Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Quick Escape to Andorra

Since Josh's parents have been here, they were kind enough to offer to watch the kids for a few days so we could enjoy an adult getaway.  After much debate as to where to go, we decided on Andorra.  We went to Soldeu last year for our anniversary for a night and it was beautiful.  And after so much travel in the last 3 months, neither of us really wanted to get on a plane again.  Just a 2 1/2 hour drive away, Andorra seemed the perfect solution, though this time we would go to Escaldes-Engordany and Andorra La Vella, the shopping center of Andorra.

Andorra is a tiny country, probably the size of Rhode Island, if not smaller, that is centered between Spain and France.  The official language there is Catalan, as in Catalunya here where we live.  But they also speak French and Spanish.  So it didn't feel all that much like we were away from "home" and yet was still a nice getaway.

One of the things Andorra is known for, aside from skiing, is tax free shopping.  We walked along the streets of La Vella checking out the wears in the multitude of shops.  Unfortunately for me, there wasn't much that I saw that I couldn't get from the States (Josh is going in Feb) for cheaper.

Josh in his handsome new jacket near our hotel

Walking along the streets of La Vella

Monument to Dali

Cool dune buggy

Surrounded by beautiful mountains

In the States we have light up deer at Christmas time, here they have cows ...

Interesting Christmas tree

Pretty church by our hotel

We had dinner, not once, but twice at this amazing restaurant off the beaten path called Versailles.  It's focus was on French food rather than Catalan food.  Given that we have Catalan food here in Barcelona, it was a nice treat to have a traditional French meal... oh and a fabulous steak :)  With homemade French onion soup, steak wrapped in bacon and topped with homemade foie gras, you just couldn't lose.  And topping it off with a chocolate molten cake... well, let's just say it's a good thing that we are now into the new year and a new diet because for certain my waistline expanded on this trip!

We also spent some time at the spa - Caldea is a famous spa in this area and we spent some time on Friday morning relaxing in the thermal baths, getting massages and just enjoying some kid-free time.  Turns out they also have kid massages here - I think Aidan would have loved that, something to think about the next time we go to Andorra.

My new camera takes great night shots!!!

The famous Caldea spa

Small river that runs through this part of Andorra

View from Caldea

On our last full day we took a walk through the historical area of La Vella.  It's interesting that it's such a small area. The majority of the "city" feels pretty modern with some stone buildings here and there but then the stone is indigenous to the area so even the new buildings are made with it.  This could also be because of the huge amount of growth in the country of Andorra as a whole, not just this one city - the population of Andorra has grown from 5000 people to 82,000 in the last century, explaining why there is not a huge historic area.  The small, windy roads reminded me of the old parts of Barcelona and we very pretty to walk along.  The country has a long history dating back before 1000AD.
Church in the historic area

Historic old town

View of the mountains and you can even see some fog down low over the town

Another view of Andorra la Vella

This is actually the area where Parliament meets (ok, this is right next to it, but it's a secure area because of it and also very pretty!)

All in all, it was a relaxing 3 1/2 days filled with relaxation, catching up on life (without interruption), great food, a lot of walking along with some sightseeing.  We also tossed around idea on places to go for 2013 - as of right now we have nothing booked believe it or not!  But thinking possibly Morocco for February vacation, we shall see!!  Once the kids go back to school next week I can refocus and get into 2013 travel mode.  Til then, we are coming up on our 3 year Spain-iversary believe it or not so keep an eye out for that entry soon!!


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