Like a grape seed stuck in the gums of Europe, Andorra is sunk deep in the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain. Trevor said they walked block after block only to see endless shops selling nothing but watches, jewelry, perfume, and electronics. At its widest point, Andorra is only about 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) long and you could walk the entire length of the country in less than seven hours. In reality, the entire country is only “2 and ½” times the size of Washington D.C
The Barrs traveled by bus from Ax-les-Thermes, as the closest airport to Andorra la Vella is three hours away. The town has 66,000 residents, but has millions of tourists every year. It is home to many ancient churches and picturesque views and ski slopes. In order to increase their tourist appeal, Andorra has somehow arranged a tax-free, shopping utopia. Even with all the high-end stores they found Andorra a welcoming country, with little crime, and you could walk out at night, without getting robbed,
The family chose to take their time when they came to their hand-picked chosen destinations. When they would arrive in each town and immediately make themselves comfortable while they researched hostels and hotels. The hostels in western Europe averaged about $ 75 dollars a night.
There are no train lines or stations in Andorra, and none close to the Spanish border, so it was off by bus to Lleida Spain. Lleida is quite small and you will easily be able to get to all parts of it on foot. The church sits atop the highest point in the city and there are Roman influences in the architecture and even Basque influences in the names of town.
Throughout all Western Europe the family continued to eat in the local delis and bakeries. Sometimes they would splurge at a local restaurant where the staff was wonderful and greet you personally at the door. The food merchants had pride of ownership, so why would you not eat local foods? Fresh fruits, vegetables, and whatever you desired were always available. Trevor said he can no longer tolerate processed food since his trip. In fact, even with all this abundance of good food he lost two pant sizes! Of course there had to be a candy store made out of candy somewhere!
Next on the list was The Running of the Bulls in Pamplona. Unlike rural Carleton Place, when the cows get out onto the highway, the fiestas of San Fermin are celebrated every year from the 6th to the 14th of July. They have become internationally known because of the running of the bulls, where the bulls are lead through the streets of the old quarter as far as the bull ring by runners. Unfortunately Pamplona was too crowded, and they could not get into the town. Personally, I say thank god, or Trevor might have ended up like some of these chaps below.
A quick pit stop in Zaragoza which is in the valley of Ebro, Spain’s most water-bearing river, with an impressive landscape with picturesque villages and very old traditions and popular customs. Zaragoza is one of the great monumental towns in Spain. It was founded some 2000 years ago, and Old-Iberians, Romans, Goths and Arabians equally left their heritage. Zaragoza as well includes important buildings of Spanish baroque.
Zaragoza lies in the valley of Ebro, Spain’s most water-bearing river, in an impressive landscape with picturesque villages. It was founded some 2000 years ago, and Old-Iberians, Romans, Goths and Arabians equally left their heritage. Zaragoza as well includes important buildings of Spanish baroque.
Visitors to the Our Lady of Pilar Church church may notice a curious memorial that hangs to the side of the chapel. Two bombs are displayed there, a symbol not of violence, but of miraculous intervention. During the opening days of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, the two bombs were dropped on the church by airplanes. Miraculously, neither exploded. They remain today as a reminder of how the power of love is stronger than any armament.
It was now on to Barcelona where there are 4.2 km of golden sandy beaches only 10 minutes from the city centre. You can view ten thousand photos of its sunny streets and towering spire– but until you are standing there Barcelona is all about the architecture. The beauty of the Modernista architecture and Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia church Familia church is incredible. By the looks of Trevor in his Motley Crue shirt the architecture was ‘kickstartin’ his heart’.
The Spanish poet Federico García Lorca once said, “Las Ramblas street is only street in the world, which I wish would never end.” Folklore says that if you drink from this famous fountain at the top of La Rambla you will always return to the city. Will the Barrs ever return to Barcelona like some that have drank from this fountain? Stay tuned!
Next stop? Viva Italia!