Thursday, June 26, 2008

It is reknowned as being a very British thing to talk about the weather all the time, but this year the habit has really taken off in Catalunya. Over the last two months, we were subjected to daily press updates on the state of the reservoirs in the main river systems that supply Barcelona with its water. Conversations would inevitably mention how *good* the weather was, feverishly recounting the latest levels (67.2% and rising - up from 22%). By the second month, however, the smiles had become a little bit fixed: "Yes, all the rain is very good, but surely we can start the summer now?"

Fortunately, normal service has been resumed, and summer has hit with a bang. High pressure, sunshine, and temperatures in the low 30s across the whole Iberian peninsula have caused the beaches to become as overflowing as the reservoirs. To escape the heat and crowds, Djanira and I travelled up to the Pyrannees for a weekend in the hills.

Catalunya is looking absolutely spectacular at the moment, the excess of water means that everything is green and the rivers and lakes are overflowing. Above and below are pictures of the Estany ("lake") Sant Maurici, and the two peaks in the background below are called Els Encantats. The lake and peaks are two of the most famous sights in the Pyrannees. DJ and I took a leisurely stroll around the lake on the first day; the combination of hot weather, crystal clear water and lack of people motivated me to strip of for a quick skinny-dip (very quick, the water at 1700m was freezing!); fortunately for everybody, Djanira wasn't quick enough with the camera!

The second day we went for a 20km walk with a whole 1000m of ascent/descent. It was hard work but we were rewarded but more spectacular views - and a cold beer at the campsite bar at the end of the day! We didn't manage to bag any peaks, content as we were just to hike around the valleys. Next time though we'll see if we can bag a summit or two!

The weekend was rounded off by an extra couple of days off (for me, poor DJ had to work). Tuesday was a bank holiday so I, along with most of Spain, took Monday off too. We headed up the coast to a small town called Sant Pol de Mar, where the water is fantastically clear, you can go snorkelling around some handy rocky reefs, and there is a fantastic paella restaurant right on the clean, sandy beach. It's good that summer has arrived at last!
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