1 May 2009

Chillin’ to magical Andorra

Posted by walterheck

The reason for doing this huge hitch from Grenoble to Andorra was that I wanted to stop being in places for just one night. It is just not enough time to get to know a host and a city. I would actually prefer travelling much, much slower, but for now I had to settle for 2 nights per host maximum. I was on my way to Valencia after all, to give a speech at a conference. One more confirmation I don’t like traveling with a time-limit.

The hitch to Andorra went surprisingly well. The first ride got em out of Grenoble after 15 minutes. the guy didn’t want to pay for the toll on the highway, so I was lucky that he was taking the so-called ‘route nationale’, a country side road. He got me to Valence before 9.30. From there, it was quite a bit of a hassle to get on the road leading south, but I managed in the end. From Nimes, I was able to find a truck taking me all the way to Toulouse. The driver was a really cool guy who even let me use his EDGE connection to check my email on his laptop while we were driving. This was an amazing and powerful experience: driving along the mediterranean with an awesome trucker, sitting up high in the cabin enjoying the view, while surfing the web and getting to the place I was going to. I once again had one of those moments where you are so happy you just wanna stretch out your arms and start screaming! Luckily, the truck driver had travelled extensively and he knew exactly what I was talking about. Life is great at times like these!

A thing I noticed was how the landscape during this day kept changing completely several times. First around Grenoble and Valence it was in the winter-state I had become so used to: no leaves on the trees, gray clouds covering the sky, giving the landscape a kind of dead-ish look. Later, it changed very suddenly into mediterranean landscape, with green trees and a different kind of soil. The temperature went up 10 degrees and the sun came out. Almost clear blue skies were above us when we got the mediterranean sea in our sight. After leaving the mediterranean coast line again, temperature went down and the green trees became a little less green. All of this was very interesting to watch :)

My new friend dropped me off right at the toll-booths at the edge of Toulouse around 18:00. A lot of traffic comes out of Toulouse at this time, some of which goes to Andorra in one stretch. I was lucky enough to find a woman within half an hour who was going all the way into Andorra. What followed was something I was not prepared for; the ride into Andorra during dusk from the French side is downright amazing! It takes you up from 200m to a peak of 2400m (at least our route did as the lady didn’t want to use the tunnels), all using small roads that meander up the mountain. Since it was getting dark, all the ski-folk had alrady left, so what was left was us and a few other cars: when we were high up in the mountains, I would look down to see tiny little pairs of headlights shinin through the falling night deep down below us. It really felt like we were driving to another planet, quite magical.

Luckily, the lady took me all the way into the village I needed to go to. Actually I only found a couch while beign en route to Andorra. I didn’t have a place to sleep when I left Grenoble, but I had some outstanding emergency requests. When I was inj the truck before, I quickly checked my email and found a guy had responded inviting me to his place. Yay, couchsurfing is great!
It took us a little while to actually find my host, but we did in the end. He was a really friendly Spanish guy with two lovely daughters. I think it says a lot about a person when they trust you enough to invite you into their house, let alone if you have two very young children there! We talked a bit (not nearly long enough!) and then we went to bed. I had done a nice hitchhike this day, and my host needed to get up early next morning.

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