This year, for our annual ski trip, we decided to go to Andorra. Henrietta and Alastair had been there a few years ago, and were keen to take us. I hadn’t even heard of the place, before they told me about it. It is a tiny country.. well, technically it is the Principality of Andorra, though I’m not entirely sure if that differs, or how it differs from being a country. It is tiny, 468km*2, with a population of 85,000 people. It is located in the Pyrenees mountains, between France and Spain. I’m pretty sure it’s mostly just mountains. It is a tax haven, so some things, that are taxed heavily in other countries, are cheaper there. The main language is Catalan, but you also hear French and Spanish, and sometimes Portugese, spoken. The touristy centers will speak English.
Had to get up super early, to get to the airport in time. The flight was uneventful, and landed easily in Toulouse. Had to hang our in the airport for a couple of hours, while we waited for our shuttle, but we amused ourselves by eating bread, cheese and tarts, the usual fare in France.
Shuttle took us south towards Andorra, and I slept most of the trip, but woke as we were heading up into the mountains, and it was so lovely to see mountains! And snow! And all the cute little French towns that were tucked into valleys and on ridges.
Silly little girraffe in the airport
The cliffs had lots of caves in them
Cute houses, the villages seemed to be made of pretty stone buildings
The last part of the drive was a long climb into Andorra, via a very thin, silly, windy, curvy road. The bus driver seemed familiar with it, and was by no means slow. I greatly wished I had brought my travel sick tablets. Pas de la Casa is just past the French border, and is very cute, but surprisingly busy. Lots of apartments, shops, supermarkets and eating places. The town was bare of snow, but it looked like there was a decent amount on the field. We found our apartment, which had amazing views of the town and mountains, and we could even see the start of the chairlift! So close.
We made it across the border between France and Andorra
Dinner at a little restaurant, where Henri and I had raclette, yum! We had sangria to drink. Pas was an interesting mix of French and Spanish, and many of the restaurants you would have national dishes from both of the surrounding countries. Also seemed to be a lot of pizzas.
All the shops had people standing outside, who would actively talk to you, and encourage you to come in. In a nice way though, I’ve seen places where they do this, and it mostly just makes you want to avoid them. But this didn’t seem too bad, and the people were pretty friendly.
We were staying in studio apartments, that had a couch that turned into a bed, a table, dresser, small kitchen, and a bathroom. Small, but everything you need, and pretty cheap. We quickly settled in to sleep, as it had been a long day.
The view from our room. Between the buildings down there, is where the chairlift starts.
I woke a bit groggy – mornings are not one of my strengths – and had a quick look out the window… To 10cm of fresh snow!! That woke me up pretty quick, and I excitedly made everyone look. It took a while to get going though, as it had been a year since we last boarded, and there is a fair amount of prep, with making sure you have food, water, the right amount of layers, and all the gear for the day. Also, renting the right bits, and buying lift passes.
The snow was fantastic. We found heaps of powder, trees, freshies, and lots to keep us entertained. We headed off across the valleys to El Tarter for lunch, riding each lift up the next ridge, then boarding down the valley to the next lift. It was a fun day.
River in El Tarter
River in El Tarter
Chairlift up from El Tarter
We went searching the supermarkets for food for dinner. So many of the supermarkets were little, but half of the shop was dedicated to alcohol. Cause of the tax haven thing, it was all so cheap. Dale bought a large bottle of melon schnapps, for 5€. Also found bottles of nice port for super cheap.
Henri made us delishuz butter sauce pasta for dinner.
Eric and Chris arrived after 10pm on the shuttle, Dale had sorted their room key, and they just picked it up from us, and we all went to sleep.
~Monday~ was a bluebird day. They are the best,especially if you have fresh snow. Bright sun, and everything is lovely and warm.
Had lunch down the bottom, with Erin and Chris, who were recovering from their first lesson, and first day of boarding, ever.
One of the villages
Another cute valley
zoom around the people
Sunshine and smiles! Alastair, Henri, Dale, myself
Henri ready to go
Had après-ski (this is the after skiing event, usually consisting of snacks and alcohol) at the cafe at the top of Pas de la casa, with vin chaud (hot, spiced wine), and the best waffles ever. It was beautiful, with mountains and sunshine everywhere.
The best afternoon stop view.
Looking down to Pas de la Casa
Dinner was spag bol with fresh pasta. Went to bed, all very tired.
The first night you’re usually exhausted, the second night, still pretty darn tired, as you used all the sore muscles again.
To talk about apres ski, usually its a drink and relax after a hard day on the slopes, but for a lot of people, especially in Andorra, it seemed to be an event that started once the lifts closed, and sometimes went till the early hours of the morning… we would hear people yelling in the streets at all hours of the night, and occasionally witness people getting home at 10 or 11pm, still in their ski boots, and looking a little unsteady. I’m all for a relaxing drink after, but we like to then get a good nights sleep, so we can make the most of the next day. Also, from my experience, if you’ve put in a decent day on the mountain, you’re too damn tired to drink and party every night.
Slow start this morning. the weather forecast was for 10 cm snow overnight, so we got up early with the hopes of new snow, but when we got up, the streets were bare :( there was no new snow, so we hopped back into bed for a bit. It took us ages to get going, with picking up skis, boards, and fixing bits and pieces. I ended up renting a board for the day. I wasn’t happy at first, as the board seemed choppy and unresponsive, but I think it was just stiffer than my actual board, and once I started being more aggressive with it, it was quite a good board, very stable and solid on the rough bits. Very fun.
Someone took a good tumble, and we ended up having an early morning tea at the chocolate shop, where the hot chocolates were so thick that I think they were mostly just chocolate. Delishuz!! They served them with churros, and also served crepes, all of which we partook in.
After that, we headed out and over the hills, towards Funicamp, but the weather turned out to be nasty as, the clouds all came over and the visibility turned out to be pretty much nothing, and the wind picked up. It was quite cold.
It was a bit surreal, some of the times you would be boarding along, with people all around you, but because of the wind blowing all the snow everywhere, and the dull light, you couldn’t actually see the ground most of the time, and it felt a bit like you were all floating in the clouds. You were all moving around each other, and you were moving, but you couldn’t actually tell how fast you were going.
The wind picked up stupidly, so we headed back down to Pas de la Casa, and met up with Erin and Chris, and hung out with them on the little slopes. Even there the wind was blustery and would blow you around.
Erin is zoomy
Yahhhh! Chris, Dale, Erin
Chris, Alastair, Erin
We finished the day with a speedy run, and headed back for showers, snacks and dinner. It was snowing lightly when we finished for the day, and it just kept getting heavier and heavier, and started sticking. Looking forward to freshies tomorrow, will have to be up early.
France – Towns tucked away in the mountains
Pretty rivers in the mountains