My friends, passionate skiers, following my suggestion went to Andorra for skiing in February 2006....more
c/ Sant Jordi, n0 18, Pas de la Casa, Andorra
Good for: Families
Carrer Sant Jordi 43, Pas de la Casa, Andorra
Good for: Solo
was in andorra twice last year for new years eve 1 time and i couldnt believe what i saw at midnight there was 50 jagermeisters lined on the bar on top of 50 red bulls in glasses at 12 on new year they bar staff there set off the jagerbombs like a domino effect and then gave them all away for free !!!!!! since that night we were there every night...more
Pas de La Casa in eastern Andorra is sometimes called the Ibiza of the Pyrenees. Well, it's not at all true. However, in the evenings my friends spendng winter vacation in Pas de la Casa in 2006 went to restaurants and bars (especially to the large Milwaukee bar) located just a short stroll away from their Hotel Parma. Duty free prices meant that...more
I drove to Andorra by car from Toulouse, southern France which took me almost three hours. The very scenic road climbs the Pyrenees Mountains and offers brethtaking views. I had to stop and show my passport at the border crossing point. Andorra is not European Union member thus there is still border check point. Just after crossing border I passed by Port d'Envalira - the highest pass in the Pyrenees Mountains (2407 m; 7900 ft) and drove futher down to the first community in Andorra that was Pas de la Casa.
Andorra has no airports and no trains. However, the nearest railway station is located in l'Hospitalet, France, only 13 km from Andorra border crossing point in Pas de la Casa. There are buses from this station as well as from the airports in Toulouse (TLS), France, Barcelona (BCN) and Girona (GRO), Spain. Details: follow the link below.
Driving to Andorra in 1994 I was attacked by numerous advertisings which reminded me many times that Andorra was a tax free area. Indeed, it is currently a prosperous country mainly because of tourism (skiing and snowboarding!) and its status as a tax haven. Andorra is not a full member of the European Union, but enjoys a special relationship with it, such as being treated as an EU member for trade in manufactured goods (no tariffs) and as a non-EU member for agricultural products. Andorra has no own currency. It uses euros.
I checked a few various shops starting from "perfumeria" located by main highway at the French border crossing point in Pas de la Casa. Well, the prices were a bit (maybe 10%) lower than I used to see in my coutry that time and definetely lower than in France.
What to buy: Electronics, watches as well as customary high taxed in Europe booze, cigarettes and parfums (add gas/petrol) are offered in many tax free shops.
What to pay: That time everything was far too expensive for us although less expensive than in France or Spain. Especially electronics, watches and traditionally high taxed in Europe parfumes, booze, cigarettes and gas/petrol may be still a bit less expensive as I was told recently.
Many of my pictures taken in Pas de la Casa are of poor or very poor quality for the simple reasons: my poor Soviet Smiena 8M camera I used that time and too large contrast between bright white snowy background and even a bit darker objects. It maybe a tourist trap for every ambitious photographer, especially as click-click addicted amatour as I am now :-).
Unique Suggestions: Taking good pictures on white snow in full sun is always very difficult never mind how good and expensive camera you use. You can try to light the object using a flash but it works only for short distance pictures. After this trip in 1994 I changed my camera to a bit better "full-idiot", I mean automatic camera by Kodak which at least had built-in flash.
Fun Alternatives: If your pictures are already almost white and black try to improve them a bit using any editing software but keep in mind that the result can't be satisfied :-(. Rather cut the picture into two: one of light (darker it) and one of dark (lighter it) object.
Avoid taking pictures of objects of large contrast especially around midday. Generally take pictures early in the morning or before sunset to have longer and softer shadows. Around midday better zoom and compose pictures of non-contrasting objects especially in a shadow. Use UV (mountains) and polarising (elimination of non-metallic reflections of water, glass or snow) filter.
Dress accordingly to weather. Check forecasts for ski and snowboard activities in Pas de la Casa and keep in mind that in the mountains weather can change very fast. I experienced cold, foggy and rainy weather in France and surprisingly enjoyed beautiful warm sun about 20 minutes away in Pas de la Casa.
Always take sunglasses. The sun in high mountains is always very sharp!
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Do not forget sunblock and do use it on time! Once I've seen a woman with severely burned face after only 1-2 hours on the sun in high mountains!
Photo Equipment: Take and use various photo filters from the basic ones: UV in the mountains and polarizing filter which reduces non-metallic reflections of snow. More in my tourist trap tip.
Miscellaneous: In colder season be prepared to use chains while driving. Snow storms at Port d'Envalira pass are possible even in September or May.
Pass de la Casa is located just down the highest paved pass in the Pyrenees called Port D'envalira. I crossed Pyrenees a few times driving four different passes and this one offered the best views. The steep serpentine going up to 2407 m (7900 ft) above see level is fantastic and the views are simple breathtaking.
On the top of the pass there are a few gas/petrol stations built in rocks on both sides of the road as gas/petrol is less expensive in Andorra than in France. The first community in Andorra called Pas de la Casa (ski resort) is well seen down. There is a cement building and tower on the top of a summit by the pass.
The ski season in Pas de la Casa lasts from December to mid-April.
I was in Andorra at the beginning of May. So, I didn't ski but my Polish friends were in Pas de la Casa in March 2006 and they were very satisfied about skiing and weather (a lot of sun and only one foggy day during 10 days) in Pas de La Casa - Grau Roig ski station (over 30 ski lifts and over 50 ski trails for everyone) in eastern Andorra. They were skiing in T-shirts as the temperature was often about 20C. Their stay in Pas de la Casa cost less than in the Alps. They were surprised to meet apart from skiers from Spain, France and Germany, quite many Russians and no Poles. They warned me that ski trails marked red are very difficult (as black ones in Poland) and those marked in black are for very, very experienced skiers, diffucult to survive (read: not for me :-). Shortly they told that they had the best skiing vacation ever. Well, they were skiing in Italian Dolomites as well as a few times in Austrian and French Alps before. The only disadvantage was the distance from Poland to Andorra which shortened their vacations by a few days (they drove by own car) and added some costs. But they visited fairy-like Carcassone in France on the way to Andorra and had a lot of sun on a beach in French Riviera on the way back.
Five days Andorra ski pass (valid for all stations) for season 2006/2007 costs 157,5-168 euros. Follow the link below for up-to-date info.
Equipment: My friends had own skiing equipment as it's always less expensive for them skiing every winter many times. But they told me that they may buy some new equipment in Andorra next year as it was cheap at the end of season (30-50% off at the end of March).
At first I was surprised to see numerous petrol/gas station built in rocks on both sides of main highway on the top of the Port D'Envalira pass. Well, that time in 1994 the gas/petrol was about 25-30% cheaper in Andorra than in France and Spain. With my very low budget it was great news and surely I followed French drivers and fed my car with...more
Along my route N20 and N22 from France to the highest pass in the Pyrenees located in Andorra (see my off the beaten path tip) I saw numerous poles put along the highway to mark the road edges while covered by snow. These poles where the tallest I ever saw, probably about 4 m tall at the pass. In May snow was removed from the road and luckily...more
When I passed the entry point from France and passed through the highest pass in the Pyreneen Mountains (see my off the beaten path tip) I drove down to the first community in Andorra called Pas de la Casa which was full of numerous concrete hotels and tax free shops and didn't look especially great at first sight. However, the Pic Blanc (2705 m;...more