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Monday, November 6, 2017

391: From Z to A

I've spent much of my life doing things differently from other people.My latest jaunt was no exception. Instead of A to Z, I decided on Z to A. Last Thursday I travelled to Zaragoza, in the Aragon region of Spain, and on Saturday I went from there to Andorra, the tiny principality in the Pyrenees between France and Spain. Don't ask me to decide which I liked best - I liked them both, for different reasons. The journey from Barcelona to Zaragoza passed without incident, whizzing through the Spanish countryside at 300 kph on one of their AVE high-speed trains. A different, more undulating, landscape than on my usual Barcelona to Salou run alongside the Mediterranean. 



A very nice hotel in Zaragoza. It was called hotel Goya and indeed there are references everywhere in the city to the famous artist. Franciso Goya (1746-1828)
In the evening what better to do than enjoy some tapas sitting outside in the Plaza d'Espana. It was my first (and probably my last) time of eating fried green peppers and I found it to be a bit like Russian roulette. You either got a hot and spicy one to make the taste buds tingle or a non-fiery version that simply made you wonder what you were eating.
On Friday morning I enjoyed a wander around the Goya museum. I finally found a benefit of being of such mature years - old buggers like me are allowed in free. The lady in charge of issuing tickets asked to see my passport but when I said it was in the hotel room she asked for the year of my birth. Thankfully I can still remember such trivia. Anyway, the museum was interesting and it included an audio-visual presentation which I found so interesting I watched it run through twice. In the afternoon I bought a couple of tram tickets and watched the city unfolding through the window of the tram. On Friday evening I couldn't make up my mind where to eat. By the time I finally found somewhere I was ready for a G&T. It was, however, a surprise to get it in a bath-sized glass. Needless to say I managed OK.
The  very next day I travelled from Zaragoza to Andorra. This time not without incident. I left Zaragoza on the 7.42 express to Lleida, missing the hotel breakfast in the process (in Spain, almost without exception, hotel breakfasts start at 8.00 on the weekend. For a lark like me that's almost lunchtime).  Arriving at Lleida I started asking people where I could catch the bus to Andorra. It seemed that the more people I asked the more answers I got. I was dashing hither and thither as according to Google maps, there were only a few minutes until the bus was due to depart. Finally I found somebody who knew the correct answer and he pointed out a tiny label stuck on a bus stop almost right next to the station. The label said the bus left at 10.15 but didn't say which days of the week. Would it run on a Saturday or not. Time then to go back to the station buffet, to relax, and to get outside a bacon butty. Shortly before the appointed hour a mercedes van appeared and whisked us off to Andorra. There was a Spanish woman sitting behind me and she chatted with the driver almost non-stop. My somewhat limited experience of Spanish people is that they can certainly talk. 
In Andorra, on Saturday afternoon and evening, it was tipping it down with rain. Hardly surprising since it is hemmed in by mountains. Sunday was much nicer and the sun was shining. They did say they were expecting snow on Sunday evening but by then I was on the way home. Andorra reminded me of Ambleside in the Lake District. Surrounded by beautiful scenery but thousands of tourists milling about from shop to shop. 
I've waffled enough. Let some pictures do the talking.

Zaragoza






It doesn't look so big in the photo but I thought he was going to pour the whole bottle of gin in!

 Andorra in the rain



Andorra in the dry




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