Despite my last post about my poor eating experience, the trip into Aragon on Saturday was fabulous nonetheless as the photo illustrates. I will be creating a gallery to house more pictures of this and the other incredibly beautiful, rugged or plain breathtaking places we visit, always camera in hand.
Aínsa, in the foothills of the Aragonese Pyrenees (even the name is mellifluous!) is an achingly beautiful medieval fortified town perched on a hill with narrow streets which often end abruptly to frame a spectacular view of the surrounding hills and valleys. Much of the old quarter remains intact and very well preserved.
It even manages to provide a good selection of bars an restaurants which manage not to take over the main square as they so often do – partly because of the size, which is large in relation to the town.
Given it’s topographical situation it is not surprising the place is rich in wildlife with a surprising number of birds of prey including eagles and the locally emblematic bearded vulture. It is also a popular geological centre with geologists coming here from all over the world.
Ainsa is definitely on the list of places to revisit, especially with the superb Somontano wine region next door. If I had one small problem, it is that the place is almost too perfect…They clearly recognise what they have – which is great and ensures its preservation, a relatively rare quality in Spain, as in France. They therefore also provide an immaculate tourist experience – even an audio guide with pink posts dotted around the cobbled streets. And that’s where my problem lies. It has the feeling of living more for the tourists than the locals. There were already a fair number of people even at this relatively off-peak time at the height (or depth) of a recession – and not just locals either. It must be packed in high season in boom times.
I personally prefer going off the beaten track. I would share some of my best discoveries with you but then they may not stay that way…call me selfish! He-he, well, when I get around to expanding my permanent Places section, I’ll add some to that.
Ainsa will certainly form part of that as it is a well-rounded place I can happily recommend both for the experience you will have and the limited impact on my local secrets! You’ll have to contact me individually for those…