San Marino 7. Serraville, San Marino’s northern town

These nice apartment blocks look similar to the one in Monaco. The streets twist around in sharp bends on the steep hills, so the top floor can be level with the street at the back. I like big balconies, as I once lived in a place like this where I could host some parties.

This is a catholic country, and this Catholic church looks quite different from others I have seen looking quite plain apart from the cartoon Jesus on the front. Monaco, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta and Andorra are also almost all Catholic.

There are a lot of shops selling firearms. This place in Serraville sells stuff for airsoft, but San Marino also has regular guns, archery, knives, paintball and even a blow dart. Think our American friends would find this interesting.

I can’t think of where you can practice shooting, with the exception there is a place to do crossbow at the top of old city.

This isn’t anywhere near automobile obsessed as Monaco. But there are a few car showrooms with prestige vehicles on offer. was one of them I went past, a fairly small building compared to car dealerships I’ve seen in Britain.

There are a few empty houses that look to be a project for someone, so there is room for new people to move here.

I took a 45 minute break in this coffee shop. Got chatting to the workers there, which they are from Italy. I didn’t get to find out what proportion of people in SM actually live in regular part of Italy. This could be interesting seeing as Liechtenstein actually has negative unemployment as people commute into the country.

1. Planning visit to my final tiny country – 2. Flying to Italy for the price of two pizzas – 3. Getting there from Bologna via Rimini – 4. City of Rimini – 5. Walking from Rimini to San Marino – 6. What sort of mini country is this – 7. Serraville, San Marino’s northern town – 8. San Marino’s only youth hotel – 9. Castles in the sky – 10. Safe up the top – 11. The tall centre of community of San Marino – 12. novelty shops, post office and passport stamps – 13. The government buildings and plaza – 14. Automobiles – 15. The three towers – 16. What I didn’t see & finishing up

Monaco – 1. My first tiny country from 2005

There was just something irresistible about taking a break from my IT job at a hospital back in 2005 needing some adventure and not really travelled back then.

Research showed that Monaco, possibly the most expensive country in the world is very close to the city of Nice, in France which is served by Easyjet.

So, it was simple as a 6km train ride into the place of a motor racing mecca and glitzy casinos.

Nice has ferries to Corsica, an island that looks like it should be part of Italy, but is actually French owned.  The other side of Nice has Cannes, famous for the big film festivals also.

Although because this trip was so long ago, I can’t actually find my photos from back then.

nice and monaco from the air When you take a flight directly into Nice, the plane effectively does a 180 degree turn so if you are sat in the right place, you get a view of the whole of the edge of the Mediterranean. Nice (!)

1. Monaco, my first tiny country – 2. Train in from France3. Hairpin bends – 4. soon….

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

Liechtenstein 1. Plans

Liechtenstein is the next small country I am going.

I don’t know much about this little country yet.

  • It’s not part of the EU, its between Switzerland and Austria.
  • It’s really hard to spell.
  • It has a prince that runs it with his own castle and winery.
  • Its biggest industry is making false teeth.
  • It is double landlocked.
  • The capital is Vaduz
  • It uses the Swiss Franc as money, almost the same as a US Dollar, as 1 CHF = $0.99 as of February 2019.
  • Cars have stickers/plates marked (FL) which is Federation of Liechtenstein, and web sites and email addresses instead of .li
  • It’s flipping expensive like Switzerland.
  • There are only one Youth Hostel and its shut in the winter, so I will have to stay 15 km away in a town in Switzerland.

I bought two one-way tickets, one into Germany and one out of Switzerland.   I have friends in Munich in Germany who is originally from my home town of Portsmouth UK, and another friend from Basel Switzerland who is going to rendezvous with me in Zurich before I fly home.

Plus I thought it would be fun to get all the non-EU countries done before the media tells me the world ends (29/3/2019 = Brexit)   haha.

Related:  Other tiny countries I have seen:-Andorra, Gibraltar, Iceland, Liechtenstein,  Luxembourg, Malta, 
Monaco, San Marino

GERMANY 1. Dachau concentration camp – 2. BMW museum – 3. BMW World futuristic showroom – 4. Neuschwanstein Castle – 5. 1972 Munich Olympics village – 6. Tourism and going out in Munich – 7. Deutsches Museum – 8. Business in the UK, Germany and Israel – 9. Friedrichshafen, a pleasant German town on a lake

SWITZERLAND 1. Trying to do ‘cheap’ Switzerland – 2. The town of Grusch – 3. Clever Swiss made things – 4. Train from Grusch to Zurich – 5. Zurich, the more liberal Switzerland – 6. Swiss dinosaurs

LIECHTENSTEIN 1. Plans – 2. Getting into this tiny nation – 3. Motorbikes, cars and kebab shops in Vaduz, Liechtenstein – 4. Small country topography – 5. Road up to the castle – 6. The Prince’s castle and vineyard – 7. bars, shops, Olympics – 8. Tiny country, big output – 9. Vaduz church – 10. Government buildings and museums

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.


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

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!


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?


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

Related:  Other tiny countries I have seen:-Andorra, Gibraltar, Iceland, Liechtenstein,  Luxembourg, Malta, 
Monaco, San Marino

Luxembourg 4. Transport

The city centre is small enough to walk around for anyone reasonably fit.  The park which has a path that encircles the city with below views of the viaducts makes a great place to take a walk.

lux platesSome cars here have a prominently large EU flag on their number plates without a country identifying prefix.  I’ve seen this on Luxembourg vehicles in the UK, and only the separate L oval sticker reveals when this car is from.  Maybe Luxembourg is the least nationalistic nation in Europe?


My flight to Luxembourg from London Stansted was the cheapest flight I’ve ever bought.   It was also one of the worst.   Not because Ryanair have many hidden costs on things like many other budget airlines, but that my flight home was canceled because of industrial action with their staff.  I had a nice hotel paid for, but I decided not take another flight the next day as I had already missed a day of work and made my own way home (which I took a long bus back to London via the Eurostar)  The staff in Luxembourg’s airport were actually really polite and helpful with me and the mostly very angry passengers.


Like a lot of European capitals, the railway station is large and has connections to get all over parts of Europe.   I spent one day in Metz, France which was quite a simple journey but required a bus first to Bettembourg, a Luxembourgish town outside the capital city, due to railways works.


Outside of the station was one of these French style urinals, although this one is less crude then some I have seen before.

pano5 1024

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


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.


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


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.


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