the beginning of the trail isn't permitted and we found a spot near Siresa village, called Mirador Accesible. This is where we met another group of travelers in a camper van and rock climber-photographer Grant from Unites States. That night our special Aragon stew recipe was born (chanterelles and borrajas ) .
Day 8-9: Aguas Tuertas and Ibon de Estanés
Our new camper friends suggested a hike until Ibon de Estanés which was 18 km there and back, with about 745 m of elevation gain. Early morning alarm went off, driving through the canyon in the blue hour and arriving to Guarrinza parking when the sun started rise. There we begin our trail to Aguas Tuertas.
As we kept going up, weather conditions were getting more atmospheric.
When reaching the Aguas Tuertas mountain shelter, from there a spectacular view of the valley opens up. We took in the views, and then the photographs too...
Low fog was floating across the valley. I was looking for weather drama, it looked like I found it!
From there we decided to continue our hike to Ibon de Estanés. It was tiring but with beautiful views all the way.
The rest of the day and night we spent resting at Borda Bisaltico camping in the company of our camper friends and the rock climber.
Day 9-10: Alquezar
From Western Pyrinees we headed to the east, to a picturesque village Alquezar located in Sierra de Guara in Barbastro region. Again not quite in Pyrinees.
We didn't have enough time to find a spot that looked good in the golden hour but blue hour always works and Mirador Sonrisa al Viento (Smile at the Wind Lookout) was the spot for that. It was just across the road from the parking, the lazy photoshoot!
I didn't overthink in the morning either and came to the same spot for the sunrise and watched the canyon walls getting illuminated by the first rays of sunlight.
Then I continued my way into the streets of the village and captured some spontaneous moments.
And it had to be a ritual to get my morning coffee in the local cafe Panaderia L'Artica
in order to continue to our next destination.
Day 10-11: Ainsa
This town initially wasn't even in our itinerary but a friend of mine suggested to check it out for a gourmet experience. The town sits at the merging to two rivers, Ara and Cinca and at the foot of Peña Montañesa, and it's often the transit point for those who go to Ordesa natural park. That gourmet experience was supposed to be a Callizo restaurant with Michelin stars but to get there, bookings need to be made well in advance. Thus our experience was modest and budget one in La Creperia - it was outside of the historical center, way easier to get a table in the lunch hours, decent vegetarian menu options, craft beers and the staff was super friendly.
In the evening we did a walk to the nearby viewpoint overlooking Peña Montañesa. Other than that, couldn't find more to do in the village but there was one curious spot we discovered on our way to Ainsa, that was reservoir Mediano and that's where we headed in the early morning. It had low water levels and revealed peculiar textures. The bonus was an ancient and abandoned Mediano tower of the Assumption church, its origin goes back to middle age and it's the only construction left from the old settlement. The old village was sumberged under water and its residents were forced to leave their homes. At time of the high water levels in reservoir only the top of the tower can be seen.
Getting closer to the blue waters of reservoir, I spotted lonely branches with reflections.
There was more to explore about the swamp closer the Ainsa village.
Fun story: due to low water level there was an unpaved road that allowed us to drive along the swamp and we decided to make some video footage with the camper. A guardia civil officer approached us in his car and asked what we were doing. Without a second of doubt Juan responded "We are making videos of the camper" . The man asked if we had a drone, and we nodded. He said that we could not be at the territory of the swamp, but allowed us to finish the shooting. He drove to the end of the unpaved road and waited there while we were filming. What a lovely chap!
Day 12-13: Benasque
Stocking on local products we headed to Benasque where we arrived late in the evening and settled in Camping Aneto for access to shower facilities. Stormy weather was arriving. It rained cats and dogs all night and all the following day which meant we couldn't plan any hikes until the next day. But we did come across what looked like a mysterious castle!
Hopping from roof to roof we managed to navigate through the village in search of lunch and outdoor shops to get Juan a hat. Second night in the area we slept in the Cerler parking closer to the 3 Waterfalls trail.
Next morning was graceful and cold but we got ourselves together.
Ardones waterfall didn't disappoint and I asked Juan to cope with some water splashes and pose in the middle of the bridge.
If started from Cerler, it's a relatively easy trail to walk with altitude change only about 3oo m and moving time around 2h.
It felt like I was just starting to get a taste of Benasque valley and yet our encounter with it was very brief . Let's call it an introductory visit. We still had to get to French Pyrinees. So our next destination was Lac d'Oo.