Saturday, April 23, 2016

A Little Andorra and Big Things to Come!

The Schengen Agreement fucked me up.
Let me explain. Schengen is an agreement between 15 EU countries, including Iceland, that allows a borderless area. That means you can travel from Spain to France, or Germany to Italy etc. without being stopped at the border and proffering your passport for review. Which sounds great.
As part of the agreement, travelers within this area are allowed to stay for a total of 90 days within a six month period. And that fucked me up.
I had planned on spending about 4 months wandering about Europe and two weeks in Iceland. Schengen says no...
Luckily, when I was in Dat├ža Turkey my housemate informed me of the border agreement and I scrambled to alter my plan.
Part of that scrambling meant hopping out of Schengen areas for a time and then back in. Which is how I came to spend such a long and wonderful time in Morocco.
And why I am now in Andorra for a week, as, though they are in the EU, they are not a part of the Schengen Agreement.
Andorra is a tiny (you can drive from one side of the country to the other in about an hour) principality nestled in the Pyrenees Mountains along the Spanish-French border.
The language is Catalan as is the cuisine. (I've been cooking simply for myself here at the hostel to save some $$, so I haven't partaken of their meat heavy dishes.) Sales tax is very low so many consumers shop for designer clothes, alcohol, tobacco, charcuterie, cheese, gourmet chocolate and tinned seafood, some making monthly trips to stock up.
Ski resorts line the valley here, much like those along the I70 corridor of Colorado, very familiar.
Ski season has finished and mountain bike season isn't for another month, so it's quiet and peaceful. The weather has been sunny, rainy and even snowy so I was only able to get in one trail run. But it was truly fantastic.
That has been much needed as I've been starting to plan and map out my next big adventure/project for after my RTW Journey is over.
I've decided to write a cookbook about my travels! How's that for Big Things?
I'm off to Paris tomorrow to spend a few days in food Mecca.