Four wheel drive adventure in the Sahara Desert, Mauritania.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Chinguetti, Mauritania.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Back to Morocco on January 31st.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Welcome to Andorra... country number 57

Andorra is a tiny country located high up in the Pyrenees Mountains on the border between France and Spain. It is the 17th smallest country in the world. 

We came here simply to add another country to our country list. It's not really a place you would make an effort to visit unless you're an enthusiastic skier in the winter, or hiker in the summer. So we figured that since we were so close anyhow, now was the time to go!

And the weather window opened up for us at the right time. Andorra is high up in the mountains, and I mentioned that it's a popular skiing area... which means they get a lot of snow. But with a forecast high of 7C (45F) and blue sky and sunshine, I figured the roads should be clear of any problems.

I figured wrong.

Headed up into the mountains.

We got up and started driving at about 8am, but stopped along the way for breakfast and coffee about half way up.

The first half is one a nice four lane highway.

We drove by a lot of interesting places.

We have driven right by a lot of places we would have loved to have stopped at. but this whole trip through France has been with a goal of getting to warmer weather in Spain. We will be slowing down very soon.


Pretty little town on a hillside.

Castle.

Another castle.


Eventually, the road became two lanes only.
This is the main road up to Andorra from the coast.

It goes right through the center of several towns.


Cool railway bridge.

We are getting close to the snow!


Passing through another town.

Yikes. Now we are up in the snow!

Max, stopped in the snow for a break.

It is nice and sunny, but the temperature in only about 2C!

The weather forecast for Andorra said a high of 7C. So it was colder up here than we had planned on. But it turns out that the weather forecast is for the capital city of Andorra la Vella which is at a much lower elevation on the other side of a mountain pass that we had yet to navigate.

Hmm. I started to wonder if we had done the right thing.

Traffic circle monument.

They had snow up here only the day before.


But then we came down into a valley and the snow disappeared pretty quickly.

There is even some farming through this area.

But we are not at the top yet!

Heading higher.

It sure is pretty though.


We are still in France at this point, but obviously getting closer to the ski areas.

Heading higher.

Ruth said we should stay and do some skiing. Like we did in Turkiye.

They had quite a lot of snow up here!

Roads getting slushy. And a bit icy in spots.




Arrived at the border!

But look at the roads. Yikes. I had to put myself in winter driving mode. Good thing I've had years of practice!

Despite the fact that Andorra is not a part of the EU, and it is not a part of the Schengen zone, nobody even looked at us driving through. There were a lot of people stopped who looked like they were doing things with regards to vehicle importation or something, but otherwise there was no need to stop.

Andorra's population is only about 80,000 people, but they receive about 7 million visitors per year. Mostly related to ski tourism.

Into Andorra. 
Where apparently they clean the roads better than they do on the France side of the border.

Welcome to Andorra!

As near as we can tell, the town of El Pas de la Casa exists only because of ski tourism. It's a resort town, and ski season is open. 

No need to go exploring. Plus, it's too cold outside!

However, we did need fuel. I had purposely planned it so that Max's tank would be low when we arrived in Andorra. Andorra is well known for its low taxes, and we filled up Max at €1.57 a liter. It had been around €1.90 in France. We also filled one propane tank for €0.73 a liter which is super cheap.

How is this for a gas station?
You actually drive inside to fill up.

We are almost at the top.
Look at the ski trails in that fresh powder!



View from the top.

We had started our drive near sea level, and we were now at 2,300 meters (7,500 ').

But now, the worst was over. The rest of the drive was going to be downhill.

It is definitely beautiful though. 

We are headed down through that valley.


Another ski village.

Made it down to the main city of Andorra la Vella.

Notice that the snow has virtually disappeared.

That's because we went downhill the whole way after that mountain pass. We were now at about 1,000 meters (3,300').

The city of Andorra la Valle.

We had originally planned to stop in and walk around the city. But we quickly learned that it's a very congested area, and parking for a motorhome (even a small one) was not going to be easy. In fact, it's not easy for cars, let alone anything bigger.

I had read of a grocery store in the downtown area that offered free parking for two hours if you went spent a certain amount of money. We drove in, but it really wasn't a good idea. 

Traffic circle statues.

Lots of narrow roads.

We couldn't find decent parking, and quickly gave up on that idea. Just get us out of the congestion! Not fun driving.

There was one easy (and free) spot to park in the whole country. A dedicated motorhome area at a large grocery store. We headed there for the night. By this point, we are now only about 5 kms from the Spain border. 

We went inside to do some shopping. Not only does Andorra have cheap fuel, but it has cheap booze as well! There is a limit as to how much you can bring into Spain, but it's not really that important because alcohol in Spain is quite cheap as well.

For reader DC... Cutty Sark for €9.30 a bottle.

Some better stuff for €35.70 ($50 CAD)
This stuff sells at the LCBO in Ontario for $90 CAD.

They had a good variety of wine for under €2 a bottle, with some as low as €1.20 a bottle! We picked up a few bottles, but it's actually easier to buy boxed wine in Spain, and not that much more expensive.

Picked up some groceries as well. Nothing special about the grocery prices, but not that expensive either considering Andorra is so remote.

Max, parked with the other motorhomes at GPS 42.45329, 1.486028

Notice a big American motorhome in the lower left of the photo. We do see them occasionally, but not often. This one was running his generator, and was it ever loud. We parked as far way as we could. Fortunately, it was a totally peaceful night. Many of the other motorhomes parked here actually have Andorra plates and they use this as their storage lot.

Going for a hike this morning, although even at 10:30am the temperature is only 3C (37F). Brrr. Heading into Spain (with lower altitudes, and higher temperatures!) this afternoon.

Yesterday's drive.

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Gillette Fusion 5 Razor Blade Refills. On sale, plus there is a 20% off coupon showing. Time to stock up!

And in Canada...

Winter Style Sale is on now. Lots of brand name clothing including Levis jeans.

4 comments:

  1. You call that snow? That would be the same amount as an average spring day for you Canadians! :cD

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, it probably would but I bet they get more snow during the winter than what we are used too! Plus, we haven't experienced a Canadian winter since we were back home for Christmas back in 2016!

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  2. Andorra!! I did a report on Andorra when I was in 9th grade. I have always wanted to go there. One day. I have heard it is big for shopping high end name brands. It looks like a beautiful place. Glad I was able to follow you through it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope that you can make it here one day! Andorra seems a bit of a weird country to do a 9th grade project on! What made you decide on Andorra?

      We aren't into shopping, especially high end brand name products so we really couldn't tell you if that was the case or not.

      From what we saw of Andorra it is a beautiful place, we need to return in warmer weather and do some of the incredible hiking that they have up there in the mountains.

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