Christmas in Ixassou
After opening our Christmas gifts, we headed down to breakfast in the hotel. Today was fun, but hardly a conventional Christmas. We had a lovely WhatsApp catch up with my son Tim and then ventured out to set about cleaning Poki, inside and out. It was very mild, 21C. Sunny but very windy. Poki was really dirty after all the rain. We found a tap in the hotel car park and set about making Poki spic and span again.
Returning to our room, we opened a bottle of champagne and lunched on Christmas cake, nuts, chocolate and my favourite marzipan sweets – I did say it was not a conventional Christmas 🙂 After over indulging, we went out for a long walk around Itxassou.
Returning to Hotel Fronton we had a WhatsApp chat with my younger son, James and family in San Francisco. It was morning for them and my grandchildren, Jasper 8, Anna 5 and Siena 3, were excitedly opening their presents.
The hotel has a renowned restaurant and was packed with customers all afternoon. It was no surprise to find that for dinner it was only available for hotel guests. It was a set menu, but with plenty of choice and we spoiled ourselves with a delicious dinner.
Boxing Day – Itxassou to Calanatazor, Spain
After breakfast at Hotel Fronton, we set off for the Spanish border. A small winding road through the Pyrenees. No border formalities between EU countries. About 30km after the border Poki was replenished with diesel at €1.56/L, significantly cheaper than France. We headed for Pamplona. Very easy driving. Little traffic, being a holiday and excellent roads. After Pamplona we headed for Logrono and then the N-111 to Soria.
This was scenically interesting. Few habitations. Strange land formations. Hilly with caves dotted around. We passed a large reservoir where the water level was seriously low. Being December and mid winter the countryside is very barren and brown. From the type of vegetation, it is obviously very hot in the summer. We have seen deer, storks and several types of birds of prey.
Calanatazor. Medieval Hilltop Village.
After lunch in a remote spot we continued to Calanatazor. We had not booked any accommodation for the night, but I had found a reasonably priced hotel in Calanatazor online. I hadn’t booked it as it was vague regarding whether parking was actually at the hotel or nearby. We decided to check it out.
It was immediately obvious parking was not at the hotel itself. Calanatazor is a hilltop village. Very attractive but just a very steep, single track road with adjoining medieval buildings, backing on to steep cliffs. Nowhere for vehicles too park. At the top of the village is a ruined castle and a small square with some parking. We managed to find a space and decided the parking would be fine, so I went online and booked a room.
We walked down to what we thought was the hotel. It was actually a restaurant of the same name, but also the reception for the hotel. We were given a key and instructions that the rooms were located in another building up by the castle. We located a building which looked promising but it was called the Mirador. Thinking this couldn’t be the right place, we made our way back towards the restaurant.
We found another building just across from the restaurant called Casa Rural. I opened the door and found myself in a room full of people. A gentleman jumped up and told me Casa Rural was 2 doors down the road. Trying the keys we had been given revealed they were not for this door.
Dennis was getting cross and went back to the original place where we had been given the key. A young member of staff was dispatched to escort us. He spoke good English and was Moroccan. We advised him we were on our way to Morocco. It turned out the building we were looking for was the Mirador building we had looked at earlier. Casa Rural was displayed in large letters on another wall. I don’t know how we missed it!
Our room wasn’t large but quirky with a beamed ceiling, stone walls and wrought iron fittings, tables, lights etc. Great that we do not have a thick duvet tonight. Most hotels have these and they tend to be just too hot. Being high, approx. 2000m, it is also cooler, so hopefully a good night’s sleep can be looked forward to.