Bordeaux 2019 - Andorra


Grand Circle Tours offers trip options for pre and post-trip tours.  We took the post-trip option for a tour of Andorra and Barcelona.  Kathy has always wanted to see the Gaudi church in Barcelona and it was a chance for us to visit a part of Spain.

Andorra is a parliamentary Co-principality with the French President and the Catholic Bishop of Urgell (Catalonia, Spain) acting as Co-Princes.  They each visit at least once a year (probably to buy the tax-free stuff).  Andorra is the smallest state in Europe, for all you trivia buffs. 

We met our new program director in Toulouse at the end of the French portion of our tour.  We spent the day, with three stops, on a bus drive to Andorra La Vieille, the capital of Andorra.  Our first stop was in the small French town of Foix.  The chateau overlooking the town is built into the rock outcropping which makes a very dramatic photograph. 

Chateau de Foix

Our next stop was in Pasa del la Casa in Andorra.  The town began as a hut to guard the pass into the Pyrenees mountains.  Today it is a ski town and a shopping haven due to its tax advantages.  The weather was nice, much cooler in the mountains (compared to the heat we experienced in France).

The happy couple with the Pyrenees in the background.

Our last stop before our arrival in Andorra La Vieille was a monastery in the mountain town of Meritxell.  The chapel of the Lady of Meritxell is a new structure built when the old Romanesque church burnt down in 1972.  The Lady of Meritxell is the patron saint of Andorra.

The monastery in Meritxell.

The Chapel of the Lady of Meritxell.

We spent two nights in Andorra La Vieille.  The highlight for me was photographing the town at night.  It was a very lively place due in part to a concert at the local arena.  I was fascinated by the modern statues that light-up at night.

"La Noblesse du temps" by Salvador Dali

"7 Poets" by Jaume Plensa

One of the poets.

Two parts of our Andorra stay that sticks in my mind are the trip to the Roc del Quer cliff and dinner in Andorra La Vieille where we had a very interesting conversation with a wonderful young French couple.  

The Roc del Quer is high up in the Pyrenees where the views were awe-inspiring.  We ventured out onto a skywalk that hangs out over the valley; it's not for anyone with a fear of heights.  The floor of the skywalk had plexiglass windows to look down; unfortunately, they were so scuffed-up we couldn't see through them.  At the end of the skywalk is a statue of a naked dude looking out over the valley (I started to undress to join him, the women in the group said "yes", the men said "no", I went with the men's wishes).  

The Skywalk.

The naked guy surveys the valley.

On our final night in Andorra, we had dinner on our own at a local restaurant.  The waiter did not speak English and we did not speak Catalan, so we were struggling to order.  A young French couple at the next table was nice enough to help us get what we wanted.  The wife spoke very good English partly because she had spent a year in the U.S. as a child-care worker.  They were in Andorra to buy a tent addition for their camper van (prices are very low compared to France and made it worth the trip for them).  We wanted to try the paella (a Spanish rice dish) but it came in a huge bowl and was black due to the squid in it, so we passed.  Unfortunately, we never did get to try it.

If you ever get a chance to visit Andorra, take it!!  It is a lovely place to visit, nice folks and great scenery.

Here is a link to the images from Andorra: Andorra Photos

My next post will cover our time in Barcelona, stay tuned (don't you just love a good cliche?).


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