Spain - Day 20 : Andorra
We concluded that sleeping on flat rocks was better than sleeping on sand with rocks in it. Bram had slept behind a hill, so he was invisible from the main road.
Bram is getting up
After breakfast, which included my third chocolate bar in 24 hours, we continued climbing where we had left off yesterday.
Coll de Montllobar, my hair looked great
Bram at the Coll de Montllobar
This col wasn't bad. There followed a nice descent to Tremp. In the Pyrenees, everything was green again, not as dry as in the south. In Tremp, we bought food to eat while cycling and some rice pudding to eat right away. We continued northward. The road was going slowly uphill, making my left knee hurt a lot. It was weary after all the cycling. The valley we cycled through was beautiful. There were a few tunnels we weren't allowed to use. The old road going around them was still open. Those parts were beautiful, with waterfalls and the river to our right.
We stopped in a small village to find a bench and some shade. After eating, my knee felt better. A bit later, we started climbing again, and my knee stopped hurting. We didn't know how long the climb would take because we hadn't originally planned to cycle here we didn't carry the correct map. The road was in my GPS, but that didn't show the road's elevation. From here until the next town was 45 km, it wouldn't be a 23-kilometer-long climb?
According to the GPS, we started climbing at 700 meters. I saw dark clouds behind us and even some lightning. The dark clouds continued to get closer. We couldn't cycle faster because the climb was very steep. After over an hour, we stopped anyway to eat a bit. The top of the mountain was too far away to comfortably make it in one go. Every time we thought we were almost there, but when we turned a corner, the road would continue running off in the distance. Now we were sure we saw the top but also realized that it would take another hour to get there. An hour later, we finally arrived.
This is where we came from
Bram at El Cantó
Bart at El Cantó.
If we couldn't cross Andorra by bike, we would have to cycle back over this road. Yesterday that didn't seem too bad. Now that we knew how high this mountain was, we really hoped we could pass into France via Andorra. In the descent, we took more photos.
High up in the mountains
Nearly back down
After the descent, we arrived in La Sue d'Urgell. We searched for a tourist office, hoping to find a map of Andorra. There was a sign in the village showing where the office was. We quickly found the location, but the office turned out to have moved to the other side of the city. Never mind. We would cycle up to Andorra's border and try to figure out our route along the way. According to our GPS, the only road leaving Andorra into France was a highway.
In La Seu, we bought more food. The night before, I had mentioned how a jar of mayonnaise wouldn't be bad to eat during a cycling vacation because we ate hardly any fat. Bram said that after talking about the talk, I should now walk the walk. Which I did. The sandwiches with tomato and a mountain of mayonnaise went down well. After a hearty meal, we continued to Andorra.
The road to Andorra was a large 80 km/h one. After cycling more than 10 km, we arrived at the border. The first sign we saw, of course, needed to be photographed.
A bit further, we came to customs. That was a bit confusing. There were two lanes, one for trucks and one for cars, so we didn't know which one to take with our bikes. Because we were circling, the customs lady called us. Most cars were allowed to pass, but apparently, we looked suspicious. We needed to hand over our passports. Bram said that, according to him, she was also allowed to play in the movie they had been filming on the Pico Veleta. Our names were entered into the computer and apparently approved; we were allowed to continue. After the customs office was a better sign of Andorra, where we took this photo.
A second customs officer called us from a different booth. He asked if we wanted him to take a picture of us. The first one already looked good, so we said no. I did ask if we could cross into France by bike. He asked 'are you strong?, you look strong' and said it was possible. We just needed to follow the road and "brooeemmmmmm". He did say we needed to climb 200 meters; he probably meant 2000. A bit later, in a gas station, I tried to find a map to investigate the road we were following. If it would turn into a highway, we would have climbed the 2000 meters for nothing and would need to cycle our asses off for the next three days. I walked in and asked in French if they sold maps. The girl there pointed to them. We took out a map and looked if the bicycle road existed. When we saw it did, we put the map back and walked out. That probably looked a bit odd. According to the map, there was a cyclable road for at least the first 30 km heading into France.
Andorra looks a lot like Switzerland. It is expensive, and there are many luxury stores, much traffic, and many mountains. Andorra is really just one valley that ends on the 2000-meter-high mountain. The other border is where we entered. There was a main road running through the entire valley, which is where we cycled. In the twilight, increasingly more cars started honking at us. They never did that in the morning. Every village seemed to have its own campsite. We first did some groceries. From there, it was about half an hour's ride to the last town. There we found a cheap campsite, compared to the other ones on this vacation. It was 13 euros, while the others had been between 25 and 33 per night. That is much more than in France, where they were between 8 and 16 per night. After registering, the boss walked out with us. He waved his hands and said 'anyway', like he didn't care. What he meant was that we could pitch our tents anywhere we wanted. After doing so, we went to shower. I had lost my shampoo somewhere around Gibraltar. Fortunately, they had hand soap at the sinks, which also worked. After a few days of camping in the wild, your hair starts to stick together like it has a lot of gel in it. The showers were freezing. After showering, I tried to warm myself using a hair dryer. When Bram was also done, we ate some more baguette. It was cold already, and it would only get worse during the night. Still, I slept pretty well.
The route of day 20
Distance cycled : 150.01 km.