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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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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Sunshine and Sand

San Sebastian – Day 2

Well the predicted weather for our beach day was spot on!  Bright blue sun filled skies, and not a cloud to be found.  We packed up our beach bag with everything we would need for a full day of sun, sand, and surf.  We walked down to the beach with the usual stop at the little park near the hotel before continuing on our way to the beach.  The brief pit stop at the park and surrounded by trees we seemed to be unaware of just how hot and muggy it was becoming.  By the time we arrived at the beach it was smouldering hot.

It took us a bit of time to finally decide on a spot to park our stuff for the day.  The first spot was at the end of the beach, opposite to “Old Town”, where all the cabana and tents were. It was VERY crowded at this end of the beach and with the tide coming in…. well the water wasn’t quite as clean as it was the day before on our walk.  We made our way further down the beach, to a tiny cove, but again with the tide coming in we knew our little beach was short-lived.  We finally came to a spot where we had a bit of shade from the blistering sunshine, near the cement wall of the boardwalk. Given the heat sensitivity of both Brodie and Mike, it was the perfect location where we could frolic in the waves, play in the sand, and then hop into the shade for a break from all the beautiful sunshine.

A funny little thing about me is that  I don’t love sand. Well……honestly it is mostly Vancouver sand I’m not the biggest fan of.  I LOVE everything about Vancouver EXCEPT for the sand on our beaches. I love the sand on the North Shore of Oahu, all the sand we encountered in Australia, and now I can add the sand of San Sebastian to the list.  Wow.  The sand on La Concha was quite simply divine. I can almost still feel the silky grains of  golden sand right now.

We stayed at the beach ALL DAY LONG, playing in the waves, and digging in the sand.  There really was no better way to spend a sun filled day on the Basque coastline.

Enjoy your (not so) Daily Dose

Xox

B.

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Shaded area on the beautiful sand of La Concha Beach

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Not really into the sand quite yet.

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Digging a big hole…absolutely nothing better!

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Seeing if will survive the incoming tide.

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Little Syd….. unsure on waves and making a run for it.

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Quickly being washed away.

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Finally happy to be in the water

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Family….. Love!

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Finding some shade from the sunshine

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Mid day snacks on the beach

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Digging

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digging

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and even more digging

Everyday is a Celebration

San Sebastian

Day 1

From what we saw arriving in San Sebastian late the day before….. we were anxious to get exploring and see what this pretty little town was all about, and what she had to offer!

We woke up on “Basque” time, to overcast skies from the storm that had passed through the night.  We had breakfast in the little cafe on the main floor of our hotel, all while catching up on email with the hotels Wi-Fi.  The kids still refused to eat any type of bread (filled with chocolate or not), and this was making life a tiny bit more stressful than it needed to be (they would eventually eat…. right?!?)  We decided that since the weather was set to improve over the next day, today would be our “walk around town day”.  We would save the beach for the next day and sunnier skies!

We packed up the double stroller and made our way toward the beach and “Old Town”. We hit up the awesome little kids park that was enRoute to our destination.  It was a pretty little park surrounded by HUGE trees. The kiddies had a blast here and I am sure could have spent a majority of the day just running between the climbing, the sliding, and the swinging!

We eventually made our way to the beach area, and our walk along the main boardwalk.  It was overcast and cool when we left the hotel, but it quickly turn to overcast, hot, and muggy!  Mike forgot his hat, but thank goodness we had a hat for the little man who is so affected by the heat and sun (remember the heat rash from Barcelona….)!   Syd had on sweatpants, with sunglasses packed, but alas not much else for the unpredicted hot day!

Pushing a double stoller in Europe with two toddlers is a NECESSITY. If you have 2 kids under the age of 5 do not even hesitate in making this purchase… It saved our trip a number of times! I am so glad that one of Mike co workers suggested it or else the whole trip may have been VERY different!  It did however make for an interesting “McGuyver” type of rigging once we decided to head to beach level…. If its one thing Mike can do…. well, he can configure almost ANYTHING to work for us… This included being able to carry a double stroller on the beach!  This man, well he is quite simply….. AWESOME!

We made our way to beach level, to walk in the beautiful (and despite the cloud cover), very warm sand!  The beaches were relativly quiet given the cloudy conditions, but we were pretty excited to be there, and enjoying the sand and warm water.

We made our way back up to the boardwalk and slowly making our way to “Old Town”. Our walk had us passing a number of “human statues”. One in particular that Brodie liked was the “headless man”. As we continued on our walk, we tried as hard as we could to avoid the spinning, music playing, 112 year old carousel. There was absolutely no way we could physically avoid the carousel….. it was smack right in the middle of our path. Over the duration of our trip Sydney seemed to had built up a sixth sense on these mechanical wonders, and knew there would be one in EVERY town. The moment she saw it, you knew she was sizing up which of the animals she would ride first, and this one was no exception.  We finally made our way to the entrance to the old town, and it was time to do a bit of shopping, and find a yummy place for lunch.

The Old Town was filled with trinket shops, some cute little clothing shops, and cafes. There were a ton of bars serving Pintxos (tapas), which all looked so amazing, but being with the 2 kiddies we opted to find a restaurant that they would find appealing.  Once lunch was over, it became clear that fatigue was setting in on Syd and that she just needed a nap.  Funny thing is about Sydney is that when she is most tired well she just doesnt sleep…. it was going to be a LONG afternoon!

We walked towards the marina, and fishing docks in the hopes that Syd would nap but that was not going to happen.  We watched a bunch of kids jumping from the docks into the water, slpashing around and having fun.  We decided to take a catermaran tour of the harbour and get a differnt perspective on the city.  The sun was now out in full force and it was hot.  The boat tour gave a nice reprive from the heat as it was quite windy and choppy once we left the protected harbour.  It was a nice perspective seeing the beach and hotels from the water.

After the boat tour we decided to make our way slowly back towards the beach for a quick play in the sand before dinner.  The route to the beach had us passing the carousel, and another fabulous kids park.  It is amazing to me that this “carnival” atomosphere was everywhere in Europe. There were clowns making animal balloons, carousels, cotton candy, laughing kids, crying kids, kids with face paint…… everywhere! Not just on this particular day in San Sebastian, but it was EVERYWHERE we visited in Europe. As much as I make fun of the number of carousels we encountered on our trip…. it actually was pretty cool to see just how much everyday is a celebration in Europe (summertime anyway).

The kids park was once again AWESOME!  So much to do…. and all differnt “activities” than any other park we had been in. The kids spent a ton of time rope climbing their way up a “bridge”, over, and over, and over again.  They probably would have stayed there all day but the music from the carousel finally hypnotized the kiddies and finally drew them over.

Pretty sure we bought 3 rides for each kid since that was usually a “reduced price”. Syd only wanted to ride the 112 year old dolphin. When it was time to go once again she had a hard time with the concept of  “we have used all our tickets, so there are no more rides”. We finally got her away from the carousel after much persuasion, but, you know. I totally get it…. she is 3 and this is her “whole world” for that moment in time.

After the “carnival”, we decided to walk along the beach before finding a place for dinner. Since we decided at the beginning of the day it WASN’T going to be a beach day… we didn’t have any beach clothes with us and that was a mistake on our part for sure. It was later in the day, the tide was out and the beach goers were clearing out.  It didn’t take long before we were running beach races, Syd was digging holes, and then taking off her pants because she sat in wet sand.  It was here where we spent the remainder of our day…… without our beach gear!

I cant really remember what Syd wore to dinner since her pants were soaked, but all I can recall is that we ended up at the same beach restaurant from the night before.  We got a table over looking “our beach”, caught more of the Olympics on the bars TV, all while planning the next days beach adventure.

It was a fun day exploring a new town with the family and all the crazy 3 year old emotions that go along with it!

Enjoy your (not so) Daily Dose!

Xox

B.

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Mr. Man

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Park time

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Little Miss

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Determination

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La Concha Beach

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Walkabout

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Beauty

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Crystal clear water

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Starting to get HOT. Makeshift hat using Brodies shirt!

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Promenade

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La Concha

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Double stroller strapped to his back with backpack straps and not much else. Mike can “rig” anything to make it work. I also love this photo since Mike is covered almost head to toe and the 5 guys walking towards him are the exact opposite and are in as little as possible.  Ha!  😉

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Heading towards Le Carousel

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Promenade details

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Brodie thought this was AWESOME!

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Old town

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aaannnddddd…. I’m done! See you later Mom!

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2:41pm…..Time for lunch

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Pintxos…..looked so good…. next time for sure!

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Jamon Iberico ………Awesomeness!

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Bacalao

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Our catamaran tour

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Our catamaran

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The little Miss in NOT impressed…..

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…. and wants to be left alone!

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La Concha Beach from the catamaran

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Basque Country and I am in love with it!

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Oh so pretty San Sebastian

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It is thirsty work investigating a new European town.

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Round and round we go!

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… and yet again

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112 years old…. and oh so awesome!

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Kids playground

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just a bit of help required for the 3 year old

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in line once again

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So proud!

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“Our” beach

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Little Miss

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Always the jokester

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Mr Man.

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Beach races

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More beach races

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Bain Family (minus Mommy)…. someone had to take the picture!

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Kiddies… hangin’ in San Sebastian

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My little lady

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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!