Road trippin’ is one of my favorite things to do if there is good music, I’m in great company, and the drive is just as exciting as the destination. Or as was the case with the road trip I took from Girona, Spain to Andorra this past September, the drive is MORE exciting than the destination.
This whole expedition came together at the very last minute, like the morning of, and yet I don’t think it could have turned out any better had there been more planning involved. For me, the spontaneous and serendipitous manner in which our crew of four joined forces to take on Andorra the morning after TBEX is what made it one of the most memorable road trips I’ve ever been on. That and because the Pyrenees Mountains under blue skies was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.
So this idea to go to Andorra while I was in Girona turned out to be way more cool the second I learned my girls Casey from G Adventures and Kiersten aka The Blonde Abroad wanted to join me. I shudder to think what kind of trip it would have been without them. And what kind of trip it would have been without Ian!
Bless Ian, co-founder of Travel Massive, for chatting us up and jumping on board last minute at breakfast the morning we were leaving . We literally wouldn’t have gone anywhere without him as it turned out there were no automatics available and the only babe amongst us who knew how to drive a manual was not old enough to rent a car. Plus, those roads turned out to be pretty scary at several points, so scary that I, for one, would have probably turned the car around an hour or so in and said “Forget you, Andorra”.
There are buses leaving from Girona Airport that go directly to Andorra. They cost €28 one-way and €48 roundtrip, but you don’t have the luxury of being able to stop whenever and wherever you want when you have your own car. That was the best part of the entire trip, especially since I was feeling a little under the weather from too much party in Costa Brava. Let’s just say there were a couple of close calls in the backseat…
Cannot for the life of me figure out the name of this little village below, but it was adorable and just one of the random places we decided to stop off for the hell of it. I’d very much like to own a little house here where I can retreat on those days I just want to get away from the world. Can you hear those cow bells in the wind? [UPDATE! Thank you David from Barcelona – Vallfogona de Ripollès is the name of the town]
The distance from Girona to Andorra is about 150 kilometers and was meant to only take 3 1/2 hours, but it felt like it took 6 1/2 with so many curvy roads where you can’t (or at least shouldn’t) go faster than 25 mph. We basically arrived right before sunset in Andorra La Vella, capital of the 6th smallest nation in Europe. We were starving and mentally exhausted from the intense drive, but hey, WE MADE IT! My 34th country in Europe!
Now, I don’t really know how else to put this but….Andorra La Vella was just straight up bizarre and to say I was disappointed would be an understatement. Granted we were only there 2 hours and only walked around the main streets of its capital, but still, we all agreed that it felt like we were in the Twilight Zone. Everywhere we went people were staring at us, like really creepy, making us feel totally unwelcome and me confused. Isn’t Andorra ones of those places that sees a lot of international day trippers? They must all go to San Marino or Monaco in September.
Or maybe the cat has been let out of the bag that shopping there is actually not that much cheaper after all. Whoever started that rumor should be slapped, especially the one about bargain electronics. Yeah, everything is “duty free”, but it also costs more and for an American like myself, paying in Euros doesn’t make it any better.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to dissuade anyone from visiting Andorra. Maybe September is just not a good month to go and once ski season starts the place turns into a total winter wonderland with banging après-ski scene. Who knows.
Seriously, who knows? Please tell me. I definitely have to give the place another chance because tourism is one of Andorra’s most important industries. Ten million visitors a year can’t be out of their minds, can they?
Regardless of how disappointed I was with Andorra this time around, the Pyrenees turned out to be the true highlight. All loaded up in the Ibiza – the entire journey through those mountains and quality time with my temporary family of four defined the trip much more than where we ended up. I will be back, mark my words. No idea when it will be, but one thing is for sure – I hope I arrive via a white Ibiza chariot again.
Ever been on an epic road trip like this? What songs were on your playlist? Cool how musical memories can be just as powerful as visual ones, no?