Andorra was the haven of my desires. If you haven’t heard of this country, it’s on the border between France and Spain in the Pyrenees mountains, and is only 460km square; half of which is skiable terrain. The mountains rise up out of the flat and somewhat barren Spanish countryside into incredible rocky peaks. It had snowed over a foot in the first 12 hours we were there and this made me very excited. Soldeu is the town we stayed in, and was harder to find than we’d imagine, but not because it was so remote.
We’d booked a bus from Barcelona to Soldeu, which offers a door-to-door service (making it easy for us lingual retards). We sat on the bus minding our own business for the four hours as people slowly started to disembark. We passed many towns in Andorra, none of which we knew of, and none of which sounded familiar to what I’d booked. Eventually we reach the end of the line. The last two people have got off the bus, and Jamie and I are sitting there staring at each other thinking “where the $#@@ are we”?! The bus driver speaks no English, and when we get off the bus he starts ranting on to us in Spanish and pointing back at the bus. Luckily a helpful hypnotist who happened to be in the area understood what was happening and informed us that the driver had no idea where our hotel was, so he was going to drop us off last after asking for directions. Phew. So we weren’t lost in the middle of the alps…
Anyway the town was fantastic and our accommodation was luxury compared to what we’ve been enduring. We even had comical neighbors with names like Casanova and Penas. In the mornings we could stick our head out of the roof, four floors up, and check the resort conditions for the day before gearing up and heading out! On the first day we’d been lucky enough to have a huge snowfall, and score fresh powder and have endless awesome tree runs all day. Heaven!!
Funnest thing of the week – Jamie, who is a liability on a snowboard. After countless times seeing him hurtle magically over the top of rocks unharmed, or somehow managing to slingshot himself headfirst in between two very narrow tree trunks, I was exhausted. I was having numerous mini-heart attacks per day fearing for his limbs and life. Lunchtime beers eased the stress and aided the crazy fun!
The snow conditions were unfaultable and the resort was HUGE. With 210kn of skiable terrain it is needless to say that we got lost on numerous occasions – the one of the few times that we knew where we were, we were locked in the Gondola which broke on us and sent us on two round trips before the lifties realized there was two confused foreigners doing circuits.
The kindness of people was a blessing in this little country. It was the sort of small-town neighborly attitude that you get in NZ. One day whilst hungover and somewhat slow, we were making our way to the ski resort around midday. Two kind people chased us towards the ticket booth and proceeded to explain to us via charades that they were giving us their lift passes cause they were going home. STOKED! This saved us 40 euro which we were lacking (and by we, I just mean me :p)
Besides this, the highlight of the week was the fact that the resort was DEAD. No people to be seen. A resort the size of the huge North American Masterpieces that people travel from the ends of the earth for, and no customers. I’m not sure how they stay economically sustainable, but it worked for us. No ques, no people to avoid, just big beautiful openness!