Saturday, 21st July, 2007 Saturday was a driving day. We left La Rochelle, finding the road south. We passed near Dax, and Pau, before taking the road off the motorway bringing us into Lourdes from the northwest.
We didn't see much of Lourdes, the castle in the centre looked interesting, but the town itself was rather tacky, full of tourist rubbish being sold. Looking at the guidebook it said something like 'it may look tacky, but don't take the mickey to much as some people spend their life savings to get here' - all the more reason to take the Michael in my eyes!
We found our road into the mountains, and began the climb to Barèges. A climb that seemed a lot less when we left!
We were staying at a place about 1km above sea level, next to a small dam, it was a few hundred metres uphill to Barèges itself.
We were greeted by Audrey, who had arrived the day before. Inside were Paul and Greg, Audrey and Paul had just returned from the airport where they picked up Greg. Greg had arrived with some bicycles in bags. Paul and Greg being keen cyclists, they immediately set about putting the bikes together.
In the evening, Audrey, Monica and I walked up to Barèges and went into a little bar there. Paul and Greg had cycled partway up the mountain, toward Col du Tourmalet (Barèges was in cloud), and by the time we got to Barèges they were on the way down.
By the time we'd left the bar, it had started to rain. This wasn't a good start to our days in the Pyrenees - but life in the mountains is changeable - we had some very good weather for the remaining days. Unlike, we discovered, people back home in blighty. In the UK they had been experiencing the some of the worst flooding in England and Wales since records began. From abroad, it looked apocalyptic - as if the whole country was awash - however it seems that the floods were in the Gloucestershire area. At one point we saw an American newspaper somehow, and it gave a grim picture of Europe, with floods in the UK and fires in Greece (which continue). We could imagine people from the other side of the pond cancelling holidays left right and centre, saying that it was too dangerous to travel. We'd just spent a week on mainland Europe with no idea about either extreme.