With last night’s pricey shellfish still bravely in my stomach and the memory of the tiniest of hotel rooms (and beds) etched in my brain forever we went back tot the Toulouse starting location. We found a hillbilly carnival. Obnoxious, but fun. French police was called to the scene, but promptly left.
Day 5: Toulouse - Arinsal (Andorra)
After witnessing the joyous atmosphere for a while, with carbagerun SUVs very boldy driving over the inhumanly high barrier you can see in the Corky picture above while blaring loud horrible music, we left. The route would lead us through the Pyrenees mountain range to Spain and eventually to the tiny yet sovereign microstate Andorra (country population: 85k).
After another highway stint in which we saw the Pyrenees closing in fast we were luckily directed towards some more scenic B roads.
There’s no Carbagerun without assignments. This fifth day was the first day we actually felt scoring some points was in order. One of the assignments featured a picture similar to the one on the left. “Find this statue, and photograph it with one of your team mates next to it.” No extra information provided. We could do that. Asking people in Toulouse if they recognized the statue wasn’t fruitful though. Like us they were utterly oblivious to where it came from. This gave us the confidence the answer would be (close to) Spain or Andorra.
Second assignment: count the number of orange Carbagerun stickers you see on route. We could do that too.
About ten minutes after the panorama picture above the route took us right through a neat little village called Aspet (1k people). The weather was nice and there were sidewalk cafes. We decided to stop. We didn’t take any pictures there for some reason, but google is always helpful.
(notice the Fiat Multipla visible in Google Streetview)
We soon found out the people in Aspet were quite friendly. The second person asked about the weird golden witch statue appeared to be the husband of the mayor, and while he didn’t have a clue about the content of the picture he did have a network. He took us on a tour through town finding people he thought might haven an anwer. We ended up in the “Office de Tourisme du Canton d’Aspet”, so the tourism office. The friendly lady at the desk called around. After a while we came to the conclusion it was Spanish, possibly lottery related (?) and was likely located in one of three towns we were going to pass through anyway.
After a drink in a sidewalk cafe while watching the many carbagerun cars drive by and observing the combination of smiles and amazement on the faces of the locals we continued on as well.
Right after Aspet we were in the Pyrenees. Via Boutx, Saint-Beát and Saint-Mamet we reached the Spanish border.
Soon after we were in the city of Vielha. It was a very touristy ski resort. This was the first of three places on our list where the golden witch statue might be located, according to the tourism office lady in Aspet. We asked around, and sure enough, someone recognized the statue. It was supposed to be located in Sort, the third town on our list.
From Vielha via Baqueira (second on our list) we went to Sort. A beautiful trip, especially if we hadn’t been caught behind slow moving carbagerun Volvos all the time.
In the latter picture we had been overtaking a large group of slower carbagerunners and were now moving right (notice the sign). Clearly visible is the Mazda 323F. It’s a vehicle we frequently saw, but of which I’ve never taken a proper photograph. Google to the rescue.
While driving into Sort we quickly parked our car to ask around. We walked into a shop called Nyam! (not cat related), and we immidiatedly noticed both golden witches and carbagerunners. We lucked right into the right location. The owner took a group of us to the (closed) shop next door. Google tells me it’s a lottery administration office. La Bruixa d’Or it’s called. Had we used a translator to translate golden witch to Spanish this would’ve been the answer we would’ve gotten, including an address... Easier than expected, but we both didn’t have internet on our phones (abroad), and we never took the time to visit a wifi hotspot.
Being slightly paranoid about privacy I’m keeping my codriver plus golden witch picture off the internet. The assignment picture was of a full size statue with a seat next to it, for photo opportunities.
The rest of the Spanish leg of today’s trip was rather scenic.
It didn’t take that long for us to reach the Andorran border. This was my first time in Andorra, or any microstate (other than Luxembourg) for that matter.
We found out that Andorra just loves roundabout and, to me, weird license plates. Andorra la Vella, the capital of Andorra, turned out to be a traffic infarct sadly.
Andorra is tiny, so reaching Andorra also means we reached the final finish line relatively quickly.
On the finish location, seen in the panorama pictures above, beers and burgers could be had. We drove our car to the hotel first and walked the 15 minutes back to the lot to socialize a little and await the award ceremony. Although the average carbagerunner seemed to be male and somewhat of a hillbilly (the Netherlands doesn’t have hills, but you know what I mean) there did appear to be a nice bit of diversity going on there. We got talking with a father and son (the latter about 4o years old) who didn’t quite fit the bill.
I forgot who got the most points, but I do remember number two (see my final chapter) and the team that won the originality contest.
This was the end of the road for the Carbagerun 2016, winter edition. However, I still was a thousand miles from home, literally.
(picture time stamps as provided by the camera. I’m unsure about the accuracy. It was probably still featuring summer time, so it’ll be 1 hour off)