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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EspanLOL

few oddball pictures from Spain that deserved their own mention:

A shop has this handy washing machine with built in sink in this tasteful colour

I really want to do this!  the bubbles were 2 metres long.   Going to try and head to Ben Yehuda Street back in Jerusalem, where street entertainers often gather and give this a try and maybe make a bit of cash…

This just means do not disturb on my hotel door, but the translation just sounds so wrong!!!!

No parking outside the church unless you are religious.  I think.   A bit later there were a couple of hearses outside though.

time out of Israel: wedding in Asturias, Spain

I took some time out of my volunteering for a break for a variety of reasons, I promised my good friend Ian I would go to his wedding, which was in Gijon, Asturias, northern Spain.

This hotel had this interesting looking old government building in a square.  Asturias is quite different from what I imagine Spain to be like, less tourists, bars supplying cider and people playing bag pipes.   Its a nice place, and Ian and Veronica had a super day with a beautiful old building overlooking a lot of hills, perfect weather, and got chance to meet up with some people I not seen in a while, as well as get to know Ian’s family, as well as some friends of Ian I went to Iceland with on a lads holiday back in 2005.   Ian surprised us all by doing all the work driving people from the (relatively dinky) airport with me, and other guests arriving off an Easyjet flight from Stansted, great as I thought he probably had a lot more to get ready as the groom.  One particular point of note with the cider is the barman will hold the bottle above head height and pour into a glass at waist height accurately from behind their backs, its apparently to do with the amount of air that gets into the liquid on the way down but I suspect its more a piece of unique bar showmanship.

Its worth mentioning the Spanish are seriously into their fish, probably more than the French I reckon.  There is some weird and wonderful finned and scaled creatures, such as this pink one with huge eyes at the local market, and tanks of lobsters still alive only a few minutes cooking and preparation to someone’s plate, as Jacobs shows here.   Some of these crabs and lobsters were 30 Euros each in some medium-class restaurants.

I also visited a train museum with Ian’s dad and sister and friends.  The steam trains here are in beautifully restored condition, and the bright bold colours and livery makes them eye catching in familiar Spanish colours.

Lastly of course I have to mention the beach.  Here the beach is sandy but quite empty, mind you it was quite cold being windy the two days before the wedding, of course chances to go and get cider on a pre-pre-wedding jolly with just the lads, seeing as Ian didn’t have a stag due to cancelled flights because of volcano ash.

few weeks break to Spain and the UK

Apologies this blog has been quiet. I took a leave from Jerusalem for a short while for several reasons, I needed to visit to Gijon in northern Spain to see my good friend Ian get married, also then fly back home to the UK to see my sister and family who is expecting a baby this week, I also need to work on an email migration project for the UK office of the charity I volunteer for.

More soon….