Czech Republic. Italy. Spain. Portugal. Croatia. Slovenia. Hungary. Poland. Austria. Germany. Greece. Thailand. Australia. Tanzania. Zanzibar. Malawi. Zambia. Zimbabwe. France. Monaco. Colombia. Cambodia. Vietnam. Laos. Myanmar. Cuba. Mexico City. New Zealand. Banff. Japan. Netherlands. Scotland. England. Chile. Iceland. Norway. Denmark. Covid-19. The journey continues..

Friday, July 5, 2019

Is It Copenhagen or Kobenhvan?

I read that Oslo wasn't all that interesting of a city unless if you're a viking history enthusiast which we were not so instead of staying in Norway after our fjords exploration, we hopped a flight to a new country: Denmark! 
We had 2.5 days and 3 nights in this very livable city. We chose a hotel that was walking distance to the infamous Nyhavn which we would do again should we come back. We spent our days walking the town and the weather mostly cooperated but we did get dark overcast mist for a day or so which wasn't terrible. The thing about traveling with an infant is that wherever you go, you try to create a routine of sorts because you can't really be 100% off the cuff with a little one in tow. To that point, we had a little bakery we frequented in the mornings which served delicious drinks and muffins before starting out day. Although we were walking distance to Nyhavn, we never had a meal there because majority of them were burger joints Yes, you read that right, burger joints. An overabundance of burger joints. If Copenhagen can improve, this would be one area to improve upon.

True to form, like any town we traveled to abroad, my hubs is always on a lookout for a cycling shop to visit. In Copenhagen, it was Rapha which we have back home but of course it's a little difference abroad. When we walked into Rapha, there was a gentleman who gave me a stink eye for a quick second because Isla was hungry and crying but he hid it well soon after. Shortly after we got comfortable, he started conversation with us by asking about Isla as he also had little ones. He told us about how parents in Copenhagen often leave their sleepy infants in the stroller outside of the shop and that's just part of the culture there. I was shocked as that could never happen in the US. He also made some solid suggestions for restaurants and areas to visit which we did obliged in. 
And now to the serendipity part of our trip. We took a taxi to a more residential part of Copenhagen to a restaurant for lunch. Neighborhood street shown (right) above. We were seated and shortly after, this gal came to our table and said, "no way!" It was my former colleague and friend Alyson who I hadn't seen in over 15 years but lives in the Bay Area! 
We spent the rest of our time walking all the streets we could with a stroller and an afternoon at Tivoli which if you have a kid, this is the place to go! It's a clean theme park of sorts that has something for everyone! Carnival games, entertainment shows, restaurants and my favorite: shops. Where else would I spent $45 on a music toy for Isla without really thinking twice?! All in all, Isla was a dream to travel with. She didn't fuss much and seem to go with the flow, much like her parents! Our next destination on this leg now is to Northern England where she'll meet Steve's family. Until next time!

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Party Of Three In the Norwegian Fjords!

Norway had long been on my list with the beauty of ature that the country offers. I gave birth to Isla back inMarch and wanted to fit a trip in during my maternity leave. Steve and I had Maui booked but as I had thought about it more and more, breastfeeding in the heat did not appeal to be at all so we cancelled Maui and booked Europe! I had received all the packing with an infant tips from my friend Allan who I had met in 2004 while in passport control in Prague.
We flew KLM, a very kid friendly airline to Amsterdam then continuing on to Bergen. It's known to rain over 270 days of the year in this part of the region but we were blessed with two days of sunshine during our visit. Norway has two populated cities/towns: Bergen and Oslo. With the time we had, we chose to skip Oslo and chose Bergen, a beautiful harbor town as our base. We spent our first couple of days getting over the fatigue of travel and exploring all that Bergen had to offer.
Bergen is a cute and charming harbor town. Some would say it's too touristy but I like it. I like the cheerful crowds, seeing people take advantage of the sunny days we had by enjoying meals and drinks outside and just the culture of it all. We spent out time in Bergen walking the infamous harbor, the small narrow lanes up the hills and even took the funicular to Mount Floyen. Bergen would also be the town where I had my first sushi meal since pre-pregnancy and it was delicious minus the whale sashimi on our platter. We gave a hard no on that one! 

Next up: the fjords! For convenience without a car, I chose to base out of Balestrand for our fjord adventure. Balestrand is a sleepy town and probably one of the bigger village alongthe fjords in this area. While this town has a handful of restaurants, the gem is called the Cider Hurst. We spent our arrival day taking in the town. The next day, we hopped on a smaller boat to tour the fjord. 
After two nights in Balestrand, we took on an epic day of transfers to cruise the Naeroyfjord. We departed Balestrand to catch the 830am boat to Flam then from Flam, we caughtthe premium carbon fiber boat cruise to Gundvagen. The carbon fiber boat did not disappoint. You might see fliers trying to sell you to the "classic" boat.. resist the nostalgia and go for the new and sleek carbon fiber one especially if you're traveling with an infant! From Gundvagen, we took the bus to the town of Voss (as in Voss water except I never saw any in Norway) before boarding a train back to Bergen.
The quiet and picturesque beauty of the fjords was a nice break from the town of Bergen. It's not easy to get to if you want to stay overnight but it is well worth the logistic inconvenience. 
Next up: Copenhagen!

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Iceland Surpassing Expectations

I didn't know what to expect when we had planned a trip to Iceland. I would be about 25 weeks pregnant by the time this trip came around. We wanted to go somewhere to celebrate our one year wedding anniversary and a baby moon. The country had been on our list, it's a place that we thought wouldn't be ideal to bring a young child in terms of the winter temperatures and Icelandic Air was offering deals- $375 direct roundtrip from SFO- which made us jump on it! I purchased some low key crampons from REI and dung out my nordic parka (or you can be like Steve and wear 7 layers- true story), packed my sorel boots and was ready!
I initially thought Iceland was just a country with pretty scenery and dodgy weather. We had a layover here in the summer and it was freezing! Having spent 7-8 days in this country, I am surprised at how much in love I fell with it. The landscape is stunning and the November weather wasn't too bad. It's much warmer than January in New York which where I often am for work at the beginning of the year. 

Our flight landed at about 6am and by 7:30am, we were on the shuttle bus to the Blue Lagoon for our 8am reservation. Coming from the States, being in any type of hot tub is a no-no when you're pregnant but there were no concerns from the Icelandic women. "We have pregnant women working in the lagoon." they say. Ideally, the Blue Lagoon is so big that not all areas are the same in terms of temperature. We were able to find some body temperature like pools to dip in which was just the right call after a long flight. I had also made a reservation for one of their floating massages which was an interesting experience. By 11:30am, we were lounging for lunch at their Lava Restaurant, which was delicious and on their 1:15pm bus into Reykjavik. Yes, the Blue Lagoon is touristy but hey it's a must do once in your life if you're in Iceland, IMHO. Besides, what else are you going to do when your flight lands at 6am and your hotel check in time isn't until the afternoon. Besides, the Blue Lagoon is 20 minutes from the airport and about 45 minutes from town so, if you're going to do it, it's best to do it either on arrival from the airport or on your way out to the airport. 

Prior to coming, we had to decide to drive or not to drive and I decided not to drive. Instead, we booked a multi-day tour with Arctic Adventures, their 5 Day South Coast, Snaefellsnes and Northern Lights Tour and couldn't have been more happy with it. I was bit nervous about joining a tour as it's not how I normally roll but we lucked out with an awesome guide, Hilmar and a small enough group to not feel like you were on a group tour. Our first stop was the Snarfellsnes Coast with the coast itself being the highlight. The main villages on this coast line are Arnarstapi and Hellnar. Mount Kirkjufell with waterfalls at it's base is a must visit stop. Wear your crampons when visiting in the winter! We spent the night at Hotel Rjukandi with the hopes of being able to see the Northern Lights but the weather wasn't on our side as the lights activity were low and the cloud cover was pretty heavy.

The next leg of our trip would be the Golden Circle. We visited a huge waterfall in the Thingvellir National Park (UNESCO recognized) which was like a winter wonderland dream with the dust of frozen ice and snow on the ground. The Geysir which we visited next drew a lot of ooohs and ahhhs and the Skogafoss waterfall is probably one of the most photographed fall in this country (Icelandic tales would tell you that there is a treasure chest hidden behind Skogafoss) but it was the Seljalandsfoss waterfall that was my favorite. Prior to coming, I had thought that all waterfalls eventually look the same and boy was I wrong! Although that may ring true for places like Hawaii, it's definitely a foolish thought in Iceland! Our hotel stay on this leg was the Hotel Gierland lodge which had the best dessert, the Skye Cake. Speaking of cakes, when in Iceland, you have to try their underground cooked, in a milk carton, thermal steamed for 12-25 hours, rye bread! When I think of rye bread, I think of the American sliced rye which I won't touch but Icelandic rye bread tastes nothing like it and has the consistency of a banana bread loaf. Delicious!

The third leg of our adventure took us to the South Coast which was very glacier focused. Earlier this year, we had traveled to Patagonia in Chile to celebrate my birthday and saw views of the magnificent  glaciers there but Iceland would not be out done. On this side of the country, we walked through glacier tunnels with a mildly horrifying incident when the guide announced to the group that we couldn't do an ice staircase because of a 6 month pregnant woman (yours truly) but we ended up being led out with another guide who was with the senior group- phew! I would never want to be THAT person! While the the tunnel walk was cool and we expected the ice cave to be blue even though the glacier guide warned us and said it would be black - probably due to the lack of sunlight- it was the ride in the glacier tank vehicle with controls to alter the tire pressure depending on the terrain that I will remember. Although at times, I did wonder if it was too bumpy for me! The highlight of this leg on the south coast was our experience at the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. Imagine this huge glacier, Vatnajokull Glacier, breaking off chunks of it's icebergs that then flows through a river into a glacier lagoon which then washes away to the Atlantic Ocean only to have some icebergs swept back onto the sand, which happens to be a black sand beach with diamonds on it. Wild and stunning! Our hotel stay here was a place called Gerdi Guesthouse.
The last day of our tour was greeted with warnings of 90 mph winds and rain which prompted our glacier hike to be cancelled. I was totally fine with it and I think Steve was more relieved because he had been anxious about me slipping. Looks like the weather Gods helped him out! With the weather conditions, Hilmar started our drive back towards Reykjavik an hour earlier to try to escape the onslaught of weather that was coming. If we were to be stuck, it would have been stuck in the middle of nowhere for about 3 hours waiting for the winds to pass. Not ideal! We did manage some stops along the way to the other side of the black sand beach and moss covered lava fields but with the wind speeds, although not 90 mph and more like 50 mph, the mini tour bus was more ideal. After we said goodbye to our tour adventures and our guide, Hilmar, with which Steve had developed a man-crush on, we spent about 1.5 days in Reykjavik. We shopped, we ate, we took photos. 

Food in Reykjavik is pricey and we knew that through word of mouth and our stopover airport experience in the summer. Every time we sat down for dinner, it was easily $100 but their food and it's preparation is delicious. Their fish is so fresh and tasty and their vegetables are fresh and creatively prepared. I've never had pickled celery! If you're looking for a cheap eat in town, head to the infamous Baejarins Betzu Pylsur hotdog stand circa 1937 for a $4.50 dog. Bill Clinton ate here! Don't be fooled by the poser, The Hot Dog Stand, in the main street leading up to the original place. You want to look for the stand along shack on a corner for this experience! Our two favorite meals were had at a restaurant in an unassuming food hall called Skal and a fish restaurant on one of the main streets called Messin. Braud Bakery is the morning spot with the nearby Reykjavik Roasters for a good hot morning drink! When choosing a hotel in town, it's worth staying on their city center main street especially in the winter. We stayed at the Alda Hotel.
Initially, we were concerned with the amount of daylight we would get but it wasn't much of a problem. The sun would rise around 10am and start to set around 4:30pm so we got a good 6-7 hours of daylight. I hear starting in December, it starts to get dark around 2:30pm. We never saw the Northern Lights, which I foolishly thought would just appear as it got dark as the skies were cloudy and there wasn't much activity. Apparently, there are websites to track the lights activity, the moon is not your best friend for this occasion because of the light and the enemy are the clouds! It didn't take away from our trip or experience though as we got so much more out of the country. And with that, until next time Iceland!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Adventuring In Chilean Patagonia

Patagonia has been on my list of destinations for quite awhile. Last April, I mentioned to Steve that I think maybe Patagonia is what I’d want to do for my 40th! A week later our flights were booked! I had a choice of connecting either through Miami or New York to Santiago. I chose Miami as I didn’t want to roll the dice on a New York connection in January. It turned out to be a good strategy as we checked in for our flights at SFO, the woman next to us connecting to Lima through New York was throwing a fit because her flight was delayed. Getting to Torres Del Paine took a bit of effort. We flew from San Francisco to Miami to Santiago to Puerto Natales. Not too long ago, to get to Torres Del Paine, you had to fly into Puerto Arenas which is theee hours south of Puerto Natales and five hours to the park. They recently opened up Puerto Natales to commercial flights a handful of times a week. It’s a small airport with one baggage claim inside a modern newly built bungalow. After 20+ hours of travel time, we arrived to a rainy PNT!

The rental car. I’ve  found that when renting a car in a foreign country, was the best source with the better prices. We dropped our bags off at the lodge and walked down a few blocks to Europcar for our reserved Mazda 5. When we arrived, there was a room full of travelers waiting for their car. I was fixated on ALL the luggage they brought. No joke, 3 bags each! What do they put in them?! Since traveling together, I’ve converted Steve to carryon. Anyways, I handed the rental guy my international driving permit which I got got from AAA back home and was pleasantly surprised when the car rental guy said he upgraded us to a Subaru Forester. I was unpleasantly surprised when I looked at the bill and saw that it wasn’t a free upgrade. I had to sign a few extra forms because I was declining their rental accident waiver insurance. He made it known that he didn’t think it’d be a good idea because of the roads but I had rental waiver insurance through my Chase Reserve, so I was covered either way. We did the car walk through pointing out every ding and scratch on the car before taking it off the lot. When we returned it, it was pretty much covered in mud. You wouldn’t even be able to tell if there were new scratches on it! “Oh, very dirty!” was the comment when we returned it!
The roads. We got up early the next morning and was on the road by 7am. Google maps said 1.5 hours to our hotel for the bag drop so we can make the 9am catamaran. Google maps did not know about the road closures so we were rerouted which added another 30 minutes to our drive. As I was driving along, I realized all the eyebrows I was getting from rental guy. Once you’re out of the town, the roads are unpaved, they’re full on gravel with potholes and they’re narrow for two way traffic lanes. I only fishtailed once as I took an edge too closely. Mid drive, I had to tell Steve that he had to be nervous silently. It wasn’t helping the zen mode I had to keep myself in. So, my tip on driving in Torres Del Paine, get an AWD vehicle otherwise your wheels might fall off and perhaps the insurance if you’re not covered by your credit card company for peace of mind as my heart rate spiked with every rock that hit the car and every oncoming local driver or tour bus!

Torres Del Paine. First of all, toilet paper in the toilet is a big no-no in the park and surrounding areas of the park. The area doesn’t have a sewage plant but they do have a sewage treatment system and toilet paper would interfere with that. Onto the hikes itself! I looked at all different ways of tackling Torres Del Paine. Did we want to do the full W trek? Did we want to camp all those nights? How did we want to split our time?! After some reading and research, I decided on the two hikes that was our must do. The hike up the French Valley which is the middle stick of the W and the base of Las Torres hike which is the last stick of the W. To do the French Valley hike, we had to secure a campsite and the reason we had to make the 9am catamaran. More on the campsite later. The French Valley hike did not disappoint! It’s windy, it’s uphill, the views of the glacier covered mountains in front with the glacier lakes behind. The French Valley trail is a busy one because most people start the hike at the same time pending the catamaran arrival. We hiked up then back down to Camp Frances. The French Valley hike can be done as a day trip, however, we were told at the hotel that some people got denied entry because they didn’t have a campsite reserved. I suppose the park is trying to crackdown on illegal camping due to fires started by irresponsible tourism. The Las Torres hike is the highlight of the park. Most tour groups leave the hotels at 730am, we decided to leave at 7am to beat the crowd. We made the 11.5 miles in about 6:45hours. I was mentally prepared for an eight hour hike so I was stoked that it didn’t take that long. The first hour is all uphill and rough but it’s the beginning so you’re stoked! Hours 2-2:45 are manageable peaks and valleys. The last 40 or so minutes is a windy rock climbing stinger to get up to the base of the Torres. I was reminded of how out of cardio shape I was! Once we got up to the base, it was breathtaking! It was quiet, the sun was starting to warm, we took a nap and marveled at the natural beauty. As we made our way down, a lot of folks were making their way up. The sun was heating up now and it would be our first day in the park that we actually felt heat! The return hike is pretty hard on the knees and the beginning of the last hour is a killer uphill punctuated by bees and flies wanting to sting you if you’re a female and it’s that time of the month. We wanted to see Glacier Grey which is the first stick of the W. We wanted to get up and close to it so we boarded an excursion boat. The glaciers up close are stunning and massive. It’s hard to think that we are only seeing a tiny portion, 4%, of what it used to be. 

The lodging. My lodging strategy was that it’d get better as the trip went on. Our first night in Puerto Natales, we stayed at a lodge in town that was basically an ensuite tent with drywall to enclose it. I will not be recommending that place even though the staff was all so kind! Our next lodging set up was a premium platform tent at Camp Frances. I emailed Fantastic Sur to reserve this campsite in April. I didn’t get a first response back until June. June! I had almost forgotten about it by then. We were confirmed by July. Premium platform is an option that is new. It includes a comfy sleeping pad and a very warm sleeping bag in these new Marmot tents! Hot showers were an option from 6-10pm. We chose the full board option so we didn’t have to worry about meals. After camping, we checked into the Rio Serrano hotel. There are many options for areas to stay at in the park and I chose this one because the hotel had space. It turned out to the better choice as we were in the middle of any direction we needed to travel to. I was REALLY close to booking the Instagram famous domed Ecocamp Patagonia ones but it was way too costly. As we drove through the park and past the domes, it turned out to be a smart choice. For nearly $1k a night, you don’t even get view of the infamous mountain peaks! Our last hotel stop would be back in Puerto Natales at the Simple Patagonia Hotel. The hotel has been opened for a year and if just about as perfect as it can be to end a trip. If this was perched on a hillside in Big Sur, it’s easily be $1k a night but in Chilean Patagonia, this 11 room gem costs $225. The decor, the simplicity, the peace you feel watching the sea and grass move in the wind is pretty much on point. 

Part of the planning process was to book a tour or not book a tour. I opted to not book a tour mainly because I like being on my own time. Aside from that, tours are expensive! I suppose companies have to make a profit. When we calculated what we’ve spent, we concluded that it was half of what we’d spend had we gone with a group. Besides, part of the adventure is the planning, the research and the surprises along the way. Prior to coming here, I knew the park would be spectacular. The hikes would bring pretty epic experiences but what I didn’t expect was the simplistic beauty of the architecture in this region. The Chilean people have all been so helpful and we will miss it here. Adventuring through Patagonia at 40 with my hubs is an adventure for the books!

Monday, September 11, 2017

13 Years Later ...Lake Como!

Seven train rides later from Murren and we made it to the town of Varenna in Lake Como. The last time I was in Italy, it was October 2004 and I was on my first solo trip abroad. Lake Como was on my list but I thought it'd be too romantic of a place to go solo, so I skipped it but it was always on my list of places to come back to. Here we are ...13 years later! We arrived to a sunny and warm picturestic lake. What a world of difference in temperature compared to the Swiss Alps. We booked a newer built apartment that sits above the train station and overlooks the lake. In many ways, I prefer this vs the older rooms in the center of town. It's a bit too crowded for my taste. Lake Como is a place you come for total relaxation. There isn't much to do other than eat ice cream, meals, walk the town's and gardens and spend time with your company.

Since this is a lake of villages, we ventured over to Menaggio on the other side of Varenna and found a town that seems more lived in than Varenna. It has more traffic, hotels seem a bit bigger and the square is right in the water and that's about it for Menaggio. No pretty gardens. The next day was rainy so we ventured out for meals and then cozied up in our apartment. Steve has been deep into his James Bond movies since our visit to the Schilthorn. Our last full day here, the rain lightened up so we ventured to Bellagio, known as the glam gem of Lake Como, to see what that was all about. Bellagio has shops for days compared to its other villages on the lake. The streets are filled with more people and certainly more cars. While walking the shops, Steve asked if he can get a fishing boat. My questions are always 1) where are we putting it? 2) how are we getting it back home? Later in the afternoon, we went back for the fishing boat.

Lake Como is beautiful. I don't know that it's the most beautiful lake in the world as one poster claimed, but it is beautiful, serene and peaceful with some of the largest mansions you'll ever see. 13 years later, definitely worth it!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

In Awe of The Alps In Switzerland

One flight and a couple of expensive train rides later, we arrived in Switzerland from Mallorca. Zermatt was our stop and we arrived to cold and rain. Yours truly must have read the wrong weather report and had to go shopping for leggings! I knew Switzerland would be expensive but wow!! This will go down as the most expensive country I've traveled to. We got off the train station in Zermatt, wandered up the street and found our hotel. We had a sweet room with a deck that faced the Matterhorn except it would take two days before we were able to see it due to weather. On the one sunny day that we were there, we were able to do the Seenweg trail which is also known as the Matterhorn's five lakes trail and it was truly stunning! Cold but stunning! We were in Zermatt for three nights and felt that was a good amount of time there. It was time to move on to another part of the mountains- Oberland!
After five train changes and one gondola ride, we arrived in the town of Murren from Zermatt. Unlike Zermatt, where luxury commercialism (Hublot, Rolex, Patik Philippe) is in your face, Murran is a quiet small village. Although we did hear that in the prime of summer, this little village sitting on a cliff brings in 4K folks a day. Crazy to think! While folks go to Zermatt for the Matterhorn, folks come to Murren for the Schilthorn, the Eiger, Münch and the Jungfrau. On our second day here, the sun burst through the clouds so we decided it'd be a perfect day for the Schilthorn. $80 Swiss Francs takes you to the top of the Schilthorn from Murren and it was worth it! Views of the big three: Eiger, Münch and Jungfrau floating in the clouds with the cheesy James Bond theme in the background. We spent the next two days hiking the North Face Trail and the Mountain View Trail around these mountains with town visits to Gimmelwald and Lauterbrunnen.

The debate I've often read is, given one choice, would you choose Zermatt or Oberland?! Zermatt is busier, more commercialized, more hotels, more restaurants with tasty pizza such as Grampi's and Molino's. And, of course it has the Matterhorn which was my favorite hike in Switzerland. Oberland is smaller, hotels are more rustic, less traffic because cars aren't allowed in many of the towns above the valley. There are restaurants but only one deserves your money, time and calories and that's Le Grotte in Murren. Of course, you can choose to have broccoli beef for $28 Swiss Francs or pasta from the freezer for $25 Swiss Francs at neighboring restraurants. Oberland has countless hiking trails and view of Europe's highest mountain tops. So, I suppose it comes down to the atmosphere one wants! We were lucky enough to fit both in!

That's it for Switzerland!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Is It Mallorca or Majorca?

Depends on who you ask, I suppose! I funded this flight for my second trip to Europe with my United miles and it was quite a journey. SFO-->ORD-->ZUR-->PMI. During my journey over, I was convinced that I would take the $25 euro cab ride to my hotel for ease and convenience but then I got off my last flight and thought, I can figure this bus thing out! Hopped on the #1 Aeroport bus into town for $5 euros, got off at Place Espanza, got my bird's eye view map out, located some buildings around my hotel, followed two directional signs and viola, Hotel Convent Missio! Steve would be joining me the next day after having attended his brain conference in the south of France.

Mallorca is a much larger island than I thought it'd be but thanks to their awesome bus system, you can just about get anywhere on the island. I spent my first day on the #3 bus to a beach club strip called Illetas. The waters were warm but it was way to crowded for my liking, so I cut my beach day short, headed back into Palma and explored it more. Palma is a town where you don't necessarily need a map to guide you. All the lanes and roads eventually intersect again. Palma is busy, humid, tapas and ice cream shops galore but the main stand out is their Cathedral. Wow, that stained glass in there with the high ceilings and ancient architecture is stunning. The Gaudi architecture you see
around town isn't bad either. Just have to remember to look up to catch it!

With Mallorca's awesome bus system, we took day trips to Soller, Valldemosa and Alcudia. The town of Soller isn't much but it has a busy port full of shops and restaurants that's worth taking a wander in. The highlight of Soller is the one hour train ride from Palma and then the tram that takes you to the port. Beyond that, time is best spent having a lunch by the water and then a drink back in Soller town while people watching in the square by their cathedral.

Valldemosa, which I deemed the gem of Mallorca. A 30 minute bus ride takes you there from Palma. You come upon a charming old town surrounded by nature and hills. It's stone buildings and houses are decorated with little potted plants all around the entry ways.

And then there's, Alcudia. The last day trip we did from Palma. It's a longer bus ride at an hour from Palma. It's an old town surrounded by a wall or fort with charming pedestrian only narrow lanes. You can roam these lanes ....for what seems like awhile and not be bored because each time.. you discover something different. We took a taxi from Alcudia to a nearby beach called S'illot. You may get there by taxi but no guarantees that you'd make it back! You can call for one at the beach restaurant but taxis aren't efficiently run in a Alcudia and you can be waiting for days. It took us a few tries but we were able to hitch a ride back from after enjoying some sun and warm waters of S'illot!

That's it for Mallorca, next up, Switzerland!