On Monday we hit the road and headed to Andorra, a small country in-between France and Spain.
With the “Bunyip” this is our 37th European country that we have visited. Another 3 more not with the “Bunyip”. We are amazed to think that we have visited so many. If I would have been asked a few years ago how many countries there are in Europe I would not have thought more than the 40 that we have seen. We feel very lucky indeed to have had this opportunity. Again we thank Cousin Martin as without his help our trips would not be possible.
Driving into Andorra the roads were very busy, this is because the country is duty free and many people go there just to shop. At times in Andorra we felt that the place was one big shopping mecca. The scenery in the mountains were spectacular and at one stage when we stopped for a coffee we were over 2200 feet above sea level. The “Bunyip” performed well as we tackled the windy roads and some steep inclines. We also had to stop for some diesel as it was 94 euro cents a litre, the cheapest we have seen since I can remember. We didn’t come for the shopping and finding a park in the busiest towns was difficult so we continued through and into Spain. The border customs stopped us, asking what we had in the way of cigarettes and liquor. He had a quick look inside and didn’t find our stash! [Only joking]. Apparently people come into the place and load up with duty free goods to sell either back in Spain or France.
It has been 4 years since we have been in Spain, the last time on our way back from Morocco. We travelled ten kilometres out of Andorra, and we parked in the aire at the town of La Seu d’Urgell. In the afternoon we walked into the town and the place was like a ghost town as all the shops were closed due to siesta time. We stopped for a drink at a café. A beer for Ewout and an iced coffee for Jenny. Ewout took great pains to explain that it is not hot and in a tall glass and has lots of ice. Oh yes she said. Lost somewhere in the translation out came a hot coffee and next to it a tall glass with ice. Oh well Jenny waited until it cooled down and put the ice into it. . We stopped for a while and used their wifi to talk to family at home in Australia and waited until the town reopened at 4.30 – 5.00 and the place came back to life.The vodaphone shop was at the edge of the old town and after some translation we ended up getting a sim card with 1.2 Gb which could last a month, and we can use it to hotspot to the computer and the tablets, hooray!! The French sim would not let us do this so we made sure we tried this out before we left the shop.
In the town of La Seu d’Urgell we found out they have a market on two days of the week and that has been the case for over a thousand years. Tuesday was one of those days and by midmorning we joined the bustling crowd perusing the goods on display. There was plenty of atmosphere and the quiet streets of the previous day were overflowing with stalls and eager buyers. We came back with some food supplies and a summer dress [for Jenny of course]. By midday we were on the road again heading up into the mountains where we hoped it would be cooler.
We stopped for lunch on the hilltop with some great views, the road was quiet as it was only a back road. At the town of Rialp we found a lovely aire right next to the river with plenty of shade. Ewout of course went in for a swim but apart from that the rest of day was spent relaxing, travelling can be tough!!
Wednesday – Sort
We had an early start getting on the road before 8.00am ‘shock horror’ very unusual for us. Heading to the town of Huesca we passed through a place called Sort. We wondered what sort of place it was. We stopped in town to sort out where we were going next. The people in the town looked like good sorts. After we sorted out where we were going we left Sort behind. We sort have liked the place? Enough of this nonsense, the town had the river running through it and was used for canoeing competitions.
We arrived in Huesca to see many of the people dresses in white with green scarves. So after we parked up near to the town we walked in and asked a group of young people what was going on?
In the group was an Irish lass who was visiting the town and she explained that the festival of St. Lorenzo was on and it lasts from the 9th to the 15th of August with events happening every day and also bull fights in the arena. People wear white and have green scarves to mark the occasion. Normally we arrive just after a festival has finished or well before that we can’t stay to participate but this time we arrived right in the middle of it.
In the afternoon we explored to town getting a free green scarf from the tourist information office. Unfortunately we don’t have much in the way of white clothes but at least we fitted in a bit more. We did the Spanish thing and had a siesta back in the Bunyip for a little while in the afternoon before venturing off at 8.30 to see what the festival was all about.
Out first port of call was an amusement park set up on the outskirts of the town. Rides, games and food stalls catering for the very young upwards. On the way there we saw a group of young people carrying legs of smoked ham and wondered where they got them from. In the amusement park there was a ham lottery where you buy tickets and when you get the right combination the main prize is a ham. We tried our luck and won a bottle of wine, better than nothing. To satisfy our hunger we bought a bag of churros freshly cooked, yum.
Next we venture into the centre of town where various club bands were parading through the streets. Each of the bands had followers who towed or pushed cooler boxes in shopping trolleys with drinks to see them through the evening and into the morning. Music played and people danced as they wound their way through the narrow streets of the town.
After we sat and had a drink we followed a more official band, accompanied with a long line of fancy dressed flag twirlers who would stop and throw up their flags and catch them as they came down. Most of the time they caught them but on occasions they would drop them and on occasions they threw them off line and had to venture into the crowd to retrieve them. One flag twirler bowled over a child trying to get to his flag that had strayed off course, no damage done and the parade continued along.
Late in the evening we headed back to the “Bunyip” and luckily for us just in time as the thunder sounded and the rain poured down. This would have put a dampener on the festivities that night. Oh well they still had two more night to party on.
Late start with scrambled eggs
After the late night we didn’t get up early and started the day with some scrambled eggs. The eggs were bought at a market and you could see by the colour that they were free-range. Ewout does make the best scrambled eggs!
We continued on our trip and stopped to look at a couple of overnight parking sites cited as stopping places only to find that one was no longer there and the other although in a quiet place was near a factory and had a really bad smell to it.
Our final place for the night was on the outskirt of Arguedas in a really nice aire with views of the cave houses. People had lived in these until the early 60’s and there was a walking trail set for people to look at them. That night we walked into the town and had a drink in the square which was very quiet, only a few people around having something to eat and drink.
Friday morning we drove to Pamplona famous for its running of the bulls, which is held each year in July, bad luck we were too late Jenny was keen to give it a go! Ha ha!!
We found a carpark close to the old town which had a few motorhome already in it and overnight the tally was 12 as well as a German car with a really long caravan.
The afternoon was spent walking the route of the Bull Run and exploring the sights of the old town and its ancient walls. We planned to go back in at night and in the afternoon had a siesta back at the van.
In the evening we went to a local bar where we tried out the pinchos or pintxos, the Basque version of tapas. You buy a drink and then select whichever of the pinchos you want and the waitress heats it up and serves them to you. In this case they were 1 euro each. The problem is there is a good variety and you want to try them all, we did have our fair share but it turned out to be a cheap meal.
The tourist information centre told us that concerts were being held every evening in the park and that night Soldad Velez was playing an Indie female singer. It was a great location with plenty of atmosphere but the music we thought was ordinary and after a few songs we headed off to first explore the gardens and then into to old town. The place was busy and the bars and cafes crammed with patrons, we were glad we ate early. Great atmosphere and after an ice-cream we wandered back, very tired after a busy day in Pamplona.
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