We like visiting tiny countries. Swaziland, Lesotho, Monaco and now Andorra. Oh, and Greg and Sam went to Luxembourg to buy fuel on a Sunday when they couldn’t find any servos open in France. I guess they appeal because it’s such a novelty to get from one side of a country in a day or two, or even less. In the case of Andorra, we could have zapped in and out in an hour or two, but we decided to stay for a while, go for a walk and spend a night at a campground.
The walk was up to a lake in the mountains at 2745 metres above sea level. We started at around 1800 metres altitude and climbed almost vertically for the first part. I’m not sure how far I got, with plenty of rest stops to allow my lungs to recover, but I eventually gave up and headed back down the mountain. Greg made it all the way .. and all the way back too! Stunning views of the surrounding mountains & farmland, and I was delighted to see lots of Colchicum Autumn Crocus with their purple flowers dotting the fields.
We found a campground on the main road as we drove south. Nice set-up but it was a cold night – down to 3C. We’re heading south now and hoping for warmer weather. Andorra gets 80% of its GDP from tourism, and I’d say most of that happens in the winter. The towns and villages seemed quiet, but I’m sure they’re all full of skiers, snowboarders and holiday-makers as soon as it snows. There was actually a dusting of snow on the higher peaks, but not on any of the ski slopes that we saw.
Many of the buildings in Andorra are build of local stone, and they sit beautifully along the sides of mountains, really lovely use of readily available building materials.
In all the excitement of getting to Cinque Terre last Saturday, I completely forgot that we had visited Pisa on the way. Yep, the tower is still leaning, but gosh it’s beautiful. I think I’m a sucker for marble buildings. They seem so rich and opulent and other-worldly.
The tower has undergone major stabilisation & reconstruction and apparently now for the first time in its history, it has stopped moving and engineers reckon it should be stable for 2000 years. It looks very clean and sparkling, and there are lovely areas of lawn around it and the nearby buildings.
We wandered around the old part of Pisa for a while and then headed on to Cinque Terre. I regret not indulging in a porchetta sandwich ‘cos we didn’t see any after we left Tuscany. That will be at the top of my ‘must’do’ list next time we’re in Italy.
On Tuesday morning we got packed up and drove back up the scary, winding, narrow road out of Corniglia. We were lucky that when we did meet oncoming traffic, it was at places where we were able to pass each other without any major reversing and negotiating. We zapped along the autostrada and crossed the border back into France, then drove back to the campground we had stayed at on the second night of our trip, Camping de la Chapelette at Saint-Martin de Crau. Not that it’s a particulary flash place (no toilet seats … ugh!), but we knew it and knew where it was so putting in a long day’s drive to get there was okay.
Now we’re in the Oriental (Eastern) Pyrenees, heading to Andorra. We spent last night in a very nice municipal campground in Fontpedrouse, about 100kms south east of Andorra. As we were driving here yesterday, I spotted a signpost for the Camino de Santiago – there must be a route which goes through here. It brought back memories of us crossing the Western Pyrenees when we did our first Camino 7 years ago.