Friday, 2 November 2007

a tout confort

Having written last about all the things we missed while camping, we have now moved to the luxury of gites and hotels.....and I´m not quite sure that I am absolutely, entirely happy about it. Suddenly, I feel cooped up in a box. We have spend near enough 7 weeks outside, and now I have to sleep inside. Sure, it´s warm, it´s dry, and in fact it´s very nice, but I do miss the fresh air. We will enjoy it for a short time (especially the hot showers, running hot water and non-freezing toilet seats) and then we return to our canvas (er, sorry, nylon) shelters for a while longer.

We left Orpierre regretfully, in glorious autumn sunshine, as the village was closing down for the winter. Beyond 31 October, there is very little there, not even somewhere to stay, unless you happen to own a flat in the veille village. We really enjoyed our time there, and will almost definitely return at some point. I have some unfinished business with a 7a called Les bruits des nuages, and a couple more 6c technical things I want to try.

We arrived in Vingrau, just outside Perpignan, in the most violent wind I have ever encountered with sunshine. It was very sunny, but the wind was gusting at about 90kmp. The feeling that yet again the Titanic had sailed without us descended as Vingrau appeared closed and empty. A little further down the road in Tautavel we found that the lÓffice de Tourisme is only open from 1 July til 31 August. The boat had definitely sailed. Still, the Tourist Office directed us to the museum, where the grumpy old bag directed us at the Mairie´s office, where an even grumpier older windier-bag huffed and puffed here way about photocopying a list of gites. The first was full (with what?? the village was completely devoid of human life) and the second was more promising. The chap looked as though he´d smoked enough fags to win a world fag-smoking competition, and asked us whether we wanted two beds or one! Yes, we were pretty surprised at that two. While Caroline and I are very good friends, we suggested that two beds would be preferable if it was possible (yes, my French will now stretch to saying that.). We ended up in quite a nice room, with a bathroom and separate toilet and two single beds, which appeared to have mattresses with springs but no padding. All this for 40 euros a night. Ouch. Still, it was actually very pleasant..... until the announcements started.

Tautavel appears to have a Brave New World-esque way of informing residents and tourists what is going on. There are loudspeakers permanently hooked up at various points around the village, including right outside our window. First there is the Village School Fete music (trumpets, jingly jangly morris men type stuff), and then the woman from the Mairie´s office (surely it must have been her) announcing in a very School Maám sort of way that Mass for All Saints will be celebrated at 18.00hours on WEDNESDAY in the Church at Tautavel. There was also something abotu a lost dog and some other nonsense that we vaguely understood but were so flabbergasted at the concept, we didn´t really comprehend. This happens twice a day.....we think. We left.

The climbing at Vingrau is extensive and on very hard grey sharp limestone. It wasn´t polished, but it was so windy we got blown off. The following day was beautful, if still a little windy, so we wasted it by sitting on a wall having a 6 hour breakfast and sunning ourselves. Lovely.

The refugio at Vingrau, recently rebuilt and very secluded

One more thing about our gite. There was nowhere to eat in Tautavel. Everything was closed. So we ended up cooking rice in the trangia on the floor in the gite, and praying that the smell would not reach the nose of the smoked proprietor. It made me nervous doing something that I knw might get us thrown out of the room, but looking back on it, it was quite funny. It was a bit like getting caught smoking behind the bike sheds at school (or walking on the roof at school, which was what I did, since I don´t smoke and the bike shed at school was open sided). So we did eat. And we drank wine.

Vingrau's suntrap basin where the grapes grow juicy

We are now in Barcelona. It is utter madness after the tranquility of 7 weeks in the countryside, where busy meant there were more than 4 other people at the crag. Already I feel a bit grubby but not the same sort of grubby as we felt camping. That felt like clean grubby (yes, I know this is utter nonsense, but it makes sense to me - I hope you will understand!). Barcelona is exciting, bright lights, lots of food and suddenly a language I don´t understand. I was just getting to grips with French and then we came here. I feel totally at sea. My spanish is limited at the best of times, and most of all when I really need it. This week has not been climbing filled, so apologies to those of you who were hopìng to hear of exciting rock expeditions. Next week we are in Siurana, where the climbing fun will really begin! :-)

I´m out of time now, so this will have to wait. Apologies for the lack of photos too. Internet cafes don´t seem to provide any way of plugging my camera in.

Trust everything is well out there.... we still feel a little isolated, but our hotel here has BBC News 24. Hurrah!!


Dave MacLeod said...

Leaving in the morning to start my journey to come meet you - psyched!!!! have a good weekend and see you monday morning ha ha!

Dave Redpath said...

I've still got a two week wait before I leave. Knackered from all the training and in need of rest, probably better done at home than in Spain. Climbed at Malham in 18 Deg heat on Sunday, couldn't climb a thing and buggered my skin. When in Spain climb like the Spanish - in the shade!

Niall said...

Eh Redpath,

"Climb like the Spanish -in the Shade"...

I've never seen a Spaniard do such a thing- it would be too cold for them! Should it not be:
"Climb like a Scotsman, in the shade?"

Enjoy Spain Emma!