Ascent: 900 metres (Cum: 31200 metres)
Time taken: 8.8 hrs including 2.5 hrs stops (Cum: 230.0 hrs including 46.5 hrs stops)
Weather: hot and sunny, but clouding over at 4 pm, with a few spots of rain that came to nothing. Thunder and lightning with rain later.
A day spent mainly on pleasant forest paths, if a little steep (even thrutchy) at times.
On another bright, clear, hot morning I soon decided that bandaging the feet would be a good idea. It was, the bandages worked.
A rocky path led past Rifugi de Comapedrosa and down to Arinsal. There were many day walkers coming the other way, most of whom asked me how long it would take them to get to the Refuge.
A trudge through the streets and building sites of Arinsal was followed by a steep climb along the Cami del Coll de les Cases path. There were lots of wild strawberries. I hadn't seen those for a while. Also lots of wood ants intent on exploring stationary objects. So it was best to keep moving. The broad col at 1958 metres, with lots of fading St John's Wort was a pleasant enough spot to pause for a while.
There weren't too many views. That's a bit of a problem in a pine forest.
The descent to Arans was ... steep.
Arans turns out to be a small village on the main road. I chose the Font d'Arans restaurant for lunch because it was clear that it had wifi and I'd been incommunicado since yesterday morning. (More phone problems - I can now phone home but I'm unable to get to the EE website to buy any megabyte usage. So I'm having to rely on wifi, which is also refusing to connect where I am now.)
"We aren't open until 1 pm" said the elderly lady. I retreated for a few minutes of essential faffing and went back in.
" A coke please?"
"You'll find it cheaper from the machine outside" she retorted. The machine might have looked broken but it produced a cold can of coke for a euro.
Menu of the day (€10) comprised a huge mixed salad, a Sunday dinner sort of chicken dish, and a bowl of lemon sorbet. It was excellent. The proprietor, Nicole, talked all the way through it. She and her husband had lived in Chicago for twenty years. Of French origin they had then moved to Andorra. They now want to retire, so anyone interested in taking on a restaurant for forty covers, with a two bedroomed flat and two more bedrooms for staff should check that they have €50000, then contact Nicole via www.monvirtual.com/fontdarans/
I showed Nicole the blog entry that I'd been compiling as we chatted.
"You could make a book out of that" she observed.
Not this time, Nicole.
It was 2.30 by the time my coffee cup was empty and I'd found time to post yesterday's diary entry. So getting to Encamp looked a little optimistic. Pleasant paths through more pine forest drew me towards Ordino, to where I descended after it suddenly clouded over and I felt a few drops of rain.
The only person I saw was a lady dragging herself very slowly up the hill above Ordino. She looked exhausted.
There were many side paths. I'm sure GR11 chooses just one of many possible woodland routes hereabouts.
Two horses, and later a horse and a donkey, were lovingly swishing their tails in each other's eyes in a futile effort at fly control. Shouldn't they be offered fly nets?
I was knocking on the door of Hotel Coma by 5 o'clock and I was sitting on my balcony consuming the contents of my room's mini bar shortly afterwards. This time there was plenty of soap, and a lot of dirt was extracted from my clothing.
The evening was spent at Casa Leon with beer and pizza and the excellent company of Tony and Evie, two of very few English people I've chatted to since leaving Irun, apart from during the Collett's interlude in Panticosa. Originally from the Midlands, they spent many years in Bermuda before retiring to the south of Spain. They love it in Ordino, where it's a bit cooler than at home. It was a pleasure to meet you, T and E, and thank you for inviting me over to join you.
A stroll back along the pleasant main street saw me resume what seems to be this entire trip's ongoing battle with the internet whilst watching an impressive electrical storm from my balcony. In fact the wifi issue may be resolved from the balcony!
Looking back up towards Portella de Baiau from below Rifugi de Comapedrosa
A rare water powered Massey Ferguson tractor in Arans
Ordino from the descent path
Horses above Ordino
Ordino's main street (in a possibly futile effort to glamourise Andorra!)
Next Day - Day 33
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