Andorra

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Andorra is a small yet beautiful principality sandwiched between Spain and France in the in the heart of the Pyrenees Mountains. I never heard of Andorra until I was looking to surprise my wife with a day trip from Barcelona. Andorra is a ski resort town—kind of like Innsbruck but smaller. We were there in October before the snow came, but the rolling mountains were covered with a multitude Autumn colors that gave way to an absolutely breathtaking view.

We initially only went for lunch and to take in the isolated city of Andorra la Vella because there is not too much to see in the offseason. As we came into Andorra la Vella, I saw a big sign advertising for some place called Naturalandia. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but I kept seeing more signs in town. After driving around and taking in the natural beauty, we were headed out of town until I came to another big sign that said, “Left for Naturalandia or right for Spain.” At the last second I decided to take a left. I felt there was something still left to explore about this postcard town.

The road I had taken had me ascending a huge mountain in my little Fiat Panda. Around the midway point of the mountain, we came upon an outdoor amusement park that bared the name Naturalandia, but we also saw a sign that said we were only halfway, so we proceeded on. When we got to the top, there was a giant log-cabin restaurant and bar surrounded by more amusement activities, one of them being the longest nature toboggan in the world. I asked a staff where I needed to buy tickets for the toboggan and I was directed to the fun park that I passed halfway up the mountain.

When I got back down to the fun park I couldn’t believe my eyes. The park is on the edge of the mountain (which provides for a breathtaking view) and boasted activities such as go-karts, archery, rope-swing obstacle courses, horseback riding, paintball, and much, much more. I went inside the clubhouse and purchased two tickets for the toboggan.

On the way to the ride I could tell my wife was not as excited as I was, so I asked her why. She said,“This looks a little lame. I can’t believe you jump out of planes, and you’re excited about a kid’s ride.” I told her, “I’ve seen this on Facebook and it looks like a lot of fun.” She rolled her eyes but proceeded to be a good sport about the situation. After getting strapped into the toboggan, we had to wait as we were lifted up through 5.3 kilometers of beautiful Andorran forest.

Once we got to the top we were given a brief tutorial on how to use the break and then off we went. After about a hundred meters of track we were flying like a bat out of hell down the mountain and through the forest. You really get the sense that the toboggan is going to come of the tracks and you’re going to go flipping through the forest. The ride is really intense because you’re going fast and close to the ground with no roll cage.

After we got to the bottom I asked Desi if she thought it was still lame. She said, “I’m so sorry for doubting you. That was really fun and really scary at the same time.” I would highly recommend Naturalandia to any family looking to go away on vacation. They are open year-round, the air and the scenery are clean, and there is a huge array of activities for kids and parents.

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After leaving Naturalandia, we head out of Andorra on our way to Zaragoza, Spain. I will always remember Andorra as a place I never knew existed, but now can’t imagine not knowing. The best way I can sum up Andorra is that the scenery looks like God painted a masterpiece, and Andorra was the canvas.

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