Today, I had high hopes for the day – after sleeping in slightly (first day in a bit I’ve gotten to do that), I eagerly pulled up the note I’d created with my itinerary and set off to view Andorra’s beautiful Romanesque churches. Passing the tourist cabana on my way to the taxi stand, I realized I might as well pop in and see if there was a cheaper way of seeing the sights I was hoping to travel to (these churches are spread out throughout the country and often not in towns, so without renting a car, traveling to them can be a challenge).
Good thing I stopped – unfortunately, as its a Monday after Easter, the churches will be closed, so I’d essentially be paying 100 Euro to see the outer facades (probably still nice, but not something I was as excited about given the cost and drive time to these remote locations). So, I decided to cut my losses and instead stay in Andorra la Vella and make the most of a Monday like a local – enjoying wandering around the shopping district, eating lunch outdoors, and, best of all, taking a hike up above the city to see the views.
I actually started with the hike – it is a short distance up into the Pyrenees, given they’re directly surrounding the city, but it’s a pretty steep grade up the mountains, using streets which have narrow sidewalks. However, the views were gorgeous the whole way up, as was getting to see the different types of architecture featured. I’ve read a couple blogs which call Andorra the ‘ugliest country in Europe’ and I have to vehemently disagree – the shopping district certainly isn’t much to look at, but there is no denying the beauty up in the mountains.
After my hike, I headed back down into the city. Along the way, I discovered a small Romanesque Church tucked away against the mountain – what a treat! It turns out it is the second, lesser-visited Romanesque church in Andorra la Vella. Tucked next to the mountain against a road, the Church doesn’t look like the much from the outside.
Although it was closed, I fortunately was able to get a view inside through a hole in those grates on the front doors – inside, it’s absolutely beautiful.
I wish I could have examined the art up close, but this was at least a treat after the disappointment of the morning’s news that I couldn’t see the other Churches. After waiting here a couple moments soaking it in, I wandered back into the city for lunch. Lunch was uneventful at a tavern in the city, where I got mushrooms (essentially sautéed with oil), chorizo (cooked and served in oil) and patatas bravas (‘spicy’ potatoes – these were more like garlic, oily, soggy potatoes). Sadly, it was one of the more expensive and less value meals I’ve had since arriving in Europe. Slightly disappointed and feeling generally greasy, I wandered back through the shopping district to my Airbnb to rest before heading out later in the afternoon for to read at a cafe and grab dinner somewhere in town. On the way, I passed the interesting sculpture below (edited to note: it’s apparently called L’angel en Trapezi!).
On the way, I found Casa de la Vall, which used to house the Andorran parliament (somehow, I missed this yesterday despite it literally being just around the corner from my Airbnb). Again, offered beautiful external views but no entry due to Andorra’s general case of the Mondays.
All things considered, not a bad day but certainly not the day I’d hoped for – not sure how my research missed the Monday closures, but at least I got some great views out of it. This evening, I’m hoping to try another higher-quality French restaurant – while I appreciate the cheaper prices of most of the bistros, I am craving some fancier food.
Back to Barcelona tomorrow, and then on to Madrid for the remainder of this leg of the trip!
Edited to add:
After my slightly frustrating day, I wanted to celebrate my time in Andorra with some great French food. I found a great restaurant, Versailles, which hit the spot in a big way! I started with French onion soup, and then had a filet mignon and flan (with decadent vanilla ice cream). The accompaniment with the filet was something I haven’t tried before – essentially a potato and carrot soufflé, which was extremely light and slightly sweet.
The following morning before I headed back to Barcelona on my way to Madrid, I stopped at Eglesia de Sant Esteve again, as it had been closed the previous two days. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to see inside. It was slightly less ornate than I expected, but still worth visiting.
Then, I boarded by bus back to Barcelona!