Plan was to wake up early in order to have a nice casual drive to Barcelona. However, jetlag was starting to catch up to me, and I just couldn’t do it. Finally made it up around 9am, and headed down to the hotel restaurant for a quick breakfast. Hard boiled eggs, baguettes with Nutella, and some good strong coffee. What’s not to love? The very nice dining room of the Casa Canut:
After breakfast, I wanted to mail a few postcards, so wandered the town trying to find the local post office to mail them. I’d purchased postcards and stamps the night before and wrote the out over breakfast. The walk was a nice wake-up, and I got another good view of the ferris wheel in daylight:
Then, it was time to drive. Checked out of the hotel around 10:30, and the doorman brought Pépé the Smart Car around for me. First stop was Llívia, a small Spanish enclave completely surrounded by France. The route highlighted on the map below is the route I took into Andorra from Spain. I was planning to go out the east side on the yellow road you see, and head down the E9 highway to Llívia. This border of Andorra was supposed to be much, much more mountainous, and a very scenic drive.
Total travel time was forecast at one hour and 13 minutes, so I was expecting 1:30 to 2 hours with stops along the way for photos:
Leaving Andorra la Vella, some amazing views:
After about 45 minutes, I got to the highest point of the drive, at around 2,700 meters or 8,000 feet above sea level:
Coming down the mountain out of Andorra, stopped to take some pictures of the ski slopes:
Switchbacks coming down the mountain. Pépé managed very well after I learnt how to use my gears:
I was determined to get an exit stamp from Andorra, but…never saw the border! Benvenue à France!
Drove maybe 20 minutes in France, and had little trouble locating the turnoff to Llívia. I’d read it wasn’t marked, primarily because the French don’t want you to find it! Note the yellow sign…I think this means “international? I’m not familiar with my international signs:
Welcome (back) to Spain…my third country of the day at around noon. (Started in Andorra, into France, back into the Llívia enclave in Spain):
Parked Pépé and went for a bit of a walk around Llívia. All the signs, again, were in Catalan:
Stopped at a café for a quick espresso. Which turned into an espresso and a beer, because I had to have the local Llívia brew!
Wandering the small streets back to Pépé:
Note the Llívia number plate on this car:
The Hotel Llívia, across the street from where I parked:
Plan was to head back (briefly) into France, maybe grab another coffee, and fortify myself for the drive back to Barcelona. It was quite a hike. So, back into France (border crossing #3 for the day, country#4) for a coffee in Bourg-Madame:
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anywhere interesting looking for a coffee, so just snapped a few shots of the town hall, and continued on my way to Barcelona:
Back into Spain, and the scenery was absolutely gorgeous:
About 20 minutes into the drive, I had a choice to make. Take the toll tunnel which was like 12 euros, or take the mountain road which was like 30+ minutes longer. Since I’d slept in, I was running quite low on time, so opted for the tunnel clear through the mountain. It was several kilometers long, and a pretty cool experience.
The rest of the way to Barcelona, it was a pretty easy highway drive. There were three or four toll plazas, but you just insert your chipped credit card, it opens the gate, and you’re on your way. Pretty efficient. The ranged from just over a euro to three euro or so…not bad. About 30 km outside of Barcelona I stopped to fuel up Pépé and fortify myself with a few cans of Red Bull. I was verging on exhaustion at this point. Fortunately, it was a gorgeous day for driving, which made it much easier.
All told, I drove approximately 500km in about 28 hours, and consumed only 23 litres of fuel costing a total of 39 euro. Not a bad deal at all! Little Pépé was rather fuel efficient! Turned in the car at Barcelona airport (after getting lost for about 20 minutes in downtown Barcelona) and the agents went over it with a fine-tooth comb looking for any sign of possible damage. Eventually the gave up, and I was on my way. Five country stops in a day wasn’t enough…it was time to fly back to France!