This trip has been a very special one because apart from a break of day-to-day life mundane activities, it was also my pre birthday celebration trip. We chose Andorra because of its location and weather there in August. It is located in eastern Pyrenees Mountains bordered by Spain and France. It is known as “Tax haven” and is known primarily for shopping, winter activities like skiing, paragliding etc.
The only way to get there via public transportation is by bus which primarily operates from Toulouse, France or Barcelona, Spain. There are various small cities in Andorra. The one which we visited is Andorra Da Vella which is known for its shopping malls and various big brand stores. But there are few tourists spots that are well known and are a must visit. The old town part of the city that we visited was very charming, well preserved and most importantly clean. Old houses made up of stone, narrow streets and flowers in balcony gave a very authentic feeling to the place. There is a place called Casa de la Vall (old Andorra Parliament converted into a museum) which gives free tour in multiple languages on a prior appointment. Being in midst of mountains there are various trails for walk and you can get view of whole city.
Speaking about accommodation, we stayed in Hotel Hesperia which was voted the best place to stay by TripAdvisor in 2013 fully justified because of the spacious rooms, ready to help staff, view from the balcony and location (center of the city). For eating out, there are variety of cuisine available from major American fast food brands ( like McDonald, Pizza Hut, KFC ) located right in the center of the town to various other cuisines including dinner buffet at big hotels that offer great cuisine options at an affordable range.
Shopping in Andorra da Vella is very simplified because there are two malls Super U and Pyrenees majorly. My suggestion is to check prices at 2-3 shops before buying one. Pyrenees mall is pretty good and has variety of everything at a very good price. There are lot of shopping places on the main street of Andorra la Vella that runs in parallel to the water stream including clothing, perfumes, alcohol, tobacco, etc. I found electronic stores on the road side to be quite expensive than the one in the Pyrenees mall. One of the primary reasons people travel to this place is because of cheap alcohol, tobacco and perfumes of all the major brands compared to the prices in Spain, France and other European nations.
To me, more than shopping it was just fantastic to experience a lively colorful city in the midst of mountains full of people and offering a historic view of the old city, nice places to eat, big playground for kids, fast flowing water streams, old city, churches, houses, narrow walkways, flowers in the balconies, clean walkways and a fabulous view of the place from different locations. I even appreciated the change of hearing “gracias” rather “merci” in France (it means thank you in English). Overall, the stay was very relaxed, place was very clean, views were fantastic and to add to all this, was a perfect pleasant weather. Experienced hail storm as well. I am attaching few pictures of the trip.
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