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 3. What sort of mini country is this

Right, there isn’t any race tracks or casinos.   This place is quite expensive though, its hard to eat out for less then 15 Euros.     This country was independent in 1815, but history goes back to the 1400s.

Amsterdam has cheese, cycling, tulips, canals, windmills and euphemistically named ‘coffee shops’ which actually sell cannabis.  Brussels has waffles, chocolate, Tintin comics, lace and really good beer.   Luxembourg is like neither.

There is a sovereign head of state here, Henri, the Grand Duke who has reigned since 2000.    So I think this scores highly on my mini countries rating, when I visited Monaco in 2005 just before Prince Rainier passed away (yes Prince, they don’t have a King) and he was married Prince Grace, an American Actress although she sadly passed in a car accident.   Prince Ranier

Only 50.9% of the people are born there, most of the others are from other parts of Europe, 18% the largest group from Portugal.

Luxembourg has its own wine, but don’t make enough of it to export it

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There is a very French feel to this place.

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This was decent, clean and fun youth hostel I stayed at which is right underneath a huge railway viaduct here close to centre of Luxembourg.

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Like Belgium and and Netherlands, there are some nice canals here down the road from the hostel.   Like the Dutch, Luxembourgers are keen gardeners, so these small scraps of land next to the water are being used by locals to grow all kinds of fruit and vegetables.

Luxembourgish is spoken in addition to conventional French and German, which is a form of Quasi-German with slightly different looking spelling.   Some streets have the names with a mixture of French and German, ie: Avenue Du Fritz or or something like that.

Headquarters of Paypal Europe.
There is, like many small countries tax breaks here though, so big tech companies have a little office here.

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You can be forgiven in getting Luxembourg’s flag mixed up with the Netherlands, they look almost the same, the Dutch have a dark blue band, Lux is a little blue.  Both look like the French flag 90 degrees.

The best parts of this city are the views from the viaducts or even the parks with long paths that go underneath them.

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