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!

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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?

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Luxembourg 1. Whats this mini nation like?

Taking a break from Israel, the Middle East, and China, as part of my obsession of the littlest countries of Europe, I decided to take two days off work and spend a long weekend in Luxembourg.

Tiny countries often have some nice perks.    Monaco, Bahrain, and San Marino have race tracks, some like Macau and Monaco are big on gambling and glitziest nations for the uber-rich to hang out.  Many have eccentric monarchies and tax breaks and opportunities (Gibraltar) to buy cheap fags and booze.

Dead centre in the middle of Europe, Luxembourg is often described as being part of the BeNeLux countries (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg) so my thinking without research would be that this little country would be Flemish/Dutch type of culture.  Actually, I was completely wrong, this nation is a lot more like France.

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Luxembourg’s most immediately stood out character is the hilly terrain and these stunning railway viaducts.

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Holland and Belgium and much of northern France has most of the residents cycling, the steep roads in this city are a bit too much for all but the most extreme bikers I think!

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

Trip to Malta – Community in Malta

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Having greetings on a door frame like this, reminds me of the small diagonal things fixed to the frame of Jewish houses in Israel.

Incidentally particularly around Valletta, I saw small postcards with photos announcing a death of someone from their family.   Kind of like people used to do in newspapers in the UK.

This is also exactly whats done in Israel among Jews, Arab Muslims and Christians, to announce a bereavement to the local community.

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Malta has the largest numbers of churches in the world, but seems there a few others as well as Catholicism.

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I like the sense of community here in this island.   As I mentioned earlier, Maltese is a Semitic language, so its related to Hebrew and Arabic.   It actually sounds spoken about half way between Italian and Arabic.   When you consider its half way between Italy and Tunisia it shouldn’t really be surprising.   Its also the only Semitic language that uses ordinary Roman letters and not a right to left type system.

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Beware of Jellyfish!!!

St Julians Bay – Quite homely for the British – Marsaxlokk – Valletta the old capital – Community in Malta – The best nativity scenes in Europe? – Go Gozo