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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The POD Father, as he’s known on POD Travels and our parent blog, and I have travelled much of our lives. From Africa, Asia, Australasia and the Pacific to the Caribbean, North and South America. Not forgetting of course sun, ski and city breaks across Europe. We relish the kind of holidays that enable you to immerse yourself in a country’s culture and lose yourself a bit. Adventure holidays are certainly the most favoured and they often lead to the most spectacular experiences. That’s what we relish and to us it’s what makes a holiday truly memorable.