Andorra is a little country sitting in the middle of the Pyrenees mountain range between
Absence of much flat land means that the towns are very crowded together and the roads very
windy as they climb up hills. The population is around 65,000 yet only about one sixth of these people
are native to Andorra, the rest being Spanish and French. Andorra's main attractions are the mountains
for skiing in the winter (some of the best in Europe) and hiking and other such outdoor activities in the
summer. There is not however a lot of historical interest.
We stayed for a night in the capital, Andorra-La-Vella which was geared mostly around tax-free shopping,
bars, restaurants and entertainment. The traffic was bad, the roads confusing, twisty and often
very steep. The town is not the prettiest in the country, unfortunately we did not have time to visit
elsewhere, but we did go to one of la Vella's most popular tourist attractions, the geothermally
heated Caldea spa, undoubtedly the most expensive swimming pool I have ever visited!
Andorra la Vella, the capital of Andorra is the hub of the country, functional in a 1960s ski resort
brutalist style, although from this view it looks rather scenic. This was taken from the road that
goes from the town up to the reservoir on the hill, which at the time was mostly empty and frozen solid.
The peaks in the background rise to about 2500 metres.
Tax free shopping is one of the main draws of Andora especially for
people who live
nearby. Andorra la Vella is not much more than a great big shopping mall, with the best deals to
be found on alcohol, electronics and cigarettes. There is also a plethora of sports and outdoors shops
to keep your wallet from getting too heavy...
The department store "Pirineos" had cigarettes stacked to the ceiling, three-litre bottles of Jack Daniels
and White Label, all sorts of sports gear and electronics galore in the basement. It also had
a useful supermarket where we bought sandwich fixings as we were too poor to go to a nice restaurant.
A view from the road to the reservoir over some of the fantastic scenery in Andorra.
Again a view of Andorra la Vella, if you look closely at the photo in the middle of the town a large
black spikey pyramid thing can be seen, this is Caldea Spa. It has saunas, steam rooms, foot spa rooms,
roman baths, inscence rooms, heat lamp and sun lamp beds, hot stone benches, indoor and outdoor
pools and a music and light show every so often. It was fun to sit in the warm water outside right
next to the snow!