We completed the bicycle portion of our bike trip, and we are now in Toulouse, safe and sound. All 25 riders in the group I led, made it back without accidents or incidents and are for the most part on their way back home or off to their next destinations.
Since the last blog entry, we got into the heart of the Pyrenees mountains, climbing some of the well know 'Cols' or mountain passes featured in the Tour de France. Linda and I have now ridden over the Col du Tourmalet, the Col du Solour, The Col d'Aubisque, and the Col du Portillon. It was quite a bit of work, but the scenery was great and it gave us quite a sense of accomplishment. It wasn't bad for a couple of old farts.
|On the way up the Tourmalet|
|On the Soulor|
|On the Aubisque|
We had a chance to see many things other than the mountain climbs as well. We spent about four days in the National Park of the Pyrenees, and were able to see some of the scenic highlights of the Park and the French Pyrenees. We spent our rest day hiking along a mountain river with countless waterfalls and ancient stone bridges. The next day we walked into a huge mountain formation called the Cirque de Gavarnie, a spectacular cliff rising thousands of feet to the ridge line that is the border between France and Spain.
|Cirque de Gavarnie|
We finished our trip with a visit to Lourdes, which is where St. Bernadette had her vision of the Virgin Mary. It is a major tourist destination, in particular for those wishing to be healed of some affliction, by the waters of the spring. Since we were there during a festival or processional week, we were able to see the candlelight procession in front of the Basilica.
|Lourdes - Candlelight Procession Below|
Setting up this trip for a group was a lot of work, but I think that everybody had a good time. Also when you are the one planning the trip, you get to see exactly what you want to see.
Now we are off to Washington DC for the portion of the trip that Linda has planned. Hopefully all of the issues with airline strikes will be resolved by the time we need to fly home.
There are more pictures from the last several days at this Picasa Link.
We hope you are all doing well.
Stephen and Linda