Saturday, August 23, 2014

Point B to Point A: Barcelona to Andorra

Stinky Americans prepare to offend multiple nations in one day!

Today, there was only one goal and that's a good thing, because that's really all we achieved. We got from Barcelona to Soldeu, Andorra. After dressing in the same clothes we wore for the last two days and making sure nobody was unacceptably smelly, we left our temporary abode at Hotel Tryp and proceeded to Terminal 2 at the Barcelona airport. One persnickety detail  is that despite multiple attempts to get EXPLORE (the company that is running the Andorra hiking gig) to specify a location in the terminal to meet, we couldn't get an answer. So we just guessed, and it worked out okay. Most of the trip participants were flying in from London and the estimated time of departure was 2:30pm

The group congregating in Terminal 2B Barcelona Airport.
Estimated is  powerful term! Of course, most folks were joining us from the UK. And there were flight delays with the last two arrivals, heretofore known as Naughty Eliza and Andrew, getting in at 5 pm. But finally we were on the road for the 4 hour trip to Andorra passing by the incredible area of Montserrat...we'll visit next week.

Our lovely Andorran bus with AC and a nice driver. NO potty, but that's okay.

Since we got a bit of delayed start, there was no stopping along the way or photos, but the scenery was great. We hope to show you more the Pyrenees on films tomorrow. The tour guide, a Dutchman named Bert, decided that since Brits eat at 7pm, he would just stop at a restaurant near the border.

Here is the menu. Nothing on paper...just a bunch of photos to choose from. GOOD LUCK.
After last night's meal of 4 appetizers in 5 hours, tonight we got 15 people, 15 one had a clue what they were ordering either--in one hour flat. WOO HOO. Fast food ala Northern Spain

The view out the restaurant window
Lots of old buildings abound
Since this was our only stop, I took some photos from outside at the restaurant. The scenery is really beautiful everywhere.

Paul's pick--pasta "At least I know what it is."

Fava beans and sausage in East Tennessee proportions!

By the time we got to Andorra and our hotel, the Soldeu Maistre, it was dark and we had a libation in the lobby with our fellow sojourners, a lively group of Brits who talked about past walks in England and worldwide. Very interesting. Much more interesting in reality than our day, but all good. Just grateful to be here and can't wait to start walking tomorrow.
PS--Most of Andorra appears to be a shopping mall.

Paul's Ponderings:   A bit of history...when I was in the 8th grade in good old Clinton, TN, I took a French class.   Some classmate, who is lost to time, asked our teacher, Ms. Livingston, if she knew there was a small country between Spain and France called Andorra.   Weirdly enough, she did not!  As impressionable young lads sometimes have happen, that fact lodged in my head.   And 40 years later, here I am!   One of the world's smallest countries, which does appear to be largely about shopping, is now right here, right now.  We should have some lovely hiking in the Pyrenees ahead, shopping aside.   The view of Montserrat was stunning on the way up (and we will visit it next week), but right now we are surrounded by mountains that equal anything at home.    We had a great time talking in the bar with a group of folks from the UK, who we had many experiences in common with.   Who knew the fact that we'd been to Ennerdale Bridge or Reeth would be useful as a reference point?    After a glass or two of "tinto" and beer among the group, it was like old home week.   Dolly Parton, Elvis,  and Jack Daniels appear to be a universal point of reference for Tennessee!   We appear to be in for great weather ahead this week in the Pyrenees and some fabulous scenery.   Not quite the same as hiking across the UK last year, but equally as enjoyable.  Pura change contexts....