***** 25th Country Alert****** Andorra is the 25th country I have officially visited. Chin chin! (I say ‘officially’ because fleeting airport visits and stepping off the passerelle to touch the ground doesn’t count)
I’ve swapped sky scrapers and smog for mountain air and rum hot chocolates. My morning views of the pollution-blackened exterior of the Brixton Academy have been traded in for that of fresh powered snow and frosty evergreens. It’s so good to be back in a place where the commute is a lift sketchy chair lift and a bev with lunch is protocol. There I was wondering whether I had made a mistake booking a cold snow holiday in the chilly month of January, thinking that somewhere more towards the equator would have been better suited… ohhhh how I was wrong. Donned out in a full 70s/80s fluorescent ski suit, retro sunnies and full decathlon thermals I have spent the last few days shooping to my hearts content.
I’ve never had a proper professional ski lesson before, my ex bravely took on the undesirable task of taking me on the snow for the first time. Kudos for his patience because I can be a right brat when learning new things. I think he did a bloody good job as I feel I took to it quite well, specially for someone who struggles to tell the time and differentiate between left and right. I reached new heights today (har har) and went on my first red slope! Pretty happy with how it went although my right leg is a bit rogue and I can’t seem to get it to parallel turn very well meaning my control isn’t 100% on point… but the point is I haven’t fallen over of my own accord yet only in a hilarious collision with my pal Rachel and almost being taken out by a very apologetic Italian lady.
So to celebrate reaching my 25th country here are some wee little facts about the teeny principality that is Andorra.
1. Andorra is the only country in the world where Catalan is an official language
2. The population of Andorra is currently 76,965
3. Andorra is not an official member of the EU
4. Andorra has two princes. The president of France and the Bishop of Urgell serve as co-princes for the country, making it the only co-principality.
5. The common otter is among the countries threatened species, while the Apollo butterfly and the lesser horseshoe bat are vulnerable species in Andorra.
6. Andorra is the sixth smallest nation in Europe and the sixteenth smallest nation in the world.
7. Andorran law requires the eldest able-bodied man of the house to keep a rifle to be used when needed for national protection.
8. The country has an army of just 12 people. This army hasn’t fought in over 700 years.
So there’s some saucy knowledge for ya and I recommend coming here for skiing as its way cheaper than the usual spots and the mountains are pretty darn great…