Our Road Trip In Spain Via New York

Well, I’m back from our vacation, well rested and ready to get back to my blog! On May 18 we left for New York to attend my stepdaughter’s graduation from the MBA program at New York University and then we flew to Spain for a three week road trip. I had an amazing time with Richard and the kids. I was serious about taking a break from all things sewing related. That means that I didn’t go into one fabric store in New York or Spain. Crazy, huh?! I was planning on a little quick fabric shopping trip in Barcelona with Cristina, a reader who lives there, but fate didn’t want me to because it was the one day on the trip I was ill. And the next time I tried all the stores were closed for a national holiday. Ha!

Alanacentralpark  My stepdaughter Alana, Lily and Oliver in Central Park.CaffeROMA2When I was a kid my dad and uncle brought me to Caffe Roma on Mulberry Street in Little Italy. Lily has been wanting to try a pastry called a Lobster Tail that she saw on Cake Boss once, and while we have been to MANY bakeries in LA looking , we have never found the sought after pastry. Well, wouldn’t you know they had one at Caffe Roma! And only ONE. It was sitting on a plate behind the counter as if magically waiting for her!LOBSTERTAILharlemThis is the block in Harlem where my Italian grandmother grew up.AlanaGigiSubwayAlana showing Gigi the finer details on riding the subway. Don’t forget your hand sanitizer!StatueOflibertyNew York was great. We visited the Museum of Natural History, The Met, visited with my uncle and aunt who drove us around all the places in Manhattan where the Italian side of my family lived and where my dad grew up. Then we went to a lovely town in nearby New Jersey, which seems like a great place to live, to visit with my cousin and her kids who I hadn’t seen in twenty years. And we are only a year apart.

We also attended Alana’s graduation at Radio City Music Hall. It would have been a great trip by itself but it was only the beginning of our trip. We were off to Barcelona for a road trip through Spain!

It has been ten years since we sold our house in France and that’s how long it’s been since my husband has been back to Europe. He wanted to see Andalucia in Spain so we decided to rent a car and go directly after our trip to New York.

Three weeks driving through Spain with no reservations with four kids was going to be an adventure!MassTarragona

This is the church in Tarragona on the coast south of Barcelona, where we spent our first night. Attending mass in a church this beautiful is an elevating experience. So much nicer than the unattractive 1960’s box of a church in my town.

FleamarketTarragonaWhen we left the church there was a flea market going on outside. It was fun browsing around. Somehow Gigi always makes a beeline for the creepy old Barbies.SittingTarragonaEven sitting on steps seems romantic in Spain.

From tarragona we drove south to a little beach resort called Xabia and spent the day on the beach. It cooled off so we went to a bar on the beach to eat some seafood and have some sangria.


One of my favorite things in Spain is the food! Tapas, seafood, cured ham, it is truly a food lover’s dream. Those are boquerones above. No, they are not even remotely like the canned sardines we have in the states. They are probably the most delicious thing I have ever tasted and i ate plates and plates of them.Sangria

And the sangria is sooo good, too. Big chunks of fresh fruit, red wine, and a secret assortment of juices and other ingredients.MorairaLilyMoraira

The water at Moraira on the Costa Del Sol.MeAtTheAlhambra

From the coast we drove south and inland to Granada in Andalucia to visit the Alhambra Palace. The Alhambra was built when Spain was under the influence on the Muslim Moors and it is really an amazing place to visit.FlamencoDancer

We took the kids to a small nightclub to see a Flamenco show. I love Flamenco and it was fun to show it to Gigi who had never seen it. The dancer was lovely and agreed to pose after her set was over.MeGranada

Walking up the hill to the Alhambra.GranadaAlley

Curvy steets in the old town of Granada.FlamencoGuitaristGranada

A flamenco guitarist in Granada.GranadaLookingpoolMeKidsGranada

From Granada we drove to the lovely cliffside town of Ronda where lily got to help out with a falcon and owl show.OwlTamerhandlingfalcon

Handling these raptors  was definitely a highlight of the trip for Lily!FalconTamer

From Ronda we decided to go to the mountains nearby where there is a big gorge called EL CHORRO that my son wanted to climb across with cables. Yikes! Luckily for me and my nerves, but not him, it was closed to the public that day.GorgeNearArdales

So we went on a hike instead.HikingSpainMountainHomes

there were several dwellings dug into the mountain were people live. They seem to be hollowed out caves that people add doors to. Modern day cave homes. This one was really fancy with a stone patio added.

We stayed two nights in a small village off the beaten track nearby called Ardales. It was so charming I could have moved in for awhile.ArdalesAndalucia

Ardales, Andalucia.HotDayArdales


One of the fun things about road trips is the unexpected things that you can come across. Like hundreds of sheep blocking the road.CordobaFeria

From Ardales, we drove up to Cordoba. There happened to be the Feria going on in town and women and girls were dressed in beautiful flamenco dresses. The whole city seemed to be up dancing  until dawn, or so we were told. We left at about 1 AM. Gigi was passed out by that time. But she had fun riding all the carnival rides.

From Cordoba we drove onto Toledo.But first, we stopped at the windmills of La Mancha in Don Quixote country.WindmillsLaMancha


We also saw a crumbling castle castle  from the road and decided to hike up to it.CrumblingCastle

The views from the top were beautiful.OliverClimbingCastle

Of course Oliver had to do a little climbing!ToledoCathedral


We visited the Cathedral of Toledo. Toledo was the head of the Catholic church in Spain for centuries.

GigiToledo monstrance

This is the monstrance that was made for Queen Isabella with gold found in the new world.

After staying Toledo for two nights, we drove to Zaragoza in Aragon to spend the night. There were demonstrations in the streets against the austerity measure taking place, the result of the financial crisis going on there. From there we went to Barcelona and rented an apartment for a week. We were a little tired from all the driving . But Barcelona is hardly a relaxing city! Boring, it is not.sagradaFamilia

Our apartment was a couple of blocks away from the Sagrada Familia Cathedral. It cost over twenty dollars for tourists to visit inside now, but we attended mass there on Pentecost Sunday so we didn’t have to pay.KidsEatingTapas

The tapas in barcelona were excellent. The kids were in heaven at this one bar. We were so hungry from walking around all day. They (we ) really pigged out.tapasseafood

Barcelona is a big city, but it’s right on the Mediterrenean Sea, so there is lots of amazing and inexpensive seafood in the taps bars..Gigi's 5thbirthday

We celebrated Gigi’s fifth birthday with a cake bought at the local bakery…..GigiFlamencoDress

And she got a Flamenco outfit for her present. We went to the park Ciutadella and she played with her new soccer ball there.

metossademar About an hour north of barcelona is a lovely beach town called Tossa Del mar. the water is so blue and an old castle overlooks the town and sea from a cliff. TossaDeMar                                     GigiKissaBarcelona

One of my best friends drove down from France for the weekend. Her daughter is the same age as Gigi and they had a good time together . We walked to the beach and the zoo and the park. There are lots of fun things for kids to do in Barcelona. IsabellelilyBarcelonaIsabelle flew to Barcelona for the week to visit as well. It was a fun family trip! And one we will remember for years to come.

Share Button


  1. says

    This is amazing Justine. I am in awe of your trip, and so happy to see you did it with your family. Truly, just the trip of a lifetime. They, and you, will remember this forever.

  2. Katie Masteller says

    Your article is inspiring! Loved Gigi’s birthday flamenco dress, shoes and all. Fav. pics are Gigi at the wall outside the big cathedral, windmills, Sagrada Familia, fancy cave dwellings, Caffe Roma, Gigi peering into the pond, Richard and kids sitting on the steps … but ALL of the photos are wonderful. Looks like you had a wonderful trip and now I want to go! Welcome home! Katie

  3. Brenda Kimberlin says

    What a beautiful trip — I’m still laughing about the “beeline for the creepy old Barbies” — my youngest does the same no matter where we go, and that definitely describes what they look like.

  4. says

    Ah Justine, you have me dreaming of Europe now! Wow, what a wonderful family trip… I love that you guys took off without reservations… it brings back memories of my twenties! Love it and thank you so much for sharing!


  5. says

    Wow, such a feast for the eyes! Including your maxi dress. Did you make it? Looks like you all had a wonderful time and thanks for sharing your trip with us!