ANDORRA

Right place, wrong time.

By Chad Gerber

Right place, wrong time.

Before heading to our final Spanish destination, Barcelona, we seized the opportunity to visit one of Europe's smaller countries, Andorra, famed for its white winters and mountain-nested settlements.

On the bus ride there, as the straight city roads twisted into the mountains, the excitement set in. You see, I love me some good mountains and can see myself settling between a few later on in life. Arriving at the bus station in Andorra La Vella, a town nuzzled among the pine hillsides, we knew we'd found a wonderland. Only there was something missing – the people. I guess its my fault for not checking before, but we'd come at the worst possible time, in the middle of summer, when this giant ski resort of a town is inhabited by not even ghosts. The supposedly "world-famous" retail stores were dark and silent, and many of the hotels and restaurants were locked shut, so we stocked up on food at the local markets and spent our stay walking the hillsides and enjoying a slower life.

After we'd got the lay of the land in Andorra La Vella, we took a public bus to the town of Ordino, looking for something new. But honestly, it was pretty much exactly the same, except for some Romanesque architecture and some trendy cafes and restaurants. It's honestly a shame to see this place naked like this, without its blanket of snow.

I can't help but feel that if we'd arrived in the holiday season, our experience would've been better, and speaking to the locals, they told us that Andorra really does become a wonderland when the snow starts to fall. But I've got to take away the positives -- cheap off-season accommodation, quick restaurant service, and a look into how the locals live when their town isn't inhabited by tourists.

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Written by Chad Gerber, Edited by Nick Petrou