Many of the hotels still haven't latched onto the idea that Christmas has long since been and gone. There are Chrimbo trees and fairy lights aplenty. What is it with ski resorts and their year-round Christmas obsession? I love Christmas as much as the next girl, but by the middle February I'm more than ready to move on.
In Andorra La Vella, the capital city of this tiny principality, you never get very far away from the sound of rushing water. Rivers tumble down from the snowy peaks, and race through town with a thundering velocity. And every now and then you come across a hot spring sending up great plumes of water vapour into the chilly night air. As you stand and admire the scene you begin to notice just a hint of sulphur hanging in the breeze and adding to the atmosphere.
It's an amazing thing to see a steaming river, especially as this one is just a skip, a hop and a jump away from Meritxell Avenue, the main shopping street where luxury label boutiques vie for position, and the cool crowd parade around in their designer finery.
There's a hot spring further down the street that feeds a huge stone trough where the water temperature is a constant 70ºC. You can stop and dip your hands/ feet/ whatever you want cooked in it, but it's uncomfortably hot - and that's coming from someone who likes her baths lava hot!
I understand the science behind hot springs, but I still find myself standing back and marvelling at the incongruity of steam in a snowscape. It's easy to imagine how delighted our early ancestors must have been with places like this. In a cold, wintery climate, where everyone spent their lives balanced on the edge of hypothermia, it must have felt like a gift from the gods to come across a steaming hot spring rising out of the frozen ground.
All the best for now,