Spain/Morocco 2011:
Day 14 - Andorra la Vella, Andorra


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Spain/Morocco 2011: [Day 1 - Barcelona, Spain] [Day 2 - Barcelona, Spain] [Day 3 - At Sea] [Day 4 - Gibraltar] [Day 5 - At Sea] [Day 6 - Funchal, Portugal] [Day 7 - Tenerife, Canary Islands] [Day 8 - Arrecife, Canary Islands] [Day 9 - Agadir, Morocco] [Day 10 - Marrakech, Morocco] [Day 11 - Seville, Spain] [Day 12 - At Sea] [Day 13 - Barcelona, Spain] [Day 14 - Andorra]

Friday, November 4, 2011: After some early morning rain, it cleared up in time for us to head out and see the town of Andorra la Vella. We headed west past the bus station.

There are mountains everywhere you look, and homes and buildings built right up the side of them.
It's a little unnerving to see the rockslide lines on the mountains and see the backyards of the houses that exist directly underneath them.
The main street we came in on follows the river through the valley.
Here's the view looking back up the river toward where our hotel was. We followed this road a few blocks ...
... to where the government buildings and the tourist office were located. The tourist office wasn't open yet, so we weren't able to find out if the rumor (circa 2002) was true that you could get a passport stamp here.
We continued to follow this road up the hill as it wrapped around the government offices, ...
... and wrapped some more. We ended up crossing the bridge ahead in this photo later. At the top of this hill, we turned right, ...
... and found this large public plaza, containing outdoor seating, ...
... a children's play area, and plenty of basketball hoops.
We left the plaza via the bridge we'd been under just a few minutes earlier, ...
... and came out on the main tourist street.
Signs here referred to the area as "Centre Historic."
We stuck to the main drag despite the temptation of the occasional side street.
Well, we didn't always resist temptation of a side street if there was a promise of a nice view of the valley ...
... or a view of some massive rocks and mountains.
This street is filled with clothing, jewelry, watch, and electronics shops, so it makes sense that one would want to rest on an attractive bench like this in between shopping.
We slowly worked our way down to river level, ...
... crossing over the river, ...
... and stopping to check out this clock sculpture.
There's much more shopping to be had in this part of town too, but we did not partake.
We passed one of the hotels we had originally considered, the Novotel, ...
... and another one, the Art Hotel. They weren't all that far away from the bus station, but we were really happy with our choice due to the location, because dragging our luggage through town was not very appealing.
From here, we walked through Parc Central.
This pond was a popular hangout for the colorful ducks.
We exited the park, picked up our return tickets at the bus station, then returned to our hotel to check out. Our suite was on the first floor over the coffee shop on the right, and it was the width of the front section of the hotel that is sticking out in this photo.
Somehow, we had forgotten to photograph our friend, Orchy, so we grabbed a photo on our way back to the bus station.
Then we settled in for the comfortable ride back to Barcelona. We passed La Casa Del Formatge, an enticing cheese shop located just inside ...
... the Andorra border. At this point, it had started to rain again.
We were stopped on the Spanish side of border, and the customs official took a look at the cargo hold under the bus. Once he had fully admired our awesome red Rimowa suitcases, he waved us on.
What follows is a series of photos taken from the bus.
Enjoy.
We returned exactly the same way we had come, past steep mountains, ...
... and lush farmland, ...
... and interesting bridges, ...
... and an artificial lake, ...
... and the dam that created it.
Here's a better view from the front.
We headed out of the mountains, ...
... and passed charming villages, ...
... and rolling green hills, ...
... and more farmland. We took turns playing Scrabble on Tom's phone to pass the time.
The previous day, we had been scheduled on a shore excursion to visit the monastery at Montserrat, but the tour was cancelled due to lack of participation. We ended up seeing the Montserrat area from a distance anyway, so we didn't mind. We need to save a few things for our next Barcelona visit.
Speaking of Barcelona, here we were once again.
We didn't get off at the Barcelona-Sants bus station, ...
... but we did get this photo showing the location of the bus station relative to the train station. The bus station is on the far right in the background of this photo, and the train station is the big building in the center and left.
Our final destination this time was the Barcelona airport.
We grabbed our luggage and began the search for our hotel, allegedly located in the airport. Fortunately, we had read reviews of the hotel that warned us that we'd never find a sign for it -- we had to look for signs for the Business Center instead. See the sign? It's in the small print on the right.
Once we got to the Business Centre, there was still no hotel sign. Once we checked in and were given our keys and instructions, we found the sign just outside of the 10 rooms.
Yes, there's the hotel, ladies and gentlemen -- the 10 dark doors in the hallway ahead of us.
The hotel room itself was really pretty cool, though. Very very very tiny, but cool. The large black shade opened electronically to reveal floor-to-ceiling windows that overlooked the line of taxes one floor below, so we didn't keep it open much.
Here's the glass bathroom area.
The room came with a complimentary bottle of cava, Spain's version of champagne, plus an apple and a persimmon. We'd never had a persimmon before, and it was quite tasty.
The minibar was pretty standard, ...
... except that every beverage in it was complimentary. Nice!
We had the unsecured portion of the airport to peruse for meal opportunities, so we headed back to the terminal. That's our hotel room in the distance, and the blurry room in the center with the light on was our room. Note the awesome view of the taxis below.
As our dining options were limited, we had some overpriced airport food at this cafe -- a prepackaged sandwich and a burger and fries combo. We spent the rest of the evening in our tiny, tiny room, eating snacks from the vending machine in the Business Centre's lobby.
The next morning, we took the short walk to the airport for our 7:30 AM flight and got some breakfast at McDonald's. Debbie finally got to try the Milka donut she'd seen advertised in every McDonald's in Spain and Andorra. Unfortunately, it was not as delicious as she had hoped, but the McRoyal Deluxe (basically a Quarter Pounder with cheese) was pretty tasty. During our layover in Madrid, we spent our last euro coins at a duty free shop on some marzipan and nougats, then flew home via Atlanta.

** THE END **


Spain/Morocco 2011: [Day 1 - Barcelona, Spain] [Day 2 - Barcelona, Spain] [Day 3 - At Sea] [Day 4 - Gibraltar] [Day 5 - At Sea] [Day 6 - Funchal, Portugal] [Day 7 - Tenerife, Canary Islands] [Day 8 - Arrecife, Canary Islands] [Day 9 - Agadir, Morocco] [Day 10 - Marrakech, Morocco] [Day 11 - Seville, Spain] [Day 12 - At Sea] [Day 13 - Barcelona, Spain] [Day 14 - Andorra]

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