Somehow the meteorological forecast overseas are always pretty reliable and after 2 bright and sunny days on the slopes, the predicted heavy fog and snow arrived on day 3 and made it a bad day for us… We decided to make use of the “rest” day for a trip to Andorra la Vella.
Although the weather was poor on the mountains, weather was not as harsh in Andorra la Vella. It was a cloudy day but there wasn’t any snow. We did some window shopping (review of the unremarkable shopping experience at bottom of post) around town before heading for lunch at a restaurant inside A Casa Canut Hotel Gastronomic.
Started our lunch with a half bottle wine, it’s nice to have be able to enjoy good variety of half bottle wines in Europe. In Singapore, the half bottle ones are the usual suspects from the few bigger wineyards in Australia…Complimentary small bites were served.
For the meal one of us had the 5-course Daily Set Lunch Menu €18 while we added on an ala-carte Black rice of fresh cuttlefish in its ink €22.
For the set lunch, it includes 1 appetizer Endive served with Duck Ham and freeze-dried fruits and starter Chicken croquettes and crushed tomato.
We were expected relatively small portions since it was a 5-course menu, but were pleasantly surprised that we could share some of the dishes!
Cannelloni Black Truffle was the 3rd course. Cannelloni are a cylindrical type of pasta stuffed with a filling, it is then served with cream sauce, topped with black truffle.
The main was Venison Stew which had tender meat with rich gravy. And our ala carte black rice was served in a huge pan! We didn’t expect the portion to be so generous! This pan is certainly much bigger than the paella we had in Barcelona (Restaurant 7 Portes). The rice was flavoursome but some parts was slightly too savoury for me, perhaps it wasn’t stirred equally.
Although we enjoyed the rice which was filled with chewy squid and other seafood; and we tried to finish as much as we can, we simply can’t finish it all.
Final course was Crepe Suzette, a French dessert supposedly served flambé but the dish wasn’t prepared at the table-side so we missed a show.
The meal ended with petit fours.
Feeling full from the heavy meal, we took a walk to see the modern glass-cladded building that housed Caldea Spa, which is Europe’s largest health spa in the mountains.
In fact we contemplated visiting them for a soothing relaxation in the thermal water, for €30 one can visit the main spa area for 3-hours. But by the time we finished our late and long lunch, it was already 4+pm… granted that we shouldn’t go soak ourselves immediately after a heavy meal, we weren’t left with much time cos we had to leave before the LAST bus back to Pas de la Casa which departs at 7.45pm.
More info about Hispano Andorrana bus schedule (there’s 1 other bus company serving the same route but I do not have any info on their schedule).
- Andorra la Vella – Pas de la Casa: First trip 7.45am. Last trip 7.45pm
- Pas de la Casa – Andorra la Vella: First trip 8.45am. Last trip 8.45pm
The meal was definitely the highlight of our trip to Andorra la Vella. In fact it salvaged our rather uneventful day trip.
And here’s how our day went:
In late morning we arrived in Andorra la Vella alighting near the shopping street and was pretty excited to do some shopping in the city known for duty-free shopping. However our excitement was short-lived as we soon realised that the cheaper items seemed to be the older seasons and there isn’t much “latest” season items available… One of the better outlets is probably the ones by Via Moda that carries a few of the upper mid-range brands like Armani AX, Hugo etc. You’ll be disappointed if you expect Andorra la Vella to be like a mega “Premium” Outlet Village… Don’t expect to buy your cheap Pradas or Guccis here… In fact they are almost non-existent here… I did not see any of these luxury brand boutiques here… Thankfully I did some shopping in Barcelona before heading to Andorra… Trust me, Barcelona offers much better variety in terms of both branded and fast-fashion brands, fashion trends and overall experience for a slightly higher price.
There are quite a number of authorised dealer stores (not boutiques) selling branded watches and these are at least the more reputable brands like Omega, Breitling etc but we didn’t check out the prices.
Honestly I couldn’t bear to recommend anyone to go Andorra just for the shopping unless they are either a heavy smoker or a serial drunkard… Since it is a heaven to these target group of consumers it is not surprising that the air quality on the streets is horrid… In Singapore what would you do if you are walking behind a smoker? Overtake them so that you get fresh air right? In Andorra la Vella, the outcome would be you’ll likely end up even closer to the other smoker further ahead!!!
However the ski slopes in Andorra were pretty good but not much off-piste area. See the gorgeous photos below!
Perhaps we were lucky and arrived shortly after a slow/late start to the winter season, there wasn’t much of a crowd. Although we still need to spend time queuing for the chairlifts and gondola, its pretty bearable. Overall Andorra is a relatively cheaper venue for ski holiday compared to the famous resorts in Switzerland and France. Of course you’ll need to manage your expectations as it wouldn’t be as glamorous as the ski towns in other parts of Europe.
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