We’ve always enjoyed adventurous holidays whether it be swimming in the Great Barrier Reef, trekking the Tongariro Crossing or navigating a river to Angel Falls. As parents of course our priorities changed and with it the focus of our holidays. That said, POD has grown up with the same desire to explore that we have. She loves the great outdoors and last year in Cantabria, aged just five, even climbed her first mountain. While we’re family orientated in our travels too, there’s nothing better than making discoveries – especially when they’re unexpected.
With an intriguing history that dates back to Roman times, spectacular landscapes and exceptional architecture, you can’t help but fall in love with Aragon. Situated off the beaten track in the heavenly north east of Spain, this region combines discovery, exploration and adventure – our perfect ingredients for a family holiday. There’s no shortage of things to do either. Whether it be visiting the most well preserved castle in Europe, observing staggering rock formations that overshadow the trees or exploring an extraordinary natural park that surprises you at every turn.
Rucksacks have become an essential piece of kit in the Dove household over recent years. Of course we travelled a lot before POD came along but these days most of our adventures are outdoors based. We’ve always loved exploring, especially off the beaten track, and we continue to do so even with our six year old daughter in tow. There’s nothing better than blowing away the cobwebs, discovering new places and giving your child the best experiences is there?
We’re of the opinion that you should never travel to the same destination more than once. Occasionally it doesn’t work out that way, like the time we got diverted to Tahiti while en route to New Zealand. We took our honeymoon in Tahiti and had the most incredible time in both Tikehau and Moorea. As such, we always said we wouldn’t go back. And yet there we were dancing with the locals at the airport adorned with flowers!
Last summer was the first time we’d visited Northern Spain having taken trips elsewhere in the country many times. We loved it so much we’re heading back there this summer albeit to a totally different region. If you’ve not been to Northern Spain before, here’s a little taste of what it’s like.
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.
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.
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.
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.