The weather has been getting better every day here in Europe and even though we rushed to Spain and enjoyed it there thoroughly, we felt the need to get ourselves back to France.
Andorra was on our route back to Provence, France so we decided to spend a couple of days there hiking through the hills.
Some world travelers we are, we didn’t even know that there was a country named Andorra out there until a few days ago.
Situated in the Pyranees between France and Spain, Andorra is a tiny Principality with a population of only 81,000 people. It is only 25 km long and 29 km wide.
Rick Steves says to forget about Andorra. You can see the Pyrannees in France and have a better experience.
We disagree Rick.
It isn’t the high season here in Andorra and the traffic isn’t quite as chaotic as we had heard so maybe we are having a different experience than others, but we love Andorra.
The people here have been friendlier and more helpful than both France and Spain and the scenery is terrific.
Andorra is known for its duty free shopping but we didn’t spend any time downtown. Instead we made our way to the hills for a hike.
The friendly clerk at our hotel gave us so much information on hiking in Andorra that we didn’t even need to go to the tourist information office.
He told us that in Arinsal was the hardest and the best trek, so that is where we went.
Getting out of the busy Andorra la Vella is highly recommended by us. Even though it is in between seasons right now, it is still a busy town.
We followed his directions and our GPS “Bonnie” to the town of Arinsal some 10 km from Andorra Vella. I don’t think that we could have navigated our way through Andorra’s main town without the GPS.
After a couple of stumbles of stopping at the wrong parking lot and only going through one covered bridge instead of two, we found our way to the path.
It was a fun hike up the mountain with very pleasant views. Unfortunately, the higher we climbed, the more the bad weather moved in.
Our spectacular mountain vistas became shrouded in cloud.
We loved the climb though. There is nothing that makes Dave and I feel more alive that climbing up something.
We made it to the top of our route and enjoyed our panorama but when we looked across the valley we realized that we took the wrong trail. Our hotel receptionist told us that we would be going to one of the houses that you can stay in for free when hiking in Andorra.
The Things we Do for the Blog.
I know I said that there is nothing that makes Dave and I feel more alive than climbing something, but we don’t love climbing something twice.
We wanted to show all of you one of the little huts that you can stay in if you decided to hike in Andorra. So we climbed all the way down from our trail, crossed the valley and climbed up to the top of the other trail.
I know what you’re thinking, life is tough for us. 😉
Surprisingly after climbing down which seemed to take a very long time, the climb up “Coma Pedrosa” was a lot more fun than our previous climb. This was a steep trail crossing rivers and going through forests and loose rocks. We hiked up quickly and made it to the house with plenty of time to spare before the sun went down.
The Free Huts
We were surprised to see that the doors were locked to the hut when we arrived.
We had read that you can stay at these houses in the hills for free all year long. They have beds and fireplaces and they are especially made for trekkers hiking through Andorra.
Maybe it is because we are in between seasons, but we are going to have to look into this and see if the doors are always locked. We will report back to this page when we find out more.
The End of the Day
We were on our way down at sunset when we crossed paths with a local man walking up talking on his cell phone. This country Andorra is strange. Does everyone go out at dusk and decide to climb a mountain in a dress shirt with cell phone in hand?
Photo courtesy of wikimedia.org
It may be a busy and hectic place, but Andorra is one active community filled with skiing, downhill mountain biking and oh yeah, Europe’s largest spa complex.
We didn’t have to go there though because we have a Turkish spa, hot tub, swimming pool and sauna at our 4 star Ibis hotel for a mere 59 Euro a night.
We wimped out and didn’t camp in Andorra. We just couldn't pass up the Turkish spa and hot tub for that price. It was pure heaven to go for a hike and then head to the spa at the end of the day.
After our 2 short days we give Andorra Two Thumbs Up. It looks like an excellent ski community as well.