Well, I have been proved wrong this weekend. In several ways.
First of all, Andorra is NOT only a booze and ciggi shopping haven where grotty warehouse-like shops jockey for position and try to draw in the bargain hunter and flog him everything and anything because he believes it to be cheap. There is that, of course, but I also saw a side of Andorra I had not seen in my three previous trips there.
Andorra-la-Vieja is NOT just a village down the road from the Pas-de-la-Casa. It’s actually rather far from our hotel in Grau Roig, which means all of Andorra is bigger than I had previously understood. Then it turns out that it is, in fact, a proper city and not a village. It’s got a looooong pedestrian shopping street and a large residential area, an historic town center and lots and lots of stuff besides. We walked over a mile to get to our meeting point, a restaurant called Borda Estevet, and were still only in the very city-centre, so we got to see quite a bit of it up close. (Dinner at Borda Estevet was great. Lovely oven-baked snails as a starter, super-tender, succulent meat served on a sizzling stone with baked vegetables as a main course. Forget dessert, except the fresh cows’ milk cheese with honey and walnut kernels. Yum!)
Today we went for a 3-hour walk through a pretty valley dotted with stone-and-wood cottages. Well-marked hiking paths make finding your way easy. Roads lined with bins and RECYCLING bins make keeping the environment clean easy. The sun was out, there was snow on the ground, and except for a biting wind that made us all pull our hoods up, everything was perfect.
On our way back to Grau Roig, we decided to stop at the Sport Hotel in Soldeu for no other reason than that we passed it last night and it looked nice.
“Nice”. The understatement of the year. Wonderful! Fabulous! And the swimming pool they have two floors below the ground-floor bar is just ridiculously glam.
We stayed for a good hour, drinking cava and eating fancy finger food while looking out of huge windows onto the mountainside and skiers and skilifts. Even the kids behaved. It was heaven.
Tonight, Hubby has a big surprise in store for the kids. We’re being picked up by one of those huge, slightly frightening snow ploughs that crawl up and down the ski slopes all night, preparing them for the next day’s skiers. We’ll be dropped off on the top of the mountain to have dinner… in an igloo! I have no idea what to expect from this. I guess I’ll have to tell you all about it tomorrow.