While you can climb the Picos de Europa, it’s not something you’d attempt with a five year old in tow. Instead you take the Fuenta De cable car up to the summit where you can enjoy spectacular views as soon as you arrive. As you’d expect it’s a popular spot so we found ourselves heading off the beaten track the following day. Pico Jano (1,446 metres) is only accessible by foot from the village of Dobarganes. While fairly remote, the area is surrounded by magnificent scenery and it’s easily accessible by car. That’s the joy of travelling to Northern Spain by cruise ferry, we got to explore in our own car.
We kept ourselves pretty busy while we were in Northern Spain. In the first few days we’d taken in the magnificent Picos de Europa, trekked from Dobarganes to Pico Jano and explored the spectacular El Soplao Caves. Green Spain is an absolute gem and there’s plenty to explore off the beaten track too. The roads in the Liebana region are surprisingly good and we enjoyed having the freedom of being able to travel around in our own car.
Such a brilliant weekend was had by all in Germany’s capital city. We saw numerous sights and attractions including the historic Berlin Wall, East Side Gallery and Wall Museum. There are over 400 galleries in Berlin but there’s an abundance of public art to be found too. Not just at the 1.3km long East Side Gallery (where you’ll find the renowned “fraternal kiss” either. Much like London, street art can be found all over Berlin. Work by International artists such as ROA, Victor Ash, Os Gemeos, Romero and Flix can be found here along with local talent like Bimer, Bonk and El Bocho. When looking for the best places to find street art in London, I knew exactly what to look for and where. We didn’t have the time to do a full street art tour in Berlin but that’s not to say we could seek out a few of those well-known murals.
If you’ve not visited Germany’s capital before you might presume it’s not geared up for kids. In actual fact there are an enormous number of sights, attractions and parks to discover as a family. Not only that our recent Jet2CityBreak saw us take advantage of the Berlin Welcome Card which gives you free train and bus travel plus up to 50% off the top 200 attractions.
We’ve always gone out of our way to avoid the peak holiday season so now POD’s at school we’ve had to be a little more creative. Our road trip in Northern Spain is a great example of having a tourist free holiday. It’s certainly one of the favourites as we got to go on so many adventures. We took Brittany Ferries from Portsmouth to Bilbao, driving a couple of hours to the Liebana region from there. Our destination was the small village of Trillayo which is situated in the Bedoya Valley.
Having enjoyed a great night’s sleep and superb breakfast at the NH Collection Hotel on Friedrichstrasse, our first port of call during our city break in Berlin was to visit the Berlin Wall. There’s no shortage of things to do in Germany’s capital, whether visiting as a group or a family, but the wall is an absolute must.
There have been some superb trips to Germany in the past, living south of Frankfurt in Heidelberg for a month probably the most memorable. Berlin is not somewhere I’d visited until recently and there is so much to see in Germany’s capital city. From the Fernsehturm, with its magnificent views, to the iconic Brandenburg Gate and of course the Berlin Wall with it’s open air gallery. Plus there’s an abundance of family attractions such as the planetarium, zoo and aquarium to be discovered too.
Our family accommodation was a 200 year old cottage situated in the small, quiet village of Trillayo with magnificent views of the Picos de Europa. Ten minutes away was the charming town of Potes with its pretty streets and disjointed houses with their own coat of arms. We thought Potes in Northern Spain would be somewhere we visit when we needed the supermarket. Little did we know we’d fall in love with this quaint little town. Stopping off regularly after a day exploring to wander the cobbled alleyways, sample the Spanish tapas and watch five year old POD swim in the river with the locals.
Having lived in London for many years, it’s the best hearing Big Ben strike midnight on New Year’s Eve. Although the days of lining the River Thames with 250,000 others are long gone, the atmosphere must be incredible. There are plenty of other things to do in the capital however if you missed nabbing a ticket. You could take a boat trip along the Thames, enjoy dinner at the Ritz or attend a Vegas-style evening of glamour at The Roof Gardens. Alternatively, there are cocktails and jazz at Oriole, Hogmanay Hootenanny at Balham’s Ceilidh Night Events and the Searcys human snow globe at the gherkin. You could also take in the Sky Bar at Millbank Tower, the View from the Shard or SushiSamba at the peak of the Heron Tower – all offer 360 degree views of London.
Germany is widely recognised for its historic Christmas markets and festive fairs with Berlin, Cologne and Munich among the largest. Although we’re a little biased (my father-in-law was stationed in Germany and I also lived there), their markets are like no other. They have that traditionally festive feel, an abundance of charm and truly captivate the magic of Christmas. You can expect to see hand-made gifts aplenty coupled with smells like deliciously warming Glühwein and mouth watering bratwurst.