The rustic cottage we’d booked was located just two and a half hours drive away from Bilbao. Although we’d originally planned to stop in the capital of the Basque Country, we ended up heading straight to the small village of Trillayo. With a population of just 31, and the medieval town of Potes ten minutes away, it was an ideal base for our adventures. We’d totally fallen in love with this 200 year old cottage when we’d seen it online and really hoped it lived up to expectations. It really did, the views from our balcony of the Picos de Europa were magnificent. We’d enjoy breakfast there before heading out each day and evenings were spent watching the swallows fly in circles around nearby rooftops. There was only one day we weren’t out exploring but we’ve pulled together our top picks for things you really shouldn’t miss.
The Montanas del Fuego in the Timanfaya National Park were created between 1730 and 1736 when more than a hundred volcanoes devastated this part of Lanzarote. Although no-one died, many of those that had farmed the area left the island. There was so much ash and smoke in the atmosphere, even the sun disappeared for a time. There have been no eruptions here for 300 years now and much of the landscape has remained the same due to the low rainfall. The ‘martian-like’ scenery makes the Fire Mountains a must see when you’re on the island.
Of all the countries we’ve travelled to, Venezuela remains one of the most memorable. And it wasn’t just the ten flights in ten days either. Our first 24 hours in South America saw us exchange currency in the airport car park, stay in a hotel with armed guards and leave the majority of our luggage with strangers. But it was an incredible trip and we did so many awesome things while we were there. Here are our top five.
While we were in Cantabria, we heard a Heidi trilogy was being filmed locally. Based on the book by Swiss author Johanna Spyri, Heidi: Queen of the Mountain is said to feature Bill Nighy, Helen Baxendale, Mark Williams and Olivia Grant with newcomer Samantha Allinson playing Heidi. It was reported Mogrovejo, one of the most beautiful villages in Spain, would represent the fictional Swiss village of Dörfli with the grandfather house situated near the village of Pendes.
Located off the Northwest coast of Africa and only a 4 hour flight away, it’s no wonder the Canary Islands are so popular what with consistently warm temperatures, spectacular beaches and dramatic scenery. We recently enjoyed a trip to Lanzarote where we explored the likes of Playa de Papagayo, Montañas del Fuego (the Fire Mountains), the ancient town of Teguise, Mirador del Rio and the Jardin de Cactus. That’s not to say we didn’t make the most of our villa pool and soaking up that winter sun of course!
One of the things I love about having a car abroad is that it gives you the flexibility to discover places you might otherwise miss. Like Mogrovejo which is nestled in the Picos de Europa mountain range, in the Asturias and Cantabria region of Northern Spain.
It’s funny how being parent changes a perspective and how you view travel. In the past, we’d often book flights and never really consider how else we could reach a destination. While exploration continues to remain at the heart of all our holidays, the journey to a destination is very much a part of that. Our six year old daughter POD has a wonderful sense of adventure and our first trip via cruise ferry certainly surprised us all. For all the right reasons.
Located in Guatiza, towards the ancient town of Teguise, the Jardín de Cactus is easy to spot with its giant metallic cacti sculpture outside the entrance. We were heading southward having spent time in Teguise, it was too tempting not to stop and have a look. There’s so much to explore in Lanzarote when you have a hire car and the freedom to travel around the island so I honestly didn’t think we’d make it here. Added to which cactus gardens probably aren’t that interesting to six year olds. But the Jardín de Cactus, built on the site of a disused quarry, offers so much more as we discovered. It is said to have one of the best collections of cacti in the world, showcasing some 10,000 plants and over 1,000 species.
If you’re on the hunt for a natural high, the Mirador del Rio could well be it. Situated in the far North of Lanzarote, it’s the island’s most well-known vantage point located almost 500 metres above sea level. It was originally used by the Spanish in the 16th century so they could look out for pirates, two hundred years later it became a fortress and gun battery. These days it’s a spectacular vista which offers breathtaking views across the El Rio strait and Chinijo Archipelago.
Said to be the oldest Spanish settlement in the Canaries, Teguise (or La Villa as it’s known locally) dates back to 1402. Situated in the middle of the island, the ancient town was Lanzarote’s capital for around 450 years. We went to check out Teguise on our first full day having arrived at our Lanzarote villa the night before.