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.
Abandoned buildings are fascinating and can often be beautiful too. One such example is Villa Encarnación, or La Gotera, in the town of Arriondas. We drove past it several times during our trip to Asturias, each occasion making it even more mysterious. We asked the manager of the cottage we were staying in about it one day. She remarked it had been derelict for at least thirty years, her entire life as it happens. But what was the story behind it and where did the animals that roamed the estate come from?
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.
It’s remarkable how diverse the Aragon region in the north east of Spain is. Our morning was spent exploring one of the most well preserved castles in Europe before admiring these staggering rock formations which tower above the trees. After we’d enjoyed a gastronomic feast at the magnificent Real Posada de Liena, it was time for white water rafting! Thankfully we had time to let our food go down as we got all the necessary gear on before heading to the Gállego river.
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.
Overlooking the ancient capital of Teguise, not to be confused with Costa Teguise, is the Castillo de Santa Barbara. Also known as the Museo de la Pirateria, this fascinating museum sits on the top of Mount Guanapay. The old fortress was originally built in the 16th Century as a watch tower. Its purpose was to protect islanders from pirates and privateers such as Sir Francis Drake who was known as El Draque (The Dragon) to the Spanish. It’s even rumoured there’s a tunnel that connects Castillo de Santa Barbara to the town of Teguise which islanders used when they were being invaded.
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.