Country #59 - Andorra

The Dali Statue

When I landed in Barcelona from Reykjavik, Iceland, it was about 2:00am. My bus for Andorra was leaving the airport at 7:30am so it made no sense for me to try and stay in a hotel. I had read about the Barcelona airport and knew that I needed to find gate U to sleep - and luckily it was where my flight arrived! Gate U had benches without armrests making it possible to lie flat, and there were tons of other people sleeping there. It took me a while but I think I got about three hours of good sleep.

It was a bit difficult to find the bus outside as there were bus areas on both sides of the street but I eventually found it (it was described as being the bus stop near the technical block, whatever that is, but I eventually found it). I talked with my brother on the phone while I waited because I still had thirty minutes until the bus would show up. I was the only person picked up at the airport and we took the bus into the heart of Barcelona to pick up the rest of the passengers. During the ride, the iPhone X went on sale and both me and my brother tried desperately to get one ordered for me (my iPhone 6 is caput and, as the major Apple lifelong fan that I am, this is a necessity). I finally got through to T-Mobile on the phone and to my surprise, there were still some left! I was so excited! Thanks to my parents for helping on the best birthday present. Oh yeah, my birthday was last week - I turned 23!

The rest of the bus ride was through winding beautiful Spanish roads but honestly, I fell asleep because I was just so tired and the winding roads were too much to handle. The bus ride was about three and a half hours. Andorra is not in the EU (even though they are right in the middle of it) so when crossing the border police boarded the bus and checked to make sure everyone had a passport or ID but other than that they didn’t do anything. When I arrived in the heart of Andorra, Andorra la Vella, there were luckily luggage lockers right at the bus stop which was super helpful.

I immediately noticed a few things about Andorra including the emphasis on shopping, the abnormal amount of cigarette ads everywhere, and the beautiful mountains surrounding it. Weird mix, I know, but it seemed pretty accurate. I walked first to the tourist information center which was super unhelpful - I needed witness signatures and they could barely speak English which, for a tourist center in the middle of Europe, doesn’t seem too smart. I walked through a cute market along the river and in the same area found the famous Salvador Dali statue, Nobility of Time, just sitting in the street in Andorra. It’s a melting clock statue (naturally) but it was really cool to see!

I then set out further on my quest to find witness signatures - how this hasn’t been more of an issue I’m not sure but it’s definitely just a bit annoying to run into problems in countries that shouldn’t be so difficult. I asked at two different hotels which were super unhelpful and also spoke poor English. This was pretty surprising because hotels are usually a safe bet for English. The third time was the charm, though, as the super kind people at the front desk of Art Hotel helped me out as witnesses!

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It was a huge relief to have that finished and I spent the next thirty minutes or so walking around town. I went to one of the buzzed-about Andorra shopping centers, Andorra 2000, and it was honestly no more than a glorified grocery store. I then walked past what was basically a giant car show and then back down the water past the cute Parc Central to eat pizza at an Italian food spot on the bank of the La Valira. It was a great and much-needed meal after only having a tiny airport croissant for breakfast.

From there I headed to the Plaça del Poble area. I walked past the strangest thing on my way - basically a fully fledged cattle show? It was bizarre and smelly and I’m still just very confused by Andorra on the whole. I made my way up a small hill to Plaça del Poble which had really good views of the surrounding mountains. I then walked past Sant Esteve d'Andorra la Vella church which was closed but still beautiful on the outside. My last stop was Casa de la Vall which was, once again, closed but, once again, beautiful and also very historic.

I made my way back down to the bus terminal where I had thirty minutes to spare before headed back to Barcelona to catch another flight. Fun fact is that during my day today Catalonia formally declared independence so technically I was kind of in a country on the day it was formed! Also then Madrid declared power like a few hours later so who knows what’s going to happen, but I got extra witnesses in Barcelona just in case it becomes its own country in the next few months or so. The bus ride back was just as winding as the first and I slept again because I was still so tired from the attempted airport sleep.

On the way out of Andorra, I asked the bus driver to stop at the border so I could get a passport stamp which is definitely a thing you can do, and it was super simple to do so! Andorra was an interesting stop but I definitely wouldn’t put it high on your list - I’d honestly probably just stick to Spain if you’re in the area unless you just want to tick off another country on your list! There are things to do just not a ton, and it is pretty but not incredible. If you’re driving nearby then give it a stop but otherwise, I don’t think it’s really worth dealing with the bus ride!

I had a really late night flight out of Barcelona to Bilbao which I will be exploring tomorrow. The flight was really short and I took the inexpensive bus from the airport to the city center and then took the Metro from the city center to where I’m staying, Bilbao Hotel Jardines. I was absolutely exhausted after not having good sleep in two days so I was really excited for a good night’s rest and fell asleep instantly.

59 countries down, 138 to go.