Our first eat-out meal since arriving in Andorra was just before we hit the slopes for our snow holiday! By the time we settled our equipment, it was near lunch hour and we needed to wait till 1pm before we could purchase the half-day mountain pass for the day and full day passes for the next few days.
Randomly chose to eat at Oh Burger Lounge since they are just a short walk away from the Grandvalira ski resort’s ticket office in Pas de la Casa.
Ordered a simple Signature Oh Burger with an addition fries, along with a bottle of Coke. I’m pleasantly surprised to see the iconic bottled coke being used here along with matching glass. The little slice of lemon certainly added more zest to the sugar-loaded carbonated drink. Oddly I seldom drink Coke in Singapore, as there are a lot of less sugared drinks options around, but I always have a craving to enjoy something sweet when I’m up in the cold snow mountains.
The burger was pretty huge, at least big enough for us to share one. Patty was cooked as per our order of medium with a nicely sauteed vegetable side.
This ended up as the only meal we eat-out in Pas de la Casa. As we stayed in an apartment, we cooked most of our meals not only to save money but there isn’t many dining variety in this small resort town. Although options are plenty, most of the eateries are British bar/pub or Italian eateries serving pastas/pizzas.
We seemed to be the only Asian faces in the town as we hadn’t seen any other Chinese in this part of Andorra which is near the French border. We did however saw quite a few China/Hong Kong shoppers in Andorra la Vella – the main city and shopping town of Andorra.
I’m sharing some info on Andorra here as I think many people gave a “Huh? Where’s that place?” response when I told them I’m going Andorra for my ski holiday. I also had quite a difficult time researching on this tiny (468 sq. km) independent principality situated between France and Spain in the Pyrenees mountains. Hope other travellers will find the information I shared here useful for their planning.
Getting to Andorra la Vella from Barcelona is quite straight forward. There are at least 2 operators that run scheduled coach journeys between the two cities. The journey is about 3 hours. We boarded the coach at the coach terminal next to Barcelona Sants Estacio. With free wifi onboard the bus, time passes by very quickly as we napped, snacked, surfed the internet and arrived at the coach kiosk of the operator in Andorra la Vella with much ease. There isn’t any spectacular scenery along the way…
Most tourists will not venture beyond Andorra la Vella if they are not going to the mountains for skiing in winter or trekking in summer. Because the bulk of shops (and a few bigger malls) are concentrated along the main shopping street – Meritxell avenue in Andorra la Vella. Andorra offers duty-free shopping, even on alcohol and cigarettes hence I was stunned by the prices on display… I’ve also never seen cigarettes sold in such large boxes and stacked up openly in stores…I’ll share more about Andorra la Vella in my next post whereby we spent an afternoon walking around town.
From the coach kiosk, transport options available to get to Pas de la Casa is either by taxi or by public bus. Of course things would be much easier if we took a cab, but it’s not cheap to do so. Since we were not in any hurry, we decided to take our time and opted to take public bus instead. There are only a total of 6 bus routes (if I’m not wrong) in the whole of Andorra. Only 1 bus, bus route #4, goes to Pas de la Casa. Based on the limited information on the internet, we managed to locate the bus stop which is about 10 mins walk away from the coach kiosk. Then we spent closed to 45 mins waiting for the mysterious bus #4 at the bus stop (which by the way only has a post, the small shelter with limited seats is a distance away from the designated bus bay). We didn’t managed to get any information regarding the scheduled timing of the bus route nor the frequency…Apparently its 1 trip every hour…(we confirmed this after we received the ski map from Grandvalira) and Andorra la Vella‘s temperature was around 10 degrees that day…
The frequency of other bus routes are much higher than the frequency for bus route #4…after such a long wait time at the bus stop, we could guess who are the other commuters waiting for the same bus as us…
It takes about 45 minutes to get to Pas de la Casa from Andorra la Vella as the bus navigates through the meandering (and mostly single lane) hilly road. Due to the significant increase in elevation as we progress towards the mountains, you can notice the change in the scenery from lush green forest into the snowy white mountains.
By the time we arrived at Pas de la Casa, the temperature has dropped to around 0 degrees. It was snowing lightly when we stepped out from the bus and we had to drag our 25kg luggages through the snow covered pavement to our apartment.
There are quite a number of pretty decent supermarts in the small resort town, so getting groceries is not an issue if you are planning to do self-catering like I did.
Will be sharing more information about Andorra in my next post.