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J84 - Friday, January 8: Ponts – Andorra (Border)

76.26km  10H48’
Altitude 860m
Andorra, here we are.  Adeus España
Tonight it snowed in the mountains; luckily when we leave the sky is overcast but no snow is falling and the road has been ploughed and salted.
However, the wind is strong  and even the drivers feel sorry for Serge, who hangs onto the railing of a bridge, has to bend double to move forward and is in danger of going over or being sucked in by  a truck.  A car stops and asks Serge if wants a lift but Serge politely declines the offer.  If the driver had been a pretty girl he might have changed his mind but that we will never know because the kind driver had a beard!
At Km 31, there are 3 successive tunnels which are off limits to pedestrians.  Serge takes a small road to the right.  A gentle slope goes along the Rio Segre (many of you will remember the anagram “Le Roi Serge”), who seems to be suffering this morning after the rain, the wind and the snow we have had for the past few days.
At Km 65 we skirt La Seu d’Urgell.  We will be leaving Catalonia and the Province of Lleida in a few kilometers.  Catalonian flags have been everywhere since we entered the Autonomous Community.  Catalan is spoken here, rather than Spanish, and in the schools classes are taught in Catalan. I must say it is a foreign language for me, even if some Spanish words occasionally creep into conversations, so I don’t understand anything.  Catalan is also the official language of Andorra.
The Principality of Andorra is governed by a system started in the 13th century.  The sovereignty of Andorra is shared between the President of the French Republic and the Bishop of Urgell, Catalonia, Spain.  One of the smallest countries in the world, Andorra, is not part of the European Union.  Serge will cross the Principality and should leave it at the beginning of tomorrow afternoon, after 45 Km.
This stage is not an easy one and this evening Serge is exhausted. “What a day!” he exclaimed when he finished.  “The last 10 kilometers were Hell” (translated this means: gusts of wind ¾ head on frightened me and there was hellish traffic).
You can read about Andorra on the web
Tomorrow : Andorre la Vielle, L’Hospitalet near Andorra (France), Ax les thermes  

Town : Andorre (Frontière)

GPS : N42.43607° W001.47395°