Sunday, June 7, 2009

Assault on Western Europe: Part V. Fear and Loathing in Andorra

Monday, April 20, 2009
The Unholy Country of Andorra

Without any real intent to see Spain this trip, we decide to wander on over (and over) the Pyrenees Mountains through Andorra and then to stay the night in our "home country" of France before settling into Spain. I was excited to be on the move and very excited to see Andorra.


Andorra is a sandbag. If you took Las Vegas, NYC, and Vail and put all three areas into Little Cottonwood Canyon you would end up with Andorra la Vella - and that's the best part. Okay, the setting is lovely (you keep trying to think), but what the French politely describe as a "hard edge of tax evaders" was really just a beautiful geography made grotesque by money and greed. Driving through was disappointing, but the appalling nature of what is being constructed and the high end retail of fashion and cars allowed room for amazement, if not actual enjoyment. Instead of stopping in this place for even a souvenir magnet we stayed in bumper-to-bumper traffic to roll through as quickly as possible to the freedom, beauty, and sunshine of the Cataluya Region of Spain.

Crossing from Andorra to Espanya was glorious. Spain has not thought to rub elbows with the gluttony of Andorra, so the border becomes what the Pyrenees aught to be - with no gilded opulence and cheap concrete construction. Just mountains and sunshine.

Unfortunately, we were not staying in Spain this night. We had to head round to Luchon, France. The weather in Spain was perfect. The air was dry and the views lovely. The one town of any notable size, Sort, was perfectly enjoyable. There were happy people and we could communicate just enough to laugh and ask questions.

Also, we were stopped by the police on the way down to Sort and they were SO nice. Obama fans and willing to speak Spanish with us despite our struggle to understand. I liked that!

In Sort there was also a baker, who wanted to speak English a little. She asked where we were from and told us she had never left Sort before. It felt so nice to interact with people again. It was not as easy to do in France. In St. Antonin we could, but still much easier in Spain.

After Sort we drove back over the Pyrenees to Luchon. It was a downpour and town was deserted. It is probably quite nice in the right season, but that night of, "it's raining it's pouring the old man is snoring..." just really made us anxious to get back into Spain.


Reedster said...

And that's why Spain is preferable to France. Well, actually France sounded pretty good, but I seem to prefer Spanish speakers, not to mention Spanish food and music.

Steve Edwards said...

Spain is fantastic, but I'm not ready to give it the food nod just yet. Eating in France is just ridiculously amazing.

Reedster said...

I'll give you the food category, since I don't really remember eating much in France, but I wasn't impressed. But I will take Spain over France any day.

Of course, I'd take France over, say, Riverside so it's not like I'm arguing from a position of strength.