Starting in late April, Fiona spent three weeks in Spain, the first country on the European portion of our trip. Building on the numbers and songs she’d practiced at school with Teacher Maria, Fiona learned to speak a bit more Spanish, mostly remembering to say “hola” (hello), “adios” (goodbye), “por favor” (please), “gracias” (thank you) and, perhaps most importantly, “patatas fritas” (French fries).
After two nights in Barcelona and three in San Sebastian, we traveled to a few lesser known destinations in northern Spain, starting with three nights in Gautegiz Arteaga in Basque Country, two in Aguilar de Campoo, three in Espinama and five in Ortigueira. Here are a few fun details:
In Gautegiz Arteaga, we stayed at an agriturismo (a cross between a farm and a hotel) called Agroturismo Urresti, which was home to lots of animals:
“We saw emus, which are the second biggest bird by height, and there were chickens and one goose (there used to be three but two got eaten by foxes!) and sheep. There were teeny tiny cute guinea pigs and then there were bunnies—some were babies that had just been born ten days ago! We fed [the animals] bread. There was a park with a zipline and there were some ponies there too.”
On our way to Aguilar de Campoo, we stopped in Bilbao for lunch and a visit to the Guggenheim museum, known for its sculpture-like building designed by famous architect Frank Gehry. There was an exhibition going on while we were there called Motion. Autos, Art, Architecture, but Fiona mostly liked the one that featured lots of red and blue neon words, the giant labyrinth sculptures we could walk through and the huge flower-covered puppy sitting outside the entrance.
In Aguilar de Campoo, we visited Fiona’s dad’s cousin Jen, her husband Jose and their kids (Fiona’s second cousins) Lucia (14) and Manuel (11). When we asked her what she liked best about our visit, she said:
“I had three favorite things. Number one: playing at the playground; number two: playing Candy Land; number three: playing Hungry Hungry Hippos.”
We also took a beautiful walk with Jen’s family to a 10th-century necropolis:
“We went to a necropolis. It’s where they buried dead people thousands and thousands of years ago. There were places for dead people’s bodies and heads.”
After leaving the cousins in Aguliar, we took a trip to a town called Espinama in some mountains called the Picos de Europa (the peaks of Europe), where we took a really fun and memorable hike. Here’s what Fiona had to say about it:
“Picos de Europa was the amazingest hike we’ve been on. We got to go up to the higher mountains and see some snow. It was a sunny day but we had a lot of snow. It wasn’t soft and stuffy-like, it was ice cube-y. We got to throw snowballs. [We got there on] a cable car and a trail and we even walked on some snow!”
Our last stop in Spain was at the beach in Ortigueira. The weather was mostly chilly and rainy, so we spent a lot of time just hanging out in the cool rental house we stayed in that had not one but two lofts for playing and exploring.
We also took some walks nearby, including one Fiona loved that left from the beach near our rental, where “we had to climb up a hill using ropes to get to a town!”