4 August 2013

Andorra La Vella

Andorra La Vella: visited 16July13-19July13
 
Andorra La Vella is the capitol city of Andorra, a small country of only 464km2 nestled amongst the mountains of the Pyrenees, bordering France to the North and Spain to the South. It appealed to me because of the mountains, and is a fairly unusual holiday destination for a Brit. I don't know anyone else who has been to Andorra, so why not!
  
It was easy to get to, I took a bus direct from Barcelona Airport, as the we left the coast behind us the mountains grew before us, green and forested, with dramatic craggy cliff tops and several beautiful mountain lakes. The views were lovely, despite the lashing rain, lightning flashes and rumbling thunder of my first Thunderstorm experience of the Pyrenees. It certainly made a change from the hot sun of Barcelona, only a couple of hours before.
 
 
It was easy to get to, I took a bus direct from Barcelona Airport, as the we left the coast behind us the mountains grew before us, green and forested, with dramatic craggy cliff tops and several beautiful mountain lakes. The views were lovely, despite the lashing rain, lightning flashes and rumbling thunder of my first Thunderstorm experience of the Pyrenees. It certainly made a change from the hot sun of Barcelona, only a couple of hours before.
 

 
 I had 3 nights booked at Alberg de la Comella Hostel which was a nice hostel perched on a hill a 15min drive out of town. The hostel was clean, and tidy, and unfortunately for me, very empty. I had an 8 bunk room all to myself, and there never seemed to be more than about 6 other people there, who I glimpsed fleeting at breakfast. A further disappointment was the frequency of buses to town, I found that the limited schedule had me waiting for the first bus to town at 9:30, returning on the last one at 7:30pm, for a quiet night of reading.
 

 
 I did, however, have plenty of time to explore Andorra La Vella. It is predominately a city where French and Spanish tourists head to for shopping. Andorra is not part of the EU, which makes things such as electrical goods much cheaper. Apart from the shopping, it is used as a base for hiking the Pyrenees in the Summer, and Skiing them in Winter. My first day was pleasantly spent window shopping along the main street (with a hike planned next, I didn't want to add any needless weight to my rucksack). Following a brief lunch at a lovely little café I headed along the river for a pleasant stroll, accompanied by the rushing waters. It was a bit strange spending all day alone, in a foreign country where I don't know the language, however lots of people spoke English and I managed fine on my own. The river walk took me to the old town, a pretty area of narrow cobbled streets and slightly quieter than the main shopping street. The daily 3pm thunderstorm saw me (along with everyone who just happened to be passing at that time) ducking into a nearby tavern for respite from the rain (and a beer). After the storm passed and a little more wandering I treated myself to dinner out (the hostel had no kitchen; the website did say they could provide evening meals, but I figured it wouldn't be that popular. I was right, the dinning hall was empty and dark when I returned).
 

   
I didn't really need a second day to see Andorra La Vella, but due to the limited bus stops at my hostel I was wary of venturing further afield, so instead I blew part of my budget on an afternoon at Caldea Spa. I haven't been to many Spa's in my time, (actually, I think this was the third) but it was easily the best Spa I've ever been too. The pool was a decent size with 4 whirlpool bowls as features in the middle f it. A waterway led outside where there was a lazy river, another Jacuzzi area and a seat ledge which was less bubbly than the Jacuzzi. There was fantastic views of the Pyrenees and Andorra La Vella, and plenty of places to sit and enjoy them. I'd timed my spa time perfectly to enjoy the outside both in the hot early afternoon sun and the hard, icy rain of the thunderstorm. There's something very exhilarating about being outside, in a pool, during a Thunderstorm. After playing in the lazy river for some time (I love lazy rivers) I headed back indoors to explore the hot pool and plunge pool (yes, I bravely submerged myself in the 14C water after warming myself in the 36C pool) along with the steam room, saunas, wood lighting area (which had narrow bands of UV lights in the ceiling) ice room, and various different showers/ water jets. It was a very relaxing way to begin my holiday. I had splurged on a back and leg massage that was booked at the end of 3 hours (I'd never had a leg massage before). My masseuse, Maria, was lovely and friendly, and had VERY good hands. She relaxed my legs so they didn't want to do much, and untied knots in my back in a way that was a little painful in an oh so pleasurable way. After a spot of wind down/up under some warm and relaxing infra red lights I decided I'd best get dressed before I fell asleep, and after a brief stop at the hypermarket for my dinner, I headed back to my Hostel, ready to pack and prepare for the hike ahead.
 

 

1 comment:

  1. Great blog man, I really love your writing style that you are using for your posts and stuff

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