Andorra is one of those places whose mere mention evokes images of a lost mountain country tucked away somewhere time forgot. And for centuries that was probably the most accurate assessment. But in the days of easy transportation, it has become as well known for tax-free shopping as it has for the array of ski resorts and spectacular mountain views that it offers visitors.
We headed up from Barcelona on Saturday morning, taking advantage of a beautiful, if cold winter's day. The drive takes a little under 3 hours, and takes you through some of Catalonia's most scenic country. The farm land slowly turns into mountain scenery, and the snow-capped Pyrenees draw ever closer until finally you are driving past the whitened hill sides and gurgling streams of the mountains themselves.
The city center of Andorra la Vella itself is divided into two basic sections: the shopping area and the old town. When we arrived we took to the shopping side first. Even though this part of town is built up and designed for visitors (after all, the entire country of Andorra has the population of a mid-sized town), there were little touches that showed the character of the town.
After a delicious lunch of the local heaty chickpea-based stew and a nice lamb roast, we spent some time exploring the old city, its winding streets and traditional Pyrenees stone houses before heading back to Barcelona in time to catch a magnificent sunset over the mountains as we said goodbye to Andorra one last time.