Andorra Journals

ANDORRA and a Little Yellow Train

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A July 2003 trip to Andorra by jemery

The Three Valleys - Andorra Photo, Andorra, Europe More Photos
Quote: There are no trains in Andorra, but IgoUgo’s resident railroad enthusiast found an intriguing one to ride en route there. Learn why this mountain-locked little country, deep in the Pyrenees, is so beloved by skiers, backpackers . . . and world-class shoppers. And why getting there is much of the fun.

ANDORRA and a Little Yellow Train

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Overview

The Three Valleys - Andorra Photo, Andorra, Europe
Quote:
Almost hidden in the confluence of three valleys deep in the Pyrenees, wedged between France and Spain, the 66,000-population, 180-square-mile Principality of Andorra has become a recreational powerhouse for skiing, hiking, camping and SHOPPING. Merchandise here is duty-free and, for now, also free of high European Union sales taxes. Andorra has been more or less indpendent since the 1200s, when the Spanish archbishop and a rival French prince agreed to share it instead of fighting over it; a home-rule "Council of the Land" took over day-to-day governance in the 1400s. Although Andorra is technically still a "parliamentary co-principality," it joined the United Nations in 199...Read More

Hotel Panorama Andorra

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Hotel | "Hotel Panorama"

Hotel Panorama Andorra Photo, Andorra, Europe
Quote:
This large (177-room) hotel earns four out of five stars in the official government rating system and I agree with that assessment. Appropriately named, the Panorama is built into the side of a high ridge with a commanding view of the three valleys below; the main entrance, on the bypass highway toward Spain, is on the fifth floor! The hotel is in two sections, sharing a large reception and dining area. The lower floors, built into the hillside, have west-facing rooms only. Every guest, at least on the third and fourth floors, has a fine view. (The photo "Morning Sunlight" was from my room at the Panorama.) Floors 6-10 are in a tower rising above the ridge and highway, and appeared to be ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 31, 2003

Hotel Panorama Andorra
Nou Vial de l'Obac
Escaldes, Andorra

The Buffet at Hotel Panorama

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Restaurant

Quote:
With a semi-circular wall of glass commanding glorious views, and beautifully set tables with crisply starched pink linens, this was one of the most attractive restaurants of my European travels. Too bad the food was "ok" but not "great." This is a buffet-only restaurant. There WAS a generously stocked salad bar with a wide variety of greens, tomatoes and crudites and platters of varying cheeses. The fruit/dessert bar was equally plentiful. Unfortunately, the main buffet had only one cooked meat entree, pork tenderloin on this particular night, and a few seafood options. Worse, they were more lukewarm than hot. Menu selections change nightly, and it’s possible there would have been...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on September 1, 2003

The Buffet at Hotel Panorama
Carretara De L'obac
Escaldes, Andorra

Le Train Jaune (The Yellow Train)

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Attraction | "Mountain High on Le Train Jaune"

Le Train Jaune (The Yellow Train) Photo, Andorra, Europe
Quote:
Tourists wave gaily from an open-top deck. An overpriced tour on a double-decker bus? Nope. An inter-city passenger train on France’s national rail system, crossing the Pyrenees en route from the Mediterranean seacoast to a nostalgia-crammed village called "La Tour de Carol" and a bus connection on to the equally ancient principality of Andorra. Le Train Jaune --- the Little Yellow Train --- is primarily a popular tourist attraction. I’m probably one of the few truly through passengers, having joined it after riding an overnight sleeper train from the Italian Riviera to the French port of Perpignan and, from there, a connecting train to the foothills community of Villefranche. Fro...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 31, 2003

Le Train Jaune (The Yellow Train)
Villefranche, France
Andorra

Road From France: 7900 feet & climbing

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Story/Tip

Pas de la Casa, France/Andorra Photo, Andorra, Europe
Quote:
I knew I’d enjoy Andorra before we ever got near the main city. We’d climbed into the mid-Pyrenees in an open-top railcar to reach the bus connection at La Tour de Carol, France; now, our bus has just crossed the French/Andorran border by ascending one of the most tortuous sequences of hairpin and reverse curves within memory. I’m in the shotgun seat, looking DOWN at clouds shrouding the ski lifts at Pas de la Casa. When we crest the pass at Port d’Envalira, 7,900 feet above sea level, the road ahead unwinds in loops and coils below us like the unravelling of a fancy Christmas bow. We can see where we’re going, a cluster of buiildings in a narrow cleft in the mountains just a few miles away, but i...Read More

A Walking Tour

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Story/Tip

Morning Sun over Andorra Photo, Andorra, Europe
Quote:
Think of a somewhat lopsided "Y." The Gran Riu Valira d‘Orient (Great River of the East) courses down a steep, narrow valley to form the right-hand leg. From the left, down another mountain valley, comes the Riu Valira Nord. Where they come together to form "The Great River Valira" is the country’s metropolitan center and home of most of its people. Most of the (extremely modest) government buildings and public facilities are in Andorra la Vella, the Capitol. Escaldes, to the east, has most of the in-city hotels and the toniest shops. Engordany, sprawled amongst the hills and along the cliffs north of downtown, is the primary residential section. First-time visitors will encount...Read More