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A horse named scratch

Part 8 of a 2006 Cataluña/Pyrenées/Roussillon travelogue

by Thor Iverson

20 October 2006 – Saint-Savin, France

Cirque de Gavarnie (1st attempt) – We’re surrounded by brilliant sun when we wake, but by the time we get ready and navigate the twisty, tiny, and unbelievably beautiful drive to this World Heritage Site, rain is coming down in sodden sheets. The Cirque itself is just barely visible through the torrent. We take a quick stroll around a sleepy tourist office (even the proprietress seems like she’d rather be anywhere else), then get back in the car. Maybe the weather will change as quickly as it already has.

[Cirque de Gavarnie]

Foggy circus

Saint-Savin can’t be overlooked
[stone house]

Chez troisième petit cochon
[moss-covered roof]

Random moss

Cauterets (1st attempt) – Nope. No such luck. This drive is awfully pretty as well, but we’ve burned a lot of gas to no good end, and it’s not even lunchtime yet. And so, we decide to go shopping, then make some calls back to the States (and ahead to destinations we’ve yet to visit).

[Chapelle Notre Dame de la Piétat]

Goin’ to the chapel

You lookin’ at me?

Saint-Savin – We make it back to the gîte for lunch…and it is, of course, rain-free when we arrive.

Edetaria “via Edetaria” 2004 Terra Alta Blanc (Cataluña) – A blend of macabeu and garnatxa blanca. Good minerality with dried fruit and some light herbal notes. Pretty and spring-like, with a thin layer of oak that doesn’t detract.

We toy with the idea of heading back to Gavarnie, but low-hanging clouds still threaten deeper into the Pyrenées, and we’ve already been defeated once. Best not to tempt fate a second time. Thus, we continue our day with more process tasks: postcards, laundry, and the like. Eventually, stir-crazy, we walk to the tiny Chapelle Notre Dame de la Piétat, which – of course – is closed. We spend a few minutes enjoying the view from the chapel’s perched position over the valley, and detour a bit to avoid a pair of very itchy (and, it appears, maltreated) horses. Back in town, we tour the quiet abbey church as the locals shutter their windows in preparation for their evening meal. Pretty soon, it’s time for our own dinner, which is a little unusual: loup de mer with a sardine cream sauce over squid ink pasta and baby courgettes. When one buys without particular purpose at La Boqueria, one must eat the consequences. It’s good, though.

[abbey church interior]

Altared states

Shutter to think

Juvé y Camps 2002 Cava Brut Nature “Reserva de la Família” (Cataluña) – Soft yet persistent…eventually, attention-getting…featuring strawberry, white mushroom, lemon curd, and a foamy loam character. Crisp and fun, yet with some inklings of seriousness.

The balance of the evening is spent mindlessly watching a French version of the worldwide reality show “Star Academy,” which features the usual array of marginal talents plus one rather breathtaking surprise (though Theresa assures me the song is quite well-known in France). Well, that’s one way to end a fairly featureless day…

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Copyright © Thor Iverson.