You may be wondering why the hell I wanted to go to a tiny country that is virtually unknown and a 3 hour trip only accessible by bus from Barcelona. It’s 7ish hour by bus from closest city in France, not a tourist destination by any stretch.
In 2nd grade my teacher had a large world map on the wall. Nearly every day before class or after recess I’d stare at it.
I think I was just taken by all the strange country names, like Wales.
My teacher noticed my interest and would tell me about some of the places she’d visited.
One day she challenged me to find the smallest country in the world. It took me awhile and several incorrect guess before I found it: Andorra!
I went to a Baptist school so we didn’t count Vatican City, which is smaller in land mass and population since it was really just a religion HQ and not real country.
After rewarding me with a gold star she had me point out Andorra to the class and I blurted out, ‘and I’m going there when I’m older!’
Kids say dumb things, but I followed through on this dumb promise about 30 years later. A big thanks to Mrs Jackson wherever she may be, for lighting the travel fire in me.
I got ready to the sounds of pawing and meowing at my door. Seems my hosts left the cat and I alone.
Popped into a French bakery and was waited on by a very cute lady with blonde hair, dark roots.
She had a smile permanently on her face and radiated beauty. I had to make her laugh, a prospect made very difficult as she didn’t speak English.
I failed making her laugh, but I did successfully order a croissant and coffee with milk in French.
Actually I have no idea what the official language of Andorra is…I just heard French spoken the most. I think locals alternate French Spanish and/or Cantalonian.
Downtown Andorra la Vella is basically a mall, but a river runs through the city so I figured I’d follow that in both directions.
I turn left at the river and greeted by a large crowd. An officer is hand directing traffic, but only away from the tourist building.
Andorra has a bomb squad it seems and they have been deployed near the tourist center throughly checking out a car. They’ve blocked off several areas with police tape.
The walkway I’m heading to is clear so I tentatively walk on.
I never found out what was going on, a threat of some sort? Maybe a car parked too long or too close to a gov building?
I am soon at a converging of rivers and roads. To my surprise there stands a huge piece of art, a melting clock no less.
Wait, no it couldn’t be but the plaque states it is indeed a piece by Salvador Dalí!
There have been a lot of art by famous artist on my trip but most, especially any thing by DiVinci, are pay to see. This was not only free it was nearly impossible not to see it.
Pleasantly surprised at my discovery, I continue my walk by the river, en route to the cathedral of Andorra.
Built in the 12th century this was the oldest cathedral in Andorra and still in use!
It was small but pretty with a well out front, not in use so it was covered by iron cage so ole Timmy couldn’t fall into it.
Up some very old stone stairs I located a courtyard with a high view of the city.
A nice view of the tops of buildings, the rushing river and an art installation consisting of several large Buddha like figures seated cross-legged that appeared to light up at night. Even in the daylight their yellow hue seemed to glow, like light posts.
Further along was a small park and I always enjoy a walk through the park. What struck me about this park was the amazing playground.
They had the usual equipment, swings and jungle gym, but they also had an extreme merry-go-round or at least that is the closet thing I can compare this amazing piece of equipment.
I guess being from the US where playgrounds are being removed due to danger or threat of injury, seeing any piece of equipment over water is quite a cool sight.
Let the kids play, I say! Some may get hurt but not all, others will watch and learn perhaps what is worth a risk and what’s not.
I spied a crafts shop and correctly guessed they sold postcards and stamps.
I was now at the furthest western point of the city that was still walkable. It continued for miles but not entirely walkable so I turned around.
As I passed a German pub I decided to quench my thirst and write those postys.
Upon trying to stick the stamps on the cards I discovered they were quite old so the glue had evaporated, they wouldn’t stick!
Now where am I going to get glue or small bit of tape in Andorra, I wondered.
After 2 beers I had it figured out: phlegm! I’d been hacking up loogies all week so I just had to delicately and discreetly…
I shan’t gross you out further, but I can say those stamps stayed on the cards until delivery. I am quite pleased with myself on figuring out this solution, gross though it may be.
The list of things to do in the city is a short one and the other attraction was a stone bridge built several centuries ago.
Just follow the river in the other direction and eventually I’d run into a stone bridge.
It was indeed a nice old stone bridge, like they used to make but don’t anymore. In fact the other bridges were very modern, suspension style so this some one really stuck out but then again, it wasn’t in city centre so most people likely didn’t use or see it unless you went looking for it.
I spied a gleaming building off towards the mountains so I felt a walk by would be worth it.
It was a crystal church, well mirrored learning center.
Andorra was a clash of very old stone and modern steel building styles I felt.
It was mid afternoon so of course my constant rain companion made its presence known, time to recharge at the apt and wait out the rain, again.
After an hour or so of light rain, I located a nice Asian restaurant close by. Here it seemed common for most places to close after lunch, then open for late dinner round 8.
I ordered what should have been a nice noodle dish with chicken only to be told I couldn’t have it unless I also ordered another dish, a 2 item combo.
An expensive 2 item combo so a quick menu explanation resulted in just noodle and veg.
Whilst I waited and ate, I watched an amazing array of Korean and Japanese pop star videos. The stars were very androgynous, to the point I am still not sure if they were boys or girls.
After my disappointing meal I walked out in search of some pre dark photos of the houses on the mountains or other scenic vistas when I turned a corner I saw the street was chained off.
In fact most westerly routes were blocked so I kept walking north until it became obvious why: a huge tent had taken over a large lot. Cirque du Soleil was in town!
I was turned away, no more tickets, in fact, the whole engagement was sold out. I reckon there isn’t much else to do in town so most any event, should sell out.
There were only a couple of bars in town so back to the rock bar.
More people out tonight, a lot more. I settle in with a beer and watch a bit of the YouTube videos, but I spy an interesting sight in a corner TV on the other side of the bar.
A small screen shows a familiar scene from Vice City: Santa Monica.
I go over to play and locate the joystick. The bartender notices and takes me to the computer hooked up and shows me how to switch between games by pointing at certain keys.
An amazing array of games too: Punch Out, Rampage, Kung Fu, and 1942! Pretty much all the games I used to play in the Gold Mine at Northcross mall are represented.
It’s been a two night flashback to my childhood, the same things I was into back when I declared I’d go to Andorra. It was one of those moments that I felt like I was where I was supposed to be.
Beer: San Miguel Selecta
Song: Eurythmics Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)