Saturday 26th June
We were away by mid morning with a plan to stop the night in Tarragona but stopping in Xalo (Jalon) for lunch at a small restaurant were we especially enjoy their “Menu del Dia”,
Parking in Xalo on a Saturday morning is difficult as they hold a rather large “flea market” and with people seeming to come from everywhere, finding a space was, to say the least, interesting especially as the majority of the Spanish park, shall we say, un-reasonably!!!!
Walking into “Del Hierro” we were surprised to find it empty, maybe everyone was at the market! We went in with the intention to have change, have something different from previous occasions, we always had the same. After careful consideration and much pondering, guess what, we had the usual; not in our plan!!!
As usual we thoroughly enjoyed the food, some atmosphere with other diners would have been nice but hey, one can’t have everything in life!
We arrived at our hotel early evening, checked in and decided to stay in as we were both tired and not hungry enough to search for food. Obviously ChristIne had foreseen this and had brought a “little picnic” for us to have in our room whilst we caught up with the qualifying for the Styrian Grand Prix.
I would now like to say we had an un-eventful night, but alas no. We were woken up by probably the loudest clap of thunder we’ve ever heard and if that was not enough, it repeated itself, over and over again. It was so loud we missed the torrential rain that accompanied it; Naturally there was lightning as well!!!!!!
As is the way in Spain, we woke to blue skies, brilliant sunshine and no sign of the wet roads, so after an enjoyable breakfast we headed to Andorra, a place we wanted to re-visit.
Several years ago we had stayed there in December on our way to the U.K. but leaving (or entering) on the French side, the Pyrenees are bigger and higher and being a large ski resort with most folk arriving by air through Toulouse airport, the authorities needed access so the “Tunnel d’Envalira” was completed in 2002. The road, “El Pas de la d’Envalira” over the top gets blocked by snow so when we went in December we were forced to use the “toll” tunnel. Disappointed as I was, there was no choice but I vowed to return to drive over the top one summer. This was the summer and boy was it worth it. The scenery was stunning, the excellent road twisted and turned its way as it went higher and higher until we arrived at the summit, 2408-meters. Naturally we had a wander round but boy was it cold; shorts and lightweight shirts didn’t “cut the mustard” and to make things worse, the bar/restaurant at the top was closed. On reflection, as we drove past the ski resorts everything was closed, only open in the winter perhaps. So back in the car.
Whilst in Andorra we noticed the price of diesel, around €1.03, unfortunately we had only filled up a little earlier; got that wrong!!! But at the summit there were 4-petrol stations within 50-meters of each other so we had a “splash” put in before descending.
On the way into Andorra we noticed the queue of traffic waiting to get out, it must have stretched about 7km, so we didn’t hang about in case there was a similar queue on the French side, but when we approached the boarder crossing, we just drove through, result but unfortunately further down the road there was a bit of a queue as there was a French Police road block. Again as we approached we were just waived through, we suppose they were looking for someone special, not a couple of oldies!!!
Motoring along nicely when Sat Nav mentioned a 12-minute delay ahead because of an accident and when we hit the back of the queue, Sat Nav lit up very red and It took us an hour to get passed where the accident was.
When ChristIne had booked the hotel, she told them we would be a late arrival, good job as we were but not only due to the accident, but also due to the “cock up” by Waze. Waze directed us along a narrow track with many potholes which also doubled as a tow path and naturally we followed it to the letter. After a couple of km’s ChristIne pointed to an old rusted gate in the trees saying this was the place, but Waze said to carry on, which we did until it told us we had arrived at our destination; a lock and a Lock keepers cottage??? Fortunately there was a cyclist coming along so I stopped him to ask. He told me he had ridden his bike along this route, every morning and evening and hadn’t heard of our hotel. I must have looked very disappointed so he got his ‘phone out and googled it and was surprised to find it was back along the track by the rusty gates we had seen. A three point turn and back to the rusty gate. I got out and of course the gate was locked but in the distance there was a building and someone there so a loud shout to get their attention and someone arrived with a key and explanned this was not their entrance but that she would come in the car to show us the way. Apparently this has happened before and always when Waze is used!!!
Five minutes later we were checked into this rather grand old farm house called the “Chateau de la Prade”, but don’t be fooled the the “Chateau” bit, a Chateau it was not! They didn’t do food so we drove to the next village and had a rather mediocre meal though with excellent wine.
We had a very comfortable night in this rather grand room, enjoyed a nice typical French breakfast before heading to the boat yard in Bram. Though we were collecting the boat in Argens, we are leaving it in Bram so decided to take the pain of the 1-hour taxi journey at the start, that way, when we leave the boat we are straight into the car and away.
Our start time was 1400hrs so plenty of time to-get across and be ready for our “lesson” on the ins-and-outs of the boat and instruction on how to drive it.
With all the formalities out of the way we were off, our target was to get to a village about 4-km’s away, moor up and sort ourselves out before getting really serious.
It was a windy journey, the boat had some interesting foibles but we arrived at “Paraza”, not where we were heading for, we missed that one!!! Still an ideal mooring for our first night.
After dinner we wandered up into the village, steep hills and nothing at the top, dead! So back to the Quay where we had a glass of local wine in the only bar before heading to bed