The Escuteon of Andorra

Travelling To/In/From Andorra


[ INTRODUCTION | HISTORY ]

MONEY

As noted above, Andorra does not have its own currency, but conduct commerce with either French francs or Spanish pesetas (and I think they will also now accept the Euro, but that would be since my last trip). Average meals ranged from $5-15 (USD), and budget hotel accomodations will range from $30-50 for a double (although, of course, one may always spend more). I spent about $100 per day, eating about half the time in restaurants, and half the time from food purchased at the local markets (I spent most of my time on the roads and pathways, hiking about).

Tips run around 10%, even though most restaurants also have a service charge. Don't be cheap...

Andorra has, essentially, duty-free shopping, and there are many places which will sell you tobacco, electronics, cameras, and booze at wholesale prices. Problematic for me, since I don't smoke nor drink, but many people come in from Spain and France to get those particular supplies.

 

PLACES

Andorra la Vella
You pretty much begin and end most trips to Andorra in the capital city of Andorra la Vella (elevation 3280 feet). While many of the main streets have a Hong-Kong like row of shops and restaurants, it remains a wonderful place to stroll about, especially along the Valira River. The Barri Antic (Old Quarter) still has narrow cobblestone streets with ancient stone houses, including the Casa de la Vall, which has served as Andorra's parliament building since 1702, and houses the Sala de la Justicia and the Sala del Consell, where the parliament still convenes.

Escaldes-Engordonay
Escaldes-Engordonay has pretty much ceased to be an independent village, and has become one of the larger suburbs of Andorra la Vella. It contains the Caldea spa, a huge glass-enclosed spire containing pools, hot tubs and saunas, all fed by the natural hot springs. This is the place to go after an afternoon of hiking or skiing - just melt yourself away during one of the three-hour sessions. The restaurant (whose name escapes me) was one of the best in the country!

Ordino
Ordino seemed to me to be the second-largest village in Andorra, and has one of the more interesting museums, the ancestral home of the Areny Plandolits, who made their fortune in iron. The museum is huge, and rock-solid, a perfect example of traditional Andorran architecture. Ordino parish contains some of the better ski areas, including Arsinal and Arcali´s.

Encamp
While Ordino has the Areny-Plandolit museum, Encamp has the Museu Nacional de l'Automòbil, which exhibits about 100 cars dating from 1898 to 1950 as well as scores of antique motorcycles and bicycles.

Les Bons
A small village on the banks of the Valira river, Les Bons' claim to fame is the Church of Sant Rom´a, which was consecratged in 1163. The church was originally decorated with frescos attributed to the Master of Santa Coloma, but they have been removed to the Museum of Catalan Art in Barcelona.

Llorts
Llorts has a population of around 100, and is one of the less-modern parts of the country. Surrounded by tobacco, its a great place for hikes, especially up to the valley to the west, which leads to the Estanys de l'Angonella lakes.

La Cortinada
La Cortinada is the home to the Església de Sant Martí, which has 12th-century frescoes in remarkably good condition.