If you're still interested in my travels (or if you ever were!), here are days 5 through 7:
Day 5: Grotte de Niaux
I've been very fortunate to be able to travel and see incredible sites and works of art in person. But I'm of course not the only one who'd like to see these things. Often crowds can make the experience less than ideal, and sometimes the very presence of tourists causes irreparable damage and the sites have to be limited or closed entirely to the public. Such is the case for seeing prehistoric cave art in France and Spain. The Lascaux caves are perhaps the most famous for cave art in France. Discovered in 1940 they were opened to the public in 1948 and closed in 1963 because the paintings suffered damage due to carbon dioxide, heat, humidity and other contaminants. An exact copy of the caves was opened nearby in 1983 for tourists to visit instead.
One cave that is still open to the public is Grotte de Niaux, in the southern Pyrenees. It's about an hour and a half north of Andorra La Vella, so we were able to time our arrival for the one English tour of the day (you must book tickets in advance). The group is limited to 25 people and you walk single file in the dark with a flashlight through the cave for a 1/2 mile to get to the Black Room (Salon Noir). The rest of the cave is off limits or inaccessible. There are some paintings along the route that the tour guide stopped and pointed out but the final Black Room contains the best ones. Not many, but still pretty incredible to see something painted by humans about 12,000 to 15,000 years ago. Of course you can't take photos inside, but there is a display outside the cave (in French) that shows some of the drawings.
|Schematic of the cave|
|Look at that face on the bison!|
|The location was beautiful!|
Day 6: San Sebastian, Spain
The ocean! We arrived in San Sebastian late so didn't get out to explore until the next morning. The rain didn't deter us, it just made for a gray day. After a long day of driving, we planned to relax and enjoy the sites and scenery. We strolled through the old town, ate some tapas, had a beer in the old bullfighting ring while multiple rain showers passed through, and I found a yarn shop and bought some Spanish yarn.
|September weather wasn't exactly beach weather|
|Some people ventured into the water. Our hotel was on the top of the hill!|
|Lots of information and things you can't do on the beach...including Olympics???|
|The old town with the steeple of San Sebastian Cathedral in the distance|
|Mid-day siesta in the old bullfighting square|
|The view from the hotel at night|
|Reminds me of the California coast|
|Panorama - (click to view larger)|
Day 7: Dune du Pilat
Since the drive from San Sebastian to Bordeaux was not too long, we took a detour to visit the tallest sand dune in Europe. It was a beautiful day and fortunately not too hot. If you ever go here, be prepared for the elements! It's a steep walk up to the top.
|Plastic stairs help you with the ascent.|
|Just sand and forest, into which the dune is encroaching|
|What a view from the top!|
|It doesn't look that far to the water!|
And then we had to walk back up. It's less steep on the ocean side due to the way the winds deposit the sand, but it was still a good workout.
So my next and last travel post (until the next trip) will highlight our visit to Bordeaux and then the drive back to Châtel with a couple stops along the way.