Andorra – 3. Sant Julià de Lòria

IMG_20180929_115949137 1024

My first real place I set my sights on was St Julia de Loria.

This is the closest town to the border.

Look around 360 degrees and you realise this lovely town is neatly in between the Pyrenees mountains.   Because I was here the last week of September, its neither summer or winter and no snow to be found, nor tourists seeking the slopes, hence I found myself surrounded only by locals.   You can see the tourist information office and Andorra’s own local banks.

IMG_20180929_122655671  IMG_20180929_122643449 1024

I found myself stuck in a party atmosphere, local families were out and about with a medieval festival.  This looks like an enlarged school or church fete, and everyone is dressed up and having fun.   There is locally produced food, kids jousting event and other games.

IMG_20180929_122639754

This a stand with “Churros” which are elongated doughnuts which are served with Spanish style Hot Chocolate which looks like the viscosity of engine oil.   I had this before at a cafe in Asturias in northern Spain just before a close friend’s wedding in 2010.

If the X doesn’t look very Spanish, you are right.   Andorra’s main language is Catalan, which is spoken also in Barcelona.   It looks close enough to look like Spanish and a bit of French, but X is pronounced “ch” sound.   In fact, Malta which uses its own Semitic language (ie: like Hebrew and Arabic) also uses X as ch, so does Greek.

Of course, Spanish is used as a close second, and French and Portuguese are spoken a lot.    Some sources say, only 35% of people in Andorra were born there, I can see why many people would make a move to this mini country.

I got off here by mistake.   The bus stopped and the 5/6 other people got off rather at the main bus station at the capital city Andorra le Ville.     So I took another bus a little later.  More soon.

Previous: 2. Motoring in a tiny country

Next: 4. Smoking is good for the economy

Advertisements

Andorra – 1. The mystery small Pyrenees mountain state, EU or not?

This week (end of September 2018) I had some time off work to use up and found the need to try out another one of these mysterious small countries which aren’t all that well known.

I tried to visit Andorra in October 2017 and gave up due to the fact that transport links are really hard unless you have a car.

So this time I took a flight to Barcelona and found a bus ride which goes there, which is pretty much the only way to do it.

Actually, Google has this quite wrong.   This takes 3 hours and was 59 Euros return which I bought online.

Note! there is only one toilet stop and no loo on the bus!

IMG_20180929_112720103_BURST000_COVER_TOP

Yes, this place has a border.   Just like I discovered Gibraltar has with Spain it seems.  I thought we were supposed to be in Europe?

IMG_20180929_113328344_HDR

Everyone has told me that Andorra isn’t in the EU, so this sign was a bit of a suprise.

Nevertheless, there are flags up everywhere by all the hotels and sports resorts with French, Spanish and EU flags up.    I didn’t get to stop at this border crossing, as cars stopped and the bus was diverted into another lane, where stopping wasn’t needed.  I already had my passport details given at a kiosk at the bus company’s office in Barcelona.

I like small countries in Europe, they usually have tax breaks, race tracks, eccentric monarchy and often overlooked as places to see, so I had to figure out what kind of tiny country Andorra was like.

Next: 2. Motoring in a tiny country

Other tiny countries I have seen:- Malta, Iceland, Monaco, Gibraltar, Luxembourg, Andorra

Luxembourg 2. EU building

With two years after the Brexit referendum in the UK, people on all sides are still upset, a plan for a modern Britain hasn’t been done for the big date of 29 March 2019, many folks want another referendum, and people in the EU may think the British have gone daft for such a drastic move.   I think everyone is sick of all the moaning on social media, I’d rather up and go and see some places.

Part of my reason to visit all the mini countries in Europe like Gibraltar, (2015) Monaco, (2005), Iceland, (2005) Malta (2014) and Andorra (tried to get there in 2017 and failed) was to look at some of these nations that not everyone has heard of and see what makes them tick.  I plan to do Andorra again, and Liechtenstein next year.

DSCF0367

I got to go past this EU building.   It’s not exactly a big spectacular type of thing.  It looks like it should be an estate agents shop.

DSCF0368

I guess a small shop/office gives a kinder, more PR savvy image of the EU here.

Unlike maybe this one.  One of the EU headquarters in Strasbourg, which many people have pointed out it looks like paintings of the tower of Babel in the Bible.  I’ve not been to Strasbourg but I did get home via Brussels on a bus going past many big mirrored tower blocks that were part of the EU administration.

DSCF0420

Are people in Luxembourg happy with the EU?    This is a touchy subject which I decided not to ask.    I did see a lot of graffiti on the street behind which may be from bored youth or from Luxembourgers unhappy with the big blue establishment.   The rest of the city is clean and free from vandalism though.

Luxembourg is also home of Jean-Claude Juncker, current President of the European Commission.

DSCF0421 1024

Here is the UK embassy in Luxembourg.   There were some men erecting new CCTV cameras inside.

Luxembourg 1. Whats this mini nation like? – 2. EU building – 3. What sort of mini country is this – 4. Transport – 5. Faith