France - 139 - Ax les Therme/lamb chops and pork chops/Wrestling with Grand Sol and Andorra /trying to tick off another country

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Europe » France » Midi-Pyrénées » Ax-les-Thermes
October 8th 2018
Published: October 17th 2018
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So that is us finished with Spain. The heat just got to us and the fact that there seemed little to do in the small towns that we thought would be interesting. A lesson perhaps learned the hard way. Never expect the weather to be exactly what you think it will be and never keep going back to the same country. At some point you just run out of things to see and do. I am not saying that Spain disappointed but it could have done better . C+ rather than the B I had hoped for.

So where in the world is Gabby the motorhome. She is on a camping site near to the town of Ax le Therme. It is blooming cold and rather wet. I know it is a mistake to wish for something and we wished for cooler weather . Well we got it tonight in bucket loads. Add to that heavy rain thundering down upon Gabbys roof, thunder as if every Norse God up there as stamping round in anger and a son et lumiere display to beat anything we can put on. Ax le Therme looked a fascinating town and one that we would have liked to have walked around. However the weather yet again got in the way of any investigation. Be careful what you wish for when it comes to the weather. Reception were helpful giving us a list of plots and telling us to go and check them out, pick one and return with the number. We were a little surprised how few spaces were left on the site. There didnt seem many motorhomers there but quite a few bungalows used by weekending Andorrans and the usual old caravans to which were added outside tents and awnings. All I wanted to do was get set up and get the washing done and out on the line. I set off to give our plot number to reception , called in to check the clean and warm sanitaires and bumped into the resident rabbits all of which were domestic rather than wild. With the washing on we decided that tonight we would visit the brasserie. Just as we set out it started to rain. Just slighty at first but enough to need a coat for the first time this trip. The food on offer was typically french and typically good. Lamb chops for me and pork for Glenn. Finished off with a couple of espressos.

Our night was punctuated with rain. It got heavier by the minute, drumming on Gabbys roof. Then the thunder began. In the distance at first but growling louder by the minute. The light show lit up Gabby through the night. We worried that we would be flooded out by morning. Just as we were fed up of the drumming and banging it stopped. A false sense of security followed and just as we began to fall asleep the thunder and lightening returned with a vengence. We were relieved to wake to find everything was in order and we were just grateful not have suffered the flash floods experienced elsewhere.

But back to the start again - So let's try something different. A change of plan. We had intended to race along the coast to the south of France visiting monasteries (just for a change) in Poblet and in Monserrat but somehow I got sidetracked . How about ticking off another country on the way home? Andorra - the home of cheap fuel and duty free. Actually it wasnt such a good idea and I dont know why I got sidetracked. With hindsight we should have steered clear of the place. Like the rest of the holiday the day did not go to plan. Still on paper or in my head the idea was a darn good one.

The drive was hard work for Glenn. His arms were pulled out of their sockets as he wrestled with Gabby and the mountain roads which twisted and turned and switched back on themselves with regular monotony. The brakes are taking a pounding too on Gabby as it was stop , start , stop and start all of the journey. Added to aching arms he had a massive bruise under his right foot. This was painful when he pressed the accelerator and the brake. I suggested that like bike riders in MotoGP he was suffering from arm pump . Not sure if they get the equivalent in their feet and legs handling those heavy bikes.

. The scenery did more than make up for the pain as it was impressive high up in the mountains and became more and more wild and rugged the closer we got to the border between Spain and Andorra. Steep mountain passes with small villages and hamlets dotted along the roadsides. Fields of vines It was stunning and this part of the trip through the mountains was no exception . The closer we got to the border caused its own problems too as the traffic started to build up and we began to crawl at 5 miles per hour. Slowly we moved inch by inch taking half an hour to get nowhere. All we wanted was to find the campsite Grand Sol and set up for the night. We planned to attack Andorra la Vell on Sunday morning when we hoped it would be quieter. That was the plan. What we or should I say I had not bargained for were the hoards , the millions of Spaniards having the same idea as us . In their cars they were queuing for Andorra.

Reaching the campsite it looked like a prison all locked up with bars on the windows and locks on the gates. The ACSI book told us it should be open for at least another week but it was clearly wrong. The owner peeked round a corner and apologised . It was closed for the winter . Nothing to do but carry on with the journey to Andorra.

We drove for a while in what was clearly hell. Getting nowhere fast we decided we had two choices . The first to continue . We had not even arrived at St Julia de Loria and were still miles away from the border . With little hope of getting there this week we decided to stop turn round and give up. We were not that desperate to tick another country off. We headed back more quickly in the direction of Puigcerda the last town in Spain. From there we could nip over the Col de Puymorens to Ax. The route was really beautiful but hard work for Glenn after such a long day of driving. No places to overtake cars we ended up at times crawling, Crawling though in some of the most stunning of mountain scenery. Pine trees replaced the deciduous trees of the valley, The colours of Spain disappeared and were replaced with varying shades of green.

We had filled up Gabby with our last cheap fill 1 euro 33 cents - quite a lot cheaper than the garage next door in France where it sold at 1 euro 65 cents.

What a day , We started off in Spain, climbed almost to Andorra and ended the night in France. A day of change. A day where I managed to click not one photograph .What to do next is still a mystery. We have not brought the plans for the last holiday . Had we got them with us we might have been able to cobble something together but without them and with poor internet we felt a bit in the dark. Sete is just up the road , there is the Dordogne or the Tarn . All on our way home. How about Puy en Valle? Nimes? All we know is that we are heading home and hopefully will pick up somethings that are interesting on the way. . Who knows where we will be tomorrow or what we will be doing?

All I can say is Goodbye Spain and Bonsoir to France .


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