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You´d probably think they have nothing in common but let me share a recent experience of some clients on a day tour…

The HWs were a fun family of travelers from Virginia, USA.  They were planning on traveling around Northern Spain and contacted me about checking out some of our wonderful cave art.  As with happens with many of my clients, the rest of it took them by surprise.  We dia a lot in one day but it we had a great time doing it.

Northern Spain Tour Family

The HWs on a mountain river in Cantabria:  Dan, Natalie, Anna, Brenda and Amy

I picked them up at there hotel near the beach in Santander early.  They had already been to San Sebastian and Bilbao in the Basque country on their own.  Based what they had seen and done and their interests we came up with a rough itinerary for the day covering the caves and some hiking.  The group included two vegans and a vegetarian, not always easy to accommodate in Northern Spain!  We managed though 😉

Here is photo summary of our day.

Northern Spain Tour Medieval

Started with a walk and breakfast in one of Cantabria’s medieval time machines

Northern Spain Tour Paleolithic Art

Visited the Sistine Chapel of Paleolithic art

Northern Spain Tour Salmon

Spotted some Atlantic salmon in one of Cantabria´s mountain rivers

Northern Spain Tour Cave Art

Checked out firsthand Europe´s oldest art (over 40,000 yrs old)

That made for a busy morning and everyone was hungry.  Since we had a group of “fussy” eaters (veg is fussy in Northern Spain as everything tends to have some form of meat or dairy in it!), I had arranged lunch at a friend´s restaurant and let him know that we needed a little extra attention for our meatless friends 😉  We enjoyed a wonderful meal at a traditional Cantabrian mountain estate (casona Montañesa).  Here are some photos since meals are such a part of a great experience.

Northern Spain Tour Casona

Our dining room at the Casona Montañesa

Northern Spain Tour Scallops

Zamburiñas (small scallops) enjoyed by the flesh eaters

Northern Spain Tour Food

A roasted apple concoction by my chef friend for the veggies

Northern Spain tour dancing

Brenda and Amy dancing to the vinyl being spun after lunch

After a wonderful lunch in the garden under clear blue skies the HWs took votes on where we should go hiking.  I made a few suggestions and they voted for all of them with their proprietary ranking system.  All the choices made the cut so I promised to do my best with the daylight we had!  Here´s where we ended up..

Northern Spain Tour Cave Church

Baptismal font in an 8th century cave church still in use today

Northern Spain Tour Stairway Heaven

On the stairway to heaven?

Northern Spain tour cave monastery

Hiking up to a cave monastery tucked in the hills of Cantabria

Northern Spain Tour Cave Monastery

Primitive monastery carved into stone cliffs by eremetic monks in the 5-6th centuryNorthern Spain Tour Romanesque

Seemingly innocuous Romanesque church from the 12th centuryNorthern Spain Tour Romanesque Erotic

Until we got to the architectural details!  The church worked in mysterious ways in the 12th century…I wish I had a picture of the look on Brenda´s face when she saw this on a church (she is a pastor)

Northern Spain Tour Roman Road

Hiking a 2,000 yr old Roman road from the 1st century

All in all it was a great day together and we all thoroughly enjoyed it.   Here is what the HW´s had to say about their experience with me.

“The girls have agreed that the day was the highlight of the trip!  We had a fantastic time with Charles on a guided tour of several sites in Northern Spain! Charles is a wonderful bridge between cultures, contemporary and ancient, within Spain.  Having a guide made all the difference for us during our day of touring.  We visited  ancient caves, hiked little known paths, entered ancient sanctuaries, both under and above ground, and had a delectable feast in a Spanish home.  Charles devoted the enter day to us, nearly dawn to dusk, taking us more places than we could have imagined.  We highly recommend Charles!”

After having spent time on their own in what people consider two of the Meccas of Northern Spain (San Sebastian and Bilbao) and saying this was the highlight, it makes me feel great about what I do.  Especially from well traveled folks like them.  I never get tired of sharing Northern Spain with others.  It is so rewarding to have others enjoy it so much. Thank you Brenda, Dan, Anna, Natalie and Amy!

Ever been to Northern Spain? You should think about it if not 😉 If you decide to come and want an in depth experience in the hands of a passionate local, you can look me up here!  Safe and wonderful travels wherever you go!