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Azores Sept 2017

Fri, Sept 1, 2017
Ross and I both worked til midnight Monday morning and then came home to rest and then pack. But before that, out stomachs got the best of us. Rossy bear went for a Taco Bell run and we discovered it closed at 1am. Dang! So then hit up Jack in the Box and we went way overboard with the food and grease. It was the not-so-great gift that kept on giving — heartburn and that yucky feeling. We opted to sleep after that until 5am. We both got up and showered and started packing. We caught an XL uber to the airport around 6:30a and made it in time for our flight to Boston. But, there would be trouble at the Alaskan checkin counter with Barbara who tried to charge us $100/checked bag to the Azores. Luckily, she grabbed her supervisor Mark and he was able to sort through the situation without charge. Stellar job Mark!  We got Ross’ surfboard checked and my inflatable Isle SUP and we were golden. We slept for most of the 5 hour flight to Boston.
After arriving in Boston, we proceeded to the international terminal to check in with Azores Airlines. We were super early (and had a three hour layover) so we went to the terminal restaurant and got lobster rolls and clam chowder. Big win!  After we downed dinner, we got in the checkin line which wasn’t moving quickly at all. In fact , Azores Airlines had the slowest checking vs all the other airlines. But once we got our tickets… we were all smiles. Bear started to get this new right eye pain that almost seemed like sinus pressure. He’s starting to perk up after some DayQuil and a nap.
Now we’re still in the Boston terminal waitin for our flight to arrive and then board. We’re already an hour late secondary to late arrival from the prior aircraft. I hope we make our next leg to Horta!
ITINERARY  Print  Email
Check-in with Alaska Airlines / Confirmation number: RNK3I5
San Diego, CA, United States (SAN) to Ponta Delgada, Portugal (PDL)
1 Stop
Alaska Airlines
Flight 798
 Fri Sep 1, 2017
San Diego, CA, United States (SAN)
 Fri Sep 1, 2017
Boston, MA, United States (BOS)
 Layover – 3h 59m
Airline Confirmation: RNK3I5
Azores Airlines
Flight 250
 Fri Sep 1, 2017
Boston, MA, United States (BOS)
 Sat Sep 2, 2017
Ponta Delgada, Portugal (PDL)
Airline Confirmation: RNK3I5
  Total Trip Time: 14h 40m

Sat, Sept 2
6:00a arrive into PDL
So tired. The flight into PDL was great. Nice dinner on the flight. We fell asleep for most of this leg. Picked up the surfboard and SUP and hauled it to the next checkin. Apparently, you need a surfboard reservation when you checkin a surfboard.  One more leg to go. Did I mention how tired we are? The Azores are 7 hours ahead of our local time.
8:40A PDL SATA Air Acores 570 —> HOR 9:30a
Pick up rental car at airport
We arrive in Horta on Faial Island. Grab our Lil car but all our luggage fit inside… even the surfboard!  We drive to our B&B Quinta da Meia Eira. Such a beautiful lil compound along the water with pool house, fresh fruits, local yogurt and a wonderful host family!  We encountered some of the largest spiders we had ever seen!  Bear hopped into the pool for a quick rinse and I showered off quickly in the pool house. Our room wasn’t quite ready yet, but our host graciously invited us to have breakfast. The local made yogurt was tasty! The local cheeses were hard and semi soft with a nice buttery flavor (I only ate the pasteurized ones.). There was a little fruit that had a thin leaf wrapping around it. Peel back the leaf and it was a bright orange ball of small fruit. It was really sweet and tasty. Bear calls it the Azorean dingleberry. After breakfast, we drive out to Capelinho. This was an old volcanic eruption in the 1956. It was barren now like the moon. It was a busy whaling site. Lighthouse is intact and we could walk around the volcanic area and go down by the water. After this sight, we drove to Praia do Norte (or Fajal as our host called it) and sat along the wall watching some waves along the beautiful rugged coastline. It looked so much like Kauai. We tried to see if the weather would clear to make the trek to Caldeira but it was really cloudy and foggy higher up in elevation. Not a good day to view it.  After that, we were really feeling tired and dehydrated and thought it would be best to head to our b&b to checkin and rest up a bit. I passed out in the car and Bear completed the drive around the island (you could probably get all the way around it in an hour!). We got in and passed out hard for a couple hours. Bear went to grab food for dinner and found this awesome wood fired grill that grilled up fresh local catch and meat. We had the wreckfish (which the locals say is their best fish) and beef. Everything was delicious! The meats were tender and flavorful. The potatoes were phenomenal!  After the meal, we showered and called it a night.  It’s 10p right now and we gotta be up by 6a to drop off the car and get to the ferry.
Quinta da Meia Eira (Bed & Breakfast) – Paid in advance 95 Euros
Rua dos Inocentes – Horta , Horta, 9900-323, Portugal Confirmation No. 1003.481.143
Check-in 2 pm
Cannot Cancel
Capelinhos – Cert of Excellence (30 min drive from Horta)
Caldeira – Cert of Excellence (30 min drive from Horta)
Hike around the Caldeira – 3 to 3.5 hours
Miradouro (viewpoint on the way to Caldeira)
The Marina of Horta – Certificate of Excellence
Surf on north side by Capelinhos = Praia do Norte; also spots on west side
Dinner Options – can go to one when return to Horta before Flores:
Aldina – Cert of Excellence, great reviews
Restaurante Pasquinha – Cert of Excellence, great reviews, rad ocean view

Sun, Sept 3
Drop off rental car at Horta harbor
Morning Ferry to Sao Jorge – Horta Harbor at 7:00 a.m.
(Check out of B&B by11:00 a.m.)
We woke up at 5:45a to get packed and ready to drop the car off at Horta harbor. It was raining like crazy in the morning and we were out before sunrise.  It was an interesting maze through downtown Horta. We ended up going the wrong way on a one way street. Then when we went to go fill up the gas tank for our rental car…the gas station was closed. We pulled up to the ferry place and got our tix and a quick coffee and bite. We boarded the boat for the 1.5 hour trip to Velas…. but we had one stop in Pico so the trip was about 2hrs and some change. Once we arrived to Velas, we walked to the rental car company and and got our car. A Lil cafe was within walking distance and we got some eggs and omelet and toast for breakfast. After that, we took a drive to Faja do Armes.  It was a gnarly drive with hairpin turns and steep ascents and descents. But the view was spectacular.
After that we headed up north to Norte Grande to check out the natural swimming pools. Bear took a dip while I watched. It looked refreshing but cold at the same time. He seemed to think the water temp was in the 70s.   After that we drove to Cubres and walked around there for a bit checking out the surf. We stopped by a Lil cafe and got some beer and an ice cream. Then we decided to take the road toward Topo — the easternmost tip of the island. We came across Pequeno Norte  and decided to drive through it on our way to find Faja de Vimes (another surf spot). It was pretty far to drive with a bunch of steep hairpin turns so we went a ways and then turned around to make it back to Cubres on time. This time when we went back thru Norte pequeno, it was full of traffic. There’s was a town bullfight that people were gathering for… their were detours around the city. We navigated back roads to Cubres. One of the quads (Bruno) met us in Cubres to get our stuff and loaded it up. We did the one hour hike to our lodging. It was beautiful and full of multiple ascents and descents. The worst was inhaling the fumes from the quads. Once we reached our lodging, all tempers had melted away as the view of the Lagoa and ocean were spectacular. The waves were firing with a beautiful left in front of the town church. Bear caught some great sets. Apparently that’s been the best it has been in the past month. There were several surfers out there catching waves so I felt better about Bear being in the water (vs being out there by himself). We came in for 8p dinner of soup, salads, and bacalao (traditional Cod fish of the Portuguese people). Dinner was great and filling. We headed back to our room and passed out!
Ferry arrives in Velas, Sao Jorge at 9:20 am
Pick up rental car in Velas
Europcar – Confirmed via Expedia
Sep 3, 2017 9:30AM
Lg.Dr.Joao Pereira,21, Sao Jorge
Itinerary #7288476417092
Confirmation 1065311683
Caldeira Surfcamp & Guesthouse – Have not paid, $160 Euros ($80/night), cash only
Confirmed per email from Rita on 8/7
Attempted to pay deposit but unable to transfer, Rita confirmed deposit not required
Coordinate access to Guesthouse in advance via quad bike
Lagoa de Faja de Santo Cristo – Cert of Excellence
Lunch/Dinner option:
Restaurante Mare Viva – Cert of Excellence, ocean views

Mon, Sept 4
Sao Jorge
The winds last night were howling!!  It ended up opening the side door of our room! But we slept like babies last night and woke up at 9am to only fall back to sleep until 10:30a. We almost missed breakfast but we were able to snag some cereal and fruit. After breakfast, we went for a 2 mile out and back hike to a waterfall. The scenery was breathtaking! The path took us through rainforest type foliage and the ocean was visible to our left. It was a feeling of zen and serenity. Once we reached the waterfall, it started pouring. You can see why it’s so green and lush here… the amount of rainfall is unprecedented. We hiked back down the trail in the rain and made it to our room to shower off and change before lunch. Lunch was a delicious assortment off things from yesterday evening’s meal. It was still delicious. After lunch at 2p, we let our meals digest a bit and then grabbed a sup and surfboard to go for a paddle and checkout the waves. The waves seemed to be firing to the left of the church from what we could see from our waterfall hike.  We headed out that way to check the surf. It was pretty small so we SUPd the Lagoa de santo cristo. After that we headed back to the other side of the church where Bear went for a surf yesterday and it was small but still rideable. Bear went for a quick sesh and it looked super fun. We saw several other guests take foamies out to catch the tip of the break. It looked fun and could be a good beginner break. After the surf sesh, we came back to the room and showered and read for a little bit and chatted about the day. Dinner at 8p was good: tomato soup, salad, and pasta w butter sauce. Dessert was a fruit pancake. After dinner we headed back to the room to read and disconnect. There’s no internet or tv at this place… which is awesome!!! But we did manage to catch an episode of Straner Things that we downloaded at the Boston airport.

Tues, Sept 5
Woke up this morning around 10a and headed to breakfast of our favorite chocolate puff cereal. After that we took a walk around the church and over to the Lagoa to visualize the surf and it looked like a nice beginner spot!  So we headed back and brought a board out to the same place. This time we placed the surfboards into the Lagoa and paddles through to get to the surf. The waves were perfect. Nice, slow to break, great beginner wave! The first wave I tried was a green wave and I popped up and rode it! What an awesome feeling! I hadn’t been out on the surf since we found out about the mini Thal and that’s been at least a month +.  Bear and I had such a great time and we even caught a party wave! Such a great way to take in all the surroundings and go for a surf! After that we headed back for 2p lunch. It was a potato pancake with a cucumber yogurt dill salad a regular salad and some bread. It was just right! Now just relaxing and waiting too 5ish for the quad to load up our stuff and take us back to the car in Cubres.
The quad ride was quite an adventure! Not sure how the inflatable sup, 2 large backpacks, surfboard bag, and 3 adults fit on one quad. It was the same path we hiked in… had plenty of ascents and descents and was a narrow path. Definitely a bumpy ride but fun! We head to Velas by car on the island to stay for the evening. We check in to our hotel and walk to dinner. The hostess at the restaurant was fantastic. She treated us to her local pea soup and an evening local wine (which smelled strong!).
Sao Jorge
Casa do Antonio (Bed & Breakfast) – Have not paid, $77 Euros, Cancel up to 9/3/17
Tower Room
Rua Infante D. Henrique 21, Velas (Açores), 9800-554, Portugal
Booking number: 2084577099 | PIN code: 2648
Check-in: 3:00 p.m.
Can Cancel w/o charge until September 3, 2017 11:59 PM

Wed, Sept 6
Last day in Sao Jorge
(Check out ofCasa do Antonio by12:00 p.m.)
Drop off rental car in Velasat 8:20aat office.
Sep 6, 2017 9:00AM
Lg.Dr.Joao Pereira,21, Sao Jorge
Morning ferry from Velas to Pico Island: departs 09:25
Ferry arrives at 10:50 in Madalena, Pico Island
Pick up rental car in Madalena
We woke up early around 7:15a and packed and had breakfast around 7:50a. Cereal has hit the jackpot for us on this trip! We head down to return our rental car to Ilha Verde and forgot to refill w gas! So we drive up out of town (roughly a 5 minute drive) and fill up with gas and then bring it back to the rental car company.  We do a quick drop off and then grab our bags and head down to the ferry. It was already so hot! We rest in the shade and wait to board. We run into the family we met at Sao Jorge at Santo Cristo and did our hellos and goodbyes and safe travels. They were looking to tackle Mt Pico. Once on the ferry, we get a spot on the upper deck under some shade and enjoy the 1h ride between islands. We saw dolphins jumping out of the water. Once we dock, we grab our stuff and head to the rental cars where a lady was waiting for us. It was super hot in Pico. We get to our rental car and the lady was doing the slowest checkin imagineable. It took us 40 minutes of baking in the sun and getting the car checked in before we could get the keys and go. The lady was overly thorough and unnecessarily so. Bear and I were super annoyed! I spot an outside (but in the shade) cafe with beer and suggest to Bear that we grab a cold refreshing bevie. He got the Super Bock on tap and I think it was what he needed to unwind a bit after dealing with that car rental lady in the blistering heat.
We take our car and head to our hotel to see if we can checkin early. Luckily, they had our room ready and we dropped our bags off and headed out to grab lunch at a spot the hotel recommended: Aldeia de Fonte. I ordered the octopus and it was outstanding. Bear got the grilled barracuda which was delicious too. The entreee sizes are massive! We shared an appetizer of pork sausage, blood sausage, fava beans, taro, and orange slices. Their bread was terrific too!  We were so stuffed with lunch, we continued our southern journey of the island and drove through Lages to Calheta de Nesquim where there were natural pools to check out. Bear jumped in and went for a swim. I was still so stuffed from lunch I could barely move.
After the watering hole, we headed out to a place where our hotel recommended we check out. It was baia de canas– we found the park and eventually found a place to park (not bc it was full, but bc it was a bit difficult to find where). Once we parked we went down a very narrow and steep trail that was lined with green moss. After 1/4 mile in with very steep ascents and descents, we opted to turn back. Luckily there was a trail you could drive the car down to the beach. Maybe it wasn’t as interesting, but at least we’d both get to the end unscathed. Actually, bear took a tumble in the mossy forest and banged up his left hand pretty well.
After the drive down to the beach, we got back on the main road and decided to check out a popular snorkeling spot complete with regular swimming pool and natural swimming pool close to Ponta da Luzerna. It was pretty windy but we thought it could be a good launch point for our SUP. Kids and families were out enjoying the pool on this hot day.
We decided to check out a surf spot around Baia do poco. It looked pretty rocky and just a really battered shoreline of rocks. It would’ve been tough to surf there in today’s conditions as you’d have to dodge and weave through the rocks in the water.
After that we headed back to our hotel just in time for a 30 minute nap before dinner. Luckily, the hotel had a pretty amazing restaurant called Atmosfera. Bear and I shared the mixed cheese plate (one from Pico, Faial, and Sao Jorge). The one from Faial was a semi soft and was so delicious… it was our fave. But a close second was the one from Sao Jorge as it was pretty funky and spicy. Dinner was bolognese for Bear and octopus pasta for me. I think his dish was better as the sauce was richer and comforting. My dish was great… but it didn’t come close to the octopus I had at lunch. Although we were already full, we had to checkout dessert and got the lemon merengue as our waitress recommended. It was a lovely meal but we are so full! We headed back to our room at the hotel and are settling in for the evening and making a plan for tomorrow.
Alma do Pico – Cert of Excellence – Paid in advance via Paypal $150 Euros
Rua dos Biscoitos 34, Madalena, 9950-333
Phone: +351914231436
Booking number: 1370885683 | PIN code: 4858
Check-in: 2:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Cannot Cancel Booking
Dinner one night at Atmosfera – Cert of Excellence
Dinner option in Sao Roque do Pico:
Casa Ancora, rated No. 1 restaurant on the island (Atmosfera is No. 2)

Thurs, Sept 7
Woke up this morning around 9:30aand just relaxed in bed til about 10am. It’s so nice not having to wake up to an alarm clock! We went to breakfast at our hotel and had eggs and cheeses d ham with bread and a pastry and fresh juices and coffee. It was a great start to the morning. We booked our massages for tomorrow morning and headed out to the supermarket to load up on water.
It was such a clear and warm day on Pico. We decided to hit up the private lava tube near Furna de Frei Matias. We used something like a treasure map to find the area to get down to the lava tube — which was like a cave and had some stalagmites and stalactites with water dripping in the damp cool cave. At first it was a bit scary to get down there bc there was vegetative overgrowth and not much light. That morning I had already gotten stung by a wasp on the leg so I was super cautious and hyper vigilant about bugs. Once we got down to the cave it was nice and cool and open and we could see a small ray of light at the end. We walked through the cave and headed back to the car. Since Mt Pico was on the way, we decided to drive up to a good viewing point on the mountain and took a nice stroll around the base. Thankfully it was a clear day with minimal clouds. We could see for miles and both Faial and Sao Jorge islands were visible. It was pretty breezy up there so we did a short walk and then came back to the car.
Next up was Lagoa do Capitao. We thought this would be a great SUP spot so we drove to the lake and found that it was a pretty small lake that was muddy. It didn’t seem ideal for a SUP.  We opted for another more scenic lake called Lagoa do Caiado and Lagoa Seca. Now these lakes had beautiful scenery all around them. First you could see Mt Pico in all its glory. Secondly, it was so clear you could see Sao Jorge island as well. Lagoa do Cairo was quite a bit higher up in elevation from Seca… so we could look down to Seca and see its crystal clear waters surrounded by beautiful forest treees (they looked like pines to us). The view was spectacular!  Neither of these spots seemed SUPable to us so we opted to head for lunch at Restaurante Ancorandouno in Madalena. We got there just as the kitchen was closing at 3p. They suggested we visit the Tea House just down the street. Starving, we visited the tea house and it was a wonderful surprise of yummy food, tasty wines, exquisite desserts, and a beautiful ocean view. We highly recommend this place! Their Pico cheese plate, fish and chips, and fig cheesecake and chocolate coconut bites were so tasty!! Bear had some white wine and he’s discovering that the white wine in the Azores is quite good.
After a tasty lunch, we decided to check out some surf spots. There’s one close to Cella Bar, so we head there. The waves weren’t quite firing, but the location seemed like a cool spot to brag a bevie. Plus, there’s a natural swimming pool at the area. Next we headed further northeast up the coast to Cais do Mourato to checkout another surf spot. It seemed that one could work on a bigger swell but it was super sketchy with the rocks being so close to the breaking waves. I’d be nervous if Bear went out for a surf there. Lastly, we checked out one more spot closer to the airport but it wasn’t doing much. All of these spots seemed to have potential but it seems a bit nerve wracking with all the rocks close to the breaking waves. We have yet to come across a sandy beach here in Pico.
We headed back to our hotel for a Lil nap to escape the heat. Tonight, we headed back to Madalena for a sunset dinner at Ancoradouno which was delicious. We shared a cheese plate and then ordered the barbecue fish (wreckfish that came on giant skewers with shrimp) and also the fried tuna steaks. The entrees again are massive and can be shared between two people. But, it was great trying both of these specialty dishes. For dessert we got a yummy hocokate cake. As we were settling the bill, we saw the lady from the tea house who served us for lunch. Bear and I both wondered if she made al the delicious desserts at this restaurant as well. Overall great evening!
Pico Mountain – Cert of Excellence
Full hike – 6 to 8 hours
Hike with a guide – Tripix Azores

Fri, Sept 8
Check out of Alma do Pico by10:30 a.m.
We had Breakfast at the hotelaround 10am.
Massagesat 10:30aat the hotel. Sonya out masseuse was wonderful! I went first for an hour and then Bear went next. It was absolutely what we needed. After the massages, we packed up quickly and got gas and were about 20 minutes late to our rental car dropoff. While Bear dealt with the rental car lady, I grabbed our tickets and baggage carrier to unload the car. We made it in the14:00ferry to Horta. It was a 30 minute ride to town. We walked a third of a mile with all our baggage to our hotel. It was perfectly situated in town. California pizzeria was closed by the time we were ready to leave our aptat 15:00so we head to another local spot called the Casa Teahouse. I was craving pizza since it was already in my head and we had been eating so much seafood! We get a veggie pizza, watermelon juice, and a wine and iced coffee. We had back to the hotel for a rest (it’s still hot in Horta with minimal cloud cover). We leave the hotelaround 6:30and take a walk towards the marina and head along the fort and ocean front. It’s a beautiful evening and lovely weather for a stroll. It was neat to see all the murals at the marina from people who have sailed from other countries into Horta. We get to dinner at Restaurante Genuinoat 7:45p. It took an hour before our entrees came. Bear got the grilled tuna steak and I got the tuna meatballs with sweet potato purée. We shared a yummy chocolate cake dessert with strawberry ice cream. After dinner, we made the walk home with an almost full moon lighting the path along the marina.
Other activities in Pico?
Grutas das Torres – Cert of Excellence (Caves/Lava Tube)
Lajes Do Pico – town on south side of island
Bakery! Aromas e Sabores
Bistrot Whale’come – food
Whale Watching:
Drop off rental car in Madalena at 13:00.
Ferry from Madalena to Horta: departs at 14:00
Ferry arrives in Horta at 14:30
Apartamentos Kósmos (at Horta harbor) – Committed, $85 Euro
Avenida 25 de Abril, Horta, 9900-114, Portugal
Check-inFriday, September 8, 2017 (2:00 PM – 6:00 PM)
Check-outSaturday, September 9, 2017 (9:00 AM – 11:00 AM)
Inform them of anticipated arrival time
Dinner options in Harbor area:
Pizzaria California – Cert of Excellence:
Restaurante Genuino – Cert of Excellence

Sat, Sept 9
We woke up at 7:15a and met our Mercedes taxi at 8:00. He drove like a crazy man to the airport where we got checked in and waited at the small gate.
9:55a HOR SATA Air Acores 570 —> FLW 10:40a
After we landed, we got our rental car from Ihla Verde and loaded up the car. We went looking for lunch at a top restaurant, but they were closed for the next couple of days. So we opted for a restaurant called O Moleiro where we got steak and it was really good. After that we checked out a natural pool in Santa Cruz on Flores island. The water was so pristine you could see the different kinds of fish in the water (wrasse, angel fish, minnows, side eaters, parrot fish). Bear took a dip and I stuck my legs in. We got out shortly (as we were still full from lunch) and headed out north to Ponta Delgado. You could see Corvo the other island from this point very well. We decided we were at a great spot to try and SUP. It was a harbor there in Ponta Delgado so it was nicely protected until we ventured out of the harbor. Well, it was pretty rough and windy. We paddled out for about 10 minutes and then decided to reel it back in as we didn’t want to get swept out to sea. It was an exhilarating moment and I’m glad we went for it!
After that, we decided to check out some lagoas in the nature preserve in the middle of the island. Lagoa Sete was gorgeous but we couldn’t find a way down to SUP. We drove around some other dirt trails to look for lagoas but opted to turn back asnit was getting close for us to checkin to our B&B. On our way to FAJA Grande, we saw some stunning waterfalls! We stopped by a small super market and got some things for breakfast and snacks and then proceeded to our B&B. Our hosts checked us in and gave us a tour. It was so nice of them to leave us with a bottle of wine and Azorean bread. We got settled and then headed to one of the closest waterfalls that was walking distance to our place. There were beautiful meadows and then a stone path lined by water mills along the way. It was a brief walk but once we got to our waterfall, there was a nice small lagoon waiting for us to take a dip. Bear helped guide me down amongst the rocks as some of them were jagged and slippery. Then, we took the plunge into the chilly refreshing water! We swam out to the waterfall and enjoyed a couple of minutes of awesomeness before we got out.
Once out, we felt so invigorated and looked back at this wonderful sight. We headed bsck to our house and showered and went into town to grab some euros and get a reservation at Jonah’s restaurant.  We found out thy were closed for a couple of days. In town, they also had some streets blocked off for end of summer festival. We grabbed some euros and headed to the restaurant by the house and along the water.
We ordered a small pizza and it was stellar!! Then we opted to share an entree of their fresh caught fish (wasn’t a wreckfish…it was some other whitefish). It was good and meaty like a steak. We also shared a chocolate mousse dessert that was delicious.  After dinner, we drove the short distance home and we watched some news and played a two hour intense match of chess. Bear pulled out all his moves and won that one.
Overall terrific day on Flores.
Casa do Baixio (2 BR house) – Paid in Advance $260 Euros
Rua Via d’Água, n.30 Lajes das Flores, Faja Grande, 9960-030, Portugal

Sun, Sept 10
We woke up around 8:30aand had a nice relaxing morning. Coffee, choco crisps, and yummy local bread for breakfast. It was looking overcast, cloudy, and a bit drizzly. We got in the car and headed to lagoas Rasa and Furna. Both were good size and really pretty. It was getting a bit chilly and rain was coming down. It wasn’t really good weather for a SUP. After that we drove through the mountains for a bit and went down to check out Lajes. The rain was coming down nicely. We had just come out of the clouds in the mountains and t was quite a bit chilly up there. As we dipped down into Lajes, it was warmer and more humid at sea level. We looked at the harbor and checked out the start of a trail (Faja de Lopo Vaz) xthat was supposed to be a “medium” 3.4 km hike that was going to take 2 hours. Medium is gently used by me bc at the start of the trail it looked like a super steep descent. We didn’t do the trail, but just took a look at the starting point.
We headed to the next town Lajedo and took a look at the coast and some possible surf. The drive was beautiful. We were up in the mountains and it was a beautiful drive. There were bushes of wild roadside hydrangeas. We’d never seen them in the wild. The Azorean people build stone fences along the countryside to separate out the livestock and land.
We left that town and drove up the road to Fajazinha and stopped at several miradouros which are like viewpoints. There are a lot of beautiful waterfalls and viewpoints. We loved seeing how simple life and living is on this island. Once we got to Fajazinha, our host of the B&B recommended a traditional Azorean dining spot (Por do Sol). We were looking forward to super authentic food that wasn’t necessarily seafood.  Bear got the local sausages and yams and I got the chicken skewers. Both plates were delicious! We finished off lunch with a lovely ice cream dessert.
We headed back to our B&B and took a nap (I was wiped out!). Woke up around 5p and we took our SUP out to the bay of Faja Grande for an evening sesh. It was early dusk… the waterfalls were lit up with that perfect orange dusk lighting… we paddled for about an hour. The water was so pristine and clear. We love our Isle SUP! We headed back to the house for a rinse and then took a walk to dinner down the street for a sunset pizza (the pizzas at Papamundi’s is fantastic).  We headed back home and had a nice relaxing evening. The CNN channel has Hurricane Irma on 24/7.
Here’s a link of basically what we saw in Flores!

Mon, Sept 11
Last day in Flores
Still had trouble sleeping on my side on the firm mattress. Woke up and had our breakfast of coffee and choco crisps! We did some research this morning for Sao Miguel and found some great places to star on google maps.
3:45p FLW SATA Air Acores —> 5:00p PDL
Santa Barbara Eco-Beach Resort – Committed but not yet charged, $1,050 Eur
Estrada Regional 1, 1º Morro de Baixo, Ribeira Seca, Ribeira Seca, 9600-219
Check-inMonday, September 11, 2017 (2:00 PM – 10:00 PM)
Check-outThursday, September 14, 2017 (8:00 AM – 12:00 PM)
Booking number1004335369
PIN Code6858
Deluxe 2BR Villa
Cannot Cancel
Reconfirm dinner reservation for Quinta dos Sabores tomorrow: +351 926333114

Tues, Sept 12
Dinner – 20:30 at Quinta dos Sabores in Rabo de Peixe – Cert of Excellence
Rua Caminho Da Selada, n10, Rabo de Peixe, Sao Miguel 9600-161, Portugal
Dinner at Quinta dos Sabores
12th of September at 20:30
Rua Caminho Da Selada, n10, Rabo de Peixe, Sao Miguel 9600-161, Portugal
Must reconfirm 24/48h beforehand: +351 926333114

Wed, Sept 13
Potential lunch or dinner: Tukatula Bar – Cert of Excellence

Thurs, Sept 14
Check out of Santa Barbara Eco-Beach Resort by Noon
Solar da Glória ao Carmo (B&B) – Cancel until 8/14, $250 Eur
Rua da Glória ao Carmo, 5, Ponta Delgada, 9500-618
Phone: +351296629847
Check-inThursday, September 14, 2017 (2:00 PM – 12:00 AM)
Check-outSaturday, September 16, 2017 (7:00 AM – 12:00 PM)
Can Cancel w/o charge until August 14, 2017 11:59 PM
Dinner at Rotas da Ilha Verde – dinner at 9:00 pm – Cert of Excellence

Fri, Sept 15

Sat, Sept 16
Check out of Solar da Glória ao Carmo by Noon
Check-in with Azores Airlines / Confirmation number: RNK3I5
Ponta Delgada, Portugal (PDL) to San Diego, CA, United States (SAN)
1 Stop
Azores Airlines
Flight 251
 Sat Sep 16, 2017
Ponta Delgada, Portugal (PDL)
 Sat Sep 16, 2017
Boston, MA, United States (BOS)
 Layover – 12h 16m
Airline Confirmation: RNK3I5
Jetblue Airways
Flight 619
 Sun Sep 17, 2017
Boston, MA, United States (BOS)
 Sun Sep 17, 2017
San Diego, CA, United States (SAN)
Airline Confirmation: RNK3I5
  Total Trip Time: 24h 17m
Stay the night at Hilton Boston Logan Airport
One Hotel Drive
Boston, MA 02128

Sun, Sept 17
10:15am SAN arrival

Things to book:
Flight to/from SAN/PDL
Travel insurance
Inter-island flights
Rental car
Kris board bag
? SUPs?
Airline Checking Surfboards Policies:
Sao Jorge/The Triangle:
Known for hiking
Fajã da Caldeira de Santo Cristo – beautiful
Ferry Schedules of Azores:
*Blue Line (Faial – Pico): multi times/day

Our Honeymoon: South Africa & Maldives – April 22-May 9, 2017

South Africa



Fri, April 21, 2017
Drive up to LA 1p at the latest
Emirates EK 218
LAX 10:40p —> 1:30a DXB


Duration 15:50


Sat, Apr 22


In the air


Sun, Apr 23


DXB 3:50a —> 11:35a CPT
Duration 9:45


Thrifty Car Rental
Cape Town CPT
Datsun GO


***be careful of speeding tickets on Garden Route***


  • Address: Victoria Road, Camps Bay, Cape Town, South Africa
  • GPS Coordinates: 33º58’59.37” S ,  18º21’31.43” E
19:00 Reservation
Dress code: smart casual
Shop 153 / Victoria Wharf / V&A Waterfront / Cape Town


This was an epically long flight.  First there was the drive from SAN to LAX at 3pm, which means we didn’t get to Ross’ family’s place til about 6p.  After a quick meet and greet and dinner with his fam, they dropped us off at the international terminal.  We boarded the plane for our 11p departure on Emirates to Dubai.  That was 15 hours! Then, once in Dubai, we had a two hour layover where we grabbed a beer and stretched our legs a bit.  It was impressive to see so many people in the Dubai airport at 2am!  We then boarded our flight to Cape Town on Emirates to complete that 9 hour segment.  So in total, it was 34 hours of travel from when we left our home to get to Cape Town.  Emirates is an incredible airline and is worth every penny.  Their service is incredible!  Once we landed in Cape Town, we picked up our lil Datson from Thrifty car rental and got acquainted with our wheels.  First, it’s opposite to the way we normally drive in the US.  The driver is on the right and the passenger sits on the left.  Additionally, the manual stick shift is in the center console… so instead of doing US shifting with the right hand,….. it’s done with the left hand.  My 🐻 did such a fantastic job getting us from the airport to our hotel safely!  Once we checked in at 12 Apostles, they greeted us with some sparkling wine.  The view from the bar/patio area was fantastic.  You can see both Table Mountain and the ocean!  The weather here is perfect — more like a drier windier version of San Diego.  After a quick bite and bevie out on the terrace, we went for a quick dip in the pool that overlooked the ocean.  Dinner reservations at Belthazar were excellent.  South African game meats paired with terrific wines!  We tried ostrich, kudu, and eland!  Ostrich was surprisingly delicious and more beef-like than poultry.  Terrific evening out in the waterfront district.  We finished it off with an ice cream cone and a turn on the Cape Wheel.  And we highly recommend Uber in Cape Town as it’s more affordable than the taxis.


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Mon, Apr 24


Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa
Breakfast Included


8am hike to Lions Head

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Mon 24 April 2017, at 13:00
Silo Top Floor, The Old Biscuit Mill
373-375 Albert Road Woodstock, Cape Town

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La Colombe, Silvermist Wine Estate
Constantia Main Rd, Constantia, Cape Town, 7848

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We woke up at 7:30 am to meet Sial our hotel guide for the hike up to Lion’s Head.  This was a gorgeous peak that sits across Table Mountain with 360 degree views of Cape Town.  We definitely recommend this hike — but it does involve quite a bit of scrambling.  It’s basically 1.5 miles of straight up climbing.  It took us about 2 hours to complete the hike and that’s with 20 minutes at the top to enjoy breakfast and the view.  After the hike, we had lunch at The Pot Luck Club — which is located in a loft on the top level with an open airy and floor-to-ceiling window viewing area of the ocean and mountains.  It’s a fantastic tapas-style Asian fusion restaurant that I’d easily recommend to any foodie!  After that, we searched high and low for a place to rent SUPs and couldn’t find one anywhere.  It’s no longer the season for people to rent SUPs so all the places are gone from the beach.  There were such perfect conditions at Clifton beach for SUPs!  Since we were slightly let down, we opted to wander around the next beach (Maiden’s Beach) that had an ocean pool.  We stayed for a bit to explore then headed back to the hotel to catch the sunset.  Dinner tonight at La Colombo is currently No. 76 on the 2017 World’s Best Restaurants.

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Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa


Hike Table Mountain? India Venster Route – four hours, go if clear weather Hike Table Mtn Tripadvisor
  • Platteklip Gorge 1.5 hours – cable car back down
Cable car option: buy tickets in advance online, go weekday/early, long lines Cable Car Tripadvisor

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12:00 Round House –> The Rumbullion lawn (cancelled ressie as we ran out of time and preferred to explore Table Mountain)
*** Or Lion’s Head (3-4 hours) Lion’s Head Hike Tripadvisor
Emailed Test Kitchen, No. 22 for resie (closed Sun and Mon)
20:00 95 Keerom – Real Italian Quality


We woke up at 7am and headed to our hotel’s breakfast which was a massive spread of eggs, meats, made-to-order omelets, oysters, champagne, fruit, cheeses, cereals, yogurts, coffee.  Anything you could imagine for breakfast was on the menu.  Luckily, we needed to burn off breakfast so we headed to Table Mountain (definitely get your passes online for the cable car ahead of time).  There’s a full 360 degree view of Cape Town and surrounding towns.  After 2.5 hours at Table Mountain, we headed down to Cape Point, the southern most tip of South Africa — also where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Indian Ocean.  The day was perfect for viewing the coastline.  We saw ostrich, eland, dassie, black lizards! Tons of animals out!  I’d recommend getting to the Cape Point around 2 or 3p when the tour buses are leaving.  We checked out Buffels Bay beach within the Cape Point park.  The park closes at 5p in April, so we headed down to Boulder Bay to see the penguins.  It’s a gorgeous drive along the coast as it was such a wonderful sight to see these cute penguins at the beach!  We decided to head back home along a very scenic route back to our hotel and catch the sunset.
We didn’t make it to Keerom bc I was so tired.  But we got room service and enjoyed the eats in the comforts of our home.  Now that’s a honeymoon!!


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Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa
Check-out 11:00 am


Raats Family Wines (Jason recommendation)
Emailed for 10:30 am appointment


Jordan Restaurant 12:30 lunch — There was a delivery truck that broke down on the only dirt road leading to access to Jordan.  So we opted for lunch at Rust en Verde (wine tasting pairing with yummy steak!)


Franschhoek Pass
Franschhoek Wine Tram


Emailed Test Kitchen for resie – pending waitlist


Franschhoek/Le Quartier Francais/Tasting Room for 19:30 and one night stay in Auberge room
Check-in: 14:00
Auberge room


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We headed out to Muizenberg where we heard the surf is good! Well it was.  There was a great beginner sandy beach break for me and some nice chest to shoulder high waves for my bear!  The conditions were just perfect: chilly, rain/thunder/lightning, and they were sailing the black shark flag.  It was the first time we had surfed in a shark warning area.
Shark flag warnings:
  • blue flag = clear visibility, no shark sighting.
  • Black flag = water was cloudy/murky/poor visibility but no shark sightings.
  • Red flag = shark sighting recently, but ok to get back into the water after 2 hours.
  • White flag = shark sighting now; sirens will go off; everyone out of the water
Off to Stellenbosch — wine country!
We were headed to Jordan winery for lunch but a big ol cargo truck was having issues and blocked the road into Jordan.  So, we opted for DeMorgenzon and had a lovely wine tasting there!  We ended up picking up the Reserve chenin blanc as well as their Reserve Syrah.  After that, we felt hungry and opted for a quick bite at Rust En Verde — home of some exquisite reds and food!  Definitely check them out if you love nice medium to full-bodied quality reds.  One thing we’ve noticed is that South Africa has quite tannic reds — but we love that — esp since loving the tannic Barolos in Piedmont, Italy!
Checking into our hotel Le Quartier Francais!  This place is gorgeous!  We were upgraded to the House Suite and it was enormous!  It was located right by the pool with beautiful views all around us with the mountains.  The service was incredible.  Everything in the mini bar was complementary – two bottles of wine, 3 craft beers, gin, sherry, whiskey, and brandy.  We even had our own mini pool off the master bedroom.  There was another upstairs loft that had two beds and a bathroom that was decorated for kids.  Everything about this hotel was incredible!
Dinner at The Tasting Room was so delicious!  It was incredible.  Basically, we took a journey through South African foods and culture.  Each dish was meticulously executed, beautifully plated, and wonderfully described.  On one of our dishes, we even heard some clicks in the description of our dish.  I’m not sure what language or dialect that it was from, but we very much appreciated it!  Our chef was a lady from the Netherlands and she was incredible!  We enjoyed this restaurant so much we felt it should’ve easily been in the Top 50 restaurants in the world.  After dinner, we went back to the kitchen to meet our chef.  She was gracious and had plans for her future after leaving The Tasting Room (I was actually very sad to here that she would no longer be the chef at Tasting Room and that La Colombe would be overtaking her restaurant).  In reality, Ross and I both felt that she rated higher than La Colombe.  So far in our rankings here in South Africa, we loved The Tasting Room, followed by La Colombe, and very close was Pot Luck Club (only bc it didn’t come with wine pairings and it was definitely a more casual atmosphere).

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Le Quartier Francais
Check-out: 11:00


Potential options:
– Franschhoek Wine Tram
– Rust en Vrede (Jason recommendation)
     25 min from 43 on Sandstone
     Tasting room open 9:00 to 17:00
     Winemaker’s lunch, first come first service, 12:00 to 15:00
Perdekop Hike, Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve
– Hermanus
     Hamilton Russell winery – pinot noir (Jason recommendation)
     Tasting Room open Mon-Fri 9 am to 5 pm, Sat 9 am to 1 pm
     Creation wines
– Pringle Bay, Betty’s Bay penguins
Helderberg Nature Reserve


43 on Sandstone Guest House
43 Sandstone Drive, Boskloof Estate, Somerset West, 7130, South Africa – Show directions
Phone: +27827831048
Check-in: 2:00 pm
Breakfast included


After an incredible breakfast at Le Quartier Francais, we hit the road taking the Franchoek Pass through the mountains towards Gordon’s Bay.  It’s a beautiful drive with plenty of hairpin turns and breathtaking scenery.  Once we got to Gordon’s Bay — we headed to a place just west of GB called Strand and hit up Natural Energy surf shop just in time to catch some waves out here. It was such a fun beach break.  After the surf, we headed to our lodging which was a room at Boskloof Eco Reserve — 43 on Sandstone.  Gorgeous room with a view!  Dinner was at Waterkloof.  The food was beautifully presented and very rich.  The food was paired with only the wines from their winery.  It was a nice dining experience, but we still loved The Tasting Room and La Colombe and Pot Luck Club better.

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43 on Sandstone Guest House
Check-out: 11:00 a.m.


Creation Wines – 11:00 a.m., confirmed via email
Tapas and tasting


Hermanus/Hamilton Russell?
Stay in Arniston, Arniston Hotel?
Surf rec for Arniston
Arniston to Mossel Bay (2:40 min drive)


We headed out from our Guest House and skipped breakfast as we were still full from last night’s dining experience.  On the way now to Creation Wines!

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Mossel Bay
Mossel Bay to Plettenberg Bay (1:50 min drive)


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Plettenberg Bay
The Plettenberg Hotel?
Tsitsikamma National Park?
We stayed in Tsala Treetop Lodge which is basically a connection of treehouses overlooking the landscape!

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Plettenberg to Jeffrey’s Bay (1:37 min drive)

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Car Rental Drop Off – Thrifty
9:30 am, Port Elizabeth (PLZ)


Qatar Airways QR6325
10:30aPLZ —> 12:10P JNB
Duration 1:35


Qatar Airways QR1364
2:00P JNB —> 11:30P DOH
Duration 8:20


Qatar Airways QR672
2:15A DOH —> 9:00AMMLE
Duration 4:45

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Maldivian sea plane
11am –> 12pm






18:30p EDGE ressie




20:00 Dining destination – at the villa



Qatar Airways QR675
8:20P MLE —> 11:00P DOH
Duration 4:35


8 hour layover in Doha, Qatar



Qatar Airways QR739
7:30A DOH —> 1:30P LAX
Seats 23A and 23B
Duration 16:00


Fly Emirates or British Airways to Capetown
To Maldives from Port Elizabeth or Durban



Garden Route


The otter trail
Tsitsikama trail
Whale trail
Mother City Hikers: Mother City Hikers Tripadvisor
Sample Itinerary drive from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth:


Recommendations for private driver hire:
Wine tastings around Cape Town:


Wine Country:
Stellenbosch (approx 40 min from Cape Town)
Jordan restaurant there, mentioned by Luke Dale-Roberts
Top ZA wines – Jordan, Creation, Fairview
Top 100 – Mullineux, Demorgenzon


Cape Town Breweries:
Devil’s Peak, The Taproom


Cape Town Restaurants:
Cape Town’s Best by Luke Dale-Roberts: Article by Luke Dale-Roberts Chef at Test Kitchen


Top 100:
No. 22 Test Kitchen, Cape Town
Dale-Roberts has two other ventures within the same Old Biscuit Mill complex in Cape Town: Pot Luck club is the Test Kitchen’s more relaxed sibling, serving global-inflected sharing plates, while the newly opened Naturalis, is focused, Ottolenghi-esque deli-style dining.


Local/African Food:
Mzoli’s grill/bbq/meats – good Tripadvisor reviews
The Diplomatic Bar & Restaurant – good Tripadvisor reviews
Mama Africa – been there long time
Amazink – food and performance/dance show, good reviews


Hermanus – town broken head hotel
Great if whale watching


Cape of good hope
Muizenberg warmer surf spot
Not Betty’s Bay — too windy
Wine country: close to hermanus
Valleys: hemelmenaarde (pinots)
Surf spot Victoria bay
Table mountain (in Cape Town) – restie on top then cable car down. Buy tix online first is easier
Tsitsikama Forrest – can stay in Tree Houses
Hotels: the 12 apostles – base of the mountains (this looks awesome babe!)
Cape View Clifton, some great reviews on Tripadvisor
-Constantia (green and amongst vineyards)
 The cellars (on other side of mt), winery
–  buitenverwachting winery and great restaurant (other side of mtn)
– steenberg hotel and super duper restie
– August cycle tour
Horseriding in J Bay:
J Bay surf school:
Kruger Park
Addo Elephant Park
** TripAdvisor how-to-Maldives**
Which island to stay in Maldives?
Kris’ epic stays in no particular order:
Per Aquum Niyama: Central Atoll @ Dhaalu

Patagonia – December 2016

Best options:
Cost pp
W Trek
Added activities
All inclusive?
kayak iceberg
walk glaciers
$3500 for porter, $300 for regional flights; can add rafting or horseback riding in Chilean Lakes District; wine country
Tent vs. backcountry refugees
Buses in Chile
Easter Island


Air Canada: KMS54I
AC1886 SAN 11:30a —> Toronto 7:14P
AC92 Toronto 11:45p —> Santiago 12:45p on Dec 24

Arrive 12:45p to SCL
Gorgeous flight over the mountains and coast! Looks kinda like the flyover Santa Barbara where the mountains abut the ocean.
Annoying guy in immigration keeps turning and his backpack keeps hitting mine. I want to punch him!  He’s invading my personal space.
Night in Santiago
José Victorino Lastarria 276, Santiago, Región Metropolitana, Chile
Fantastic lunch spot! In a great area to walk around. Delicious wine and food pairings.
Confirmation Number: 310507392 
Lovely modern hotel in the middle of Bellas Artes district. Easily walkable to/from. Metro stop close by.

6am flight to Puerto Natales –> 9:30a
Stay Puerto Natales for the day:

Hotel IF Patagonia

Calle Magallanes 73, XII Región Puerto Natales, CHILE
Phone: +5661 2410312, Fax: —

They have a sauna – super hip and modern!!

Swoop partnered with Chile Nativo in Puerto Natales to organize W trek.

11am – meet at Eberhard #230 office for group orientation. 

Day 1:

Starting from Puerto Natales at 12 PM or from Cerro Castillo at 1PM, we drive all the way to Torres del Paine National Park. We will drive through open pampas and huge ranches (estancias), and chances are we will be able to observe one of the most typical animals in this area, the nandu, (rare South American ostrich). We will follow an unpaved road heading to Refugio Las Torres to spend our first night. Upon entering the park we will have excellent photographic and bird-watching opportunities as we drive alongside lagoons frequented by Chilean flamencos and black-necked swans. Today’s hike is on a gentle trail following the border of the park and offers opportunities to see guanacos (Llama family) andthe Andean Condor.

2 hours private transfer to Torres del Paine

Hike duration: 3 hours 

AccommodationRefugio Las Torres

Meals: Dinner 
It was freakin windy!!! Omg. Hard to stay upright!

Day 2:

We will start our first day trekking to the base of the Towers, following the Ascencio River to enter the Ascencio Valley. Our walk will be uphill for one hour before stopping to observe the first glimpses of the valley surrounded by unbelievable beech forests (Nothofagus family), glaciers and waterfalls. We’ll continue through the valley for another hour and a half before ascending a huge terminal moraine to a lookout (900m), excellent for picture taking. At this point, we will be surrounded by three giant granite towers (2850m) and a lagoon with slurry waters due to erosion produced by glaciers. This amazing view will be accompanied by lunch to add to the enjoyment. After being awed by the towers we’ll start our descent, following the same path back to the hut.

Hike duration: 7-8 hours 18 km

Accommodation: Refugio las Torres

Meals: Breakfast, Boxed Lunch, Dinner 

Day 3:

We will start early morning to enjoy, weather permitting, a magnificent dawn filled with orange-pink colors. As we leave the campground we will arrive at Inge lagoon. Chances are, on this path, we may see the flight of an Andean condor or eagles hunting hares or small rodents. We follow a well-marked trail ascending (around 200m) from the base of Almirante Nieto Mountain (2750m), crossing the Bader River to arrive at Refugio Los Cuernos where we will stay overnight.

Hike duration: 5 hours 11km (500m difference of level)

Accommodation: Refugio los Cuernos

Meals: Breakfast, boxed lunch, dinner

(You can upgrade to private cabins with two beds and sharing bathrooms in between the cabins only and a free Hot tub access for USD $80 per single occupancy or USD $40 per double occupancy)

Day 4:

We will start our day with a 2-hour walk going to an undulating path until reaching the French River for our first glimpses of the hanging glacier. Then we will ascend (300m,) for one hour through a surreal Japanese garden landscape, crossing beech forests, to reach the French Valley viewpoint gifting us with a magnificent view of both mountains and lakes. We will lunch here with good possibilities of seeing avalanches from the hanging glacier or simply observe the west side of the Cuernos (2600m), Espada (2400m) and Fortaleza (2800m). Our way back will be the same until we reach the entrance of the valley where we will continue on a different path around the South-West side of Paine Grande, the highest peak in the Park, through native forests of Chilean fire bush and evergreen beech (Nothofagus Bethuloides), up to the shore of the Pehoe Lake.

Hike duration: 7 hours 18 km

Accommodation: Refugio Paine Grande

Meals: Breakfast, boxed lunch, dinner 

Day 5:

We will begin early in the morning with our hike to the Grey Glacier. Initially ascending 200mts up a winding narrow path leading us to Laguna Negra, a place where we will observe the first glimpses of the South Patagonia Ice Field with its many unclimbed mountains. We will advance through forests and rivers, with possible sightings of spectacle and flying steamer ducks, up to the glacier viewpoint. We will have lunch at this place to and hopefully catch sight of ice calving from the huge glacier wall. Right after lunch we start an exciting adventure by boat. We will navigate for a while in front of the glacier in the hope of seeing icebergs calve. Our return journey offers views of Paine Grande with its impressive ice mushrooms and we sail through icebergs of different tones of blue. Then we will take a transfer back to Puerto Natales.

Hike duration: 4 hours 12 km

Boat trip duration: 2 hours

Transfer duration: 2 hours

Meals: Breakfast, boxed lunch 

Please note: Trip can start/end in El Calafate, Argentina. Arrival El Calafate around 2pm on Day 6. Please enquire for further details.
Done with trip around 6pm.
Massage/spa at Mandala Andino
301, 6160000, Manuel Bulnes, Puerto Natales, Natales, Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena, Chile
7p – Deep body or detox massage (Christy), Thai massage (Kris)
Find bus from Puerto Natales to Punta Arenas: BusSur
Puerto Natales
30.12.2016, 21:00
Terminal Rodoviario Puerto Natales
Punta Arenas
31.12.2016, 00:15
Terminal Bus-Sur Punta Arenas
Telefono / Telephone: +56 61 2723100, Dirección / Address: Ignacio Carrera Pinto #351, Punta Arenas – Patagonia – Chile.
E-mail: reservas@ilaiapatagoni


Fly out of Punta Arenas to Santiago: Sky NK5V6
Punta Arenas – Santiago de Chile
SKY 004 31/12/2016 L 10:10 13:30
Must get rental car to drive from Santiago to Valparaiso: (1 hr and tolls)
Airport transfer from Santiago to bus terminal. Then another bus to Valparaiso. We found our our air bnb hostess can arrange for a driver for us to do Casablanca valley wineries!  
Uber to plaza de sotomayor
Ascensor el peral 
Check In

Sat, Dec 31

3PM – 9PM

Check Out

Mon, Jan 02

Flexible check out time


Javiera Carrera 340 1604

Valparaíso, Región de Valparaíso


Get directionsView listing

Sun, Jan 1, 2016

Mon, Jan 2, 2016
Morning in Concepcion and alegre
3:30p cooking class at Cafe Melbourne

Tues, Jan 3, 2016

Casablanca Valley (bt Santiago and valpo)
  • Fruity chards
  • Sauv blancs
  • Pinots
Rte 68
Emiliana (biodynamic), vina indomita (carmenere), vina veramonte (cab, chards);
Casas del bosque, Bodegas Re, Loma Larga, Matetic. 

?Mendoza (8 hrs away) — too far w border check
Maipo Valley (south of Santiago, 1.5 hrs)
Cab, merlot, carmenere, Syrah
  • Town of Pirque as central locale
Vina aquitania (santiago’s most interesting; high quality, small production), vina almaviva (partnership w baron philippe de Rothschild and concha y torro; sophisticated sis of concha y toro), vina Santa Rita (premium casa real cab );
Haras de Pirque, Perez Cruz, De Martino. Vina cousiño Macul, 
Stay @ Hotel Casa Pando
Cabello 421 (6 blocks north of Plaza de Armas)

Wed, Jan 4, 2016
Colchagua Valley
Use Santa Cruz as departure point
10:30a Lapostolle (sig red Clos de Apalta); 12pm Montes
2p Viu manent
Stay @ Hotel Casa Pando
Cabello 421 (6 blocks north of Plaza de Armas)

Thurs, Jan 5, 2016
Bus: Terminal Santa Cruz
Hotel: Ruka Lobos
Rsv: 1373.041.090
Punta de Lobos
3220000 Pichilemu

Maule Valley (export wine)
Feb 2010 earthquake
Town of Talca as base camp
Via wines (sustainable, sauv Blanc, Syrah), vina gillmore (cab franc)

Fri, Jan 6, 2016
Back to Santiago
21:00 Borago Santiago, Chile:
Nueva Costanera 3467, Vitacura, Región Metropolitana, Chile
Renaissance Santiago Hotel
Avenida Presidente Kennedy 4700, Vitacura . Santiago 7630454 Chile 
Reservation Confirmation: 84481467
For MS Christy Cosper
Friday, January 6, 2017
03:00 PM
Sunday, January 8, 2017
12:00 PM

Sat, Jan 7, 2016
Santiago during day
Air Canada: KMS54I
AC93 SCL 9:10P —> Toronto 5:40am (Jan 8)
Renaissance Santiago Hotel
Reservation Confirmation: 84481467

Sun, Jan 8, 2016
AC1887 Toronto 8:20am —> San Diego 10:34am

Oregon – October 2016

Wineries from Jason
  • St. Innocent — 11-5p daily
  • Brooks — 11-5p daily
  • JK Carriers — Fri & Sat 11-4p
  • Shea — the shit — Ressies Thurs, Fri, Sat
Columbia Valley
  • The Rocks – Syrah
  • Gramercy Cellars — syrah
  • Resties: Wild Ginger, Canlis, EMP museum
  • Pok Pok
  • Distillery Row — ginger liqueur
  • Multnomah Falls
  • Get this guide: Scott Cook’s guidebooks Bend Overall and Curious Gorge offer detailed (and irreverent) info, direx, and fun facts about all kinds of adventures you can have in two of the areas we’ll focus on in this loop: Central Oregon and the Columbia Gorge respectively. They’re available at Powell’s in Portland and almost every coffee shop in the town of Hood River.
Surf Articles
North Coast Oregon tour (references breweries in Astoria)
101 Brewery Tour Oregon (coastal breweries)
RV options: Sprinter
Sample from Cruise America (need to call for one-way)
Anticantrea winery
Patricia Green winery
Amatello winery
Forest Park


Alaska Airlines AS571
San Diego 2:50 pm, Portland 5:14 pm
Portland (PDX)
Residence Inn by Marriott Downtown/Pearl District
1150 Northwest 9th Ave, Portland 97209
Check in after 4:00 pm
Pok Pok (2.4 miles to Hair of the Dog Brewery)
Distillery Row
Hair of the Dog Brewery
Stay in Portland

Shea Wines – 10:00 a.m. booked with Peter Shea
The tasting will be in the winery, which is the first building on the left as you come up the driveway.
Travelodge Suites Newberg
Check in 2 pm, checkout 11 am
2816 Portland Road, Newberg (Oregon), OR 97132
J.K. Carriere – Parrett Mtn. Paulee Party, 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m
Deschutes and 10 Barrel Brewing (both also in Bend)
Potentially Ten Falls Hike

St. Innocent Winery – Tourt, Tasting, and Pairing – 11:00 a.m.
Brooks Winery2:00 pm, scheduled with Jessica Pierce via email, live music 1-4 pm
Cascade Trail Head – approx 1:05 min drive from St. Innocent
South Trailhead
Take 22 to the 18 to the Coast
3.4 miles, 6.8 out and back, can do car pickup after first half

Staying at turtlejanes bed n breakfast
Pacific City
Hike Cape Kiwanda
Pelican Pub and Brewery
Moment Surf Company – for rentals
Surf by haystack monolith
Hike Cape Lookout
Additional option: Otter Rock, south

Oswald West State Park – waterfalls, surf, creeks, tide pools, old growth forest
Short Sand Beach – Surf, protected and picturesque cove
Hug Point – go on low tide, beaches, caves, tide pools
Cannon Beach – Surf, Pelican Brewing
Ecola State Park – Cannon Beach to Seaside, 9 miles
Indian’s Beach – Surf, secluded, in Escola State Park
2740 South Pacific * Cannon Beach, OR 97110
Ph: 1-800-633-3466 | Fx: 503-436-9711 |

Please review the following information for accuracy.

Arrival Date: Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Departure Date: Wednesday, October 26, 2016
No. of Nights: 1
Number of Guests: 2 Adult(s)
From:   10/25/2016    To:   10/26/2016    For:    1 room

         1 night(s)  in a 1st Floor Oceanfront King
• The Inn provides a completely smoke and pet-free environment.
• We welcome children over the age of 12.
• Check-in time is after 4:00pm. Check-out time is 12:00 noon.
• All reservations with a credit card on file will be guaranteed for late arrival.
• Reservations will not be honored if credit card declines or a deposit check is returned for any reason.
• Cancellations: We adhere to a 7 day cancellation policy. Should you have a change of plans, please advise us no later than 7 days prior to your date of arrival. This will enable us to refund your entire deposit.

Once again, thank you for selecting the Stephanie Inn.

Seaside – Surf, Seaside Brewing Co.
Seaside to Astoria – approx 30 min drive
Astoria Brewing Company, Buoy Beer Co. (see link above)
Astoria to Portland – Approx 1:45 min drive
Astoria to Hood River – Approx 2:30 min drive

Portland to Hood River, 1:10 min drive
Multnomah Falls – en route to Hood River
Three Waterfalls Hike (see link above)
Oneonta Gorge – en route to Hood River
Eagle Creek, alternative side trip – waterfalls, pools, wild flowers, forest. Could also do this Sat 10/22
Hood River, Columbia Gorge – SUP, biking
Double Mountain Brewing

Hood River to Bend, approx 2:40 min drive
Stop for hike at Tamanawas Falls, near Mt. Hood
     Use south/Tamanawas Falls hike entry, 150 ft waterfall
     Dry cavern behind the falls
Stop at Metolius River – hiking, wildlife viewing, world class
Stop at Smith Rocks State Park

Bend, hiking, mountain biking
Deschutes River Trail – potential SUP
Bend to Portland, approx 3:10 min drive
Leave Bend by 1:00 pm
Alaska Airlines AS 552
Portland 6:55 pm to San Diego 9:14 pm

Alaska: the last frontier

I needed a nature getaway. With work and wedding planning, I felt nature was a great way to connect to the very thing that “resets” me. So here’s an itinerary I took with a childhood buddy of mine in an RV for two weeks.

Italicized verbiage was my journal while there.


Mon, Aug 29

Fly out to Anchorage and pickup RV from Great Alaskan Holidays.


Flew in and picked up RV. Grabbed groceries from the local Walmart and Costco in Anchorage. Dinner at 9p at 49th State Brewery: beer flight — the Smoked Marzen was smokey and delicious. Beer battered halibut and fries. Drove until midnight; looking for side rest areas. Hard to see at night.


Tues, Aug 30
9am – 14:30p — White water rafting @ 6 mile creek

We had some changes to our itinerary where instead of the 9am start, we started around 12:30 and it was perfect. So before the rafting, we opted for a really close hike with a view of Turnagain Arm.

Description: Three Canyon Six Mile Creek Rafting6 mile creek most challenging. On way from Anchorage to Seward.






CALL TOLL-FREE AT 1-866-277-RAFT (7238).


Exit Glacier:
Google Map: 1h 18m
Ice Climbing Exit Glacier: ?8hrs — we opted for an easy 2 mile hike up to see Exit Glacier since we would be having our own ice hiking/climbing adventure at another glacier.

Post up in Seward for the evening:

Tuesday, Aug 30


Drove into Chugach National Forest — so beautiful! Tall mountains, tall trees and pines, gorgeous lakes and creeks. This morning, we were supposed to have a 9am white water rafting trip down 6 mile creek (class 5 Rapids)…. But there was a miscommunication. But, it got worked out — we ended up going to do Hope Point hike and saw some amazing views of the Turnagain Arm. After we did our hike, we went down to grab a coffee and snack at Kayak and Coffeehouse. The owner, Levi, was super helpful in explaining to us the bore tide as well as answering questions on what to do in town and what Alaskans think about the pipeline. After a bite and convo, we headed to our whitewater raft company to get suited up and do the 6 mile creek class 5 Rapids at 2p. It was an incredible experience. You do a practice swim…in a dry suit with a life vest…and then get in your raft with your guide. Canyon 1 and 2 are fun. The class 5 occurs in the 3rd canyon — Staircase is a 5 foot waterfall drop. And then there’s the other two right after (Sucker hole? And ZigZag). So rad. Just do it! Dinner in Seward at Chinook — yummy halibut. Fresh caught.


Wed, Aug 31
TripAdvisor: Things to do in seward

Fox island kayak and cruise:
7am: Check in at Adventure Center (1302 4th Ave, Seward)
8am:Depart Seward on a Kenai Fjords Tours boat
9am:Arrive Fox Island

Drive to Soldotna (possibly stop thru Cooper Landing on way?)

Wed, Aug 31


Woke up early for the kayak and fjord tour and found out that it was really windy and choppy on the water, so the kayak portion of our trip was cancelled. But we still got on the boat and checked out the fjords with glaciers! There were tons of wildlife out: sea otters, seals, puffins, bald eagle, northwest humpback whale, and Dall’s porpoise. So many incredible views and sceneries. After that, we did a little hike out at Exit Glacier. Then we rolled into Fred Mayer grocery store — which is like a combo of Super Walmart/Costco. We picked up our fishing license and then RV’d in the driveway of our fishing place for tomorrow in Soldotna. Seward was decimated by an earthquake back in the early 1900s and had to rebuild. But before that, it was on it’s way to becoming a big town!


Thurs, Sep 1
-drive to Soldotna

Check out Cooper Landing:

Trip Advisor: Things to do in Soldotna

High Adventure Air: salmon
High Adventure Air Charter
38675 Longmere Lk Ct, Soldotna, AK 99669
(907) 262-5237

730am flight:

buy fishing license there

Fishing in Alaska

Soldotna to Glacier view: about 5hrs (Google Maps)
Drive as far as possible…

Thurs, Sept 1


Took a fishing trip with High Adventure Air. Our guides were so wonderful!! Gorgeous seaplane flight from Soldotna to Crescent Lake. We flew over big lush trees and crater-like mountains. It was a beautiful takeoff and landing from the seaplane! We started casting out immediately and my first fish was a dead one. ;P. The next fish I caught was a silver salmon. Vinoop caught several Dollys and a lake trout. Overall, it was a terrific day with gorgeous sunshine and a beautiful backdrop of landscape. We also saw several bears including a mama bear and her two cubs. In fact, the fish we caught were kept in the lake water bc it was so frigid, but we had to gut and fillet them so the guts were thrown back in the lake which seemed kinda like a nice flowing river. The mama bear started swimming toward us and made it halfway across the lake to snatch up the guts of the fish we cleaned. It was pretty scary. Otherwise, the Bears did a good job of just keeping on their own. We checked out Kenai River brewing and then made the 4.5h drive to Glacier View for tomorrow’s ice climb!


Fri, Sep 2

Glacier View

10:30a – 18:00 Ice climbing

(907) 351-7587

Milepost 102.5, Glenn Highway
Glacier View, Alaska
Google map

Glacier View to Valdez

Fri, Sept 2

Glacier View

We arrived to the Matanuska glacier and Mica Guides for some ice trekking/ice climbing. They gave us our gear and strapped us into some gators, ice climbing boots, crampons, waterproof gloves that looked like dishwashing gloves, and a helmet. Once we hiked out to the glacier, they gave us lil activities to check our skills. First was learning how to walk in crampons. You want to dig your feet into the ice — stomping, kicking, anything to get a good grip. Duck walk to go up the ice…and the cowboy to go down the ice. Next check off was how to use a ice climbing pick. Reach behind like you’re doing triceps (keep your elbows in) and extend the pick up overhead and use the wrist to snap it down for more power. The key is the wrist snap. We practiced our safety grips as well. Always have the leash on — just like a beginner surfer! After getting familiar with the ice climbing pick, we practiced traversing a glacier free style (just a couple feet off the ground). It’s important to be able to kick into the glacier to get the 4 teeth on the front of the crampon to grip the ice. Test the bite and make sure it’s stable and then kick your other foot in. Our first test, we went down a glacial crevasse. It was spectacularly beautiful. We used our foundation that our guides Emily and Brett taught us. It’s difficult not to marvel at nature’s beauty. I felt like my rock climbing skills really helped. After that pass, we went to a more difficult pass known as a moulin ( like Moulin Rouge). It was a glassier, more iced over face that was shaded and had a different texture and feel. It was more difficult to get the ice pick and crampons into the ice. BUt, you just gotta make your tools stick. I felt like a real ice climber. It was such a wonderful experience!! After the ice climb, we got back into the RV and made our way to Valdez — stopping by Tok Thai — an awesome Thai place we found on Yelp. We settled in overnight at Copper Center along the road at a picturesque spot where you could see Mt. Sanford and mt. Wrangell.  


Sat, Sep 3

Sat, Sept 3


Walked around the pier here — home to the great Valdez derby. This derby is a contest to see who can catch the biggest halibut as well as the biggest salmon. We caught it on its last day — and so far the biggest salmon was 17.8 lb and the biggest halibut was 253 lb! Small quiet fishing town where the Alaskan pipeline ends. Seems to be a bit smaller than Seward.


Sun, Sep 4

Evening close to Denali

View from bodenburg butte

Sun, Sept 4

Drove from Valdez to Copper Center thru Wasilla (home of Sarah Palin) to Bodenburg Butte. We did a lil hike there and then ended up heading to Denali Brewing Company in Talkeetna. Excellent Belgian strong there.  


Mon, Sep 5

call for wonder lake shuttle tickets 8am (alaska time) shuttle

Drive to Denali

Camp in Denali Riley creek site.

Mon, Sept 5

From Talkeetna, we drove into Denali national park. We stopped for lunch at Prospector’s (it was rainy and cold). Excellent craft beer on top — like 40+ beers! Excellent pizzas as well! After lunch, we walked around the park and then decided to make the sled dog demo. These dogs are so excited to pull!! They’re Alaskan huskies who love to pull a sled. We saw the 6 week old pups! This is the only working sled dog kennel in any of the national parks. These dogs work hard in the winter freeing up debris from roads, hauling supplies to hard to reach places, helping keep the roads maintained — but they love what they do! Gotta say, they’re the hardest working federal employees! We stayed the night in Riley Creek campground (yes you still get a cell signal on AT&T).

Tues, Sep 6

Tues, Sept 6

Early early morning shuttle bus ride to Wonder Lake — we saw beautiful views of bears, caribou, and moose. It was super rainy and drab…cloudy. We got to Eielson center and decided to take the 12p ranger led hike up Alpine trail. Although we got soaked from the rain, it was worth the 1000+ ft elevation gain to see the different terrain. We learned from Ranger Nick (which this was the last ranger led hike of the season) that there are a ton of earthquakes or at least seismic activity happening in the Eielson area. But we didn’t feel anything that day. Do take a moment to stop and check out Eielson center. It’s full of info and a great stopping point to watch a movie on climbers to summit Denali — 3 weeks, no Sherpas, and you carry your own waste in the freakin’ cold! I don’t think Denali is in the cards for me. We took the return bus (we didn’t make it to wonder lake)…cold and wet. Once we got to the RV, a change of clothes and a beer did the trick to turn our frowns upside down! We hit up Prospector’s again for dinner and it was fabulous!! Night again in Riley Creek Campground. 


Wed, Sep 7

Wed, Sept 7

We decided to fill up our RV with fresh water and then check out of Riley Campground and park in the Visitors center lot (just for the day). We opted for the Mt. Healy Overlook trail — which is a strenuous 2 hour trail, one way, 2.7 miles, 1700ft elevation, 25% grade, 2 feet width, with native soils with roots and rocks. It was totally rad!! Great way to see the various terrain at the different altitudes. Pack a lunch and have it at the top of the trail as the views are beautiful — even on a partly cloudy day. The descent is much faster than the ascent. There are edible blueberries along the way for a great snack! Dinner tonight at Karsten’s — a new restaurant that has a yummy caribou burger as well as awesome sweet jalapeño cornbread! After dinner, we drove to Savage River campgrounds to RV for the night. No AT&T cell phone reception here.


Thurs, Sep 8

From Savage River campground on Savage Alpine Trail

View from top of Savage alpine trail

Thurs, Sept 8

From the Savage river campground, we walked to the trailhead to Savage Alpine trail. This trail can be started either at the campground or at the end by savage river. If you have trouble with steep descents, I recommend starting at Savage river (from the campground, you can catch a shuttle to take you there) — it’s a steeper ascent by more relaxed descent closer to the campgrounds. The Savage alpine trail is strenuous, 3 hours one way, 4miles, 1500ft in elevation, 25% grade, 2 feet width, and has native soils with roots and rocks and gravel. So, from the campground going up you start a gradual ascent with tall grasses initially that breaks open to subalpine/alpine tundra that’s short. We didn’t’ see any large wildlife along this trail — but there are plenty of warning signs for bears. Once we got to the top (no more elevation gain on the maintained trail), we saw a rocky peak that we wanted to get to for a better look at Denali. So, we forged our own trail. It was rocky and barren and was an extra 400ft or so almost straight up (>25% grade). The wind was fierce and strong — but we made it. At the top, we had an Alaskan Summer Ale beer to celebrate the climb and enjoy the peace of the area around us. Our descent was tricky — super rocky terrain with steep areas. We went carefully and slowly down the mountain back to the maintained trail. I spotted an alpine squirrel who didn’t seem to be scared or even interested in me — he was going after some grub in the ground! The descent was super steep even once we got onto the main trail. After we got down from the savage alpine trail, we opted for an extra 2 miles along the savage river loop trail. Nice and relaxing 45min trail around the river with minimal elevation change. I’m still amazed at the sheer beauty of Denali and could easily come back here. We drove into town to see if we could arrange a flight for tomorrow to circle Denali. Looks like we’re a go with Talkeetna Air!


Fri, Sep 9
Denali to Talkeetna


Fri, Sept 9

Today we drove from Denali to Talkeetna to catch a plane that will go over some glacial ice fields and then circle Denali from Talkeetna Air.  Impressively spectacular views from the plane!  I highly recommend it!  Dropped off the RV back at Great Alaskan Holiday and arranged for a taxi to Moose’s Tooth — a must stop for awesome pizza and craft brew in Anchorage!  After that, we took a taxi back to our RV and then picked up our luggage and then headed to the airport for a midnight flight.

Talkeetna to Anchorage: about 2 hours


Sat, Sep 10

Sat, Sept 10

Flight home from Anchorage waaaaaaaay early!

An American in Cuba

Fri 8/21/2015

Ross drove Stacy and I down to the Otay Mesa border crossing and we walked over into Tijuana, Mexico and caught a cab over to the airport for $12. Then we had to fill out some kind of Mexican immigration paperwork that was 332 pesos. Then get our boarding passes to go thru to get on our plane. We grabbed a beer at the bar and then caught our plane at midnight and headed to Mexico City. It was such a long and uncomfortable flight (couldn’t sleep!).


Sat 8/22/2015

We arrived into Mexico City pretty early in the AM and we’re pretty exhausted. We decided to post up at the airport hotel NH about $150/night. We rested up from 6a-12p then got lunch and headed to get our immigration passes and boarding passes to Cuba. We then entered security and grabbed a bite to eat. You must get a visa before traveling to Cuba (at least if you’re an American). It was 300 pesos (I think). Then we grabbed some local Mexican craft beer before boarding the plane. Coming into Cuba, it’s extremely lush and green. Farming fields, ocean. After landing we got off the plane and were taken by bus to the immigration terminal. It is humid in August! Once there, you present your immigration paper (given to you on the plane), visa, and passport. My lady was kind and conversational… Even with my broken Spanish. We went thru immigration and then picked up our bags and headed up to exchange money. Roughly 1:1 CUC to USD (add on a 10% royal screwing tax for USD). I picked up about 87 CUC for $100usd. And then gave 7 CUC exchanged into CUP (no one really takes these from tourists; the Cubans all know to only ask for CUC from tourists). We got a taxi. It’s 25CUC into Havana, but our beach villa was about an hour away so that cost us 50CUC.

On the way from the airport to the beach house, I learned a phrase from our Cuban cab driver Francisco when a truck pulled out in front of us on a busy road. He wanted to know how to say correctly “son of a bitch” in English. We died laughing and told him… So he traded and taught me some Spanish.

Hijo de puta – “son of a bitch”

One hour to hotel on a main road and then we got lost circling the property for our casa. It’s a cute lil place on the water… Like steps to the beach on the white sand . Quaint. Gracious hostess. We’re getting the breakfast tmw and it starts at 10am with lobster and crab for 15CUC. She said it’s gonna be big! After that we’re going snorkeling for 15CUC. Such a great deal. Stacy and I finished up the evening grabbing a beer and taking a walk along the beach. You could see a brilliant colorful lightning storm in the background. I can’t believe we’re here. Getting into bed at 11:30p Cuban time (like eastern time). My phone can pick up Cubacel tower… But it won’t give me a signal. So bummed.


Sun 8/23/2015

Woke up around 9:15 and breakfast was at 10:00. Our hostess served us jamon y queso, bread, fruit (guyabana, guava, bananas), Cuban coffee, rich mango syrup/jam, and eggs and bacon. It was so delicious! The fruit was incredibly sweet and fresh. The coffee was like no other — potent, flavorful, caffeinated. I will def pick some up for everyone!

After that we had a nice conversation with Jaily (our hostess) re: Cuba, it’s future, her job as a lawyer, her planning for the house, the Cuban takeover of her beach property, etc. she’s a bright girl and has a lot of insight into the future of Cuba. She’s traveled extensively throughout the world. I’m amazed that the Cuban people get only $16/month. Health care is free.

Our catamaran showed up a bit late but we hopped on board and went for a sail and snorkel to a nearby reef. The water was warm, clear, and full of beautiful ocean life. It rivals the Similan islands or Zanzibar… Way better and more alive than the Great Barrier Reef. There were several fish eating away at a tortuga carcass. Sad, but it’s the cycle of life. After the sail, we came back and I played a bit in the water. Then relaxed in the nearby makeshift pool while Stacy took a nap in the hammock. Popito (one of Jaily’s friends and on vacation – he works as a bartender) brought us out cooked turtle and it was delicious. Meaty like chicken but flavored like… Thick swordfish? Poultry? Hard to describe. Goes great w a cold light beer which is what Cubans love.

We then wandered to the local bus stop to see how far it would be to Havana; roughly a mile to the bus stop (enough to give me blisters on my feet from flip flops). After that, we took a walk on the beach. The Cubans are so happy and jovial relaxing and vacationing along the water. Once we got back to the house, Stacy and I had a lil girl talk with some wine. Then our hosts brought us real coconut spiked with rum. It was so delicious! The sunsets here are stunning. I don’t know if it’s the beauty of Cuba or its people… But the sunsets are certainly spectacular.

Dinner was a lovely jamon y queso stuffed into a plantain for an appetizer and then a lobster, crab, and rice and cucumber salad entree. It was delightful. The crab was my favorite. The seasoning was exquisite! I was getting eaten alive by the Mosquitos so I went inside and showered. Dessert was a lovely eclair. It was a perfect beach day.


Mon, 8/24/2015

Oh no, the watery diarrhea started again last night. Woke up three times last night to get up. We had breakfast at 10am… Still heavy. Kaopectate will hopefully work it’s magic. We waited for a taxi and then decided to go out on our own and catch an old taxi for 3 CUC to Havana.

Once in Havana, we wandered around the downtown square and took pictures of the old classic cars. After that we wandered into La Floridita, a bar made famous by Ernest Hemingway. We both got the classic daiquiri. After that, we went down the many random streets and found the museo de revolucion. Very interesting tidbits of Cuba’s history. Heavily focused on Che and Fidel. The humidity and heat drew us to the Malecon wall where we took pics of El Morro and then downtown Havana. It was beautiful. We headed toward Hotel Nacional for wifi (7 CUC) and a mojito.

We went to watch the cannon show and then grabbed dinner at Dom Camillo.


Tues, 8/25/2015

We got home late this morning around 1:00am. The taxi ride was 20CUC back. This time we had a better idea of how to get back home. I went for a dip in the ocean around 9:30am. Enjoying this beach life. Now just lazing in the hammock, working on my tan. 😊
Played some dominoes with Jaily’s boyfriend and Stacy and a neighborhood boy. They were really good and it was Stacy’s first time to play. After that, Stacy and I headed back into the water. About 14 of Jaily’s friends came over for a party/gathering. It was nice to see the Cuban people party and just kickback. It was such a great atmosphere! All the guests bring stuff!
After no real breakfast, Stacy and I were getting pretty hungry so we walked into Guanabo town and ate at Chicken Little. What a cute place! Huge menu selection. I got the grilled chicken and salad. Stacy got the lobster carpaccio, and shrimp in garlic sauce. We shared a flan (it was delicious!). The cafe americano was perfect and Stacy’s cortado (espresso with small bit of condensed milk) was delicious as well. After a really late lunch (4p) we walked further into the town and discovered the electronic stores, markets, butcher, cafes, and park. People are very social here. Men stare a lot as well as make kissing noises to the ladies.  It’s a normal part of their culture and it’s completely harmless. It’s slightyly uncomfortable bc they don’t hide that they’re checking you out. The Cuban women are gorgeous. There’s a lot of beautiful mixes in face and hair. Many people have light eyes. After a decent stroll, we walk back home and the heat and humidity completely zap my energy. I fell asleep in the A/C room.
Woke up around 9p and showered then chatted with Stacy for a bit.  Tomorrow, we’re heading to Havana and to get a hotel there so we’re closer to the action. We had a wonderful time at Brisas del Mar… Interacting with the locals, learning about the culture, enjoying the beach. But it’s time to get into the city and feel the vibe of Havana!

Wed, 8/26/2015

Had a late start to the day. Went into the city around 2p and checked out museo nacional de bellas artes (art museum). The Cuban art museum covered Cuban artists from the colonial times in the 1800s to the current contemporary period. Three floors of artwork. It’s still so hot!

Then we walked down to parque central and picked up a hot pink convertible ford classic car for a tour of Havana. What a kick!! Stacy and I had so much fun waving and seeing the sights and honking the horn! I have to admit that the gas fumes in the city were burning my lungs. My throat is starting to hurt.

After that we stepped into Monserrate for a bite bc we heard a lovely Cuban band. I grabbed a Cuban sandwich and a beer. Stacy saw a guy sitting by himself with an orange Michelin man shirt and invited him to sit with us. He’s from Guayaquil, Ecuador but has been living in Queens, NY and got his American citizenship. The band was great — Stacy was brave and got up and danced with the band! There was def a lot of coaxing before I’d be brave enough to get up there. After a snack we went walking along the Prado just taking in the sights and sounds of Havana at dusk. We then headed to grab a taxi to the famous Tropicana nightclub for a cabaret show.

Dinner at the tropicana was meh at best. Then came the show. We were seated in the middle with a group of people our age from Mexico, Austria, and Germany. The Austrian dude kept chain smoking and his wife urged him to stop. During the actual show, one of the guy dancers brought both Stacy and I up on the stage. I am so shy!! But after I got over my stage fright, it was totally fun! I can’t believe we were on the stage at Tropicana! 😳 after the main show, there was more dancing and fun interaction with the crowd. What a lovely night! After the show, we caught a cab back to Brisas Del Mar. He was totally lost and we helped him find the way to the house. We stopped him at the weird bridge and got out and walked the couple blocks home. $40 was a really good deal from Tropicana. Tmw we will stay in the city.


Thurs, 8/27/2015
Breakfast at Inglaterra hotel. Got an omelet and americano and mango juice for 6.50. Was trying to get the Internet wifi card for $2/hr but they were out!

We headed out to the Partagas cigar factory, but discovered they moved it.

Partagas cigar factory tour $10/hr.

Cohiba – Fidel smoked

Behika – best

Cigar made from 5 leaves. Best leaf inside. Second leaf is flavor. 5th leaf is thinnest and just for outside wrapping.

One worker goes thru 1000 leaves.

Central vein removed. Used for Fertilizer or men’s cologne. Great factory tour. Dulce hooked us up with $15/Behika and $10/cohiba.

Headed to the supermarket and got some items for gifts. It’s still so incredibly hot and humid. Thank goodness my mom taught me how to haggle with a take-no-prisoners mentality. The pedicab to the cigar factory tried to charge us double but we agreed on an original price of $5.

After the cigar factory tour, we caught a taxi to the central market by the water in Havana vieja. I got several souvenirs and then Stacy and I headed to grab a bite in a hotel lobby where we grabbed a beer and bite and I got the chance to practice my Spanish. We walked from lunch back to parque central and got internet at The Hotel Inglaterra.

We retrieved our luggage from that hotel and proceeded up Neptuno to our casa particulares. It was a cute one bedroom, three bed, one bath on the rooftop. It was nestled in local Cuban neighborhood, not in or near a fancy hotel. I loved it! The family was so nice! We napped a bit and then hit the streets to get some dinner. We stumbled upon Mango Habana which was a yummy walk up eatery that we took to go. I got the fried chicken and rice (it was so delicious), salad, fish and a beer. My chicken alone could’ve fed two people! 😝 now I’m stuffed. My legs are sore. And I have a headache. Time for some rest before our last day!


Fri, 8/28/2015

Woke up around 11am. It was so cold last night in our casa particulares. We decided to stay another night here at a glowing rate of $25/night. I had the remainder of my chicken dinner for breakfast. It was still incredibly tasty! Walked down the street of Neptuno and a Cuban lady with a baby approached me asking for milk for her baby. I couldn’t say no. She walked us across a street to a grocery store and started getting all kinds of groceries. I got annoyed and said Milk only. In fact, my feelings were so hurt I just about walked outta the store. It was $6/bag of vitamin fortified dried milk. I paid $12 for two and left. I can’t stand when people take advantage of my generosity. I already woke up with a raging headache for being so dehydrated — the constant sweating and trying to keep up with hydration has really taken a toll on me. I’m so tired of the mosquitoes, the flies, the tobacco smoke, the heat, the sweating, the car exhaust fumes, the people coming up and offering cabs and services, the lack of cell signal, etc. I’m ready to go home. And for me, that’s a sign of a good vacay. 😊

Stacy met some girls from San Francisco who are just starting out their days in Havana. One is a peds onc nurse at UCSF and the other is in micro finance that offers small business loans to companies/startups. Both were really nice. They’re going from here to Haiti.


Keypoints (as of August 2015):

– Exchange USD to Euro for best exchange rate (Cuban banks will impart a 10% tax for every exchange from USD and then will make the exchange to CUC)

– Don’t bother with getting CUP the Cuban local currency vs CUC the Cuban tourist currency. Locals will not take your CUP.

– If you visit in August, it will be hot and humid. Bring or buy a hat, sunnies, umbrella, sunscreen to shade yourself.

– If you’re a budget traveler, consider staying in a casa particulares. They’re like the local Cuban version of the U.S. Airbnb but at a better price ($20-30/night). Make sure you find one with AC!

– You only really need 3-4 full days in Havana to experience it’s charm. Must sees: classic car tour of Havana ($30pp), museo de revolucion ($8pp), Partagas cigar factory tour ($10pp), Tropicana night club cabaret show ($75+pp), see the Hotel Nacional, La Floridita (Ernest Hemingway’s daiquiri place of choice), bar/cafe Monserrate (great Cuban music), central supermercado for souvenirs.

– Stay at a beach for a day or two to enjoy the turquoise warm waters and snorkel or sail: Brisas del Mar near Guanabo or Veradero.

– Practice your Spanish.

– Practice your dance moves. Don’t be shy!

– Try the street food and local beers!

– From the U.S., you will not get a cell signal, even if you purchase an international data plan from any of the major carriers. Some of the major Cuban hotels sell a wifi card for 2CUC/hr. Good signal for texting (get Whatsapp for international texting), Internet surfing, social media. Not good for FaceTime videos or audio.

– To get around the city, get the which uses your phone’s GPS signal without cell. Great to mark local landmarks and get back to your hotel, etc.

Mexico City, Mexico – August 2015

No. 35: Quintonil
No. 37: Biko
Fri, August 14
6:15am TIJ —> MEX (Volaris 816) 11:45am
  • Paseo de la Reforma #500, Colonia Juarez, Mexico, D.F., 06600 Mexico
  • Tel. 52 (55) 5230-1818, boo
  • 1290552:1
Lunch: Restaurante El Cardenal, one of Mexico City’s treasured eateries since 1969. Let the waiters whip you up one of their famous Mexican hot chocolates tableside, then savor traditional country Mexican fare. A good bet is the pulpotostaditas (octopus atop fried tortilla chips) to start, followed by a heartier dish, such as the mixiote de chambrate(braised beef wrapped in maguey leaf)or the stuffed chicken topped with rich brown Oaxacan mole.
Walk off your lunch by taking a stroll down the peatonal (pedestrian walkway)along Avenida Francisco I. Madero.
Palacio de Iturbide (now known as the Museo Palacio Cultural Banamex) to appreciate the grandeur of the picturesque interior, which was once a palace and home to General Agustín de Iturbide
Continue to the end of the street to find the beautiful gold dome-topped Palacio de Bellas Artes
Catedral Metropolitana
Aztec temple of the city of Tenochtitlán at the Museo del Templo Mayor. A UNESCO World Heritage Site
Mercado de Medellín isn’t the dizzying spectacle of the larger, citywide markets, like the wonderful Mercado de Jamaica flower market or the Mercado de San Juan, where chefs shop.
Diego River Murals (near Zocalo)
Frida Kahlo Museum (looks like closed on Mondays, weekends to be avoided)
Specify whether you want table in the living room or terrace (will do our best to accommodate any special requests, but can not guarantee a table or area).
• The reservation is only 10 minutes tolerance.
• Restaurant not recommended for children under 12 years
Newton 55 Col. Polanco 11560 Mexico
Cross Street: Archimedes and Themistocles
Sat, August 15
Take the morning for a side trip to Teotihuacan , the mysterious city that was the capital of this region at the time of the Ancient Romans, with more than 200,000 inhabitants. Nobody knows what happened to Teotihuacan (the city was abandoned by AD 700), but you may come up with some theories as you gaze awestruck at the Pyramid of the Sun (third largest pyramid in the world), and traipse through painted palaces and past small temples.
lunch: Grab a sandwich, er, torta at La Texcocana . In business since 1936, it’s the perfect stand-up spot for a quick, tasty meal (the barbecued pork could win blue ribbons in Memphis)
Chapultepec Park: Castillo de Chapultepec, Mexico City’s version of Versailles, and the Museo Nacional de Historia.
Mariachi (6-8p):  Garibaldi Square for some early evening people watching and mariachi music. Yes, it’s touristy and a haunt for pickpockets (so guard your purse)

It is the restaurant’s policy to secure the booking with a credit card. 24 Hour Cancellation Policy applies with a charge of $1,000 pesos for every person that does not arrive as well as for no-shows.

Should you require assistance please call us at +52 (55) 5545 4111 (and 3507) or by
Si desea cambiar su reservación, llámenos al Teléfono: 55.5545.4111.

Pujol – Enrique Olvera
Francisco Petrarca 254, Polanco
Ciudad de Mexico DF 11570
Teléfono: 55.5545.4111

Fax: 55.5545.3507
On Sunday mornings, Mexico City’s grand boulevard, the Paseo de la Reforma, is closed to car traffic and becomes a bike highway. Pick up one of the communal EcoBici bikes, which have only recently been made available to tourists (inconveniently, visitors must sign up at the tourism office, which is closed on Sunday, so plan ahead:
Lunch: Condesa, where you’ll enjoy a scrumptious seafood-focused meal at Contramar amid Mexico City’s fashionable lunch set. (The tuna carnitas tacos, whole grilled fish, soft shell crab and octopus are to-die-for.)
Walk through Condesa’s twin parks, Parque Mexico and Parque España, toward the Castillo de Chapultepec, free on Sundays. On clear afternoons, locals climb Chapultepec Hill to the immaculate grounds of what was once an imperial palace
shopping: shopping on Avenida Presidente Masaryk
Dinner: Maximo Bistrot Local in Colonia Roma; fish dishes (García is an alum of Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Le Bernardin in New York)
La Clandestina in the trendy Condesa neighborhood and let the bartenders guide you on a mezcal tasting of several of the 20-plus bottles mounted on the wall. It’s best to sip the mezcal straight up, followed with bites of fresh orange wedges coated in worm salt.
bar scene in Mexico City: street of Álvaro Obregón
Taquería El Califa (open daily until 4 a.m.) for a couple of tacos al pastor
Ballet Folklórico de México de Amalia Hernández