Thursday 14/5/15 – From 34 degrees yesterday, we slipped back to a start of 12 degrees today.. Pretty cool indeed, after the past week or so of sunshine and temperatures in the low to mid thirties.
More good roads ahead again today….. Gotta love that! Stopped for lunch at Maccas just near Troulous, to check the weather forecast for the Pyrenees. All good, so onward from France to Andorra we will go… well we would be going any way, but it is nice to know the weather has ahead.
It is interesting to note the universal flash of lights to warn of a copper on the side of the road, seems to be working well here too, as we were flashed a couple of times by oncoming motorists, only to find a police car tucked away to the side of the road, waiting for some unsuspecting and naughty motorist….. But not these two Aussies!
The ride up to Andorra was absolutely remarkable; more awesome windy roads and magnificent views. The traffic coming back into France was quite heavy. We presume they are on their way home (most had French number plates) after taking advantage of the duty free shopping and cheap fuel). Temperature dropped to 11 degrees as we climbed into the Pyrenees, and as we climbed higher, we rode into cloud, and for quite some time, we could only just see about twenty metres in front.
Then, in short space of time, we came into Motorcycling bright sunshine, blue skies, and the temp rose to twenty seven degrees……WOW…… And…..Lovely! We certainly live on a most beautiful and remarkable planet.
Now, a little about Andora…… It is a tiny principality (only 468 square km), that is set high in the Pyrenees mountains (about 1000m) between France and Spain, and nestled in a most beautiful valley. It is reported to be the highest capital in Europe, is quite densely populated (about 90,000 people), and with so many houses/ buildings in such a small area.
It is indeed a busy and bustling place, and this is not even the peak season. It is a tax haven, and reportedly very cheap, yet on a quick look at the shops, we did not think so, how ever fuel certainly was cheap at .99cents per litre. The currency here is euro. It combines the new with the old beautifully, and is certainly a fabulous place to visit, quite unique in its location.
There are numerous ski runs, chair lifts etc, and the road winds its way up through the ski areas, so very pretty. Not much snow at this time of the year, but looking at the magnificent landscape, one can only imagine how picturesque it would be in full snow, with all the brightly coloured snow bunnies dotting the landscape as well. As we came into the ski area, a cloud settled into the valley.. so pretty.
As we wound our way through the mountains, it was reassuring, yet also worrying at the same time, so see the big heavy metal net barriers sticking out from the mountain side to catch the rock falls. We did not see any rocks in the nets, but some did look a bit battered.
The roads through the ski area and heading away from Andorra are a biker’s dream! Still a little snow on the ground, that added a crisp chill despite the high temperature. Must be awesome in Snow season.
Don’t think we would be coming here in winter however, as we would not be able to negotiate the snow on two wheels, and not to mention the cold. It can get to zero and below!!! There are SO many ski lodges, that one can only wonder how busy and crowded it must be in snow season.
We needed fuel, so headed into ‘the petrol station with a difference’. It was completely indoors……. Had heaters and big TV screens… Just amazing! It really does get cold up here in winter, so I guess it makes sense. Yet another experience with a difference.
Once again headed to MacDonald’s for a coffee, and the internet to look for somewhere to stay tonight. They have the best internet… Thanks Maccas!!!
Found parking beside Maccas that was being managed by a guy in a T shirt with a Goldwing Andorra logo. He directed us to free parking on the pavement in front of some shops, telling us that to park in the marked spots would cost…. Good guy… gotta love bikers!
Found a ‘classy’ two star hotel for €37 booked it! As we were sitting there, the guy with the Goldwing Tshirt came over and said ‘you are from Australie… Yes? ……this is for you and you’. He had obviously checked the bike out, and was pleased that we had come to Andorra. He gave us an Andorra Goldwing Club flag…. what a cracker, and he seemed pretty chuffed with the KWRMCC sticker we gave him in return.
Finished our coffee, and headed back to the bike. As we got there, a guy (David) from a motorbike customising shop, that we were parked near, came out and asked if we were from Australia.
Like so many others, he is amazed that we have come so far, and that we are staying so long. He was keen to share some good roads with us in the region, and gave us his phone number in case we needed any help at any time, anywhere…..saying.. ‘I speak English, French and Spanish.. Always happy to help real bikers… Call me any time, from anywhere!’ Lovely guy, and a real biker attitude.
His mate Andrea also came out and we chatted for quite a while. Well they too got a KooWee sticker, and after discussing some good roads, Andrea offered to lead us out of town to show us a quick trip on some curly roads. David and Andrea were both great guys, and so helpful. They only opened the shop a couple of weeks ago, so we hope they will, do well. They are worth a visit if in Andorra.
We did a quick loop of the town, before heading to our digs.. Specially chosen because it had a car park, and it was cheap….. Ahhh shucks Span spoils me so !!!!
Arrived at the hotel…. mine host did not speak much English, and our Spanish left a lot to be desired!!! Ahh well, as always, we muddled through with gestures and signs, but he was a wee bit grumpy, or perhaps just frustrated. Dropped off our gear, then back into Andorra to have a look round. There are so may bike shops that we will have to go back I the morning for a looksee, as it was 8.15pm. They all close at 8pm, and reopen again tomorrow at 10am. Found a lovely little restaurant and. Had Tappas for tea.
Just near our hotel was the most beautiful and tiny church we have ever seen. It is no longer used, and we can only wonder why such a treasure has been allowed to fall into disrepair. We hope one day it may be loved again.
in the carpark of the hotel was the prettiest pink rose bush… Put a whole new meaning to ‘the rose on the wall’….. It looked so fragile, yet so strong and beautiful…. Just lovely!
Friday 15/5/15 – After a €3 each breaky at the hotel, we headed into town to look for a sticker for the bike. Mmmmm note to self …. DO NOT eat the croissants in Andorra, at a cheap hotel. They are a tad heavy and somewhat stale to say the least, but then it was only €3!!. Couldn’t find a sticker, so headed to the tourist information, where we were given a freebie… Gotta love that.
Span stayed with the bike while I went to the ‘i station’, cause we parked the bike on the footpath in a mall of sorts, and we’re not too sure that we should be. Was gone less than 5 minutes, and by the time I got back he was in trouble with the local parking inspectors! We had noticed last night that there is a big police, parking and council personnel presence. Of note is that the council workers carried a good sized first aid kit and defibs….
Any way back to ‘naughty Span’….. We were ‘not quite’ parked where we should be, or legally for that matter……. Oops!!!! Whilst the lady was not impressed initially, Span had smooth talked her by the time I walked back across the square, and it was all smiles….. Silver tongued old rogue that he is….Bless! Seems he calmed down what could have been an international incident…. well that’s what he says anyway!
We left Andora in bright sunshine with the temperature around 12 degrees, as we climbed up through the Spanish side of the Pyraneese. More brilliant roads and sights ahead! Yeah!