Andorra – 6. El Tarter’s youth hostel and growing little town

I stayed in this place.   It’s on the main road up from the main city.

Actually I keep forgetting that this is a small country this is on one of small handful of main highways in the country.

There aren’t many youth hostels in this little country.   So little competition would mean not so good standards right?

Actually, this youth hostel is outstanding, with a nice shared kitchen, lounge, hot tub, friendly staff and has a 9.8 rating on Hostelworld.

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There is a hot tub and rooms are small-ish but are cosy and this town is a great place for outdoorsy folk who want to explore on a budget.

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There’s a little church on the opposite side of the car park of the youth hostel.   This looks very old, maybe 400+ years old, but the locals told me its shut and opens about twice a year for weddings maybe.

Wikipedia’s Spanish site says this town only had 672 residents in 2014.   There are now 800+ and a lot of new apartments for sale and some not quite finished.

The restaurants and shops here in the town were shut and I didn’t see them open the three days I was here.   Because this resort is based on tourism and I was here in September, and there is no snow, I’m wondering if there is other sources of employment here.

https://www.mountainhosteltarter.com/en/ 

This hostel I would thoroughly recommend for a solo traveller or couple or a group travelling to Andorra.  Getting to the rest of the country is simple by bus, and you can walk about 3km up a hill to one of the ski lifts.

There is some other ski lifts closer to El Tarter, but these were out of action.   It seemed like these had been partially dismantled and being serviced out of the season.

Previous 5. What sort of mini country is this

Next 7. No snow, but mountains are still fun

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Magnificent Morocco – 5. The Riad in Tangier

Before I got there, my expectations of Morocco were to find these beautiful buildings that look lavish finished with black and white tile patterns, high ceilings and ornamental lamps.    Like some of the places I’ve seen like the Arab Christian youth hostel in Nazareth, but better as I’ve read so much about the Moroccan artisans and their incredible attention to detail.

This is Tangier looking from back to the port I came out of yesterday

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I got into a small taxi which the driver took me at full speed into the old city up a series of windy streets, I’m thinking we can’t get through that small doorway, with a lot of skill from the driver he weaves his way, finally getting through a tight bend which required a full left lock one direction, then puts the car in reverse and full right lock and then ahead. I was outside my hostel, actually the journey was very quick, I didn’t realise it was right across from the ferry terminal.   My journey is only 2 Euros.   I haven’t actually got any local money yet.

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This is the living room.   Lots of comfy seats and computer to borrow there.   Absolutely love the decorations here, the high ceilings, mosaic and tile work, coloured glass ornament lamp shades, and of course carpets.

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This place is on 3 floors, you can see all the way down through the glass floor from the top room where I was at.

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Star shaped iron work, pale pastel coloured walls, palm trees, – and – a glass floor revealing what is on the floors above and below you!!!   I think this place had been extensively renovated recently.

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This was my room for the night.   the bathroom is set inside this wardrobe-like partition.   This would be a pretty cool place for a honeymoon I think.

I was the only person in this place, I had it to myself!   Guess it was the quiet season.

I would thoroughly recommend staying at the Dar Jameel. 

I found out later that a Riad is a type of mansion that was popular with the wealthy here.   I think that’s where the city in Saudi Arabia of the same name comes from.  Its amazing this place has been built and kept in such beautiful condition.

Previous – 4. Sailing to Tangier

Next – 6. Jewish Tangier 

Return to Nazareth – 1. The Fauzi Azar

This youth hostel is literally a palace!!

It looks stunning with its high painted ceilings and huge windows, the owner of the place who is the grand-daughter of Mr Fauzi Azar himself seems proud of this place and the fact its been voted the best youth hotel in the country.   Its little wonder that earlier this year on my first trip to Nazareth that it was fully booked up and I wasn’t able to stay before.  Interesting enough I was in the lobby reading a book when one of the staff of Lonely Planet was there to speak to the manager.

I got chatting to other travelers, which as well as of course finding out the countries we were from, where else we had visited and exchanging stories and inevitably our own personal religious feelings and our perceptions of Nazareth and Israel.

The two girls from Canada and Switzerland who I first spoke to were atheists, there was another girl who was a Christian from the US and was studying Arabic and seemed really fascinated with Arab and Islamic culture and wanted to one day visit Saudi Arabia.   I know of British people get well paid tax-free jobs in Saudi, I really do wonder though, if they realise the roles of men and women in the Gulf states are not the same as they are in the west, and some appalling human rights violations, particularly if anyone wishes to exit out of Islam for whatever reason.   There was another older British couple, which one of them had a large Pagan looking symbol on a necklace, also a young American guy who was working doing web design for the Fauzi.

There was a couple from Ohio in the US who said they were ministers from something called a Universal Unitarian church, and as I wasn’t familiar with this denomination, as a group of us were in the kitchen just chatting I asked them a few things, and found that they were originally atheists, and I was more and more concerned when they said they didn’t really read the bible very often, and didn’t believe in heaven or hell or even the trinity!   Seems that the Universal Unitarianism “church” or something like that, was actually a strange of cult, trying to be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ faith combining elements of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and other religions by ‘people-pleasing’, leaving God (the one of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) completely out of the picture.

I think this only causes confusion (no not Confucianism – haha!)  amongst the other guests who didn’t believe in God giving a very mixed up picture.

I didn’t want any theological debate, but I did let it slip amongst conversation of 5 or 6 of us in the kitchen there that I thought it was worth a mention that the previous week I got back ache from lifting boxes whilst helping out at the food bank which , and was completely healed two days later which I in no doubt give credit to Jesus.  Was kind of sad that there wasn’t more Christians visiting with a curiosity for famous home city of Christ though.

view out of a bathroom window, seeing the maze of streets of Old Nazareth

The family that own that house were Arab Christians, but I didn’t spot any kind of pictures on the wall or bibles or anything.   I did spot a strange “special offer” poster in the reception which gave travelers a free extra night if they had stamps in their passport from Iran, Iraq, Syria or Lebanon!!! I really can’t get my head around why they would want to do that?!?   Normal circumstances means you can’t enter Israel after visiting one of those nations, so I am a bit baffled.   Seems more of a case of thinking it is ‘clever’ to be rebellious over Israel’s strict but sensible policies on visas and entries I think??


I noticed actually only 3/4s of the Fauzi’s beautiful house is restored, there is one corner of a wing of the house that has no roof at all and you can see the sky through the missing window.   I think maintaining old buildings like this must be quite a challenge and monumentally
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Later on in the afternoon, I met three chaps from New Zealand, an older gent in his 70s and his two sons, they were doing some travelling around Israel, so I got a chance to hook up with them and head out on the town in the evening.   This was great I could finally meet real believers who had a curiosity for the streets of Jesus’s upbringing also.   I got to learn the father was a cancer survivor and had always wanted to visit Israel and his two sons had helped him achieve visiting here, so I was really pleased for them to come to the holyland for the first time, it was nice to sit in a nearby Falafel place and have a natter.

I spent a bit of time in the mornings out in the pleasant court yard taking advantage of the unlimited coffee and tea (especially with jars of mint and anise you can add to you drinks) and doing some reading of this book called ‘Jesus in the Hebrew Scriptures which is written by a leader of a Messianic Jewish congregation and had some eye opening account into how Christ was not only predicted in Isaiah but also glimpses of him are seen in the Old testament too.  This book isn’t available from Amazon or from common distribution channels so I can’t really tell you where you can get it apart from doing a Google search.   I only got part way through it but have enjoyed what I have seen so far.

Anyway I can’t recommend the Fauzi high enough as a place to stay when visiting Nazareth, for its grand appearance with breakfast included and a free tour around Nazareth’s old city in the morning.

Did I find some spirit filled Arab believers in Jesus in Nazareth?   yes!! – I will explain soon!!

http://www.fauziazarinn.com/

1. The Fauzi Azar – 2. The uglier sides of Nazareth – 3. Welcoming the king with palm leaves? – 4. Looking for the Jesus village – 5. The replica village of Jesus – 6. Today’s Nazarenes