Andorra

Picture of pyrenees Andorra is one of those places you really have to be trying to get to in order to get to. It's basically an entire country stuck into a small series of gorges. We entered at the upper end of the Valira gorge (France) and over the course of two days worked our way down to the lower end (Spain). There is one main highway down the Valira valley and an assortment of spectacular and sometimes harrowing side roads into the Pyrenees.
Picture of casa_del_vall The northern part of Andorra seems to consist mostly of ski resorts. Andorra La Vella, the capital city, is more or less in the center and consists mostly of one-way roads and people who understand how they connect much much better than you do. This is the parliament building of Andorra - the Casa del Vall.
Picture of art Like other small states in Europe (Leichtenstein, Luxembourg, etc..) - a major pastime in Andorra can be trying to take pictures that don't have cranes in them. Ending up with only one crane in the picture is really a small victory.
Picture of romanesque_church Most Europeans seem to come to Andorra for the tax-free shopping. If you can find your way around the towns it seems like almost all of them have a well-restored Romanesque church. Sant Coloma south of Andorra la Vella is probably the best known. This is Sant Esteve in the capital (and one crane).
Picture of street_scene Andorra La Vella is not actually the liveliest place we've been at night but there are a variety of restaurants. The food seems to be a bit more Spanish influence than French. While Spanish, French and English are all widely spoken in the country, Catalan is the official language. We know a grand total of about 10 words in Catalan and had no problem interacting with people in the assorted secondary languages.
Picture of valira One attraction we visited while in town was the enormous La Caldea spa. We don't have any pictures of it, being a spa and all, but it is an impressive arrangement of pools inside a giant glass pyramid. Even better is the outdoor pool surrounded by the misty Pyrenees. You can almost forget you're also surrounded by all the street noises of Andorra La Vella.
Picture of st_julien We also spent a bit of time in St. Julien in the far south of Andorra. We originally intended to visit Naturlandia because they claim to have the world's longest alpine slide, and you can't just ignore the world's longest alpine slide when you're that close to it. Unfortunately, they also claim to be open 365 days a year but somehow were closed on May 9th. The loop road up above the valley and then back down was almost worth the trip alone though. We had been warned extensively about customs at the Spanish border leaving Andorra but in the end found them to be almost negligible. Open the trunk, close the trunk, tell them you have no cigarettes, the end.

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