Monday June 26, Salies-de-Bearn

What a fabulous finish to a great day to hear the news that Team New Zealand has won the America’s Cup, 14 years since we last held it. Huge celebrations in NZ and we had our own private one here!!! With limited wifi, watching the event was not possible, but we kept an eye on the news and read the results. So many very happy kiwis, and what a bonus for our economy.
Last night we had lightning and thunder and quite a lot of rain, which had cleared this morning although the rivers were very brown. Obviously, a lot of rain up in the mountains. We bypassed Lourdes, had read that it really was a tourist town, and took some really great by-roads skirting around Pau.
And the highlight of my day was finally seeing huge fields of sunflowers in full bloom. What an amazing sight, not just a few, but acre upon acre of them, interspersed between the large fields of maize. And the bees were working well as we had so many smashing into our windscreen as we passed by, a bit of a nuisance as couldn’t get my normal drive by shots!

Playing with double exposures in camera!

The “navigator” found a very good lunch spot that just happened to be very close to fields of sunflowers!!  It was stunning to walk by so many of these flowers, all with their heads turned towards the sun. I had such fun with my camera and even “scrumped” one for the camper!  
After coming out of the mountains this area of fertile plains and lots of rolling country was a complete contrast. We navigated along some of the lesser roads, and encountered a few villages where we needed to hold our breath as we passed through, hoping very hard not to meet anyone from the other direction, but we survived.  Continued onto the village of Salies-de-Bearn where there was a good Aire and had seen there was another Voie-Verte.
Ian decided to put his feet up for a bit in the heat of the afternoon, but I popped my hat on and wandered the 1km back into the town as wanted to check it out after seeing some photos on google. Thoroughly enjoyed my time meandering around this small village with wonderful historic houses and a small river running through it. I called into the Tourist Centre and learnt that the town was famous for its salt which came from soda springs in town, and there is a large processing plant not far from our camp. The tiny streets were lined with flowering plants and stopped to chat with a chap watering his pots. I said “bonjour …. tres bien” and he replied in English. Turns out he and his partner are from Oregon and had rented this wee place for three months. They have so enjoyed their time here, such a great community and even suggested we might enjoy a gathering at the “International Club” at the golf club this evening where all English speaking people from the village went, I just smiled and carried on. Thankfully got me back to Ruakiwi about 1 ½ hours later!
The village of Salies-de-Bearn

It has been a very humid day and as the air cleared a little this evening we decided to get the bikes out and ride the rail trail. Really enjoyed the 16kms round trip, it started off through a wooded area with nice shady trees then opened out into farmland, with paddocks of sunflowers only just starting to flower. Crossed the beautiful Oloron River on a really picturesque bridge.
Came back into town and took Ian on a ride around the village, got into a bit of strife when he rode down a one-way street the wrong way – at least the lady smiled as he managed to get up on the footpath!  Finally got back to camp after a few wrong turnings and the news about Team New Zealand.
We had an interesting evening chatting to our French neighbours, using Google Translate. Surprisingly when he spoke slowly and simply I could understand a bit and even Ian is learning some French words!
Surprised to see this paddock of kiwifruit beside the rail trail.

Rail bridge.
Tried to get a bit closer to this chateau, but no luck.


Bugsy Malone said…
The sunflowers look stunning! As long as Ian is on his bike and not the van when heading the wrong way up roads it should be ok. As you can imagine there was only really one item of news on the tv and radio today
Pamlyn said…
Knowing your husband, it might be advisable for you to google translate the French words he uses prior to you using them.