Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hike Andorra

Greetings from Andorra la Vella. Andorra is a tiny, tiny, beautiful, beautiful country nestled safely in between France and Spain, right in the middle of the Pyrenees mountains. The official language is Catalan, although French and Spanish are spoken as well (obviously).

I think I read that there are about 80,000 people living in the country, but pull in the shoppers and the number goes way up. Things here are "duty free" (which, to me, just makes it sound like you're buying stuff from SkyMall magazine), so there are stores galore. Needless to say, a guy with a 7-week beard and a backpack on his back isn't a common sight. But that's ok with me, because I came more for the mountains and the language than the shopping.

Here is what my drive into Andorra looked like:

I spent this morning trying to chase down an Andorra patch for my bag. Catalan is fun to play charades in, but I eventually found a lady who knew where I could find one. It's not the Andorran flag, but it has a pretty cool crest on it, so I'll live.

Yesterday I went on a hike. And Monday, when I got here...I, well, I went on a hike.


I found a bridge over the little river that runs behind my hotel. 

I followed a road up the mountain. 

I found a hilarious statue. Who commissions this crap? 

I found an unmarked trail, so I took it. 

I found yellow dots on a few trees and rocks. 

Hooray for self timers. 

They (the yellow dots) led me to this not-so-well-anchored ladder that climbs to the cliff face. 

"Material d'Assegurament Obligatori"? 

Whatever that means. 

I found a very reassuring horse skull. 

So I took a picture with it. 

That's Andorra la Vella down there. 

 I made it to the saddle between peaks.
Either summit was too far, and I only had about an hour before sunset.

 I crossed a very poorly-kept bridge.

Bottled at the source, kinda.



The trailhead was 11km away, so I decided to climb the front of the Pico de Carroi.
On my way through town, I found this church, St. Paul the Martyr. 

I made my way mostly-legally to the bottom of the first rock face. 

They were drilling on it (putting up new anti-rockfall fences, I think), so I went around. 

I got about this high before things got rocky. 

So I stopped for lunch to lighten my bag.
Glad I did. It got caught once or twice when I was crawling under trees.

At first the rocks were big (and not stable). It was fun. 

Then the rocks got tiny, steep, and scary.

So after an hour of tiny rocks, one and a half (minor) rock slides, and minimal bleeding, I decided it was time to go back to Andorra and eat some dinner. So I did.



My time here in Andorra has come to a close (it's really expensive here), and I've decided that Spanish and Catalan make for a good time, but I have no idea what Italian is like (other than a few key phrases, like "Good Morning, Princess"), so I'm going to learn some Italian.

I'm off to Milan.


brightbit said...

oh bless. are you going to florence and roma as well?? im jeally. email me if you want suggestions. also make sure you see the last supper in milan. JEALLY to the max!!

Calvin said...

Yes, Firenze and Roma are on the list. The last supper was booked for months, but I got to see the Codex Atlanticus. Tell me stuff about Firenze. Including Pisa, if you got it.

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