Day 126 – 22.09.2016
We left early morning for Andorra. On the way we stopped at small cafes and had some breakfast. We drove about 200 kms from Barcelona and reached Andorra. Once we reached Andorra the roads were winding and steep.
Andorra is a tiny country located in the eastern Pyrenees mountains wedged between France and Spain with a lot of valleys around. Andorra was created under a charter in 988 and the present principality was formed in 1278. It is known as a principality as it is a monarchy headed by two Co-Princes – the Roman Catholic Bishop of Urgell in Spain, and the President of France.
Andorra is the sixth-smallest nation in Europe, having an area of 468 sq.km. and a population of approximately 85,000. The official language is Catalan, although Spanish, Portuguese, and French are also commonly spoken.
Annually an estimated 10.2 million tourists visit Andorra. It is not a member of the European Union, but the euro is the official currency. It has been a member of the United Nations since 1993. In 2013, the people of Andorra had the highest life expectancy in the world at 81 years, according to The Lancet.
Nearby airports located are Spain and France provide access to international flights for the principality. The nearest airports are at Perpignan, France (156 km from Andorra) and Lleida, Spain (160 km from Andorra). The largest nearby airports are at Toulouse, France (165 km from Andorra) and Barcelona, Spain (215 km from Andorra). There are hourly bus services from both Barcelona and Toulouse airports to Andorra, which cater to thetransportation needs of people of Andorra to and from these airports.
Due mainly to the mountainous nature of Andorra, there is only one road entering Andorra from France and only one widely-used road entering Andorra from Spain. Almost all entry into the country happens at one of these two points.
The population of Andorra is predominantly (88.2%) Roman Catholic. Other Christian denominations include the Anglican Church, the Unification Church, the New Apostolic Church, and Jehovah’s Witnesses. The small Muslim community is primarily made up of North African immigrants. There is a small community of Hindus and Bahá’ís and roughly 100 Jews live in Andorra.
While driving to our Apartment hotel, we came across a unique glass spire structure, Caldea a very popular and expensive spa/swimming pool complex located up at the top end of Andorra la Vella.
We went out for lunch and found most if the restaurants were closed. We found one restaurant with Asian Fusion food and had a nice Thai meal. The people at the restaurant were from Philippines and were very friendly. We then left from there and walked back to our little after picking up stuff for the evening meal and breakfast the next day morning.
The above picture is Casa de la Vall, Andorran Parliament
Rest of the afternoon, we actually slept and woke up only late evening. So we had a relaxed day after a very long time.
The next day morning we were ready to leave for Beziers, France. We refilled our fuel tank at the petrol bunk and left from there. Within a few minutes could hear someone honking. We were wondering what mistake we had committed so turned behind to see. We saw an elderly Sardarji in his Audi trying to draw our attention. He probably had noticed our Indian number plate and wanted to speak to us. The moment we stopped he got off his car and came to speak to us. He requested to join him and his wife a few metres away for a cup of coffee. We then drove behind him for almost 20 kms until he reached his shop. We then parked our car and got talking to them. Mr. Sandhu Guriqbal Singh & Mrs Joginder Kaur have been living in Andorra for almost 35 years and have been instrumental in helping the Indian community there. They have 2 daughters and a son. They were a lovely couple. Wish we had met them the previous day! We could have spent more time with them. They packed up some gifts for us while we bid them farewell.
We were entering France territory and we we were stopped by cops and questioned, besides they wanted to check our car to see whether we were smuggling out Cigarettes, Alcohol etc as the prices for all these items was very low and lot of people regularly entered Andorra for smuggling such low cost items. We had to convince them that we were not carrying any of these things. We had only such stuff that we had brought along with us from Mumbai. Still a lady cop checked by hand bag and after making themselves sure, they allowed us to go. Also they were kind enough to show us the direction to be followed.
We were on our way to Beziers finally.
A short and sweet memory of Andorra, just like it’s size!