Posts Tagged andorra
We went on holiday – the first one on our own (longer than a weekend) since the girls were born. We pleased ourselves what we did and when we did it. The Mademoiselles (plus the boyfriend of one of them) were the guardians of home, dogs and cats and, astonishingly, the house was still standing and the animals still present and correct when we got back.
Remember the t-shirts, years ago, that said ‘My Parents Went On Holiday and All They Bought Me Was This T-Shirt’ ? Well, due to her father’s sense of humour, this is what Mlle T. the elder got for her trouble
She wasn’t amused when I texted her this photo from the apartment we were renting in Girona. It didn’t help that the weather in France hadn’t been very good while we’d been away and she’d been looking forward to sunning herself by the pool. She’s a sensitive soul – but we gave it to her anyway.
We started off by going across the border into Andorra where, every year the Cirque du Soleil give free performances throughout the month of July. No photos but I’m sure you’ve seen events on T.V. or been to one yourself so you know they are amazing spectacles peopled by incredibly bendy, muscular and (usually) tiny athletic types.
We then crossed over on to the Spanish side of the Pyrenees and proceeded on some very windy roads to a village called Bonansa and, yes, I kept humming the theme tune because I’m that old.
Around the village were several of these ermitages which are centuries old (those parts that haven’t been restored) and were used both defensively against invaders
and as places of sanctuary.
We then went further West into Aragon and to a magical medieval Moorish town called Alquezar which has labyrinthine old streets and is cut into a hillside surrounded by deep gorges.
Lots of people go canyoning but we contented ourselves with walking
of the slightly precarious kind
These walkways have been attached to the rock face so that, when the river below is in full ‘gush’, you can still walk through the gorge. I had no trouble but Mr. T is very tall and had to almost bend double to get under some of the overhanging rocks.
When we reached the end, we saw one of the paths that had been closed and, if you zoom in (click twice), you can see why.
I was glad we’d already done a circuit otherwise it might have put me off.
Oh, and we also did lots of sitting around tlaking and eating. I love it in Spain because they don’t even start dinner until around 8.30 whereas the French restaurants where I live are thinking about closing around about then.
From this vantage point we looked down into an olive grove where an old man tended his little herd of goats until late at night and the local feral cat population begged for food from the diners above.
This one nearly came home with us.
A face only a mother could love?
Then we continued on to Girona – very much back in Catalan country, with the flag of Catalonia hanging from many balconies – and spent the rest of the week there in an apartment in the old town and right on the riverside.
You know how I love to say ‘you can see our house from here’ – well, for three days I could say it every time we crossed the bridge.
We walked the old city walls for the views and to work off some of the excess eating (and drinking)
Quite a few scenes of ‘Game of Thrones’ were filmed here and (spoiler alert) one of the ice cream parlours make an ice cream in the shape of Jamie Lannister’s severed hand.
Here he is on the steps of the cathedral – I had a very nice Mojito at a café just at the foot of these steps although the people milling about on the steps looked a bit different when I was there.
I hope the cast didn’t need to use the loo too often though as this one is very high up on the old city wall and just empties directly on to the street below
So, that’s the holiday snaps over with – sorry about that but it’s nice for me to have a record of our visit and my blog’s the best place for me to put it. Back to normal i.e. sewing, crochet, knitting, patchwork, dogs and cats, next time.
On a side note, as it was my holiday reading so therefore a little bit pertinent, I read ‘Daughters of the Dragon‘ by William Andrews. Not your usual escapist holiday read but a very good fictional account (though based on historical facts) of the so called ‘comfort women’ taken from Korea as young as thirteen and used as sex slaves by the Japanese army in World War II. Tortured and abused some of the survivors – women now in their seventies and eighties – are still asking for acknowledgement and some sort of repentance from the Japanese government who were aware of the provision of these ‘comfort stations’. Shocking but also an interesting look into Korean history, the author was inspired to write the story by his Korean daughter and asks that readers spread the word by leaving reviews and mentioning it on social media in order to increase the awareness of the fate of these, often forgotten, women. I’m happy to oblige.
I haven’t blogged for a while not because I haven’t had anything to say exactly but, in the end, there was too much to say and I couldn’t filter it down into a blog post and also I haven’t had the time.
So, in a nutshell (a big nutshell – something like a coconut)
We went across the border into Andorra for a free show by the Cirque du Soleil. The heavens opened, a storm raged, we bought plastic ponchos and the rain stopped 5 minutes before the show started. The show was magnificent and we were damp but happy. The story behind the show was supposed to be something about the history of Andorra but, as with all the Cirque du Soleil shows, I don’t actually know what was supposed to be going on. I only know that I am in constant amazement at what the human body is capable of if possessed of bendy limbs, muscles like steel, a body weight no heavier than a gnat and an apparent fearlessness of small spaces/high places/empty air between waiting arms.
Having recently had a travelling circus in this part of France boasting tigers, a lion and ‘the largest hippopotamus in Europe’ – and this in a ‘civilized country’ – I wonder why anybody would need to gawp at caged wild animals exhibiting unnatural behaviour when they can see fully consenting human beings in beautiful costumes doing amazing things with their super fit bodies. That sounds wrong somehow but you get my drift.
Being a tax free independent principality, it is the done thing in Andorra to go and marvel at the enormous bottles of alcohol for sale at silly prices – or is that just us?
The next morning we drove down into Spain, forgetting that the first Saturday in August is the day that all of France decides is the start of their annual holidays, jump in their cars and pack the roads – this despite the fact that the kids have been on school holiday since the end of June. We queued for an hour to pay for the privilege of using a toll road as did the rest of France apparently.
When we finally arrived at our destination – a port called Cadaqués – it was beautiful and we pondered buying something there for holidays, rental and eventual retirement.
Then we looked in a couple of Estate Agents’ windows, saw the prices and changed our minds not having upwards of two or three million euros to play with just at the moment.
Anyway, what they did have in Cadaques, apart from beautiful scenery, charming back streets and good restaurants, was their very own cat rescue called ‘Cats de Cadaqués’. This is an association that raises funds to feed and, most importantly, sterilize the local cat population. A lot of the shops and restaurants are supportive, display posters and sell cat themed items.
This restaurant has embraced the theme in a very picturesque manner.
Despite being a ‘dog person’ I do also have a soft spot for cats (I have 4) and agreed to be ‘admin’ on a new Facebook page set up by the feline equivalent of Dog Rescue Carcassonne which I sometimes blog about. I don’t really ‘do’ Facebook at the best of times – I usually have problems just uploading photos – and now I am suddenly faced with the myriad opportunities presented behind the scenes when you are an ‘admin’. I’m still working it out. There are other ‘admins’ so I leave most of the dealings on FB to them and I am writing ‘the blog’. If you want to see how I am now the crazy cat lady as well as a dog botherer, you can see my new blog here. Some comments, likes and followers would be nice as I’m finding it hard to get it off the ground.
On the creative front, things have come to a shuddering halt because it was time to clear out my workroom again and, despite many black sacks and boxes of items being removed and deposited at the charity shop, the Dog & Cat Shelter’s vide grenier (boot/yard sale) stash or the bins, there still doesn’t seem to be any way for me to get to my sewing machine very easily. No before and after pics of that, I promise, because even when I’ve finished it will not look like a magazine photo shoot workshop and, if it did, I’d never be able to do any work in it for fear of messing it up.
Also, I’ve lost my sewing mojo at the moment having made ‘the dress that nearly broke the camel’s back’ which is headed for the bin and had me heading off to Zara and other RTW outlets for a couple of items for my holiday wardrobe. However, I might blog about that when I have more time so, for now, I’m saying ‘tchau’ which is how you say goodbye in Portugal apparently and that’s where I’m heading for some time away from the computer, the phone, the messy workroom and the dogs and cats and chickens.