Saturday, July 30, 2005

Day Twenty-Eight

Time to flee the country once again. This time to Andorra. What? Where is that, you ask, furrowing your brow and suddenly feeling a lot less confident in your knowledge of world geography. (Don't feel bad. I didn't know it was a country either.)

Here is everything you would like to know about Andorra. With that out of the way, you are no doubt aware that Andorra is landlocked between France and Spain.

Being not too far from Barcelona, and being its own country and all, you can imagine our dismay upon discovering (a) there are no trains to Andorra and (b) the only way to get there is via a four hour overpriced bus ride.

Since this was obviously yet another deplorable conspiracy by Eurail to hose us on our already-purchased railpasses, Rob and I were not going for it. We came up with our own plot to get to Andorra.

There was a train that went to Latour De Carol, a sleepy little town just over the French border. According to our map, Latour de Carol is a mere half-centimeter away from Andorra. Surely there will be a bus from there that will take us the rest of the way, right? right? hello?

Latour de Carol is tiny. The lady at the train station has no idea how to get to Andorra from there. All she knows is that there is no train and no bus. As I am nodding, I look out the window and see a bus with the unmistakeable words ANDORRABUS.COM printed on the windshield. We go out to the bus and some old man is arguing with the driver. We decide to come back in a couple of minutes, after checking at the tourist information center. It's closed in the middle of the day, of course, and by the time we return the bus is gone.

I could go into painstaking detail but basically we wandered through this ghost town for a couple hours looking for something that was open where we could get some food. It was pointless, as most French country folk take a three hour lunch break in the middle of every week day. These three hours happened to coincide perfectly with our two and a half that we spent in this little town.

There was one very mediocre cafe open at the station. The food wasn't very good, but it must have had brain-enhancing properties. As we were eating, I got a brilliant idea!

I pulled a blank white 8x11 envelope out of the trash and borrowed a marker from the cafe. We wrote ANDORRA LA VELLA S.V.P. on it (svp=please), attatched it to my pack, stuck out our thumbs and set out walking for Andorra la Vela, which was 50km (not half a centimeter) away. After about 40 minutes of walking and sweating, a couple of Frenchmen on military leave (do not insert political commentary here) picked us up and took us into Pas de la Casa, on the edge of Andorra. This little town looked like it was nothing but shops and a couple hotels. It was more like a giant strip mall than a town. The weather was nice and cool but sunny and the air was clear. Pas de la Casa was a little bleak and had no budget hotels, so we took a €5 bus ride to Andorra la Vella.

What a strange place to build a city, much less the capital of a nation. Lonely Planet, which is usually reliable, describes Andorra la Vella as in a valley, but I would call it more of a ravine. I think this is a place where someone's claustraphobia might act up a little.

Tourist info gave us the lowdown on budget hotels and hostels as well as refugi. More on that wonderful invention later.

The lady at Hostal del Sol spoke no English, but we got a very cheap private room there since we were in the off season. Then we set off to find some dinner. Rob was quite keen on trying paella, but nobody was serving it. We found an alright place to eat and managed to order some good food, even though everything in Andorra is printed in just three languages: Catalan, French and Spanish. In fact, we met no Americans the entire time we were in Andorra.

Tomorrow: best day of the trip!


Anonymous les schwab said...

come on dude. it's been almost a month. you can't just say "tomorrow:best day of the trip!" like that and keep us hanging. anyway, glad you finally made it to the "brush covered" ravine. have you set up your tax shelter yet?

11:28 AM  
Blogger T.R. said...

hey if you don't like it, you can go elswhere.

No, wait! Don't really go! What I meant was I have also been updating swirly patterns (i think two entries there since this one here).

But I have almost finished the entry. It is saved as a draft and just needs a little revision. One disclaimer though: "best day of the trip", as it is turning out, does not mean "most exciting blog entry for other people to read about". But it was just a really peaceful day, something that I didn't get much of during this whole five weeks.

10:38 PM  

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