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Spain - Day 20 : Andorra

Our conclusion was 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.

camping in spain

Bram is getting up
 

After breakfast, which included my third chocolate bar in 24 hours, we continued climbing where we had left off yesterday.

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Coll de Montllobar, my hair looked great

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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 which made 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 very pretty, 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 right map. The road was in my GPS though, but that didn't show the roads' 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.

roads in spain

This is where we came from

El canto

Bram at El Cantó.

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Bart at El Cantó.
 

If we weren't able to cross Andorra by bike we would have to cycle back over this road. Yesterday that didn't seem too bad. Now we knew how high this mountain was we really hoped we would be able to pass into France via Andorra. In the descent we took more photos.

cycling pyrenees

High up in the mountains

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Nearly back down
 

After the descent we arrived in La Sue d'Urgell. We went in search 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 cycling vacation, because we ate hardly any fat. Bram said that after talking 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.

Andorra border

Andorra.
 

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 around the customs lady called us. Most cars were just allowed to pass but apparently we looked suspicious. We needed to hand over our passport. 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 in the computer and apparently approved, we were allowed to continue. After the customs office there was a better sign of Andorra were took this picture.

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Andorra's border.
 

From another booth a second customs officer that called us. 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, probably he 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 high way we would have climbed the 2000 meters for nothing and would need to cycle our ass 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 at least for the first 30 km heading into France.

Andorra looks a lot like Switzerland. It is expense and there are a lot of 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 is 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 an half an hour ride to the last village. There we found a cheap campsite, compared to the other ones of this vacation. It was 13 euros while the other ones 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 waived 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, that 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.

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The route of day 20
 

Distance cycled : 150.01 km