Part Quatre…4 Andorra

With the weather being a bit rubbish, still warm but cloudy and rainy on and off, we decided let’s go to Andorra and do a bit of shopping.

Andorra is an independent Principality (try saying that after a few gins) a bit like Monacco but as far as I know no Prince and much less sun. Andorra is high in the Pyrenees mountains and is know as a ski resort but also as it’s tax haven status. In fact there is No Tax in Andorra…. Now think for a moment duty free with no duty. Yes that’s it Cheap Booze, Cheap Tobacco, Cheap Perfume etc….. Basically everything can be had cheaper.

On this visit Diesel was €0.91per litre. You bet I arrived with an empty tank. €43 to brim the tank!

Anyway we set off, it’s 121 miles from site to Andorra La Vella the capital town and it takes over 3 hours! Why? Well due to the mountain roads, speed limits etc…. But the drive is a pleasing experience with lots of breathtaking views. The kind you normally only see when watching the Tour Dear France. Who else watches to see if they recognise anywhere?

We got off site and turned right 100m down the road and immediately stopped at the back of a que which was not going anywhere! We crawled down the road, at the first available turning I jumped ship and headed down the back roads which around here are little more than cart tracks. Using my in built sense of direction…Don’t laugh I never actually get lost! I found the other road out of town at Le Taxi. Guess what? Total gridlock again. We joined the que and crawled to the D914 and turned towards Perpignan. Entering Perpignan the road narrows to a single lane. Stopped again! By now we had had enough and decided to abandon the trip, head to the massive Auchan Hypermarket around the corner grab some nice food and head back to site to chill, eat and drink. We’d head to Andorra tomorrow getting an early start. Auchan was absolutely hammered. We bought some goodies and headed back.

Later the Geordies wandered over to let us know their friends had got home ok. One of them had badly burned his feet. They had dropped them off at Girona Airport 49 miles away and it had taken them over 3 hours to get there! They made the flight with 5 minutes to spare having to leave their luggage with our friends for them to take back. Nobody seems to have any idea what happened on Tuesday to cause such total chaos on the local roads!

Wednesday and take 2!

We got up at around 7:30 a quick brew and bite to eat and we’re off! No traffic. Through Perpignan, still no traffic, all the way up into the mountains and still no traffic.

Now sat Nav takes you into Spain and around into Andorra but the authorities had different ideas today and at the border town a diversion was signed which took up high up into the ski resorts amongst the ski lifts and the red and black runs, not to mention above the clouds. This route took us up the French side of Andorra and access the border. The final leg having a massive que which just crawled up the hill, sat Nav telling us still 20milea from Andorra La Vella when in fact we were only a couple of miles from the border which we crossed with no issues and jumped into the tunnel to avoid the que that was winding it’s way through the mountain passes. We had seen enough clouds and besides the management now needed a wee. We stopped at the first likely place and found relief and of course booze in vast quantities.

However not cheap! OMG what was happening? This shop really catered for the skiers and cashed in on a captive audience. Lots of choice and some rare brands but one of my favourite whiskeys was more expensive than I can get it at home.

We drove through to La Vella and saw the madness that is the consumerism of the place. Shops selling electrical, electronic, tobacco even cars, tyres motorbikes with no tax. If you are looking to buy a car and live within reach I really can’t see why you would not pay a visit? But the place was crazy!

We carried on straight through to the road heading into Spain that has supermarkets every 100m and a petrol station in-between. Last year we had been to one called River Supermarket. Not massive but keep prices and sold just about everything.

We got a trolley and started looking around.

  • 2L Bottle of London Dry Gin €7.66
  • 2L Bottle of White Rum €7.66
  • 1.75L Bottle of Vodka €7.95
  • 1L Bottle of Tripplesec €5.56
  • 70CL Bottle of Tequila €4.45

The list goes on. Compare these prices to La Jonquera the “tax free” outlet at the French/Spanish border and you notice a difference. When we arrived I nipped in to buy some Rum and Tequila. The Rum at La Jonquera was over €8 per litre for the same brand as I got 2L for €7 in Andorra. Tequila was only €1 difference but in the French Hypermarkets Rum was €12 for 70CL and Tequila was 15! When you work out that the French Hypermarkets are still cheaper than the supermarkets at home it makes sense to stock up!

We probably won’t buy any more booze until next year. Now if only we had a bigger car?

In the end we bought

  • 6l rum
  • 6.5l vodka
  • 4l tripplesec
  • 5l tequila
  • 8l London Dry him
  • 2l tanquery gin
  • 1l zeer Oude Dutch gin
  • 70cl genebra portugeese gin
  • 70cl generous gin french
  • 70cl crema De catalan

Oh and a Toblerone of course, we’ll be rude not to?