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
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!