Two weeks of perfect weather, exquisite food, and great wine in charming cities and small towns… that sums up our Spain family vacation.
Spain more than lived up to expectations. Arriving at our hotel in Madrid mid-morning, jet lagged and hungry, we were lucky to have our room available. We quickly dropped off our luggage and walked around to grab a bite to eat and begin exploring this beautiful city. A drink at the rooftop of the famous Corte Ingles was refreshing since temperatures were around 100 degrees. But with no humidity it really did not feel so hot.
The nightly tapas dinners were delicious with so much diversity and everything tasted incredibly fresh. Our hotel was perfect for our family, with beautiful old world charm, spacious and very clean rooms. We were within walking distance to restaurants, great shopping, and the metro. It was so easy to get around in Spain with help from the Google Maps app on our phones. Enter where you want to go and select walking, public transportation, or vehicle. The app tells you exactly how to get there, where to walk for the train, the specific train, and stop to get off, it was great. Love Google Maps!!
A couple of our favorite attractions in Madrid were Palacio Real and Parque del Retiro. The palace was truly incredible and the kids were mesmerized that people actually lived there at one time. Oh, and one of the highlights that day was finding a Real Madrid Team Store (soccer). After walking for what seemed like forever we finally found the store and the kids bought their jerseys and soccer ball. Fun was had by all the next day when they played soccer at Parque del Retiro with their new ball!
Visiting Toledo from Madrid is not to be missed. Just about an hour from the city is this medieval town. Absolutely stunning views from this walled city up on a cliff. There was so much history in this quaint little area, one could spend the entire day walking around taking it all in and enjoying some great food at a tapas bar.
Our next overnight stop was the beautiful northern town of San Sebastian. We were in awe as we arrived at this stunning seaside town. Our hotel had the most spectacular views of the beach. Within a 5 minute walk was the old section with all its restaurants and bars. The food was phenomenal and so was the wine selection. One thing that really surprised us was how economical the meals were even with a bottle of wine. We could have stayed in San Sebastian for an entire week!!
We visited the scenic Rioja wine region for a day trip. About a 2 hour drive from San Sebastian are lovely medieval villages and rolling hills covered with vineyards. Quite a bit was learned about wines from this region, we visited some beautiful wineries, and had many wine tastings. The weather was so beautiful and we were lucky enough to enjoy an outdoor lunch at one of the wineries.
Our final overnight stop was Barcelona. I have to say I was somewhat disappointed with this city. My husband and I had visited 15 years ago and it has changed quite a bit. It is still a wonderful city for the nightlife, restaurants, and beach but we found it to be very busy and dirty. Our hotel was amazing, the service was impeccable and the rooms were the largest we have ever stayed in. The boys each had a twin size bed in the living room area, we had a king bed and a really huge bathroom. The rooftop pool and bar had stunning views of the city and with a cool breeze it was the perfect place to relax in the afternoons or have a drink before dinner.
The Sagrada Familia church, which has been under construction for over 100 years, is a must see in Barcelona. Taking a tour is the best way to visit as you will learn so much about the history and symbolism of every aspect of the construction. Parc Guell was the next stop on our day excursion. Again, it was key to have a tour guide as it is a huge park and you wouldn’t capture the symbolism and history behind all its beautiful areas.
The final day of our vacation was a ton of fun for the boys as we visited and toured Camp Nou, the FC Barcelona Stadium. Although it was very crowded, the unescorted tour was very well organized as they guided the crowds through all the different areas… locker room, press room, etc. They take pictures throughout the tour which you could purchase at the end in a beautiful book with facts about the stadium. It was a great experience and one the boys will never forget!
I could go on and on about the many details of our trip but I don’t want to make this too long. Please feel free to reach out to me if Spain is on your bucket list. I would love to help plan your trip and customize it so that it matches your individual preferences.
I work with my clients on creating personalized travel itineraries while consulting on everything from destinations to excursions and logistics of the trip. Through my personal travel I seek unique activities including private guides and tours for exceptional experiences. More on Belkys