El Pas de la Casa

14th April 2011 13:30ish

Altitude: 2408m
Irony value: 1/5
Overall Verdict: Pass

There aren’t many passes higher than El Pas de la Casa on Europe’s road network. There are a few in the Alps that exceed 2700m, but you’d need to make a special detour to get to them. El Pas de la Casa, on the other hand, was – until the opening of the Envalira Tunnel – the only way into Andorra from the North so taking this route feels less contrived, and as the primary route into Andorra from France, the road is wide and well-maintained.

There is also a ski resort of the same name, and even during Europe’s hottest April on record and despite air temperatures over 15 degrees centigrade, there was enough snow for a few detirmined global-warming deniers to slide about on.

Port d'Envalira
2408m above sea level at Port d’Envalira

After landing at Toulouse and picking up the car, Andorra was on the way to Barcelona, but was also part of my inner train-spotter’s need to visit as many countries as possible. We scheduled a one-night stop in the Prinicipality, with time for shopping, sight-seeing and a go on the famous Tobotronc at Naturlandia, but what we got was a medical emergency when son #2 cut a six-stitch, bone-deep gash above his eye in a bed-bouncing accident.

After an ambulance trip from the hotel to Andorra’s only hospital, and, in hindsight, a relatively swift process of local anaesthetic and suture, we were back on holiday and in an upgraded room with no headboards on the beds. 

I have the Spanish (Catalan?) report of what they gave him to calm him down enough to give him treatment, and I need to get me some, because despite having a head-wound that revealed a bit of his skull and a screaming bad mood to match, within 10 minutes of being given this stuff (nasally!) he was giggling and saying ‘racing car’ over and over.

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