Summer was finished, our days of sitting by the pool soaking up the sun were over, it was time to move on. From Barcelona we had a number of options, I know Mick was keen to head back to Lagos he still had some partying somehow left in him, that or a death wish. We had spent a lot of money over the last few weeks and having only recently finished work Kim and shantelle were already feeling the pinch, we all needed to tighten our belts.
Our two main options were; one, continue around the coast into the south of France where some of the most beautiful women and beaches are said to be, but its also one of the more expensive places to live. With our wallets in mind we went with our second option, an inland search of something a little cheaper. We had heard of a place called Andorra, a tiny little country in the heart of the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain. Before this trip none of us even knew this place existed. Things weren’t just cheap, there they were really cheap! Fuel on average is about 25 percent cheaper than you can get elsewhere.
Everything in Andorra is tax free. Its like the duty free area in an Airport but it’s a whole country. Now before you go and call you local STA agent there are some strict laws on what you can take with you over the border. For example some limitations are; 300 cigarettes and two litres of spirits per person, although there are loopholes. If you buy a bottle of spirits that contains more than 2 litres then they cant make you pour it out on the ground now can they or force you to cut off the end of a cigar just because it contains more tobacco than 300 smokes. As a result they have cigars as big as your arm and most of your favorite spirits come in four and a half litre bottles. Just the sight of the huge Jack Daniel’s bottle gave me a headache!
Andorra isn’t all shopping mega stores and cheap fuel, its known also for its great skiing and hiking. Some of the most beautiful mountains that I have ever seen in my life are in Andorra and scattered throughout them are Refugis. Shelter provided by the government for people stranded in the snow or hikers who have simply lost track of time. They are simple accommodation in one room 4 bunk beds, a table, some non perishable food left by other tenants and a fire place, in the second room a further 2 bunk beds, firewood some tools like an axe and a saw to split it and some matches to light a fire, like I said simple but enough to save your life and all for FREE!.
Sarah, Mick, Jag and I decided it wasn’t enough to just look at the beautiful mountains, we needed to climb one. Also we needed to bathe, it had been a week and the closest lake we could find to do it in was at the top. Leaving Kim and Shantelle in van Damme we headed off, bathroom bags and towels in hand. We also thought it would be a great opportunity to try out a recently purchased fishing rod to see if we could catch our dinner for the day. On the walk up (I use the word ‘walk’ loosely, it was a battle getting up there), I decided it was time to loose the Mohawk. Too long had I put up with the stare’s of strangers, too many times had I scarred little children and too many times had I dreamed about cutting it off. So while Mick, Jag and Sarah all tried out their hand at putting Rex Hunt to shame, I sat at waters edge razor in hand shaving my head.
As we returned to Van Damme, the fishermen fishless, me hairless and the group of us almost moneyless our morale was low. Kim and shantelle were starting to bicker occasionally. The lake was too damn cold to have a good wash so everyone but Mick and I went without and frankly they had started to smell. Something had to be done. While we all sat in van Damme trying to think of what our next move was Mick snuck away, did some fine negotiating, flashed a business card of his and came back with six free tickets into Caldea, a relaxation center, the biggest aqua day spa in Europe.
Spa’s, Sauna’s, Roman and ice Baths, and negative ion treatments (what ever that is). Not only were we becoming clean and relaxed, we were getting pampered. They even had a grapefruit bath, yes that’s a big bath with a whole lot of grapefruits floating in it. Quite a strange thought for us, we could barely afford to buy grapefruits to eat, now we were swimming with them. This was exactly what we needed and more. Every one was in a good mood, we were back on track again and all eager to move on… Will Lee get arrested at border control for carrying 20 kilos of licorice down his pants? Will Mick loose his left arm in a terrible table hockey accident? And will Jag finally confess his Love for all of the batman movies?! Tune in next week to read more Backpackers adventures!!…