St. Tropez, Marseille, Andorra till almost Barcelona

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16.06.2013

Hi all together,

We spent again a good night. (Slowly it becomes boring to write always how good we spent the night, or?)
The parking place was filling up already. Around 9 we went finally to buy a parking ticket for the parking place. A young blond French lady was greeting us on the little house for the parking tickets. She said something in French… I understood only ‘Bonjour’ and replied it. Gave her 3 Euro for the ticket and said fine ‘Aurevua’ (however it is spelt). I could listen to this young woman the whole day… her voice and the French language… hmm… :)

After it we went to the beach. At least me, Julia hat to go somewhere. As she came back, we went finally in the water. Not much to see here. Like in Cyprus. Just the visibility was worse. The swimming area in France is ending exactly at the break water… the most interesting part, because here are mostly the fishes. Anyway, I found an octopus, which was hiding in a stone, and a few small fishes.

We went out after our small snorkeling trip. The water was still chilly here. A few minutes sun bathing and trying our self and then back to the car. It was already early afternoon and we had still a longer way in front of us. First of all to St. Tropez. The famous village in the Cote d’Azur.
It was just a few kilometer in front of us. And it is not really a village… more a small city.
My grandmother was watching always the soap opera ‘St. Tropez’, that’s why I’ve heard already about it. :)

Ahh, not to forget the I have up the steering wheel the first time since 3000km to Julia. To drive every day is really tiring. And now I am passenger and can write while we are driving. Is also great, saves my time in the evening. But I am afraid that I will write now even more… and then translating again :-/

Even before we arrived in St. Tropez we had  a little confrontation with the police. Not really confrontation… they blocked a road (for unknown reason). The funny thing is that they blocked the road before a crossing and was redirecting the driver to the right street. But the other directions was open. So, everybody turned around and just drove from another direction to the same crossing and could enter St. Tropez. Totally senseless action of the police.

In St. Tropez we found straight an Mc Donalds. We was a bit hungry and they have mostly good toilets. After we checked that, I remembered the Internet in Mc Donalds. And yes, there was Internet and even free. Not fast, but better then nothing.
Just the Chicken Burger was a bit spicy. Not really as I like it.

St. TropezAfter Mc Donalds we went finally in the city. We used the first parking at the harbor. So, the first we saw, on our way in the city center, was the huge yachts. In the main harbor we saw the big sailer and heard that we just missed a regatta, which was this weekend. (Later I was reading that the regatta went on still the whole week.) Great… we missed it. The crew was just cleaning the boats.
We went on, walking a bit through the city. I needed cigarettes. France is a good country to stop smoking. You can buy cigarettes just at tobacco shops… and they are hard to find.

It seems like that St. Tropez is, beside the harbor, an artist city. On every corner you can find an atelier of an artist. I mean I can understand it well. This area is so inspiring (beautiful). The mountains before St. Tropez was, till now, the most beautiful ones I saw. And we passed a lot of great landscapes already.

After our round trip through the city, we walked back to the car. Finally we found even a tobacco shop (finally). Till now the most expensive cigarettes I bought on our trip. A normal package for 6,10 Euro. And I smoke already cheap ones.

Our thermometer in the car told us “HH.h”… which probably means something like “Hot like hell!”. Ok, the car was the whole day in the sun. We could just open the doors and wait. And then we went of to the last target today: Marseille.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMarseille is again around 130km away from St. Tropez. It was already late afternoon and I didn’t had hope anymore that we will arrive that day in Marseille.
Inge was leading us again over country roads, passing huge wine fields and trough hills (with even more wine), till we reached Hyeres. Hyeres is also a bigger city, through which we had to drive.
Julia took somewhere in the city a wrong exit in a roundabout and we ended up in front of a toll house of a highway. Turning around wasn’t possible. Great… well, we had to use the highway now.
We had no idea how to use it and stopped at the biggest house, in hope that someone is sitting there. But it was also just a machine, which was ‘asking’ for 1,30 Euro.  We gave it the money and it gave the way free. We was on the highway now.

From now on we could drive faster. The way just passed. Inge and Uschi told us always to leave the highway, because we told them not to use the toll streets. But we went on… till the next toll house. This one was asking for 2,30 Euro. Not always the same amount… ok. We paid and could go. It is always important to have coins in the pocket, if you want to use the highway ;)

We drove the whole rest of the way on the highway. It was nice fast. We arrived in Marseille after just 2,5 hours.
I was programming Inge to the yacht harbor. She said there are 2. I was choosing the north one. And she was leaving us in Marseille to the position of the harbor. But as we saw an parking place, we ignored her and just stopped.
It was a beach. Very nice. With restaurants, a big wheel and beach plus sea ;)
Marseille from the big wheelIt was almost sunset and I wanted to drive with the big wheel… which we did. Marseille at sunset. But we missed it. We went to early to the big wheel. Anyway was it great. My first ride with a big wheel and then at (almost) sunset in Marseille. Amazing! :)
After the big wheel we just walked around a bit to locate some internet network. And we found it.

The big wheelAfter a bit dinner with cheese sausages from Lidl, we was getting ready for the night. I’ve checked on the map where we really are. And I found out that we are in the south. Kilometers away from the city center. But it was fine for me, in the north of the city is the highest crime rate in Marseille… which is not low here. I felt better in the south.

17.06.2013

It seems like it was a good decision. Nobody robbed us in the night. We all woke up in one piece in the morning. Julia, Hugo, the kangaroo and me.
I wanted to use that we have internet and publishing another article in my blog. It cost the whole morning. From 9 till 12 I was just typing, translating, selecting pictures and reformatting. But then it was ready. And I was ready to go. It should go on… but to where… we didn’t know really. Andorra, that was clear.
Before we had to find a post again. We had again postcards with French stamps (from St. Tropez). So we needed a French post, before we enter Spain.

But Julia wasn’t ready yet. She still needed time. Some when around 4 we was back on the street. Highway in direction to Spain, with stop at the last French post office… or at least post box :)

And we found another specialty. There are 2 different toll systems on the highway. At the first one you pay first at the machine and you can drive. At the second one you get a ticket first and you pay when you arrive at the next toll stop or when you leave the highway.

We left finally the highway, for the last post box… and got some trouble with Inge and Uschi. They didn’t know the streets there and we got lost in an industrial aria. But luckily they had a Mc Donalds there. Our new favorite fast food restaurant. :) In France with WiFi inclusive. :)

We spent a while here. Checking this and this. Then the question, driving further or sleeping right here… on the parking of Mc Donalds with WiFi. It was also dark already. But Julia said that she still can drive.

So, we drove on, in the dark to Andorra. We also decided to stop at another post, to drop our post cards into a post box. And so we drove through the night, to the city with the post box. Around 11 we reached this city and the post box. No one was left on the street. We left this ghost town quickly again, in direction to the village Lliva.
The way was leading us in the Pyrenees. In the dark is it really scary to drive there… especially with strong fog. But Julia drove carefully. I am looking forward to see the movie. :)

Our sleeping place in LliviaAround half past 12 we reached finally the village Llivia, which is around 1500 meter above NN. We found quick a place to sleep. One street was ending in a dead end, with a turning loop. Here, behind the last houses, we stopped. Direct next to a cliff.
We just was building up our bed and went to sleep.

18.06.2013

Yet another good night’s sleep. I set the alarm at 10 for today assuming Julia not to be up and kicking before that time. Nonetheless I woke up at 8, but decided to snooze for a while. Finally, we both got up and prepared the car to be ready for the ride.

AndorraWe headed for Andorra, that wasn’t too far anymore. We had roundabout 60m to go for Andorra la Vella, the capital of the micro-state called Andorra. We drove through the curvy Pyrenees. Today, at daylight, we finally could see and enjoy that magnificent landscape… well, what can I say… I probably shouldn’t say a word. :) (It was just wonderful.)

You probably whouldn’t believe it, but there is still snow lying around here. Besides of that the landscape it greenish, but poorly vegetated. Andorra consists of lots of rocks, mountains and valleys. Things are somewhat extreme here: the mountains are a little higher and the valleys a little deeper than elsewhere.

After a couple of kilometers we passed the border. They seriously have a real border here, with border patrol and whatever belongs to a real border. But we did not have to stop, they just let us go. Yet another “tiny country” to check out! But this one is the largest of the tiny countries we had visited so far.

After a few kilometers we had to pass a long tunnel, probably something around 3km long. Straight behind that tunnel we were guided to some toll station… surprise surprise… we were asked to pay 6,60 Euros toll fee to contunue our trip. And it wasn’t even for a decent highway. It was just the same road we’ve been on for the last hour – so I quite didn’t get the point of paying the fee. But what else should one do? Well then, we paid and went on.

We literally curved through the landscape until we found some houses. The first village. They had a petrol station here (1,25 Euros for one liter of 95 Super gasoline!!!… yuck… we’ve been just filling up in france for 1,66 per liter…. damned!), and a supermarket. So we hit the brakes and checked out that supermarket. What a strange place!

Right behind the entrance whole legs of some unspecific animals were hanging around as ham – next to extra large bottles of vodka and other liquors as well as wine from the wood. There were “extra large” portions of just everything. The “supermarket” consists of 3 floors. First, we went to see the upper floor. The 2nd. floor contained odds and ends for home decoration. There were clocks hanging next to destillators (no joke, they had functioning destillators standing around), steam-powered flat irons as well as piles of other junk goods. What a cool crap! If I could, I would have bought some of the stuff straight away! But considering the limited space of our Kangoo camper… :(

Then we went up to see the 3rd floor. Here, I finally noticed the price differences to the rest of Europe: A bigbox of Pall Mall cigarettes for only 25 Euros. Seriously! As if there was no VAT to pay at all.

Compared to a regular duty free shop there virtually is no tax… smokers know that I mean. At a regular airport duty free shop you can also get the bogbox for 25, but the till girl will surely ask you where you’re going to “import” there cigarettes. “Ah, Berlin… so the bigbox costs you 39 Euros, tax included, now..”. Here things are different, here you pay only 25 Euros for the carton of cigarettes.

The basement was reserved for the food. Not much food was offered there. Some wild pig sausages here, some sweets in giant packages there… and souvenirs next to the pay desk.

After our shopping trip we went further to the main target: Andorra la Velle. It wasn’t far anymore. 10 Minutes later we’ve been in the middle of the city. A parking house opposite Mc Donalds (…) was housing our Kangaroo well and Mc Donalds itself was spending us internet… like always :)

Andorra la VellaThe city is very compact and the houses high. Partly it looks like they are build in the rocks. A house with 5 floors who has on the one side the entrance in the 1st floor and on the other side on the 4st floor. Very strange, but interesting :)

The city center is, like almost every city center, full with shops. The difference is that the shops are strange here. You can find a lot of small shops who offer all the same range of products. Basically: Softair weapons, knifes, laptop/tablets/mobiles and accessories. Beside a few perfumeries, clothes shops and from time to time also normal shops. But especially this all-around shops attract the attention, because they are so many and unusual.

I found an ‘all-around photo store’ and was asking spontaneously for a travel zoom lens, which I was wishing for this trip (Zuiko 18-180mm). Surprisingly they had this lens, which is not easy to find new. But the price of 500 Euro killed quickly the hope to buy it. (Even lenses are not cheap at all… but at ebay I could buy it for 350 Euro).

We walked a bit around the city center of Andorra la Velle. Had a look into some other shops, but didn’t bought anything because of lack of money and space.

Back to the car was it 5 pm already. How to pay our parking ticket was the next question. There are no machines to pay, but signs that we have to (obviously). We asked another person, who was there with his car, and he told us to go in an office and there we have to pay. Strange… But we really found an office (not really close to the cars) and had to pay our parking ticket there.  8,80 Euro for 4 Hours approx.

Next question: Where to sleep tonight.?

On the way to the city we passed a good place to sleep. A parking space on a mountain with great view. That would be a great place to sleep. The direction was also the right one, for the next day trip to Barcelona. So, we decided to go there.

Uschi wasn’t cooperating with us and lost always the satellites. And Inge don’t have maps of Andorra. Good that this country isn’t very large and doesn’t have much streets. We could follow the signs.

Suddenly we saw a red van on a mountain crest and got curious. I thought ‘If this is a parking space, then it will be great.’. And it was a parking space. We turned around and had a closer look on it. A really nice parking place with a great view from a 2400 meter mountain.
Here we will sleep.

AndorraJust the weather wasn’t the best. It was raining partly and stormy. The Kanguroo was shaking partly a lot. I was a bit afraid that it will blow us down the hill… but the wind will be not sooo strong… was my hope.

After an hour, we just wanted to convert the car, came the police for a visit. We was already afraid that they will shoo us away. But they just asked if we are ok. We said that we are fine, and asked also if we can stay there over night. They said ‘Yes, we have no problem with it.’. Then they drove off again. Very kind and friendly.

And now we go to bed. :)

19.06.2013

What a night. How to describe that. Imagine you park on a mountain crest. Ok, shortly before. Just a approx 30 meter higher hill approx. 20 meter behind you is the real crest. Behind it and in front of you is a valley. You park with your car on a plateau… the parking place. It is dark and late. Maybe around 12. You went almost to sleep in your car, just watching the car lights crawling up the hills. Outside you can hear the wind whistle around your car. Sometimes quite, sometimes in real squalls, that your car starts shaking. You need to go out of the car (for smoking or whatever) and the wind is almost blowing you away. You get in your mind that it was maybe not a good idea to stay there.
You go back in your car, you remove the gear (I let always a gear in, when I park the car) and you release the hand break… to see if the car is moving forward at the next squall… towards the cliff, which is 5 Meter in front of you. The squall comes, the car is shaking… but nothing is moving. Seems to be ok. Has to be…

You move in your bed and you close your eyes. 10 minutes later you’re asleep. The day was tiring.

Some when later you wake up. You don’t know how late it is. The voice next to you is asking ‘Could you feel that as well?’… you don’t even know in the first moment where you are and what happen. You can hear rain… heavily pushed against the car. The wind is like a storm now and is dragging on the car. You can feel it well.
Then you remember the cliff in front of you. You don’t even move a millimeter, to feel if the car is moving. But it doesn’t. It is just shaking in the storm. But does the wind have to power now to move the car?

Exactly that happen last night. I was seriously thinking to move the car backwards to the hill. Further away from the cliff. Ok, it wasn’t a deep cliff, but around 7 meter to the meadow below. It would have been enough to kill the car… at least.
But we converted the car already. In this stage isn’t it possible anymore to drive the car. We had to go out to reconvert it again… in the storm and heavy rain.
We was waiting… After around one hour became the storm more calm. The rain stopped and we went finally back to sleep.

The morning was totally opposite. There was nothing left from the storm in the night. The sky was blue, the sun was shining and the temperature went up to 6 already… in the night was it maybe 1-2 degrees.

We reconverted the car slowly and went off to our next target. Barcelona was it today. Inge was leading us back trough the Pyrenees, the same way we went in to Andorra yesterday. We spotted between all the mountains and valleys a lake. One of the 80 lakes in Andorra. Of course we had to have a visit.
We parked our car and walked a bit through Andorra. It wasn’t really far. Maybe 1 kilometer from the parking. At the moment is still the snow melting. Here is really still snow. Not much, but a bit. And the melting of it feeds a lot of small rivers, which are also crossing the ways. We had to be careful not to get wet feet. :) But we reached the lake with dry feet. I was seriously a bit thinking of jumping in the lake. But after I put some fingers in, to feel the temperature, I forgot about this plan quickly. :) We just enjoyed the landscape, took some pictures and went back to the car. It became also cloudy again.

Through the south of the Pyrenees we went in direction to Barcelona. We crossed France again, till we reached Spain. The Pyrenees are a really beautiful mountains. A very unique mountain and valley formation. Great also for biker ;)
As we left the mountains, we ended up straight away on a Spanish motorway. A highway without toll. Made for poor people like us. :)

The first Mc Donalds was ours. What else? :) We needed again a place to sleep. Julia wanted to go straight in the city of Barcelona. I wasn’t very happy about this plan. When I see the size of Barcelona on the map… So we checked out the camping places in this area. There are a few. But no one direct in Barcelona. Just in the area around. I choose finally the camping place Camping Barcelona in Mataro. Also almost 30 Euro per night. But therefore with shower, wasching machine, WiFi and shuttle service to Barcelona for free. That sounds good. Then we also don’t have the stress to drive in the city of Barcelona.
Julia was not very happy about 30 Euro per night… but finally we anyway ended up there.

And here we are now. Fresh after the shower, laundry is done and tomorrow we go with the shuttle bus to Barcelona and have a look there.

I’ll write about it :)

Best wishes
Gordon

PS:I just saw that I published a few picture of St. Tropez already in the last article. I get confused with writing and publishing already. :)

Our route (please hold the right mouse button to move the map until it fits):


Larger map

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