I like Ibis hotels - plain and simple, great value and restorative when you've been bucketing about on the road. This one is in Arrigorriara, which may once have been a real place but is now a rather amazing St John's Wood lookalike with smart apartment blocks clustered together between a river, a big road and a mountain which happened to be alight last night.
They know how to live here. We had asked where we could go for supper. The girl said to walk into the town… and crossing over the footbridge we found - yes! - dozens of bars, full to the brim, with people of all ages drinking and talking and playing cards and playing dolls and explaining things to each other. It was one huge street party. Presumably every Friday night is the same.
The bar we chose - Coyote - was giving free cocktails to anyone who wanted one. The young man decided I should have a gin and tonic. The tonic was a new sort, flavoured with ginger and cardamom, and was carefully prepared with masses of ice. He called the spirit Ply-Mouth Gin.
Obviously, no-one running a bar, cafeteria or restaurant wanted to cook or serve an actual meal while all this shouting and laughing was going on, so we just had a few pinchos from the bar - olives with quails egg, anchovies with hot peppers, tostadas with aubergine and anchovy, smoked salmon on more smoked salmon….. and that was our supper. We had had two small bottles of water and one glass of wine, and with the free G&T the whole bill for supper and fun came to under €10.
This morning's delight has been to listen to the radio - the Spanish 'classical' channel. Each hour is devoted to a particular type of music, and from 7-8 this morning we had local brass bands. This is the kind of thing which may have inspired Bizet. It certainly sounded early nineteenth century. The band was more-or-less in tune, but playing very nervously - that is to say, very very slowly.
A high-school music teacher might be proud enough to arrange a recording of the little darlings' end of year concert, and might even try to flog a few copies to the stunned parents, but for someone to schedule on national radio a full hour of the sounds these musicians made is frankly incredible. Andrew wanted to turn it off but I had to listen to it all, soaking up the sound in a masochistic spirit of research. Pass the earplugs!
Now - having had an excellent breakfast - we are off to Sos Rei Catolica and then Ainsa (both recommended by Antonio from the Palacio), and then into the Pyrenees.
I think our local mountain fire was extinguished in the night. No smoke out there this morning.