With its approximately 470 sqm, Andorra is a tiny country by the scale of things, but when you stand in the middle of the small town of Sant Julià del Lòria you are surrounded by majestic mountains.
We feel quite small as we admire the peaks around us. We breathe in the cool air and see snow on one of the peaks behind those surrounding the city. Andorra is located in the Pyrenees and we are just north of the border with Spain. Further down the street there are several tax free shops that the Spaniards cross the border for. Alcohol, cigarettes and pharmacy products are cheaper here.
We did not come here for the shopping, although we do purchase a thing or two. We just wanted a taste of this tiny little country. From the hotel we stroll down to the main street. We stay there as we don’t feel like climbing up the steep slopes. It’s enough watching the roads winding their way up the mountain sides. Andorra’s mountains can have an altitude of up to 3000m above sea level.
When we get hungry, we end up in cozy Bare Nostrum. As we have done in several places in Spain, we order a menu del dia. We think we ask for ‘pasta’ for starter but instead we get soup. The Catalan menu confused us. No worries though, the broccoli soup really is not a bad substitute, it tastes amazing. It is so filling, that we really have to work on the salmon we ordered for main course.
Outside, life goes by in this small country which was declared an independent state as late as 1993. Thus, Andorra gained a seat in the UN and the Council of Europe, among others. The country is a principality and is formally led by the Bishop of Urgell and the president of France. In practice, the General Council is in charge.
We drink our wine. The place is busy with people enjoying a late lunch. A company is having a farewell party for an employee. Andorra’s population has increased, mainly due to the low tax rate. Even though the country is not a member of the EU (they have a special agreement), we pay for our food in Euros.
The fresh, clear air waits us outside and the temperature has fallen. We follow the river back to the hotel and climb the few meters up to the hotel building. It was only a short taste of this little country this time, but we will definitely return should we be in the area. Until then, we will learn what ‘pasta’ and ‘soup’ is in Catalonian.