Joined January 2018 Message
  • Day3

    Kayaking to Fort Gorges

    June 6 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    We started the day with a quite nice brunch at UNION, a quite nice restaurant at The Press Hotel. This hotel, which at least from what we saw looked very cute and fancy, is located in what once was the Gannett Building, the historic headquarters of the Portland Press Herald—the state’s largest newspaper. It's now decorated with a cool old-newspaper style and I would love to stay there sometime. I think it's very expensive though.

    We had booked a kayak trip to Fort Gorges with Portland Paddle (book in advance if you want to do this!) and after checking out we headed to the beach to meet the group.

    Fort Gorges is a former US military fort built on Hog Island Ledge in Casco Bay, Maine. The construction started in 1858, but by the time it was finished, the fort had become obsolete due to the advancing military technology. As a result, no troops were ever stationed there. The fort is now a park only accessible by boat and in 1973 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

    The thing is cool and interesting to visit and the kayak trip was very nice, but the fort is falling apart and I would not be surprised if those visits get restricted soon to prevent accidents. Portland Paddle organizes trips to other places, including kayak-camping trips to Jewell Island, which sound quite fun.

    We were quite tired after the kayak trip so we decided to have an early dinner in Portland before heading back. We ended up in Fore Street restaurant following the positive reviews, and it definitely didn't disappoint. It's located right on top of the bakery that we had visited the previous morning and everything was delicious, including the bread that they got from downstairs.
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  • Day2

    Skate & run around Back Cove

    June 5 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    We started the day with a coffee at Speckled Ax and some pastries at Standard Baking Co. The line for the bakery was long, but they were delicious!

    After a walk around the pier, we decided it would be fun to go for a skate and run (I roller skate, Dean runs) by the river. What was going to be a couple of miles ended up turning into a full route around Back Cove. It's not a beginner trail for roller skaters because it involves some hilly areas and skating next to traffic, but definitely a super fun one! I attach the Runkeeper log so I don't forget it.

    On the way back we stopped at the beach by the Eastern Promenade Trail. We were sweaty after the run & skate and thought we would get into the water, but it was so cold that we changed our mind after getting our feet in!

    After a shower at the hotel, we went out for a walk. We stopped for a drink and a snack at a bar called Blyth & Burrows. The cocktails were good, but I got drunk after drinking mine. It also started raining so we went back to rest for a bit before our dinner reservation at Street & Co.

    Street & Co is a well-known seafood place so I decided to have one of those famous Maine lobsters. It was delicious but I have to admit that I wasn't very sure how to eat it besides the body. I guess it takes some practice!
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  • Day1

    First night in Portland

    June 4 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 24 °C

    After our little wedding in Cambridge, we decided last minute to go on a short Honeymoon in Portland. We didn't plan it on purpose, but after picking our destination I realized that our first trip together had been to Portland, Oregon!

    We left after work and arrived in time to have dinner at Evo Kitchen + Bar. This was a quite chill and friendly place and we had a tasting menu. It was great but I didn't expect it to be so much food! Replacing one of the main courses with another salad or appetizer would have been better, but it was great in any case.

    We stayed at the AC Hotel by Marriott. It was comfortable and the location was perfect, but we need to start a campaign against all these hotel bathrooms with doors made of glass.
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  • Day3

    Last day in Zion

    December 29, 2019 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ -2 °C

    Since we had abandoned the idea of taking the Zion shuttle the previous day, we wanted to get up early on our last day and do some of the Zion hikes. We got pastries for breakfast and, after checking our options at the visitor center, we managed to get to the 10 AM shuttle. Not the earliest, but not too bad.

    We had considered doing the beginning of Angel's Landing. Definitely not the end, which is considered dangerous and apparently super scary for people who, like me, can't handle the view of cliffs very well. And we also thought about going to the Upper Emerald Pool through the Kayenta trail. Following the recommendation of the ranger, we finally decided to hike the Sand Bench trail. This hike, which isn't too long and can be done by horse at other times of the year, was not as spectacular as some of the others we had done the previous two days, but still very beautiful. And best of all, there were very few people, which is the main reason we picked it.

    I thought it was gonna be super cold but it wasn't. In fact, I had to end up taking some of my clothes off because I was too hot. I guess it's better than the opposite... The sugary breakfast wasn't a great idea and it didn't take too long before I started feeling tired and hungry (shocking, right?) We had packed some snacks though, so we got to eat them on a rock, enjoying the landscape.

    When we got back to the trailhead we considered walking all the way through the lodge and to the Grotto, but we decided to take the shuttle to the Grotto and home to the lodge instead.

    Mistake. We got confused about the distance and didn't realize this wasn't a real hike, but a short walk. At the same time, it made us waste the time we could have spent on a real trail. We still could have done it afterwards, but by then I was getting more concerned about the timing, and I wasn't that excited about it anymore. Anyway. I guess we could have done more but it was also nice to take it easy.

    We had some coffee at the lodge and took the shuttle back to the visitor center, where we had left the car.

    Our flight was leaving from Las Vegas and we decided to have dinner in the city, but outside of the Strip. We stopped at a Vietnamese restaurant called Pho Aimie, which was decent, and finished our road trip at the airport, ready (not really) to go back to work.
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  • Day2

    Kolob Canyons

    December 28, 2019 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ -5 °C

    The drive from Springdell to the Kolob Canyons wasn't short, but the views from the window were beautiful.

    We went to the visitor center and learned that there were basically three hikes we could do. One would have taken eight hours. Another, three and a half, which would have been fine if it hadn't been because by then it was already past 1.30 PM, sunset was around 5 PM, and weather would get progressively colder. So we decided to do the third one, a short hike in the snow to the Timber Creek Overlook.

    It was indeed short and not exactly isolated, but it was so pretty. The microspikes came in handy again since all the way was through snow and ice. The views were spectacular, incredibly gorgeous. It was very cold, with snow flying like dust from the road, but we were well prepared.

    I wish it had been longer, but I still think we made a good choice. It would have been ideal to walk for a bit longer, but this was a good option at that time of the day.

    After the hike, we found ourselves in a weird situation. It was too late to do another hike, but we still had a couple of hours of light left. We decided to drive back through Zion and play it by ear.

    We ended up staying in the car all the way to our hotel and just stopping on the road a couple of times. One of them was particularly fun. We run into a bunch of bighorn sheep that were hanging out on the rocks. At some point, they decided to cross the road, which blocked the traffic for a few minutes, just to end up going back again to the same point they had come from.

    We had planned to have dinner at a pizza place near our hotel that had very good reviews, but when we went there after taking a shower and changing, we found it closed. We ended up going to a restaurant in Kanab instead, Vermillion 45, which was pricey but excellent. I had delicious lamb chops and we shared a really good salad.
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  • Day2

    Zion National Park

    December 28, 2019 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ -5 °C

    We woke up early and went to have breakfast at a place called Cordwood. It had good reviews and it was nice, but we found it too expensive for what it offered. For example, it only had one savory option in the menu, orange juice cost $6, they didn't have an espresso machine, and service, despite friendly, was slow and brought us the check before the actual food.

    After breakfast, we went to the Canyon Overlook Trail. It was cold but sunny, so it felt much better than what I had anticipated. The Canyon Overlook Trail is a short but beautiful hike. It's very easy but it offers gorgeous views. I have to say though that towards the end, on the final viewpoint, people were freaking me out by going too close to the edge (and then sliding or tripping, luckily not down) and not paying attention to their little children running. But heights in the mountains always scare me, so just ignore me here.

    After the hike and having some snacks in the car, we drove through Springdell and to the visitor center. Our plan was to leave the car, take the shuttle and hike the Grotto Trail to the Zion Lodge. There we so many people and everything was so crowded that e had to reconsider our plan because we were afraid it would take us an hour just to board the shuttle.

    So we decided to drive to the Kolob Canyons instead.
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  • Day1

    Huntress Slot Canyon in Kanab

    December 27, 2019 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 0 °C

    After flying to Las Vegas and spending the night in our hotel in Mt Carmel, we started the day pretty early. We wanted to see if we could get a permit to visit The Wave. Permits for Coyote Buttes North, which you need to visit The Wave, are given through a lottery, and only twenty people are allowed each day. Permits for a total of ten people are issued via an online lottery, and ten more are issued via a walk-in lottery at the visitor center.

    With that in mind, it's not surprising that we didn't get one. It was disappointing, I guess, but the truth is that we had barely planned this trip, so it's not like this is something we had been dreaming of for months. Besides that, this may not have been the best time of the year to see it, since it was snowing.

    In any case, after wasting an hour at the visitor center with all the lottery shenanigans, we went to have breakfast and plan the rest of the day. We found a coffee shop, Jakey Leigh's, that served a pretty decent breakfast with eggs, bacon, and good cappuccinos, and we decided to do a hike nearby.

    This ended up being a great decision. We went to the Huntress Slot Canyon. It's an easy and beautiful hike, perfect for the snowy day, although we didn't do the whole thing.

    We had rented an SUV AWD vehicle, so we drove on HWY 89 and turned right on road 106L. We kept going for a bit and left the car to continue walking. I'm not sure if we wholly followed the map, but I believe we walked until we reached the canyon trough 106V and continued to 106T. I would say we only did half of 106T before we turned back, but all this part was terrific in the snow. We were the only ones around, and going through the rocks was very fun. There were also a lot of animal footprints, which we enjoyed following. It kept snowing for a big part of the hike, but it didn't feel too cold, and we were well prepared.

    We were back in the car around 2.30 PM or so, and by then, I was quite tired, but we decided to have some snacks we were carrying and continue to Bryce to make the most of the day.

    We stayed here, and it was convenient, comfortable, and clean.
    Best Western East Zion Thunderbird Lodge
    https://www.bestwestern.com/en_US/book/hotels-in-mount-carmel/best-western-east-zion-thunderbird-lodge/propertyCode.45027.html

    This is the hike we did. It was a lot of fun and accessible on a snowy day.
    https://visitsouthernutah.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/HUNTRESS.pdf

    More information about the trails can be found here:
    https://visitsouthernutah.com/trail-maps/

    And if you want to try visiting The Wave, which we didn't do, check this out first:
    https://www.thewave.info/

    Oh, we also used this app, Kanab Trails, to help guide us.
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.kanabtrails.kanab&hl=es_US
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  • Day1

    Bryce Canyon National Park

    December 27, 2019 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ -4 °C

    After Kanab, we drove to Bryce Canyon National Park. It was a lovely drive, going through the Red Rock Canyon State Park and its tunnels and watching bison in the snow from the car.

    We didn't arrive there until 4 PM and we weren't even sure if we would actually leave the car, since sunset was around 5 PM, but Dean was told at the visitor center about a short hike from Sunset Point, going down the Navajo Trail, which we could do without worrying much.

    We didn't do the whole trail, but we went down from the sign of Wall Street (he he he, Wall Street) to the Two Bridges and back. There were a lot of people, even when it was snowing and quite cold (19 °F, that is -7°C!) and I was very happy to be using the microspikes Dean had given me for Christmas on my boots.

    The views were breathtaking! So beautiful! We saw the iconic Thor's Hammer, and the snow only made it more amazing. By the time we got back to the car, it was getting dark. It kept snowing and it was cold, so we just went back to our hotel. We had dinner at the restaurant of the hotel, called Thunderbird, which was decent, although we had to wait for 20 minutes to get seated, despite having empty tables. I guess they were very busy?

    Thunderbird Restaurant
    https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g57075-d510724-Reviews-Thunderbird_Restaurant-Mount_Carmel_Utah.html
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  • Day13

    Fabrica de Arte Cubano

    December 5, 2019 in Cuba ⋅ 🌙 21 °C

    When you go to Havana and try to figure out where to get out at night, every person and every guide you'll find will tell you to check out Fabrica de Arte Cubano. You'll get there, see a bunch of tourists standing in line, and think it's a tourist trap.

    It's not.

    Sure, there are a lot of tourists who go there. There are also a lot of Cubans. It's just because this is arguably the best night club you can find. For real. New York, Berlin, or London wish they had something like this venue.

    Night club is not even an accurate term to describe it. It's more like a giant art center, a performance venue, a bar and a restaurant, and a hip store, all at once. Getting in is 50CUP or 2CUC, and food and drinks are not expensive.

    I'm sure I'll forget some of the things we saw there, but they include the Orquesta de Cámara de La Habana playing Hollywood soundtracks, some jazz shows, a cover band playing 90s rock hits, and a French documentary about a group of Mali musicians in Cuba (Africa Mia). The director was there and ended up DJing after the showing.

    The space also included several art exhibits, but not of the kind where your cousin has convinced the owner of a bar to hang their watercolors. They were amazing.

    If I had a place like that nearby, I would be going every week. By the way, if you're reading this and considering going, one tip: get there before they open. The lines can get very long.
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  • Day13

    Fusterlandia

    December 5, 2019 in Cuba ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    Fusterlandia
    Capitolio
    Chanchullero
    taller de graphics'
    sitio del pulled pork delicioso
    quedamos con Luis que nos trajeron y algo para su hermana
    museo de las Orishas
    festival afrocubano
    museo en el parque cervantes
    paseo por el malecónpor la noche fuimos a la fabrica de arte cubano
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