#vanlife with baby: Viva España!

Still with our 7 square meter house on our backs, we “cross” the Portuguese/Spanish border as simply as crossing Laval/Montreal via the Médéric Martin bridge. A sign “Bienvenido en España” welcomes us, unfortunately without a stamp in the passport.

Here we are in Spanish territory, where fresh sangria, salivating tapas, flamenco skirts and choco churros make the party.

Andalusia: Sevilla – Gibraltar – Ronda – Malaga – Cordoba – Granada

First stop, Seville . Which town! A big crush for JP and me. Difficult to travel around the city in a #vanlife , we nestle in a paid parking lot well known to caravanners on the outskirts of the city. Sun and blue sky above our heads, 31 degrees on the thermometer, we travel around the charming capital of flamenco in a stroller. We visit the Plaza de España, the Real Alcazar (where the kingdom of Dorne was filmed in the cult series Game of Thrones, 4th photo below), we admire the Cathedral from the outside and we wander for long hours in the labyrinth of narrow anti-stroller stone streets of Barrio Santa Cruz.

This is happiness! First, the uneven streets paved with anti-stroller stones put your baby to sleep (or knock them out??) instantly. Which allows mom and dad to enjoy the many tapas terraces and to gorge on small Spanish bites until their stomach aches. Let's say that in Seville, we temporarily abandoned the chorizo ​​pasta and cashew rice, our two signature #vanlife dishes, to enjoy the restaurants and stuff our bellies Iberico style.
Any self-respecting visit to Seville deserves a flamenco show. Personally, not having a very sophisticated culture of this art, I was expecting a bit of a tourist trap, a kind of fake show of (not too) traditional dance, arranged and staged in a large fake amphitheater room. , to satisfy a crowd of tourists who paid too much for 1 hour of foot tapping… but not at all!! On the contrary! Although the event is organized to satisfy a crowd of tourists, you don't pay too much, it happens in tiny back rooms of taverns, it seems authentic as can be and there are lots of people tapping their feet! It's completely charming and above all, so poignant. They stamp their feet, their hands, they snap their fingers, they whip their thighs... the facial expressions of the dancers and singers are enough to make us laugh every time. Even if we don't understand a word, we can understand that there is a story behind this performance and that it is overflowing with emotion. No management, no lighting and sound adjustments behind these accomplished artists, there are often only 3 or 4: 1 or 2 dancers, a singer and a guitar player. It's so tasty that even Rafael was completely absorbed in the show. He stared at the scene for an hour, he even seemed moved too. JP says I'm exaggerating but I tell you, I saw the sensitivity in his son's eyes! The whole family loved it, JP himself surprised himself by liking it a lot. It's an art that deserves full attention, so I went back the next day, alone, leaving baby and dad to go "to the beer" with the boys, while mom went to get upset. There really is something that devours your guts in a flamenco show…
We recover from our emotions in the direction of Gibraltar to see the rock, the multiple monkeys and for a first glimpse of the blue Mediterranean. The sea is magnificent and the rock of Gibraltar is indeed very solid, we confirm the expression. It offers superb views of the tip of the European peninsula and on a clear day it is possible to see Africa, the neighboring continent.
We start driving towards Ronda again, through the mountainous sierras, to see the famous bridge which is shared on travel blogs. Enclosed between the mountains, this typical small town is magnificent and the views are breathtaking.
Obligatory passage in the great metropolis of the south, small detour via Malaga to (again!) change van. You know us, we love moving so that won't change here! We take the opportunity to survey the Costa Del Sol and drop anchor at other beautiful viewpoints #vanlife . Then you will discover van #3, white this time. We hope to keep it until the end!
We return inland where we visit other palaces including the well-known Alhambra in Granada as well as a splendid mosque-cathedral, the Mezquita, in Cordoba . Against all expectations, the latter far surpasses the previous one. The Mezquita and its hundreds of colorful arches won us over.

East coast: Torrevieja – Alicante – Benidorm – Valencia

We were a little fed up with the castles and other alcazabars in the area so we returned to the coast towards the sun to slowly begin our climb towards Barcelona. 50km south of Alicante, we discover the small town of Torrevieja , where 20,000 Swedish tourists have taken up residence. Even the restaurants have Swedish names! For what? Because they're the snow birds here. 3000 km to travel for a little sun, aboard their fully equipped motorhome, satellite and heated floor. In the region, we find our beautiful #vanlife seaside panoramas, we explore the sand dunes and we waddle in the pink salinas.

Then head to Alicante and the superb beaches with views of the mountains, where dad will go jogging while mom stuffs herself with biscuits. We visit the local market and find a pastry in the shape of the logo of the city of Montreal. On time with the elections!

Small detour to Benidorm for a beautiful trek on the mountainside. Raf spoke the whole time. 1h30 of trekking, 1h30 of badada-dabada-badabababa-dada.



And even….







Now Valencia, the magnificent one. 2nd favorite after Seville. Ah! We feel good here! And what do we do when we feel good somewhere? We eat!! We eat, we eat, we maaaange. On average, 7 meals a day! But a tapas meal hardly counts. We went for a walk at the market (we love markets!) and although we had lunch at the van before leaving, at 11:30 we had our 3 meals of the day, small wine included. Jamón , bocadillos , totilla , pepino , pasteleria … it’s endless! I always use the excuse of “I'm breastfeeding, I'm allowed to” which has gotten me a daily gelato so far. Bread / cold meats / cheese / wine / gelato is joy!

In Valencia we eat, we stroll around the city, we visit the oldest bullfighting arena in the region and we go to get lost with the sharks at the largest aquarium in Europe.


Other than that we're fine, just the routine. We have become masters in the art of #vanlife , we clip-unclip-push-pull the seat in 2 steps 3 movements, it has almost become a dance: You take the baby – I pull-push. I change the diaper – you clip-unclip… shake the sheets, start the burner, take out the forks, and that’s it. We're pros, I don't hit my head everywhere anymore. We get a taste for the little house. Let's say that cleaning doesn't take too long to do, and that you can't really get lost between the living room and the kitchen. We are thinking of moving into our bathroom when we return to Montreal, to make the transition easier. That, where all 3 sleep in the bassinet. We think.

So that's it, no special anecdote to tell... except perhaps the time we slept in a bat nest and I was scared of my life every time I peed while squatting...

Or the time I told JP, full of confidence, that here in Europe they have wild doves... when in fact they are just common albino pigeons.

Or the fact that I can speak Spanish really fluently, I don't search for words and the words flow like a local, but I don't understand ANYTHING when people answer me. I don't look very intelligent with a blank stare afterwards...

Or the time we thought it was a public holiday – 4 days in a row – when we wandered around deserted towns in the middle of the afternoon. We understood on the 4th day that 4 public holidays in a row is a bit improbable, it's simply that everything is closed during the siesta...

Or the fact that JP's flip flops are discoloring on his feet (navy blue), that he puts them all over our sheets which are already not very clean because we wash them every 4 days, that they are broken in 2 places and that he REFUSES to buy new ones… it drives me crazy!

Or finally the fact that Raf was 5 months old on November 8, that he was developing way too quickly, that he was talking non-stop and we lost our baby. He just got over a yucky juicy snotty baby cold. So for Raf, his trip boils down to: gastro, a plum on the forehead, an attack of mosquito bites, a bad cold and daily diaper overflows. All with a smile. Speaking of smiling, this little guy smiles at everyone. And the world, the world loves babies. Even more smiling babies. Muy simpatico , they tell him. Gordito too. And when we tell them his name is Rafael, oh my, it’s instant attachment. And what's more, we write it with an “f” like a real Portuguese/Spanish person, phew, that's adoption! People love babies.

That's it, we're going to pick up Krystel and Gab at the airport for 1 week in Barcelona. We also want to demonstrate for Catalan independence.

Long live #vanlife !!