In the morning I drove back along the road winding through the wood and realised that this was the old main road. The new road just strikes straight across the side of the mountain. Sadly it is hard to combine the old traditions of time to spare and the modern need for speed.
Remarking that, it reminded me that the previous day I took a 5 km (3 mile) long tunnel and I wondered if that supported my need for speed theory. Did they wipe out a beautiful road, winding over the mountains, to drive you underground for 3 miles? I checked my maps. There was no sign of an alternative road. I've got a large scale map of the area, 50,000 ( 1 mile = 1.25") and it shows a hiking trail, nothing else. So they didn't ignore an existing road to drive you underground. I checked the distances. From one end of the tunnel to the other, going round, was over 150 km (100 miles) but of course before the tunnel no one would ever want to do that because effectively the 2 ends were 100 miles apart. Looking at the distances going north from Lerida, which is the major town to the south, my route planner shows 150 km and 3 hours with the tunnel, and 200 km and 4 hours without. I would guess the tunnel would actually save even more time than appears from that, since the other route goes over a mountain pass, full of hairpin bends, and therefore would be even slower.
All this checking diverted me from writing my travel report, so you will be diverted too.
I wondered what it was like before so I dug around in my bookcase. Sure enough, I still had the maps I used on my trip 43 years ago, and the tunnel was already there.
Also shown on these maps was my route, marked in pencil. That delayed me even more now, because of course I was interested to see where I went then, compared to where I went now. I'd also marked the places where I took photographs, and where we had parked for the night. So of course I needed to examine every spot where I had taken a photograph 43 years ago, and wonder what it was like, and if I had taken a photo on this trip. At that time we were travelling in, and sleeping in, an estate car, so today my accommodation is a touch, but only a touch, more luxurious.
I'm getting on very slowly with this report.
The net result was, that I could not remember just about what any place looked like today, and wished I had remembered to take my old maps with me, so that I could have checked whilst on the ground.
I'll take them next time I go anywhere. Michelin produced 35 maps to cover France, at 200,000 scale, and I have, and have travelled on, 32 of these. Most of these maps are 40 year plus vintage, since for the last 15 years or so I have been using the atlases Michelin produce and before that I reckoned the roads didn't change much!
Anyway, it's now late, I've wasted a whole lot of my time enjoyably remembering the past, I'm going to bed, and this report is delayed yet another day. I'll leave all hose old maps spread out all over the floor.
Going back to my route, after stopping in the parking area in the wood, I took a small diversion, and explored a couple of old villages. Super! I stopped and chatted with one old lady. (Old. She was probably my age!) Lovely old villages with a beautiful lake on the way. Closing back to the main road there were these houses against the river.
I stopped on the top of a pass, I could see a rain storm approaching. Turned out quite violent, with hailstones about a quarter inch (5 mm) in diameter over quite a long period. I stayed there about a couple of hours. There's no point in driving through a storm when your reason to travel is to see the view.
It was late afternoon, I felt I had been stopped long enough, so I left my parking spot on the pass. There was a village.
Due to the storm the visibility was not brilliant but you could see that there was a view below.
then a small lane lead off from the road just at the time I was looking for somewhere to stop for the night. From my parking on a small plateau there was a great view.
By now I was right next to Andorra, I filled up with petrol there and was pleasantly surprised to find it less than Spain, which was already less than France. As most people know, that's still about double the price in the US.
I did a little shopping, not a lot, but I did some. Andorra is known for having a very low sales tax, and prices are very low. Although having a population of only 25,000 Andorra has 11 million visitors each year, almost all are here looking for bargains. Me, I'm only here because it's on my Pyrenean tour, but heck, that doesn't stop me searching for bargains! I found a few items I needed then took a cable car ride.
In the main there is not a lot of space to fly balloons but I guess you could manage it. Ah. I think I should be more precise. There's lots of space to fly balloons, but not a lot of space to land them.
I climbed up out of the valley and took a photo looking back.
I was thinking of looking for somewhere to stop for the night soon after I left Andorra and was back in France, since I know the French rules, but just before I left Andorra, dropping down into a small town, I noticed about 30 camping cars parked close together on a small parking lot. I suspected it was the parking lot for a camping car supplier but investigated. No. There as a sign showing it was a park for camping cars so here I stopped.
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