The Day Started in Spain

It was time to say good-bye to San Sebastian, our beautiful sandy beach and warm water.  We were in our last week of our extended holiday, and making our way towards Paris for our flight out later that week.  Our second to last stop before Paris was a small coastal town … La Rochelle.

After packing up our room and fitting everything into the car, we spent the morning at the Barceló Coast (ice-cold) pool, swimming, and soaking up the sunshine before having lunch and making our way north towards La Rochelle.

Funny thing about San Sebastian is that it is literally 20 minutes from the border into France.  Had we not had to pay a toll, I just may have totally missed even entering France….. it was that quick!

Our drive took us north on the A63 through one of the most famous wine regions in THE ENTIRE WORLD …. BORDEAUX.  I seriously had to laugh.  Here we were…… 4 of us in a car driving past some of THE most fabulous vineyards and wine in the world, without even the slightest desire to stop! HA…… Mike and I were on a mission (and with 2 kids 5 and under… I guess it was reason enough NOT to stop) get to La Rochelle….. QUICKLY!  Sigh…… the vineyards and wine of Bordeaux will have to wait for another trip!

It was about a 5 hour drive to La Rochelle from San Sebastian, and driving on the toll roads…. well……. it’s never a cheap day on the toll roads of Europe! We arrived late afternoon and were directed precisely to our hotel by Darth Vader and our trusty Tom Tom app on MIkes phone.  The hotel was super cute and was everything you would expect in Europe….. an old non-descript stone building, that once you entered, blew you away with all its loveliness!  There was nowhere to park on the tiny road that lead us to our fabulous hotel so we were parked half on the sidewalk. Had we been on our first week of the trip we would have totally stressed over the situation of “where to park”…. but after 6 weeks we were starting to  feel like locals and pulled “kinda off the road and half on to the sidewalk”…. It just seemed like the normal thing to do.

What a fabulous room we had. Mike had been booking a lot of our accommodations off of Trip Advisor, and this one, like all the rest, (the exception being Lourdes) did not disappoint. We looked into the courtyard and had a tiny view of the old town.  After the long drive we decided to get cleaned up and head out to investigate the town and find a yummy place for dinner.

La Rochelle is a pretty little town.  Tons of restaurants and shops in the old town with beautiful cobblestone roads and walkways.  Leaving the “gates” of old town, there was a great little night market, with tons of artisans showing their goods. We did a little walk about while looking for a place to eat with the kiddies.  There were so many amazing options. Walking along the street surrounded by all these amazing restaurants it was hard knowing after we looked at the menus that there was really nothing that the kiddies would eat…. Uuuugghhhh….. so frustrating knowing that we were missing out on some AMAZING food.  We had almost lost hope on where to eat when Brodie spotted a sushi restaurant.

If you know the Bain Family…. you know that we are addicted to sushi… kids included! Seriously… we go for Sushi every Friday (or Saturday) since the kiddies were born.  Sushi was not really something we had come across during our adventure, so with Brodie begging to go there for dinner, we went and got ourselves a table.

The restaurant (I think it was called Koi) was a funny one.  From the moment we arrived not one person looked happy or smiled.  Mike and I assumed it was because we had 2 kids with us, but as time passed on it was clear that the waitresses just were not happy people…… they were treating every table the same…. no smiles and just plain crabby!  I don’t really remember the sushi and if it was good or not, but I do remember being quite happy that the kids weren’t eating pizza or pasta! Since this trip I have noted that the kiddies will do well eating in Italy or Japan!

After our sushi experience we decided to do a walk about and look at the towns military towers that were so pretty all lit up.  Afterwards we headed over to investigate the night market that was happening just outside of old town.  As we were walking through the tree covered night market we heard a crazy squeaking sound.  It turns out that the trees covering the market were filled with bats just “hanging out”, and Brodie thought this was über cool.  After our bat experience we decided to hit an ice cream shop for a “before bedtime treat” and made our way back to the hotel for a good nights sleep.

It had been a long day of driving and the kiddies were holding up rather well given that the day started in Spain!

So much to do….. so much to see!

Enjoy your (not so) Daily Dose

Xox

B.

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Loved this hotel!

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Why must little Miss  always sleep perpendicular to me….. that girl does laps in her sleep!

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hanging poolside… topless of course!

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This pool was ICE COLD!

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Hello France (and toll booth)… we are coming!

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Bordeaux

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HAY… in Bordeaux

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Sunflowers…. in Bordeaux

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More Sunflowers…. in Bordeaux

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Shocking… another toll booth!

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Our Hotel…. SO AWESOME!

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Would totally stay here again… so great!

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NOT Super happy… its been a long day!

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La Rochelle…. Old Town

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Koi…. Interesting little Sushi Restaurant!

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Wanted to take home Kois’ Bar statue… she was so cool!

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Restaurant row at dusk… Old Town

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La Rochelle Tower

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Clowning around just outside “Old Town”

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After a long day…. chilling together!  *Love*

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We woke up on our final morning in Barcelona to beautiful blue skies and sunshine.  We were packing up our “European full size” rental car and driving across the northern part of Spain.  Barcelona > San Sebastian.

Once again, remarkably, we were able to fit everything into our little “full sized” rental car. We were definitly becoming pros at packing the car up tight by now.  Once we were packed up we took the kids across the street to the mall and the rides/trampolines that were there for one last go around.  Syd was fully advised on the rules of the rides, and that there would be a couple of rides but when Daddy said it was time to go…. well it was time to go!  With plenty of agreements, and yes yes I understand, we headed to the rides. All was going really well until it was stated that it was “time to go”.  Seemed like the little Miss forgot all about her knowladge of “it was time to go” and threw one of the biggest tantrums of the trip.  We eventually got her in the car and were making our way out of Barcelona and onwards to our next stop on our adventure ……. San Sebastian.

The landscape from Barcelona and the Balearic Sea > San Sebastian and the Bay of Biscay was ever changing. Leaving the hot and muggy city of Barcelona, into the scorching hot, and arid plains along the E-90, and then into the cool and dewey mountainous region just past Pamplona into San Sebastian…. we hit almost every summer weather condition on our drive. I’m not sure what my expectations were on what the landscape would look like before we drove across Spain, but what we saw that day was so varied and so very beautiful.

It was hot when we left Barcelona at 11am that Saturday morning.  The temperature was mid 20’s and was I’m sure going to climb to the high 20’s even low 30’s given the hot muggy week we had just had.  As we started our drive away from the water, and with not a cloud in sight, our little in-car thermometer contined to rise giving us a detailed occourance of the temperature happening outside our little car. As the vegetation got sparser…. the temperature got HOTTER.  We hit a temperature of 43 degrees as we passed through the plains of Spain.

The one thing you notice as you drive through Spain (and the other 2 countries we drove through… Germany and France), is that Europe is on the pulse of utilizing and colllecting “green” energy. Driving through the arid, sunny and windy plains of Spain, there were acres upon acres of solar panels, and wind turbines every where you looked.  It honestly was an incredible sight to see. I am by no means an expert on the topic of the collection of “green energy”, however, it seemed like in Europe they just get it.  They do what needs to be done, utilizing all the awesomeness that mother nature provides. Canada needs to get on board……  It truly was an inspiring sight to see!

We stopped for lunch at a roadside rest stop. It was crazy busy given that we never really saw tons of other cars as we were driving.  I first thought it was funny that there was covered parking for our car, but given that it was 43 degrees outside, and blistering sunshine… It was a real blessing that we found a spot under it and in the shade.

I LOVE the rest stops in Europe! It is another thing that the Europeans take seriously.  There is full on restaurant facilities with decent enough food to get you through.  Nice bathrooms, trinket shopping, fuel, and coffee machines that can make you ANYTHING you want for under 2 Euro (except for the large coffee that you want to hold and savour for 40 minutes… I think its a North American thing!)  😉 Seriously, they have everything you could possibly want for your drive, and it is AWESOME!

After about a 45 minute stop we were back in the car with the AC cranked and were continuing on our jouney towards San Sebastian. We continued our drive passing a ton more solar and wind farms but the landscape was changing and the hills were becoming more lush and the temperature was dropping.  We were starting to pass through farm land.

We had another unexpected “milestone” as we drove from one side of Spain to the other… we passed through the Greenwich Meridian.  The Greenwich Meridian is the line that seperates East from West…. a line from the North Pole to the South Pole. It may have just been a couple of signs telling us what we were approaching as we were zipping along the highway, but it was pretty cool event as we passed under the cement arc over the roadway.

The closer we got to the mountains and San Sebastian the cooler it became. We left Barcelona and 25+ degrees, to a high of 43 degrees somewhere on the plains of Spain, and now our handy car thermometre was reading 17 degrees AND we had to turn the winsheild wipers on since it had started to rain. We were in beautiful lush mountains, and low cloud. Funny that it felt like we were back in Vancouver after only driving for 6+ hours.

We made our way through the beautiful city of San Sebastian and found our amazing hotel Barceló Costa Vasca.  The hotel wasn’t as handy to the beach as we would have liked, but the rooms were AMAZING, the pool was awesome, and there was a fantastic kids park that we had to walk past to get to the beach…  so all in all, it worked out perfectly!

After a full day of driving we went for a walk through pretty San Sebastian towards the beach. We picked up some groceries, for the morning, and then found a cute little outdoor spot for a dinner. Since it was first day of the Olympics we had the bonus that we could also catch a few of the Olympic swimming events on the big flat screen TV that was behind the bar. We had some yummy food, over looking La Concha, which was by far, one of the prettiest beaches we had encountered so far.

What a day driving from one side of Spain to the other. So varied and so beautiful. We were excited to start our last week of our European vacation in this pretty little town in Basque Country.

Enjoy your (not so) Daily Dose

Xox

B.

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One last spin on the rides across form the Hilton

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The favourite truck

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So fun…… but you know that leaving is NOT going to end well for the little Miss.

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On the road outside of Barcelona

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Gas was expensive (euro/lt.)

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So hot outside

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Farm land

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Unexpected excitement! 😉

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There it is….. Greenwich Meridian

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Yay for covered parking

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Walkway over the highway

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Collecting solar energy… So hot and sunny!

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Wind Farms

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Love these

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Nearing San Sebastian

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Lush

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Our hotel….. 2 rooms were needed…… again

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Uh oh……

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Its hard being 3

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Siblings in San Sebastian

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Olympics

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and Olympic sized beer

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The little Miss

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Mr Man

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Prettiness at dusk

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The Family

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Show for the kids…. music and wine for us!