After the beautiful two vacations with family in Germany and Italy, I bought a ticket to hang out in France, with someone I met in the Philippines.
I flew from Milan (saying goodbye to Italy for the 3rd time) to Barcelona for about 12 hours before boarding a bus to Toulouse, France. I was to start a new adventure, working at a castle in France. I will tell you that I did minimal research on this one.
My friend, Gerry, is a very organized dude and I really let him take the lead and put trust in him that we were going to a good place! it was super nice to be able to relax a little bit and not have to be thinking of all of the individual details of getting from point A to B but also in general just not knowing what to expect or what I was going to be doing was very refreshing.
The whole bus ride there I remember we couldn't stop yawning, back and forth we yawned maybe 100 times. My body always refuses to wake up if I'm going on any mode of transportation. After 4? hours, and an hour train we made it to a small village where we were picked up by a vibrant, white haired, woman. She quickly greeted us and we were on our way. It's always confusing for the first few minutes of being welcomed into someone's life, especially because A. they are strangers but B. you will be living with them for the next x amount of time so it's important to make good impressions and really apply yourself etc. It's always the same get to know you questions, I think I have my spiel rehearsed so well now, I could just say it by heart.
They were mostly speaking Catalan and French, and I was actually on a work meeting, until I lost signal winding through the mountains and valleys on the way to our Chateau. MAN OH MAN WAS IT BEAUTIFUL. When we first got there, it was so relaxed, we were offered drinks and we sat and chatted. Shortly thereafter, everyone went about their business and we were shown to our room in the attic of the castle. It was renovated and had 6 beds, a full bathroom and a couch in the middle for hanging out. A proper retreat.
Throughout the month we had good and bad days, mostly good though and always relaxed. We would help clean rooms in the mornings, drive to villages in the afternoons and go to concerts in the evenings. We laughed a lot, we heard so many stories about workawayers past, history of Catalonia, and of life.
I really loved seeing the sunflowers anytime we would drive anywhere, the countryside was FULL of HUGE fields of these gorgeous yellow flowers, always smiling back at me while I would contemplate life in long, cramped car rides to Carcassonne and the surrounding areas.
On the way back to Barcelona, I wanted to take a little detour, it seemed boring to me to just get a bus directly back, especially when we hadn't had much time to explore anywhere! When I was looking at the map, and what was around us, I found a tiny little place named "Andorra". I had never heard of this country before, but apparently it is one! It was super tiny and only 2/3 hours away so I asked Gery and we decided it would be easiest to HITCHHIKE there! Yes, I know, for an American that word holds a lot of anxiety but for Europeans its a totally normal and safe way to get around.
We were picked up initially by a Dutch couple on vacation, unfortunately they thought we were going the same way as them, but we weren't so they were only able to take us a few kilometers. After, we were picked up by a French family in their campervan! They had two little girls and we rode with them for about 30 minutes, passing over the border and they dropped us off there!
We spent 2 days in Andorra, and both were very eventful. We did CAMP, which was super fun and camping in Europe is very bougie. They had a supermarket, restaurant, bathrooms, showers, clean water, etc. SO NICE. We also did an incredible escape room called "Claustrophobia" which blew my mind and we BEAT it so that was fun too!
Andorra was having a "Festa Major" which also meant they had free concerts, carnivals and street stands while we were there along with a ceremony for the city, free sangria and traditional dancing!
It was such a treat to check the 224th country off my list, even if it is a tiny one I didn't even know existed before!
Thanks so much for reading, as always...