Hiking High in the Pyrenees
There are some clear advantages to Euro-style hiking.
For one thing, with towns so close together, you rarely have to carry large amounts of food. Who in their right mind would plan to chow down on freeze-dried glop when the alternative is pati de campagne, soupe du jour, and a main course (perhaps Basque chicken, a thick steamy cassoulet, or roast duck) followed by crhme caramel or flan? Not to mention the ubiquitous wine, sold by the glass (and even by the liter) in all the huts. When I mentioned to some French companions that the few huts we have in America do not come equipped with barrels of wine, they looked at me as though I must be fabricating this particular and peculiar fact of American life.
Lunches, too, are more interesting, since you can buy fresh-made cheese from local shepherds and until you taste it, you never know just what flavor you're going to get. Add to that some sausage, a baguette, and some fruit, and you've got yourself a lunch worth stopping for.
Another difference: mealtimes. Beware, early risers: Even in the refuges, it's just about impossible to get breakfast before 8:00 or 8:30 a.m., and dinners are rarely served before 7:30 or 8:00 p.m. (in Spain, frequently later: The only people who eat before 10 p.m. are Americans and families with small children). No matter that an early start helps you avoid the sometimes oppressive heat of middayEuropeans would rather suffer the consequences of a late start than alter their mealtimes!
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication