January 2006 Andorra and Gibraltar

Last of the leaves falling on the Canal du Midi, Carcassonne town centre.

Weather is very changeable, we had some wonderful sunny days, but cold nights. Not sure if we feel colder due to the warmer climate, or if it is cold, my new winter coat keeps me snug and I am grateful for this purchase, much needed. Temperature is around 10 degree's different to England at times, so I am glad we are here. Louise has not experienced the sunny south of France that's for sure. We enjoyed meeting and socializing with our neighbours in the marina and enjoyed many nights on board different boats, hearing lots of stories from around the world. We also enjoyed entertaining too. It has been a busy month, much coming & going aboard the Moet and much use of our little car.

Scary drive as we climbed the Pyrenees Mountains to Andorra.

We visited and stopped over night in Andorra, just over two hours drive from the boat. It's a region of narrow valleys and steep mountain peaks; the highest point is Coma Pedrosa (2,946 m/9,665 ft). The many streams meet to form the River Valira, which flows south into Spain. Andorra (in French, Andorra), officially Principality of Andorra, is situated high in the eastern Pyrenees mountains, bordered on the north and east by France, and on the south and west by Spain. Also called Valleys of Andorra, the country is one of the smallest in the world with an area of about 468 sq km (181 sq mi) and a population of 70,549 (2005 estimate). We don't Ski yet!!! We were given the bug in Wengen last year, see Jan 2005.

Ski lifts up the mountains in Andorra

We all thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Andorra and treated ourselves to a few duty free bargain's. Including snow chain's for the car, though we did not need to use them, we made it out in time before some heavy snow fall's. Our best buy was a car navigation GPS system which includes 22 countries, we have some traveling yet to do. We have called this device Fiona, she is a delight to have traveling with us, we have had much fun learning how to use. We program in where we want to go, Fiona speaks to us along the way, every instruction given clearly. Gosh we enjoy our car traveling days much more now. Directions, or maps are not one of our better skills.

Enjoyed some good walks around Carcassonne and exploring the area, when we arrived back.

Safe trip back to Canada is wished for Louise.

All too soon it was time for Louise to start packing, ready for her journey back. She looked forward to having a week in England with family & friends before her journey back to Canada. We made the most of our time, in spite of the cold weather... We checked out our car satellite navigation and enjoyed finding new places with "Fiona" (GPS). We used it to drive Louise to Nimes Airport. Our hearts were heavy, we all found saying good bye, very hard indeed. We took comfort in her returning to England first, then staying with friends when she return to Canada. Louise will be job hunting and looking for a new home, much to keep Louise busy.

Sun shine... much of it for a few days, work to be done on the Moet while good weather is here.

John and I engrossed our selves into working on the Moet. Missing Louise already. Many job's on the Moet had been left undone over the months, time to make a start. Especially now the sun came out. It was snowing in Leeds this week. We put some good music on and painted away in the sunshine. John also re-grouted the whole bathroom. We replaced the wood in our side hatch doors, and I refurnished the doors. We completed numerous job's large and small in only a few days. It felt good to have made a start on our job's, preparing for the coming season. We also enjoyed some space for ourselves.

Friends Arrival... house hunting in France, helped cheer us up.

Anthony & Denis drove to Carcassonne from Leeds, we enjoyed a fun weekend together. Wonderful having time to catch up with each other. They have been looking for a holiday property in France, almost found the perfect house, but problems with access arose, they had no option but to pull out. So their search continues on, not too fond of the properties around this area. We all enjoyed a drive to a village called Foix, up in the mountains, much for them to see and do during their stay in France... they set aside three weeks to explore France by car, driving back along the west coast of France. Anyone who knows of a nice stone hideaway cottage, with a nice garden & pool get in touch with us and we will pass on details.

White Rose Pub, Alicante, Spain... After hours lock In!!!

Weather not as warm as we had hoped in Carcassonne. John and I decided to drive to Spain for the sunshine. We arranged to meet friends Mick & Pam for a weekend in their apartment in Gran Alicante... We had two late night celebration's up till 4am... wonderful days & nights. Their friends Dawn & Clive's, pub "White Rose" was re-opening. We also had an early celebration for Mick's 50th birthday, tipsy start to the day! We also enjoyed a day out in Santa Pola, wandering around the huge market. All too soon it was time to drive them to the airport. It was now time for us to plan the rest of our time in Spain.

We enjoyed the wonderful drive along the coast, the motorways are spectacular in themselves, through the mountain chain which, in parts reaches down to the coast forming spectacular cliffs, driving also over huge viaducts. We stayed over night in a good hotel in Almeria, but the wind was so biting, we did not venture too far. This privileged coast consists of large beaches, coves half hidden among the cliffs, sport harbours, and lots of fishing grounds. We had good weather for the journey. We headed for Marbella with the help of GPS... what a pleasure.

Exploring Marbella and the coast line, much walking along the golden mile during our stay.

Marbella retains its reputation as the ritziest resort of the Costa del Sol. Some very glamorous people (beautiful - or merely rich) flock here for its many country clubs, golf courses, luxury hotels, spa breaks and smart boutiques. The super-wealthy colonise in exclusive satellite resort known as Puerto Banús to the west of town, where Hollywood-style mansions and cocktail bars cluster. John and I enjoyed a spa day, near the apartment one rainy day, trying many different water treatments. Glad to say we floated back, sheer bliss.

Our view during our stay. Mountains around the back.

We stayed for a week in friends Moira & Peter's apartment as seen above, with stunning views of the Puerto Deportivo, we enjoyed the lapping of the waves as our music, sunrise & lots of sunsets too.

Though we experienced much rain during our stay here... rain was a disappointment, we wanted to get out and about more, thankfully it did not rain for all of our stay in Spain. We took in the wonderful fresh sea air and mingled with the local's.

Shopping here was a delight, all the winter sales now in full swing. Sadly we missed the market, they were rained off. Many golf courses also closed due to rain, which is usually scant around this area of Costa del sol. We were in the right placed. Carcassonne had plenty of snow, (for a day) which closed down the airport, also the train station. Worse weather since 1984... It brought power lines down, and trees too. We were told it was very cold.

Andalusian Artwork a pleasure to walk on, even in the rain we strolled in the comfortable climate.

Beach walks...BBQ's fresh fish... not too sure what this fish was though!

We sampled many wonderful restaurants, tapas bars, what a pleasure to wander take in the sea air and sunshine hours, enjoyed chatting to holiday makers and English people who now live here, gathering all our research for the future, you never know!

Sightseeing also revolve's around people-watching or celebrity-spotting, the attractions of the old town are obvious enough: it is a wonderful maze of beautifully kept historical houses, alleyways and secluded patios in the finest of Andalusian styles, pretty white houses, fragrant orange trees, and a Moorish castle. Shame we could not spend more time here to visit surrounding the area's.

Crossed the boarder into Gibraltar for a few days to learn more about this British Rock...

We were amazed at the amount of building sites in Spain... also the plastic, miles and miles of plastic sheeting covering much of the landscape, growing much under cover. We looked at property for sale and continued hunting in lots of little villages, as well as Marbella. We were glad the weather changed as we arrived in Gibraltar. We booked a tour of the Rock, looking forward to exploring the history, a dream of John's from school days. We almost touched Africa, but decided this is as far as we go on this trip. We booked into a hotel for two nights more next month.