A Day in Andorra

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Arrival: 

Upon landing in Barcelona, I was thrilled that there were no unforeseen delays, and now I had to find a bus ticket office for my onwards journey. For the majority of my travels, I tend to pre-purchase all my bus tickets in advance. This time, my flight was scheduled to land at 10:45am, and the bus would leave at 11:15am. I didn’t want to deal with forfeiting my ticket if there was an unexpected flight delay. Instead I opted to purchase my ticket once I landed.  
 
After deplaning, I headed towards baggage claim and there was an information booth for foreigners. I had to queue for approximately 10 minutes. I asked where the ticket counter office was for “Directbus”, which was the bus company I decided to go with. Instead of an office, I was told there are ticket machines right past the exit doors for bus services.

Plenty of bus options… except for the one company I wanted to book with.

Plenty of bus options… except for the one company I wanted to book with.

Around this point, it was 11:10am and I knew I wouldn’t be able to catch the bus I was hoping to get, and sure enough I saw a coach from “Directbus” leave a neighbouring parking lot. I eventually decided to purchase my ticket via their mobile app and it cost me approximately €54 for the roundtrip journey. Since I had just missed a bus, I had to wait 2 hours for the next one, which would be at 1:15pm. On the upside, since I had witnessed the prior bus leaving I knew exactly where the pick-up point would be. I found a nearby bench and made myself comfortable. Thankfully there was a complimentary WiFi hotspot, courtesy of Josep Tarradellas Barcelona - El Part Airport (BCN). With access to social media, the wait for the 1:15pm departure didn’t feel like much of a wait at all. 

Bus Journey

“Directbus” taking me to Andorra

“Directbus” taking me to Andorra

The bus was pretty comfortable for a 3 hour ride. It was equipped with leather seats which reclined to a generous 120 degrees so catching some shuteye was no issue. There was also WiFi on board (and it was functioning too!) The only drawback was there was no washroom on the coach.  

Bus Seat

Bus Seat

The ride to Andorra was quite scenic. The terrain alternated between the Spanish countryside and the occasional river overpass, and mountains.  

Somewhere in the Spanish countryside

Somewhere in the Spanish countryside

Outskirts of Andorra

Outskirts of Andorra

Arriving in Andorra

Arriving in Andorra

Time in Andorra’s Capital: 

Andorra la Vella bridge

Andorra la Vella bridge

To be honest I had not planned anything in particular to do in Andorra la Vella so “winging it” was out of my comfort zone. I had around 6 hours before having to catch the return bus to Barcelona; and since it only takes 45 minutes to walk from one end of town to the other, running out of time would not be an issue. The bus dropped me off at the south end of town so I made my way north to the central part of Andorra la Vella.

Overview of Andorra la Vella

Overview of Andorra la Vella

Since Andorra has Europe’s lowest VAT rate (value-added tax), it came to no surprise there were dozens of various luxury good stores along the main shopping street.  

Meritxell Avenue

Meritxell Avenue

I primarily travel carry-on only, so despite there being a couple things that might have piqued my interest, I refrained from indulging.

Tempting Glenfiddich at a fraction of the price it is back home.

Tempting Glenfiddich at a fraction of the price it is back home.

Spectacular Grey Goose pricing!

Spectacular Grey Goose pricing!

A couple hours was spent wandering through the streets of Andorra la Vella, when I suddenly felt light headed and it occurred to me I had not eaten anything since my inbound flight from Madrid nearly 10 hours earlier. McDonalds is well known to have unique menu offerings around the world, so seeing what was offered on the menu in Spain had me curious. They had “cameberet melts” which I ordered and it was definitely interesting. it was basically just camembert cheese with a deep fried outside crust.

Macarons available at McDonalds!

Macarons available at McDonalds!

Once I finished my late lunch, the overcast skies I had noticed earlier were getting darker giving the impression it might rain soon. During my walk across town I noticed several souvenir shops all promoting postcards of a particular church in town, so I concluded that had to be the iconic sight in town and wanted to see it in person. With the help of Google Maps and a few wrong turns later, I finally found the Church of Sant Esteve.

Church of Sant Esteve

Church of Sant Esteve

It was really unfortunate that there was no clear blue sky as I’m sure the above photo would have just come out awesome with sun shining overhead. Coincidentally, it started to rain about 15 minutes after finding the church. At this point, I decided to make my way back to the bus depot before I got caught in a downpour. Fortunately the bus station was nearby and there was an indoor area with seating and it even had power outlets! By this time, it was around 21:00 and I had a couple hours until my bus back to Barcelona would depart.

As you can imagine with the time zone difference, my body clock was all over the place, and all I wanted to do was to get on that bus, recline the seat and get some shuteye.

Was it worth it?:

Andorra, more specifically Andorra la Vella, was an interesting place. I was glad I made the journey, despite probably spending more time on a bus than in the town itself. I don’t foresee myself returning unless I was on a trip back home from Europe, and just happened to have a lengthy layover in Barcelona. With the prices of some of the luxury goods, I might just be enticed enough to come back and pick up a few things.

jason_wolf

Jason Wolf
Jason was introduced to travel at a young age. His parents are world travellers so it was only natural he would follow in their footsteps. He took his first international solo flight to Europe at age 14 (pre 9/11). Applied for his first credit card at the age of 19 as he had heard of the miles & points game and couldn't wait to get started. Over a decade later, he has traveled to over 100 countries around the world and always seems to have another adventure plotted around the corner. His wife tries to accompany him whenever she can, but sometimes it’s a bit too hectic as he has a tendency to travel frequently, even if it's just for a brief weekend getaway.