Day 129 – Saldes to Toulouse

A spectacular drive along lonely mountain roads, over high passes and through tax free shopping centres.

We started our journey on what must be some of the Pyrenees quietest roads, winding our way up hairpin bends to the col and then back down again. However, there’s no way into Andorra other than main roads, so we were soon speeding our way out of the EU. There were cliff edges, but we avoided them, slowing only for the manned customs point between Spain and Andorra. And then we were into the mountain landscape of tax free shopping centres. Andorra is not a place we will be returning to anytime soon. We stopped three times, once for the wallet, once for the belly and once for the soul.

The first stop was for fuel, we simply could not resist topping up at 95 cents per litre. We asked for the toilets and the surly attendant directed us around the back. After finding the toilet we had to return to Ms Surly to ask for the key!

The second stop was for pizza. Andorra might be a tax free haven, but pizzas in Andorra certainly are not tax free prices. We ate cheaper pizzas in Norway.

Bellies filled we headed for France. We had a decision to make: toll tunnel or pass. We decided on the pass. Snow was already lying in the valley, and as we climbed this became thicker and the air cooler. At 2400 metres it was minus 3 and the snow piled high either side of the road. We’d been up to snow before, in Norway, but not like this. Norway’s snow was granular, this was deep, fresh powder. We stopped at the col and played. Meg bounding about through the drifts and the boys lobbing snow balls at one another. We then walked towards a minor summit. We’d not gone far when Ben complained of cold wet hands. He and Clare returned to the van. Jack and I went on, Jack on my shoulders. We didn’t get much further. After ploughing my way up to my waist through a drift we turned back, but not without pausing and enjoying the view, Jack still clutching his lolly, a tax free gift from the pizza restaurant.

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The French border crossing, back into the EU was unmanned. Night fell and we had the first bit of driving in the dark of our entire trip so far. We arrived late at our campsite in Toulouse.

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