Spain and France 2016 Wrap Up

Our second big international trip with James.  The first one didn’t scare us off?  Are we crazy?  Probably.

Italy with a 15 month old was tough, but I was optimistic this trip would be easier for several reasons:

  • James was a different child one year later than Italy– though still very active and energetic.
  • We were bringing/meeting help in the form of our cousin Sam and James’s grandmother (Nonna).
  • We were more experienced travelling with a child.

You can go back and read my planning post (link) for more thoughts on that, as well as how we ended up at our final itinerary – after several changes (indecisive planning, terrorist concerns, etc.).  To summarize, we had a full 21 nights.  12 would be spent in Spain and 9 in France.Itinerary1

France and Spain are two pretty prominent countries for American tourists.  We had never been to Spain and had only been to Paris in France.  We were excited to get to both countries and – in our typical travel fashion – visit several places in each.

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The Tiniest Winemaker

Well, I can not deny it any longer, when James sees an empty wine glass, he swirls it. You would think that we drink wine all day long. I promise you, we do not. I blame his Cappy (Justin’s dad) for this behavior. He really enjoys the ritual of swirling and sniffing a glass of wine. It’s pretty dramatic 🙂

Perhaps it is something that we should support. We could start refining his palate at a young age and let him become super sophisticated. I can already see him at parties in college. Everyone else will be funneling Natty Light, and James will be sniffing his wine. It’s possible that we are creating a little monster.

Today, we left San Sebastián and headed to Bordeaux. We are driving a giant Mercedes Vianno Van. It is absolutely ridiculous. It is gigantic, but we all fit very comfortably in it. The car seat is very nice and way better than the one in the car that picked us up from the airport. It was about a 2.5 hour drive to our first stop. We grabbed a quick lunch of meats and cheese and headed to the first winery.

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Acting like a local

Today, Justin and Sam spent most of the day traveling to a nearby city, Bilbao, in order to get the rental car. They took a 10:30 bus and didn’t get back until about 5pm. So, James and I were on our own. I was determined to get out the house and enjoy the beautiful weather. I’m kinda embarrassed to admit that I don’t feel super confident doing things by myself when we are in foreign cities. Throw a temperamental 2 year old on top of that and I’m very tempted to just stay in the apartment. Not today. I’m not sure exactly what it is about San Sebastián that makes me feel relaxed, but I was ready to get out there by myself.

I packed up James and we headed to the cafe down to block for coffee and a muffin. Then, we went to one of the many parks around our apartment. There is a swing set, slide, see saw, and other things for James to play with. We had lots of fun chasing the pigeons and running around like a nut with no shoes on!

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San Sebastián

We have been in San Sebastián for a couple of days now, and we are really loving it here! It has such a laid back, family friendly, beach vibe that I think it was the perfect first stop. We have been able to relax and slowly catch up on the sleep that we missed during the long day of travel.


On our first day here, we all accidentally slept until about 11:30 (including James). Oops! No big deal except that we had 1:00 lunch reservations at Restaurant Rokondo. The restaurant is beautiful and has a great patio outside. When making the reservations, Justin thought is would be good for us to eat on the patio with James. However, it was raining a little bit that morning and they weren’t seating people outside. Inside the restaurant was quiet, with white table clothes, wine glasses, and flowers on the tables. Not the best place for James, who was extra whiny that morning. We ended up taking turns chasing James around the patio (it had stopped raining) while 2 of us ate. It worked out pretty well, at least no one was eating alone!

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Our Journey to San Sebastián

Oh boy, that was a long day! When it was all said and done, it probably took about 20 hours and 3 flights to get here, and we were all exhausted. Our flight left from New Orleans around 11:15 am to JFK. We then had a 5 hour layover in NY. Our flight to Madrid was about 6.5 hours (not too bad). Our last flight to San Sebastián was only about an hour.


All things considered, I’m pretty happy with the way everything went. However, when we boarded the first flight, James completely flipped out. He was screaming on the top of his lungs, arching his back, and he kept saying “outside.” Basically, he wanted OFF. This went on probably for about 20 minutes while everyone was getting on the plane. I can only imagine what they were thinking about us! I remember leaning over to Justin at one point and saying that we are going to need to abort this whole trip if it doesn’t get any better. And I was dead serious. He said that he was reviewing cancellation policies in his head before I even said that. It was BAD. To add insult to injury, the stewardess insisted that I put him in his own seat with a seatbelt. Every time I would attempt to do this, James would arch his back and wiggle underneath the seatbelt onto the floor. We were quite the scene. Finally, I ended up using one arm to pin him into the seat and the other to buckle him in. I had to physically hold him in the seat while he calmed down. He finally accepted a sucker and his kindle/headphones. Bad start to a long day. However, after that initial scene, the plane took off, and he did really well for the rest of the flight.

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