Monday, 5 August 2013

Andorra - Ordino

After our last gorgeous walk in the Catalan Pyrenees we made our way to Andorra. The road gets a medal for being the most insanely windy but at the same time the most scenic road in Spain. It’s just unbelievable in both aspects. Luckily the Spanish caters for all the awed people and made miradors (viewpoints) where you can stop with your car and have your jaw dropped as long as you want. I’m not sure what was the highest point but I know that after a village there was a sign that said 1770m height. And we still went higher up! 

We thought we’d never get to Andorra! Finally though we got to the border. I was fretting a bit about getting our passport, we are stepping to a different country after all but at the border they just waved us through. This is the border to Andorra from Spain.

Andorra is a tiny country, a ‘microstate’ sandwiched between France and Spain. It’s the sixth smallest country in Europe. A few curious facts: its capital, Andorra la Vella is the highest capital in Europe, and the official language is … what could it be, what could it be…. Catalan! It is a very prosperous country for two reasons: because of its status as a tax haven and because of its tourism. It’s not part of the European Union.

I also found it curious that people talk about Spanish Andorra and French Andorra. With the help of my knowledgeable friend, Wikipedia, I’ve learnt that this is because Andorra is a principality and it has two co-princes: the Spanish Bishop of Urgell and the President of France.

The country has basically only one main road, if you have a look at a map it will instantly become clear what I´m talking about. This means that there are only two entryways to the whole country and it is only a dual carriage way! During winter months there are lots of traffic jams when everybody comes to enjoy the fine snow and lovely ski resorts. Now as it was the middle of summer it was better. The country is also famous for having cheaper fuel and cheap electronic products. We´ve never seen so many petrol stations and huge electronic shops before! They just came one after another every 200m! It was unbelievable. We very soon decided that this place is not our favourite.

We didn´t want to stay in a very touristy place so we picked Ordino to stay in. It seemed out of the way and a popular ski resort so we had high hopes that in the middle of the summer it will be quiet. Well, it was. It is in a very picturesque setting, it sits in the valley surrounded by huge mountains. It lies at the foot of the Casamanya mountain. Its summit is almost exactly in the middle of the country so it offers a spectacular panoramic views. The ski resort close by looked very sad and unloved and completely out of place in July.

Unfortunately we didn´t have time to look around it during the day but in the evening of our second night we went out to look around the place. It seems like a lovely place to be during the day. Have a look. 

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