Many of my pictures taken in Andorra 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.
If you want to go to Andorra keep the weather conditions in mind.
In the summer soon sun can change into thunder and lightning!
If you want to go away check out if all passes are free!
Unique Suggestions: If you are in a bad weather just wait until it is better.
If it is possible look for a safe place.
But don't risk something.
If your pass is not open you have to wait until it is open.
There is no alternative for that.
Fun Alternatives: Always check out the weather conditions before you go on walking trips.
Say to your hotel where you want to go.
If you want to leave check it out before and leave free time when the situation is not clear at all.
Andorra La Vella - with the very modest exception of the Barri Antic district - and Escaldes are both tourist traps insofar as both are essentially big shopping centers that seem to be perrenially under construction. You will never see more cranes per square inch, and hear more jackhammers per second, than in these two towns during the day. (One book described Andorra La Vella as 'Hong Kong without the noodle shops.') In a country reputed for its scenery and serenity, Andorra La Vella and Escaldes are the exceptions. To be certain, the shopping is almost all high end - no cheesy souvenier shops here - but it can be overwhelming and is not conducive to peace and quiet, especially during the evening commutes and the weekends. The bottom line is that Andorra La Vella and Escaldes should be viewed as a base camp, not your sole stop in Andorra.
Andorra is a duty free state with only 2 main roads in. One via France and one via Spain. Each of these has a 'Bordertown' crammed with Booze and ciggy shops. Electronics abound. Bewere! The French customs don't challange you at the Border crossing. They wait in a big van at the bottom of the pass and tend to ignore all French plates and go straight for other countries plated cars. Allowances are small and the temptation to buy big!
Shops are the greatest tourist trap in Andorra but remember: almost all shops may be closed at 13.30-15.00 as they rest at siesta time. Not because it too warm this time but it seems like tradition :)
STARS is a flamencoid (pseudo-flamenco-ish.) club in Andorra La Vella. It's EXPENSIVE, and the entertainment is.....embarrassing. It caters mostly to French senior citizens who expect 'Typical Spanish' while having their sensitivities unscathed. Just Spanish enough basically. The club's owner dancing flamenco in drag is an image that has been burned into my retinas. Sometimes I wake up screaming from dreaming about it....
OK so I'm a bit dramatic. Whaddaya want from me?
Andorra La Vella is in a way a tourist trap with all its shops etc. All you wanna do in town is to shop ! Dont ask what they sell, they sell EVERYTHING !
However its not a tourist trap in the bad meaning of the word. Its a great place to be but I just wish I were a millionary so I could buy some more of the stuff they sell there..... THE PHOTO: A QUIET MOMENT IN THE STREETS OF ANDORRA LA VELLA.
Of course, buy more than you really need and pay,
perhaps, more than you could be paied in your own
country. Be careful, it´s easy to lose your head
when everybody is spending lot of money around you!!
Andorra la Vella is the capital and only real town of the principality. Its main pre-occupation is retailing duty-free elrctronics and luxury goods.
The suburbs and localities around ARE NOT DUTY-FREE !!
When you reach Andorra for the first time with your car, from Spain (what I did) - you cross suburbs and localities located southern to Andorra la Vella. If you don't speak Spanish or French (English only, like I do), and you want to buy some electronics - NO ONE WILL TELL YOU IT'S NOT DUTY-FREE !!
I bought Sony Digi-Cam (pic attached) in a fair price, I think, but left the place with bad feeling that I could find the same product cheaper only 3-4 KMs away, in Andorra la Vella.
After purchase there is no money refund, you only get a credit coupon for new purchase in the same store.
I tried to cancel the purchase of the digi-cam, one hour after leaving the store. It took me a long time to find an English-speaking service worker, the manager refused to see me, and they refused to get the digi-cam back and give me money refund, only a credit coupon for alternative purchase in the same store. For most of tourists a credit coupon of 234 Euro is useless, you know.
I went to the central police station to complain, and an officer told me that thr refusal is according to the custom and the rule in Andorra, and you can get money refund only in case of obvious demage or defect/ defecto. Andorra is a member in European Union, and the officer told me that Andorra rule in that case is an exception, AGAINST the EU' rules/law, but EU failed to enforce Andorra to change this custom.
This is not really a trap...rather an advice. Things you buy in Andorra are taxfree, so think about that when you buy something. If the price is the same or just a tiiiny bit lower then it is back home, then you are being ripped off. Just so you know.
Take care at the customs if you bought too much alcohol or too many cigarettes, ANDORRA does not belong to the E.E.C. declare the goods when you pass the border !
Attention a la douane si vous avez acheté de l'alcool ou des cigarettes en trop grande quantité, ANDORRE ne fait pas partie de la C.E.E., il faut dont déclarer les biens achetés lorsque vous passez la frontière.
You will find a lot of shops, hundreds of meters long watch salesboards, electronic superstores, photo equipment shops etc.
Salvia hotel is very good located. Even the hotel is a 3 star the looby seems a 4 or 5 star....more
Carretera General d'Arinsal, Arinsal, AD400, Andorra
Good for: Solo
My friends, passionate skiers, following my suggestion went to Andorra for skiing in February 2006....more