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The Picos de Europa: our top picks

April 24, 2017

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.

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Montanas del Fuego, Timanfaya National Park

April 22, 2017

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.

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A grandfather house in Cantabria

April 16, 2017

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.

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The beautiful village of Mogrovejo

April 9, 2017

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.

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Why cruise ferries are perfect for families

April 4, 2017

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.

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The magnificent Jardín de Cactus

April 3, 2017

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.

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Mirador Del Rio and the archipelago

March 28, 2017

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.

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The ancient town of Teguise

March 12, 2017

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.

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Lanzarote with James Villa Holidays

March 3, 2017

Before we became parents we’d often book holidays at the last minute. It doesn’t happen so much these days with POD being at school but we do relish an impromptu break. As well as pre-planning the bigger holidays of course! That said this February we had an overwhelming desire to escape to the sunshine. While long haul destinations were certainly in the mix, in the end we opted for the Canaries over the half term period as it’s only a four hour flight. The ‘POD Father’ and I visited Lanzarote some 8 years ago so it was exciting to be heading back to the island as a family. Plus we only had to wait three weeks before jetting off!

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The road to Papagayo

February 27, 2017

We were in the Canaries during half term and had a wonderful week exploring the island. The ‘POD Father’ and I last visited Lanzarote around 8 years ago so it was great to return as a family. Although the three of us travelled all over during the time away, our base was a villa in the south. As can be the case with somewhere new, we lost our bearings and ended up on a dirt track when the tarmac road we were on disappeared.

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