From Bilbao, Basque Country
The Guggenheim's exterior has stood the test of time remarkably well. Frank Gehry always said that the dramatic shining silver of the titanium cladding would age slowly and gracefully to exude a more golden glow.
I remember thinking at the time that it would most likely become grubby and neglected-looking. Guess who was right? It wasn’t me. I’ve been seeing the Guggenheim for 16 years and it looks more beautiful each time.
From Ordesa National Park, Spanish Pyrenees
We slogged up the switchback path, the end demoralisingly out of sight. People twice our age passed us in all manner of lycra, walking poles in hand. We had no poles, just a bag of nuts and flasks of warm coffee and cold water. Was it worth it? Like you wouldn't believe.
Mountains look different from up high; truer proportions, more texture, more detail. Valleys stretch out longer, peaks roll off further and the air feels so invigoratingly fresh. I remember it all so vividly still, the day we took the difficult path and won the greatest view of our lives.
From Tella, Spanish Pyrenees
The road ran out at Tella. A few stone houses, a medieval church and the odd cat - el medio de la nada as they say in Spain. The middle of nowhere.
But it's just a 15-minute walk to the first of three Romanesque chapels, hidden away on the edge of a steep cliff in the shadow of a big outcrop. In the distance are the even bigger peaks of the Ordesa National Park. You need not always go to the far side of the world to see such incredible places.
From Aínsa, Spanish Pyrenees
We went in search of vultures, preferably of the Bearded kind. We hadn't yet made it to the valley where they are often seen, when we saw two circling in the sky, pointed out by a friendly Frenchman on the side of the road.
Down in the valley, we saw only Griffon, not Bearded vultures. But it didn't matter. Not one dot. Watching a dozen majestic creatures swooping across a forested canyon to within metres of our heads is something I'll never, ever forget. Nature can be so wonderful when you sit back and watch.
From Aigüestortes, Catalonia
It takes a special landscape to retain its full charm in the rain. One early October morning, Aigüestortes pulled it off effortlessly.
Silvery waterfalls rushed furiously and autumnal reds and yellows spread through the mixed forests which colour blocked the mountainsides. Chaffinches hopped from lush pine to lush pine, grey clouds shrouded the pointy peaks in a mysterious cloak and a rainbow formed against the deep green surface of the lake.
Discover our trips to the Catalan Pyrenees
From La Garrotxa, Catalonia
We were always going to take the detour. Why wouldn't we walk an extra 2km to visit a mysterious Romanesque chapel in a volcano crater?
Through the beech trees our trail wound until emerging on a sunny clearing, like a high mountain pasture. Only this was nothing of the kind. In the Middle Ages, pilgrims trod these paths for religious ends. For us, our pilgrimage led us to a picnic spot which will take some beating.
From the Costa Brava, Catalonia
I think I inadvertently awoke Núrea from her afternoon nap at her organic vineyard, tucked away in the hills up a bumpy dirt track. Her pride at what she and her husband Diego Soto have achieved here shone through with no airs or graces. They simply fell in love with this place, respected the terrain enough not to contaminate it and are pleased to share it with anyone interested.
They are, like many I've met in Spain, deeply appreciative of their lot in life.
From Barcelona, Catalonia
When finished, the Sagrada Familia will have taken some 200 years to complete. In an era when even the largest buildings take less than a couple of years, it’s like a horse and carriage turning up, unapologetically, to an F1 race.
Likewise, there is no way that this building should be here: culturally, socially, physically, economically, it defies logic. And that is precisely what gives it such extraordinary force and power.