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After a few years of living in Spain, I finally made it to Morocco for a long weekend! I took a trip with some friends from my MBA program and had an amazing time. Our main base was Marrakech for the weekend but we were able to take a long day trip to Ait Ben Haddou and Ouarzazate as well.

Here’s my Marrakech Photo Diary!
Ait Ben Haddou
Marrakech
Les Jardins Majorelle, Marrakech
Getting Around
Transport Within

Taxis are a great way to get around, but be sure they use the meter. You can also try to bargain before getting in if you know exactly how much it should be to get from one place to another.

Getting Out of the City

If you’re heading to another city, there are trains and local buses going from the main station. You can also hire a driver for a bit more to save on time and fuss.

Extra Tips

Money: Dirams but Euros are accepted in most places. It’s a good idea to keep small, local currency on you for the souks and exact change.

Language: Arabic & French

Good Eats: NomadRiad El Fenn

Warning: Marrakech is notorious for pickpockets and scams! Beware of your belongings and getting distracted by noises and people touching your hands. You may end up paying a lot of money for a henna tattoo or bracelet that you didn’t expect to buy.

Shop My Carry-On

Affiliate links may be used in this post which may give me a small commission when clicked on or purchased through. Regardless, I love and personally use everything I recommend.

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Photo Diary: Inspiration for Visiting Marrakech

Enjoy a taste of Morocco with my photo diary of Marrakech! Indulge on inspiration from the medina of Marrakech, Ait Ben Haddou, and Ouazazate!

The Top 5 Cafes in Yangon

Whether you're a digital nomad, need your caffein fix, or just want to escape the heat with a cold one, these cafe options are just perfect!

How to Spend 48 Hours in Yangon, Myanmar

f you're heading to Myanmar, you're probably arriving or departing from Yangon. Here is my suggested itinerary for 48 hours in this buzzing city.

The post Photo Diary: Inspiration for Visiting Marrakech appeared first on AlyssaAllDay.

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Alyssaallday by Alyssaallday - 6M ago

Get absolutely excited because this post is all about… coffee shops!

Whether you need a space to quietly work or you just want that caffein fix, these coffee shops throughout Yangon can help. I’ve also helped by including the wifi strength for you worker bees.

Here are the Top 5 Cafes in Yangon!
Best Value
Lucky Seven Tea House

One of the best bangs for your buck and DELICIOUS! A meal of Parata, Dahl, and an Ice Coffee will run you about $1.50 which is arguably the best deal I found in Yangon. The servers are attentive but not overbearing, they’ll stop you half way through to replenish your Dahl, and the iced coffee was sweetened to perfection. Not quite a place to work as it gets very busy and it’s mostly outdoor seating, but I’d come here every day for breakfast/lunch if I lived nearby.

Conveniently Located
Coffee Meloda in Bogyoke Aung San Market

A cute little coffee & tea stall to give you some energy after walking and shopping. It’s located in a slightly quieter and less crowded spot of the market so you can take a breather.

Rangoon Tea House

Next to Kafe in Town, this restaurant is not only great for coffee, but also a tasty lunch or dinner.

Kafe in Town

Right in the center of downtown, this is a refreshing coffee stop to take a break from the heat.

For Working
East N West

A cozy place to work and have a coffee. Some breakfast options available and plenty of standard noodle, rice, and curry dishes.

Download Speed: 17.1

Upload Speed: 10.5

21 Hostel & Cafe

The iced coffee is sweet and delicious. They serve simple breakfast and lunch options at a great price and have a hostel conveniently located upstairs.

Download Speed: 11.1

Upload Speed: 11.3

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If you’re flying in or out of Myanmar, chances are you’ll go through Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon.

This former country capital is the most bustling city in Myanmar with its tall office buildings, sidewalks overflowing with street vendors, and steadily honking cars whizzing by. If you’re first arriving here, the noise and staring locals can be a bit overwhelming, but you’ll soon find out that it’s not so scary.

Take a deep breath and get ready to see the sights, because…

Here is my full 48 Hour Itinerary for Yangon!
Itinerary : Day 1
Shwedagon Pagoda

Have breakfast at your hotel or hostel. Almost all of them will include it and you’ll need your energy for the day ahead. If it’s too hot to wear, bring something to cover your shoulders and knees when entering pagodas.

Start early at the Shwedagon Pagoda. This massive pagoda is number one on every recommendation list for Yangon. Personally, I love the pagodas in the rest of the country and if you’re starting here, you’ll soon realize this one is much larger and ornate than all the others, excessive even.

Bogyoke Aung San Market

Taxi over to the Bogyoke Aung San Market if you’re interested in shopping for gems, jewelry, or Longis. Prices here are higher than anywhere else, so if you have more time in the country, consider buying elsewhere. However, it’s a nice place to get an idea of the trinkets you’ll see in the rest of the country. If you’re buying something, absolutely bargain the prices down. Also stop by Coffee Melody on the top floor for a caffeine boost.

Sule Pagoda

Walk down Sule Pagoda road towards the Sule Pagoda in the center of a busy round-a-bout. Before you reach it, walk over the pedestrian walkway to get head-on views over the highway.

999 Shan Noodle Shop

By now your stomach is probably screaming at you. Go one block over to 999 Shan Noodle shop for a taste of my favorite noodle soup in the country – Shan Noodle Soup! Definitely get steamed dumplings and an avocado (or mango if it’s in season) smoothie to go with it.

Kandawgi Park for Sunset

If you’re not dead yet, head to Kandawgi Park to escape the afternoon heat. Wander through the trees, over the rickety bridges, and even hit up the driving range where you can wack balls into the lake. Watch the sunset here and just relax.

19th Street Night Market

After you’ve had a rest, head to 19th street around 8 or 9pm for the night market. Grab a table and beer, maybe a plate of noodles, and watch the busy nightlife go by. You can also try some fried grasshoppers if your feeling brave.

Itinerary : Day 2
Lucky 7 Tea Shop

If you don’t want to eat at your hotel today, try Lucky Seven Tea shop. One of the best bangs for your buck and DELICIOUS! A meal of Parata, Dahl, and an Ice Coffee will run you about $1.50 which is arguably the best deal I found in Yangon.

Botahtaung Pagoda

Catch a cab to Botahtaung Pagoda, a lovely pagoda complex that claims to house some strands of Buddhas hair.

Dala

Walk or taxi just over to the ferry dock and catch a 4,000mmk return ferry to the other side of the river, Dala. They leave every 20 minutes so no need to rush. This side of the river is a different world and it’ll put your travels and the country into perspective. Walk a little past the craziness of the port and hire a tuk tuk to take you to the Bamboo Village, Fishing village, and even a local orphanage that no tourists ever visit. Really, it’s not even on the map. Hardly anyone speaks English on this side of the river but keep asking around and you’re sure to make it.

This was such a special part of the trip because the children in the villages hardly see tourists. Everyone from the babies to the elderly are genuinely friendly and happy to say hello and investigate you. You can donate to the local villages and to the orphanage which truly need and use the money for the kids. Living here is very basic, so prepared to be humbled. I opted not to take photos of the people and children out of respect and a pure desire to be 100% present.
Dinner & Drinks

When you’re ready for dinner, make your way to 800 Bowls for delicious handmade Chinese noodles. Then, walk right around the block to 7th joint bar & grill for a happy hour beer (buy one get one free).

Even More

Circular Train – Get even more of a local experience by taking this circular train around the city.

If you’re craving a slice of home…

Yangon Green Gallery for a tasty curry and mojito
50th Street Restaurant & Bar for Western food and to watch any sports

Where to Stay
Belmond Governors Residence

If budget is no issue, this oasis is the number 1 choice for Yangon. Located just outside the downtown area in the embassy neighborhood, you’ll get some serious R&R here. Book Here

The Lodge Yangon Hostel

One of the least expensive options in the city at $3 a night, this hostel has all the necessities for a pleasant stay. Hot showers, strong wifi, aircon, a great location, and free breakfast. My only issue was that the dorm rooms are very narrow with dark concrete walls, so it felt like a basement upon entering the room. However it was clean, pleasant, and I highly recommend it for the price.

Getting There and Away

From Yangon International Airport, you will need to get a taxi to the city center. It takes about 45 minutes and runs between 8,000-10,000mmk. With the Grab app you can get it to about 6,500mmk so download it before you go! As of June 2018, there is a very cost effective shuttle bus from the airport running to the Sule Pagoda. However if your hostel is not near here, you’ll have to then take a taxi, so a taxi right from the airport is the most convenient.

VIP buses run in and out of the city from Aung Minglar Bus Station, again 1 hour from the city center. Be sure to bargain for about 10,000-11,000mmk to get from the station to the city or use Grab to get an estimate depending on time of day.

As of right now (November 2018), I haven’t heard of or encountered any scamming or serious danger with taxis like there is in other Southeast Asian countries, just taxi drivers starting their prices a little high for bargaining room. Crossing my fingers it stays this way!

2 days is plenty to see everything the city has to offer but the real beauty of the country is outside the city. Be sure to allow as much time for the country as possible so you can get to the countryside ASAP!

Read Next Hot Air Ballooning in Bagan 12 Know-Before-You-Go’s for Southeast Asia
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Related
How to Spend 48 Hours in Yangon, Myanmar

f you're heading to Myanmar, you're probably arriving or departing from Yangon. Here is my suggested itinerary for 48 hours in this buzzing city.

Hot Air Ballooning Over Bagan

Little can compare to the feeling of floating over ancient Burmese temples for sunrise. Hot air ballooning in Bagan is an experience of a lifetime!

Retreat Recap : Wynn Palace Macao

Checking out the luxurious Wynn Palace Cotai, Macao

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Alyssaallday by Alyssaallday - 7M ago

You know those experiences that are so new, exciting, and adrenaline pumping that you get a childish, giddy feeling? You can’t stop smiling and your heart feels so full it may burst?

That’s how it felt to watch the sunrise from a hot air balloon in Bagan.

Now, I had never been “ballooning” before my trip to Myanmar, partly because the opportunity had never arisen. I had also felt that there are a few activities that should be saved for the places that make them the most special. For example: zip lining in Costa Rica, cage diving with great whites in South Africa, bungee jumping the highest bungee bridge in the world (in South Africa); these activities are just the best in certain places or circumstances, so why settle for doing them elsewhere just to do them? For ballooning, I consider Bagan and Cappadocia to be thee prime spots for a sunrise ride.

Keep reading to find out why in this…

Complete Recap of Hot Air Ballooning Over Bagan
The Flight

What sets hot air ballooning in Bagan apart from anywhere else is that all the companies go up together in a fleet. All the balloons get blown up together, fly together, and land [somewhat] together, which totally adds perspective and color to the entire experience. They talk to each other over radio and coordinate so some fly low while others get a high birds eye view.

It’s truly a dance the way the balloons rise and sink through the sky, the sunrise illuminating the hundreds of ancient pagodas and temples below.

Because the balloons use the air and wind, they can’t technically steer and the pilots have only an idea of where they will land. This makes every path a little different and every flight a little more exciting!

Our 45ish minute ride was just enough to catch my breath and wrap my head around such a surreal experience.

As we made our way to land by the bank of the river, the crew met us to see our basket down softly to the sand. From the air, we could see them setting up a table with our champagne and fruit refreshments for where they expected us to land. I could hardly sit still during this decompression time because of all the excitement and the champagne probably added to this a bit.

Choosing the Right Company

We went with Oriental Ballooning and it was an absolutely magical experience. Our pilot Pep was so warm and clearly loves doing his job every day. The whole process was easy, relaxing, and thoroughly enjoyable - so much so that I don't think any other ballooning experience will top it!

All companies offer virtually the same thing and work together, so I’d just make your choice based on which company offers the best price or has space.

There are generally 2 options - Premium and Classic – though they may go by different names. Standard options include roundtrip transfers from hotel, a light breakfast, the 45-minute balloon ride, champagne and fruit at the end, and a little gift bag. Premium options differ with free photos from the flight and less people in the basket (12 instead of 16). Companies like Balloons over Bagan offer options to arrange a private compartment in the basket for couples plus some additional goodies.

Bargaining is not really possible and there’s no such thing as last minute deals because they book up very far in advance. I’ve never heard of someone getting a ride for under $300 online or in person, but let me know if you have! I definitely recommend booking in advance and through an agent (me!) to get the best price.

Tips for the Flight

Charge your camera and be prepared to take a LOT of photos. The journey is long enough that you can spend 15 minutes taking photos and then another 30 just relaxing and soaking in the entire experience.

Clothing : They suggest you dress warmly since you arrive before the sun’s up, but in November and with the flame heating the basket, shorts and a T-shirt were perfect. Since the balloons can potentially land anywhere, they suggest to wear durable shoes in case you have to walk through mud, but I wore sandals and didn’t mind.

Don’t over pack : The baskets are pretty small so you’ll be cramped with too many items

Sunrises aren’t guaranteed : For a sunrise, you need somewhat clear skies for the sunlight to peak through. Even some clouds can make a beautiful sunrise, but too many can completely block it out. This also means that if the weather is really bad, then cancellations can happen, especially in the low and shoulder seasons. Just know that anything can happen with nature!

In conclusion, even if you’re backpacking, I’d save enough moolah to go hot air ballooning over Bagan. I had thought maybe watching the balloons go by from the top of a pagoda would suffice, but there’s absolutely no comparison or substitution for floating through the sky in a hot air balloon.

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Affiliate links may be used in this post which may give me a small commission when clicked on or purchased through. Regardless, I love and personally use everything I recommend.

Related
Hot Air Ballooning Over Bagan

Little can compare to the feeling of floating over ancient Burmese temples for sunrise. Hot air ballooning in Bagan is an experience of a lifetime!

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The mix of Portuguese & Chinese influences is amazing to see, hear, smell, and taste...

The post Hot Air Ballooning Over Bagan appeared first on AlyssaAllDay.

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The Beach, Paella, palm trees, and bike rides… Valencia is one of my favorite weekend getaway trips from Madrid! I got to spend a couple days exploring the city with my sister and here is my recap (some tips included!)

Here are my Weekend Wanders of Valencia Oceanografic

Central Market

Ciutat Vella (Old City)

Sleep

Vincci Lys || Westin Valencia || Home Youth Hostel

Eat

Restaurante Creperie Bretonne Annaik || Bar & Kitchen || Arroceria La Valenciana

Other Suggestions

Silk Factory || Lladro Factory

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The remoteness, the diversity, and the wholly welcoming atmosphere of Borneo will leave you wanting more. The island requires patience and an open-mind but in return, it will reward you with one of the most unique trips you’ll ever take.

Here’s 9 Experiences You CANNOT Miss in Malaysian Borneo!
Trek Mt. Kinabalu

The 2 day trek was one of the hardest I’ve personally ever done, primarily because it’s climbing straight up and straight back down.

Granted, I bought some cheap walking shoes at a local market for the trek instead of having my hiking boots, which didn’t help my breaking knees on the scramble down. Nevertheless, the sun peering through the unique rock formations at the top of Kinabalu was totally worth it.

Snorkeling and/or Diving in Sipadan

Sipadan has been said to be the best dive spot in the entire WORLD. The variety of marine life you can see in one single dive will make the journey to this remote island well worth the trip and every penny.

The surrounding islands of Mabul, Sibuan, and countless others are not too shabby themselves. I strongly suggest getting your diving certification here or at least going for a snorkel – the marine life is absolutely the best.

Related: Diving in Borneo – The Best in the World
Trek for Orang-utans

Going on a multi-day trek to search for the Orang-utans in their natural habitat should be in your top 3. It’ll be quite a demanding journey, but so rewarding when you appreciate these orange giants in their home.

Learn about Orang-utans in Sepilok

If you don’t have much time on your trip or the funds for it, head to the Sepilok Orang-utan Sanctuary and view the orangutans that are free to roam the treetops of the reserve. You can also learn all about them and the affects of the palm oil industry.

Watch the Playful Sun Bears

These little guys are the smallest bear in the world and are also considered Vulnerable on the IUCN list due to deforestation.

Meet the Iban People and Stay in a Longhouse

These indigenous tribal people in the Sarawak region have a beautiful, rich, and deep-rooted history. Enjoy their company and stay in the communal long-houses for a real treat.

Smell the Stinky Rafflesia Flower

This gigantic flower only blooms once or twice a year and witnessing it is very rare. However, if you do make it during the right time, bring a gas mask because these magnificent giants emit an odor of rotting meat.

Day Trip to Brunei

The city itself may leave you a little conflicted due to the harsh juxtaposition of rich and poor. However it’s undeniable that the sheer lavishness of the Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque is quite a jaw dropper.

Become Absolutely Immersed in the Bornean Jungle

I didn’t realize how much I’d enjoy meditating and relaxing to the buzzing sounds the jungle. I nearly decided that I enjoyed the jungle almost as much as the beach… Yea, I know

Affiliate links may be used in this post which may give me a small commission when clicked on or purchased through. Regardless, I love and personally use everything I recommend.Photo Creds: Sun BearRafflesiaMosque

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Alyssaallday by Alyssaallday - 9M ago

Bocas del Toro is a collection of islands in the Northwest of Panama. It’s one of those places that you hear travelers raving about as you move through the area. You get all giddy inside and can’t wait to visit, so much so that you want to speed through the rest of wherever you are just to get there faster.

At least, this is how I felt and it turned about to be everything I wanted and more. 3 days turned into 5 which turned into a week + countless new friends.

Here is the Best of Bocas del Toro
The Islands
Isla Colon
Bluff Beach

This beach is accessible by a 45 minute bike ride from Bocas Town. The rip tide and current are very strong and the waves are always massive, so I don’t suggest actually swimming here. But it’s quiet and beautiful and a trip to Oasis B&B for lunch makes for a great day.

Bocas Town

The town itself is the hub for all grocery shopping, errands, nightlife, and transport. To be honest, it’s not the cleanest and having a local bother you to buy a boat tour every 10 ft gets a little annoying. I’d suggest only staying in town if you want a crazy night out or if you have a super early boat the next morning.

I DON’T suggest booking into the Selina’s. It was the most awful service and value for money of anywhere I’ve stayed. Stay at Twin Fin or Calypso hostel if you need to be in town.

Eat at Hungry Monkey for breakfast/brunch

Drink at Summer (one of the stops for Filthy Friday) or Green Iguana.

Starfish Beach

Easily the most popular beach because of the starfish, this beach has actually had a steady decline of the residents. While there are still starfish, their numbers have vastly diminished because of tourists picking them up for photos. People don’t realize that picking them up out of the water kills them and the oils on your hands can harm them. Another sad effect of tourism.

PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH THE STARFISH

Also, there’s been a strange occurrence of small, clear, needle-like deposits in the sand that stab your feet and are nearly impossible to get out. It’s very recent and no one could tell me why. It made for a very unpleasant beach day and I actually suggest picking a different beach.

Isla Caranero
Bibi’s Beach

I LOVE Bibi’s. It’s easily accessible, chilled, and beautiful. While there are a few places to grab a bite, the best is by far the pizza stand run by the nicest Italian man. He’ll lay out in his mankini with his dogs until a customer approaches. Then, he’ll run up to take your order, make your customized pizza, and deliver it to you right on the beach with a special table for eating in the sand, then go back to sunning himself on his floatie.

Aqua Lounge

This hotel/bar/lounge is the last stop for Filthy Friday and generally a really fun place to be. There’s a high dive, trampoline, indoor/outdoor bar, and DJ’s playing music ranging from House to Reggae.

Isla Solarte
The Blue Coconut

This bar on stilts sits in the ocean and is only accessible by boat. It’s the first stop for Filthy Friday and it’s by far my favorite.

Bambuda Lodge

This is easily one of my favorite hostels I’ve ever stayed in. It’s a wooden lodge up on the hill overlooking the water. It has 2 12 bed dorms, private rooms, a full restaurant, pool, hammocks, and of course… a SLIDE into the ocean! They run on a tab system which means you don’t have to pay until the end of your stay, making it easy to pop up for a happy hour drink from the pool.

The only downside is that they don’t offer a kitchen to cook or store your own food/drinks. This monopolizes meals and the dinners can get pretty pricey – up to $15 a plate. Their servings are HUGE and amazing quality, so I can’t complain about that. However if you’re on a budget, it may be stretching your wallet.

Book your stay here

Bastimientos

All of this island is absolutely breathtaking. It’s truly the picture perfect island you see in travel magazines. There are tons of coves to explore, white pristine beaches to wander, and clear blue water to float in. You can hire a snorkeling tour or just take a boat over. Hire kayaks for the day to explore the hidden parts of the island.

Red Frog Beach

Selina’s Red Frog is a nice option for budget friendly accommodation on the island.

Palmar Beach Lodge is a fantastic jungle oasis right on the beach with bungalows, tents and shared dorms.

Filthy Friday

If you’re traveling through Central America for any length of time or have spent even just a few hours in Bocas, you’ve probably heard of Filthy Friday. It’s a day long, bar hopping party that takes place every Friday and it gets crazy. You visit 3 bars and get sufficiently crazier by the end of the evening. If you’ve been in Bocas longer than a few days, you’re likely to see tons of people you know, which I loved because it just felt like a big bar crawl with all my new friends.

Enjoy!

Getting Around
Arriving from Almirante

You’ll arrive into Bocas town by plane or ferry boat from Almirante. From here, you’ll have to catch a boat to whatever island you’re staying on or you can walk to you accommodation in Bocas Town.

Boat is the primary means of transport from island to island and pricing ranges from $1 to $5 usd. There’s minimal room to bargain and pricing is usually written up on a board, but it doesn’t hurt to give it a try. Often you can get a deal if you’re a large group

Bike Rental

Renting bicycles is cheap and easy in Bocas Town. It’s the best way to get to Bluff beach, but be sure to lock your bikes up if you’re leaving them for any length of time.

Extra Tips

Bring: Bathing Suits, cover-ups, sandals, sunscreen, sunglasses

Money: There’s only 1 ATM in the whole area and it’s in Bocas Town. Make sure to have some extra cash in case your card magically doesn’t work like mine didn’t.

Many Places Don’t Accept Card: Because of how simple the islands are, many places only accept cash. Again, make sure to bring a good supply

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Affiliate links may be used in this post which may give me a small commission when clicked on or purchased through. Regardless, I love and personally use everything I recommend.

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The beaches of Northern Spain are insanely underrated. The jagged coastline provides numerous surf spots, dramatic rock formations, and hundreds of secret beaches waiting to be discovered.

The day prior to visiting Playa del Silencio, we tried to visit Playa de las Catedrales, the famous sand beach with towering rock archways. Clearly we weren’t the only ones with that agenda because it was a madhouse. Long story short, you need to BUY TICKES ONLINE to get down to the beach, parking is an absolute mess, and the whole area is just a tourist trap. In protest of how ridiculous that all was, I refused to pay and we went elsewhere.

The next day, I feared the same about Playa del Silencio… but to my surprise, it was such an amazing experience. Arriving at midday, it still wasn’t overly crowded or stuffy. The overlook of the cove and beach is gorgeous the entire walk down. I absolutely loved the impressive rock formations surrounding the pebble beach and the crystal clear waters that were so inviting.

Arriving by Car & Parking

Playa del Silencio is located just north of the small town of Castaneras in Asturias. The best way to find it is by inputting the small burger stand called “Burgeur Parry” into your GPS. After exiting the N-632 onto the small side street, you’ll begin to see signs for Playa del Silencio.

Upon approaching Burger Parry, you’ll actually find a guarded parking lot with a 2eur fee to park. I suggest continuing on down the road lining the cliffside in order to parallel park. You’ll cut down on walking time which will be uphill on the way back. The road is very skinny but we saw plenty of larger vehicles parked up so it’s not impossible.

What to Bring

Playa Silencio is a pebble beach, meaning it does not have soft sand but flat, egg sized rocks. It’s also at a slant which can make for a bit of discomfort when trying to get comfortable lying down. It’s possible to wriggle around and make a little nest in the rocks, but some may find chairs most efficient. There are no places to rent chairs, so you must bring your own.

I suggest bringing towels, water, sunscreen/oil, watershoes (trying to get out of the water without these was painful and embarrassing), a book, and some snacks. There are no cafes on the beach so come prepared!

I don’t advise bringing an umbrella because you can’t dig into the rocks well enough and it gets gusty (a woman’s umbrella uprooted and almost impaled myself and a few other sunbathers). Instead, opt for a beach tent that you can weigh down with rocks.

Note that whatever you bring, you must carry down and up about 100 stairs.

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We recently escaped the summer heat of Madrid to embark on a weeklong camping adventure through the region of Asturias in Northern Spain. However midweek, the weather turned and we really did not want to be stuck in the mud. So naturally, we sprung for one night in a the luxurious Hotel Castillo Del Bosque La Zoreda.

Hotel Castillo Del Bosque La Zoreda
Location

Nestled in the forest of Zoreda, this restored castle hotel is the perfect weekend getaway, wedding venue, or for us… sneaky cheat from camping!

The castle is located roughly 30 minutes outside Oviedo, nestled in the woods, away from any sound pollution. It offers glimpsing views of the surrounding mountains and lush greenery with walking paths.

The Rooms

There are 5 room categories from classic to Duplex (what we had) all the way to junior and full suites. The top-of-the-line Tower Suite boasts an outdoor rooftop jacuzzi, 3 floors accessed by private elevator, and the best views of any room.

Image from hotel website

Our Duplex category on level 2, consisted of 2 floors. Upon entering, you have a cozy living area, closet, and the full bathroom. Heading up the staircase, you reach the loft area with the large king size bed and quaint workspace (which is very much utilized after a few days with below average wifi). Watch my quick snapchat tour:

Service

The receptionists were absolutely lovely and welcoming upon arrival. They made check in very easy and helped us to the café while our room was getting ready.

Facilities

The dining room, lobby, and lounge area are a blend of historic meets modern appeal.

The castle boasts a spa with hot tubs, saunas, massage sessions, and plunge pools. However, one immediate dislike was that basic pool entry required a cover charge. It was minimal at 5eur per person, but I’ve never had to pay for a hotels pool as a guest.

Image from hotel website

The castle is home to a separate center for events such as weddings, reunions, and more. It’s a bit of an eye sore on the lawn but if I were having a destination wedding, it’d be convenient and beautiful.

Dining

Lunch on the patio was a great welcome treat. I must admit, the salmon sandwich was tastier than the fried calamari starter, but the general ambiance backed by views of the mountains was instantly relaxing.

The breakfast buffet is held in a special dining room with a beautiful Parisienne outdoor patio. I’ll admit, I thought it was over-priced. While you have a full buffet bar of fruits, meats, cheeses, breads, and more, any choice of coffee style, and a hot menu included as well, 17eur per person was a bit steep.

Unfortunately, we did not stay for dinner because the Sideria Street in downtown Oviedo was calling!

My final thoughts: I loved our escape to the hotel but at over $100 for the night with no breakfast or even pool access included, I struggle a bit with the value. I’ve visited other similar statured properties in Spain with better value for money, however this is by far the best property in Oviedo or surrounding. I absolutely recommend it for a weekend getaway, but just plan for budgeting a bit more.

Ready to book? Get pricing here or shoot me a message to plan!

Read Next Hacienda Zorita, My Favorite Spanish Winery Resort
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The post Retreat Recap: Hotel Castillo La Zoreda appeared first on AlyssaAllDay.

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If you’re in Norway, you should definitely make your way to the fjords and do some hiking. There are a few well-known hikes that offer dramatic view points at the top, and one of my favorites is Trolltunga.

Located outside the town of Odda, Trolltunga, or “Troll’s Tongue” is a large, flat, tongue shaped rock jutting out 700m above lake Ringedalsvatnet. It’s quite a lengthy and demanding hike, but hey, who knows when you’ll be back in Norway?!

So here’s my guide to hiking Trolltunga
What to Expect

Now from our party, 3 people finished the whole hike (including myself) and 3 people decided to nix it about an hour in for fear that they wouldn’t finish before the sun went down. We began quite late in the day, around 11am, and many hikers at the base warned us that there wasn’t enough time. We only had this day for the hike, and we weren’t going to miss it.

I made this hike in August, so the weather stayed clear for nearly the whole day. Clouds began rolling in while we were snapping photos at the top and it began to sprinkle on our walk back. It never fully poured, but it very well could have and I’d count us lucky.

I wouldn’t say this hike is the hardest I’ve ever done but it’s definitely not easy. The rock scramble and inclines during some parts are pretty demanding and can be dangerous if wet. If you think you may struggle with it but have your heart set, plan to camp overnight so you have plenty of time and don’t rush.

I loved being in nature and never felt overwhelmed by a rush of tourists (until waiting in line for a photo at the tongue). The air was fresh, the landscape was unique and ever-changing, and the views of the fjords along the way were some of the best I’d ever seen.

General Tips

If you’re planning to do the whole hike in one day, get to the base before 9am. There’s a shuttle that takes you to the actual start of the hike. You’ll cut off an hour of walking up a gravel road this way.

The trail is very well marked and we had no trouble making our way to the top. I can’t speak for winter when there’s snow on the ground, but I wouldn’t say you need a guide for this hike in the summer.

Allow plenty of time at the top for a rest and photo taking. You’ll want to soak up the views and not rush the fruits of your labor

I typically pick up a walking stick along the way, but there were absolutely none. I’d probably invest in a travel one if I were to do it again.

Camping at the top or along the way is a great idea. I wish we did this but unfortunately we weren’t quite prepared. It’s a whole different packing list for this since it can get cold at night, but it’s worth it to catch the epic sunrise with no other hikers around.

Are You Fit Enough?

This is difficult to assess on your behalf, but I’ll give you an idea of where I stood.

I don’t work out regularly but I was walking about an hour a day, 5 days a week for a month up to the hike (as a commute in a city, not as training). I never felt winded or tired during the hike but about 2 hours before reaching back to base, my knees began aching. From then on, they got worse and worse and by the end, my whole legs were in pain.

The next day my body was feeling it but it was more of a post-workout ache.

How Long Does It Take?

From absolute base to the cliffs edge and back again, it took us around 7 hours to hike the 24km. We spent about an hour at the top relaxing, having snacks, and taking some photos. We didn’t break too much along the way but we didn’t power walk through it either.

If we had left earlier, we could have cut off the pointless gravel road between the parking lot and the hike start.

What Gear to Bring

Sunscreen/Sunglasses – I don’t go anywhere without sunglasses anyway, even if it’s a bit overcast. As for sunscreen, this is a must even if it’s cloudy. You should know by know that UV rays still get through the clouds!

Hat – Nice to keep the sun off and your head warm

Layers! – It’s best to have a few layers that you can take off as you start building up a sweat.

Light Rain Jacket – You’ll work up a sweat hiking so a light jacket is great in case of rain

Extra Socks – Just in case!

Camera/Phone – for photos, a map, face-timing the friends that didn’t make it, etc. Note: We did have service at the top and a bit along the way.

Snacks – I always pack a celebratory snickers bar for the summit of any hike.

Water – A given. There are plenty of fresh streams to fill up along the way as well.

Simple First Aid Kit – Make sure there are blister plasters if you didn’t break in your shoes

Wet Wipes – You will have to “go” and there’s no toilets along the way. Bring these and a baggie to dispose of them.

Hiking Shoes – It get slippery and the weather can turn, so hiking shoes that have a good grip are a really good idea.

Walking Stick – not necessary but probably helpful for the walk down

Flashlight – it’s good practice to bring one when hiking, regardless if you plan to be there at night

When to Hike Trolltunga

August was probably as good as it could’ve gotten and we were extremely lucky. The summer of 2017 was relatively rainy and cold until August so I personally couldn’t attest for hiking in June or July.

Normally it’s suggested that July-August is prime time for hiking without a guide. The shoulder seasons of March-June and October are open but only with a guide. All other times, the mountain is closed, and for good reason. It’s so dangerous with ice, wind, cold, low visibility.

I hope you end up braving this hike. It’s well worth the time and effort, so don’t be nervous and just crush it! Feel free to come back and leave a comment with how your hike went!

Read Next The Guide to an Epic Norway Road Trip Weekend Wanders Episode IV: Stavanger, Norway Trollstigen Road: One of the Best Drives in the World?
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The post The Ultimate Guide for Hiking Trolltunga appeared first on AlyssaAllDay.

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