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This cooking and walking holiday strikes a balance between cooking, exploring the region, and walking in the spectacular Ordesa National Park. This journey will take you from the high mountains to the foothills of the Pyrenees. Here you will discover the produce of the region, and with this in hand you will create some delicious dishes in the kitchen. It will be a fascinating journey, from a state-of-the-art restaurant kitchen to a traditional Aragonese kitchen. Simon and Lucy, your hosts, will lead the week. Simon is a passionate cook and very creative, Lucy has a background in food science. Together they make a great team, always full of fun.
You will be staying at the renovated 17th century farmhouse, within the Pyrenees Geopark, a site recognized by UNESCO as of geological importance. Casa Allu is a luxurious 17th century farmhouse where Aragon Active offers bed and breakfast Spanish Pyrenees. Located in the small hamlet of Albella, it is also the base for all the activity holidays.
Over the past 4 years the farmhouse has been restored with great care and love, preserving the wooden beamed ceilings and stone archways, and always respecting the traditional architecture of the area. Aragon Active's attention to detail is evident throughout their home, from the antique light fittings and furniture to the pictures that are throughout, everything is in-keeping.
Casa Allu has 7 en-suite bedrooms, 4 with double beds, one with twin beds and 2 individual rooms. All rooms have mountain views and are named after the wildlife that abounds outside our door. They have made sure the bedrooms are spacious with luxury en-suite bathrooms and thermostatic rain showers, each maintain their carefully restored wood beams.
The antique cast iron beds are comfortable and the luxurious curtains and rugs give a rustic and homely feel. All seven rooms have plenty of natural light and four have stone balconies. The night skies here are breathtaking, star gazing is a must! Whilst the restoration is true to the traditions of the area and the age of the house we have also endeavored to include some modern amenities.
The geothermal hot water and underfloor heating system ensures they have sufficient hot water for everyone and we are cozy in the colder winter months. The balconies and windows are double glazed and each has an integral fly screen, ideal to enjoy a gentle breeze on warm evenings. There is a small gymnasium below a spectacular beamed roof, a place to stretch out as well as tone up.
On the floor below is a large class room where lectures and presentations take place. Breakfasts and evening meals are served in the spacious dining room with open views down the valley. Across the courtyard is the library and sitting room, where there are plenty of tourist information as well as a good choice in recreational reading.
The atmosphere is quite unique here, a huge slab of rock upon which the house is built forms the backdrop to a seating area by a wood burning stove. In both areas Wi-Fi is available. From the house you can enjoy wide open views of the Pyrenees; meadows, mountains and woods stretch out before you. Sometimes the silence is broken with the soothing bells of the village sheep.
At night, the only thing you will see from your bedroom is the amazing starlit sky as there is no light pollution. During the day you can explore the extensive private grounds of the house which include meadows, mature walnut and oak trees and woods. From here you can also go mushroom picking in spring and autumn.
Upon arrival, enjoy a welcome drink and a chance to meet Simon and Lucy, your hosts for the week, before your evening meal.
Please note that this is strictly a non-smoking holiday.
Our bed and breakfast Spanish Pyrenees is in the historic part of the sleepy farming hamlet of Albella, situated in the unspoiled valley of the river Ara. Albella is known locally for the 16th century chapel of Saint Urbez and the miracles that were performed here. A footpath from our door follows the pilgrim trail of San Urbez towards the mountains of the Sierra de Guara, a beautiful walk that can be adapted to a circular route back to our house. The valley is remarkably green due to its central position in the Pyrenees where we benefit from the perfect balance between the hot Mediterranean and cooler Atlantic climate.
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We prepare all the meals here in our spacious kitchen. The focus is on well balanced meals, whether outdoors enjoying a picnic or dining in. The menus will vary according to the season. All meals and refreshments are included. Breakfast is a nutritious continental buffet style with plenty of cereals, fruit, and home baked bread. Picnic lunches will be followed by our main three course meal in the evening.
Restaurant meals and three course lunches at Albella will be followed by a lighter supper (two or three-course). Wine and coffee is included with the evening meals and we have an honesty bar for pre-dinner drinks. The water here is drinkable and comes from the mountain spring. We have a font in the entrance hall where you can fill up whenever you want. We also have a range of herbal infusions, normal tea and coffee, all of which are included.
Abandoned village of Janova is within walking distance from the house. Here, in the late 60s all the inhabitants were forced to leave their homes as part of the expropriation for a dam which was never actually built. It makes for a fascinating day out, walking down tracks through forest, visiting the beautiful River Ara and emerging at Jnovas for a picnic, before returning to the house on a more elevated route with views across to Monte Perdido. Today restoration is going on in the village as very slowly life returns.
Gentle walks on forest track. One of the great appeals of Casa Allu is the fact that you can walk out of the door and just explore. There are a number of tracks in the countryside, some like high Devon lanes others quite open, but all with marvelous views. You may come across an old stone bridge or a small borda (barn) or see old terrace walls which nature has reclaimed. All are worthy of a few minutes pause, if only to wonder at the human effort involved in the making.
You need to allow about 15 hours driving from the northern ports.
Arrive at Zaragoza airport (ZAZ). This is the nearest airport located two hours away. From the UK it is the simplest way to arrive. Ryan Air offer flights all year round from London Stansted. Flights start from under GBP 100, including taxes, and are generally cheaper the earlier you book.
Arrive at Barcelona - El Prat airport (BCN). Barcelona is a hub for international flights from outside Europe so if you are arriving from the USA, Canada, Australia or another international destination, this is the best airport to fly to. There are also flights from many UK airports to Barcelona. As well as scheduled flights all the low cost airlines fly to Barcelona: Ryan Air, Easy Jet, Vueling, Monarch as well as Jet2.
Brittany Ferries have three routes from the UK direct to Spain: Portsmouth-Bilbao, Portsmouth-Santander and Plymouth-Santander. The ferries are a great way to travel and have private cabins, restaurants, bars and viewing decks. All of the routes allow you to take your own car and crossings take around 24 hours.
Arrive from Barcelona or Madrid at Zaragoza train station - Zaragoa Delicias. Aragon Active can pick you up from the train station.