Playa De Palma, Mallorca – Off Season

The Spanish Islands. Known for their beautiful beaches, warm weather and party scene. Ibiza is the island featured in the movies and songs, but Mallorca can get just as rowdy – so I’ve heard. If you are looking to travel to Palma de Mallorca during the months of November-April, this is the blog for you.

I was meeting my friends in Barcelona during the week of Thanksgiving. They had been traveling around Europe for the last couple of weeks. I was short on vacation time, so I decided to come while they were in Spain. Two days in Barcelona and then it was off the Mallorca.

So what is Mallorca like in November? It’s basically closed for the season. But we didn’t learn this until we landed on the island. Our first clue should have been when our original hotel canceled our reservation because business was so slow they were closing up for the season. They transferred us to the Hotel Playa Golf. The hotel was absolutely beautiful. We were upgraded to a higher level ocean view room. It was the kind of view where you wanted to hang out on your balcony and just watch the waves go by. The hotel interior and grounds were also beautiful. Our view overlooked the pool and the ocean. The hotel had a complimentary sauna, steam room and indoor spa. For our first couple of nights, we felt like we were the only ones there.

Our other surprise was how much German influence there was on the island. I had noticed some German signs at the airport, but when we sat down for lunch, our waiter handed us a menu that was written in German and featured German food. As the naïve group of Americans, we were confused about why there was such a German presence on this Spanish Island. This easiest way for me to explain it is Mallorca is to Germany what Mexico is to America. They wanted a fun warm place where they could party, but still, feel like they were in Germany.

I could see the potential this island had. There were tons of bars and shops that lined the beach boardwalk, but they were all boarded up for the winter. My boyfriend had picked the location of our hotel very specifically because it was close to a giant Beer Garden called Megapark. We went to check it out, and sure enough, the Megapark was also boarded up and closed for the winter. In terms of Playa De Palma nightlife, the Bierkoenig is proud to be open year-round. The Bierkoenig is a massive beer garden, but during the off-season, they use maybe a ¼ of the space. The first couple of nights we felt like the only people there, but my Friday night, the Germans had arrived and the tiny space had started to fill up (but still nowhere near what it’s like during the summer).

The nearby restaurant choices were also slim, but each restaurant we went to was absolutely delicious, and we would go back and forth between German and Spanish cuisine. Only in Playa de Palma can you get Paella and Cordon Bleu in the same meal. We did make our way to the city of Palma one evening. You can catch a bus from the beach to the capital, and it takes maybe 25 mins. In the city, we found open restaurants, people, shops and no German beer gardens. However, the city closed early that day. By 9 pm all the shops were closed and the street started to clear.

What we should have done was hire a car or some scooters and explore more of the island, but my friends were on the tail end of a 3-week European adventure and were pretty tired. I also recommend going to the city during the day and visiting Old Town Palma. If you are looking for a “warmer,” peaceful island getaway (warmer is in quotes because you will still need a jacket), than check out Playa De Palma during the off-season. I’m not sure I would enjoy Mallorca during its peak season, but I am curious to see what it is like when the shops are open, the beach a more lively and the weather warmer. It was an experience for sure. Have you ever been to Mallorca or Playa de Palma? What did you do? When did you go? Let’s start a conversation in the comments below.

Until next time…

Cheers!

Keelie

Girls Trip – NYC

I love a weekend away with my girls, and what better place than New York City. I had only been to the Big Apple during the winter months, not that there is anything wrong with that, but I wanted to see Central Park with some leaves on the trees and maybe catch a Yankee Game. And what better weekend to see the city, catch a game and experience some warmer weather than Memorial Weekend. So what does a Girls Weekend in NYC over Memorial Weekend look like?

Rally the Troops

I traveled to NYC with two of my best gal pals and my sister, and I thought it was way cool that we all came from different places. One girl came from the Bay Area, my sister from the Seattle area, another from north of Sacramento and me from Reno. We all took the red-eye to JFK ready for a weekend of fun.

Where to Stay

We rented a cute little 2-bedroom Airbnb in Williamsburg. It was perfect for us. We stocked the fridge with drinks and snacks and had a place we could all hang out together comfortably rather than in a small hotel room. I loved the location. We were right next to the subway and could be in Manhattan in about 10 mins. There were some awesome coffee and bagel shops nearby and we were located within walking distance to some fun bars, nightlife and the pier which has some of the best nighttime views of Manhattan. Not sure I would stay in the same Airbnb, but I love that location and the concept of having our own little place.

Downtown Manhattan and Staten Island

What isn’t there to do in New York City? Since we took the red-eye, we arrived in the city around 9am and had the whole day ahead of us to explore. We dropped off our bags in Brooklyn using Vertoe and headed to the 911 Memorial. Not only was in Memorial Weekend, but it was also Fleet Week. So the city was overrun with Navy shipmen and decorated with American flags. We paid our respects and headed up the One World Trade Center. The elevator ride was awesome, and we bought the package that comes with a drink at the bar up top. The view from up there is incredible.

I had learned from a local New Yorker that if you want free a view of the Statue of Liberty than take the Staten Island Ferry, so that’s what we did. We cruised across the harbor and saw stellar views of Lady Liberty and lower Manhattan. Once on Staten Island, we headed to the brewery for some refreshments and lunch. The brewery doesn’t serve, but there are some nearby restaurants that deliver.

Nightlife in Brooklyn

Go to a rooftop bar. The line might be a little long, but I think it’s worth it. You are a tourist in New York, and the view is one of kind. We went to Westlight, had an overpriced cocktail, took some photos and then headed to the next place. Other fun places are the Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn Bowl and Radegast Hall & Biergarten. I read a list from about the best bars in Brooklyn and one named Turkey’s Nest was on it. After our time at the rooftop bar, the ladies and I were headed home when I saw the Turkey’s Nest. We stopped by, and it ended up being my friend’ favorite place of the night. This place is a dive bar, and we attracted a lot looks because we were dressed to the nines and were now in a place that served your beer in large styrofoam cups. I’d go back, but I’d ditched my heels for my converse.

Yankee Game

If you want to catch a Sunday afternoon Yankee game on Memorial Weekend book early. We nabbed some of the last seats available and were stuck in the nosebleeds. But the weather was awful that day, and we had to walk around and watch the game from the covered hallway to get out the rain and warm up a bit. In one weekend we experienced hot, freezing, and perfect weather. No GoPros are allowed in Yankee Stadium, and if you have yours, there is a store nearby that will rent you an expensive locker. Before you go, double check their bag policy. I did bring my backpack in, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they transitioned to the clear bag policy. We took the subway from Brooklyn to the stadium and it worked perfectly.

Central Park and Times Square

Central Park with leaves on the trees is dreamy. After the game, we took the subway to Central Park to walk around a bit and enjoy the sites. My original thought was that New York City would be a little more crowded than usual – especially in the touristy area. The city was only crowded in the touristy areas because the locals were all gone for the holiday weekend. This was apparent in Times Square. This was my sister’s first time to NYC, so we decided to walk through Times Square on our way to dinner. We found where all the people were hiding, and quickly vacated the area.

Rockefeller Center and Natural History Museum

Three of us were catching evening flights back to the West Coasts, so we had a couple more hours to kill before we headed to JFK. I asked the girls what they wanted to do and it was unanimously the Natural History Museum. So we decided on the museum via Rockefeller Center and a bike ride through Central Park. We took the subway to Rockefeller Center and rented some Citi Bikes. Navigating to Central Park was a little tricky, but once we made it to the park it was smooth sailing to the museum. We docked our bikes and went into the world of Wooly Mammoths, our friends from Land Before Time, and the epic underwater exhibit. I have now ended two NYC trips at the Natural History Museum, and both times have been great.

If you’re looking to plan a destination girls trip, look no further than the Big Apple. It has everything you need for a memorable getaway. And if this is your first time to the city, or you are looking for more of the touristy activities, check out my other blog – 36 Hours in NYC. Have you gone on a girls trip to NYC? What did you and your squad do? Tell me in the comments below.

Until next time…

Cheers!

Keelie

Elephant Jungle Sanctuary – Chiang Mai, Thailand

Elephants and Thailand kind of go together like peanut butter and jelly, and if you find yourself in Thailand looking for an Elephant experience, I highly recommend the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. They have a few different locations in Thailand. I went to the one in Chiang Mai which I think happens to be the best one.

Your day is broken up into 3 sections. You start off by feeding the elephants bananas. I think this helps you and elephants get comfortable with one another. By the end of the feeding frenzy, the elephants are no longer in their stalls and roaming the ground with you.

The second experience is Spa Time with the Elephants. You head into this giant mud pit where you can rub mud all over the elephants or your friends. I don’t believe the mud had any special healing power, I think it’s just an excuse for everyone to get dirty before heading into the third excursion.

Swim with the elephants! After the mud bath, you make your way to a river where you splash and swim with the elephants. They love the water! And it is so fun watching them play in it. After playtime is over, the trainers will take the elephants further down the river, and you will head back up to camp for some lunch.

This is honestly one of the coolest experiences, and the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary is a sustainable and ethical eco-tourism project which make my heart happy.  The elephants are loved and cared for, and there is no riding because its bad for their backs.

What to bring?

Towel

Dry Clothes

Swim Suit

Waterproof camera

The GoPro was perfect!

Trainers or a sturdy pair of sandals

 I brought one of each to be safe but was in my sandals mostly.

We booked our experience through our hotel in Chiang Mai. It’s popular, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding a booking place, but you can also reach out to the Sanctuary directly.

Check out my video for the full experience. What fun ways have you interreacted with Elephants? Tell me in the comments below.

Until next time…

Cheers!

Keelie

Five of My Favorite Travel Items

We’ve all go those items we can’t leave home without. It might be a favorite jacket or your trusty sneakers. Maybe you have a favorite hat or a water bottle that has traveled the world with you. The point is, we’ve all got them. Yes, we aren’t going to leave home without our cell phone, wallet, id, camera and probably a portable battery, but I wanted to look beyond that. So here are 5 items I never leave behind when packing for a trip.

Garmin Watch

The importance of time when traveling. Sometimes my phone is stashed away in my backpack, or I don’t want to constantly fish it out of my purse to see what time it is, so wearing a watch is a must for me while traveling or on an adventure. The Garmin watch is great because it will also track your steps and calculate mileage. When I was in London, I would average over 10 miles a day exploring the city, and I love having my watch on hikes to calculate where I’m at or how much longer I have to go. It might not be the most attractive watch to wear on my wrist, but it has all the features I need. Check it out for yourself at REI.

Photo Courtesy of REI

Packing Cubes

When packing for 8-weeks in a 36L backpack, packing cubes are a necessity. But I love them so much I even use them in a suitcase to keep everything organized and neat. The packing cubes are perfect because if you are looking for one item, you don’t have to search through your entire travel wardrobe and risk leaving a sock behind. You can organize your clothes in the cubes and use them to save space in your bag. I bought mine on Amazon and never leave home without them.

Photo Courtesy of Amazon.com

Athleta Shanti Jacket

If you need a versatile, multi-purpose jacket, don’t leave any further than the Athleta Shanti Jacket in Powervita. This is my go-to jacket for everything which makes it perfect for traveling. I can take it hiking, on a run, or I wear when exploring a city and trying to look trendy. I can wear it on a business trip, or even use it if I’m dressing up for the night. When space is limited in your bag, and you need one jacket that will go with each outfit this is it. It also works as the perfect layer in the winter time. I thought I lost this jacket in a hotel room in Vietnam and started to have a mild panic attack. You can find the jacket online at Athleta.com.

Athleta Trekkie Hike Pant

 This is my favorite go-to pant for hiking, or if I want to explore the city, but don’t want to wear jeans. The pants are comfortable, durable, breathable – basically everything you could hope for in a pair of pants. They aren’t waterproof, but I would rather be caught in a torrential downpour wear these pants than a pair of jeans. One is just more comfortable to walk in afterward. They are also great in the wind. I wore these pants when hiking the Tongariro Crossing in New Zealand, and they handled all the elements. The wind, cold, and the heat on our descent. I also wore them on my Irish road-trip and they were that perfect amount of car comfy yet stylish. You can find these pants online at Athleta.com.

Paperback Book

So, this isn’t a specific item, but I still don’t like to leave home without a paperback book. Yes, the Kindle app on my iPad is great, but there is just something about the concept of a paperback book. Plus, a tradition of mine now when I’m traveling is, I bring a book with me, read it, and then exchange it at my hostels or hotels book exchange. I have read some awesome books through the book exchange like The Martian and The Secret Life of Bees. I like to bring a book hiking, and I don’t really want to carry a tablet. And it’s hard to read from a tablet with chilling on a beach. I know the kindle paperwork is good for that, but I’m not ready to carry around two tablets just yet. Costco always has a great deal on books. In fact, I just picked up the Alice Network and will be bringing it to Mexico with me.

What are some items you can’t leave home without? Tweet them at me @keeliec5 or tell me in the comments below!

Until next time….

Cheers!

Keelie

Five Must Attend Reno Tahoe Events

Reno Tahoe is home to some great events. During the summertime, there is basically an event every weekend. Every month the Riverwalk District has a wine walk and a beer crawl, and check out this events calendar to see when the next major pub crawl is. The Santa and Zombie Crawl are by far the largest. There is a weekly food truck event, free art and music around town during the month of July, and food events galore. Pick between chili, ribs, bbq, wings, spaghetti you name it. Now, unless you live here it might be hard to attend all of these events. Just a short disclaimer, these opinions are all my own, but here are five events in Reno Tahoe that you need to check out.

Great Reno Balloon Races

Totally worth the early morning wakeup call. This event takes place in early September but after Labor Day at Rancho San Rafael Park by the University. The Great Reno Balloon Race is one of the largest hot air balloon events that is free and allows spectators on the infield. The event has three major parts, the Glow Show, Dawn Patrol and Mass Ascension. The Glow Show starts at 5 am – I told you it was early – and Mass Ascension is at 7 am. So set your alarms early, pack your camera and prepare for one of the best mornings of your life!

Reno Rodeo

They don’t call it the Wildest Richest Rodeo in the West for nothing! The Reno Rodeo takes place over 10 days in June and this year is celebrating 100 years. Enjoy muttin’ bustin’, bronc riding, steer wrestling, barrel riding and more at the rodeo. Come early to enjoy the on-site carnival and stay late for the full Jack Daniels Tent experience. Cowboy boots encouraged!

Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival

Watch one of your favorite Shakespeare tales come to life set to the backdrop of the gorgeous Lake Tahoe. The Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival is held at Sand Harbor during the months of July and August. Each year features a new Shakespeare play and musical. Past performances include Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The theater at Sand Harbor has a kitchen with a delicious menu, or pack your own lunch filled with your favorite drinks and snacks. The shows start at 7:30, so come early and enjoy the turquoise waters and sandy beach of Sand Harbor.

Reno River Festival

The Reno River Festival takes place every Mother’s Day weekend and is held at Wingfield Park on the river. This event has it all. Buy a ticket to the craft beer tent or wine village for a refreshing treat. Check out the food vendors and shop some of the local goods. There is always a free live performance by an up and comer. One-year, Old Dominion played at the River Festival! Zipline across the Truckee River in the Adventure Park, or partake in the Reno River Roll on Saturday morning. And while this is all going on, there is a kayaking competition in the river! Watch them as they maneuver through the gates and complete tricks in the rapids. This event really has it all.

Burning Man

Okay, so this event technically doesn’t take place in Reno, but Reno is the “Gateway to the Black Rock Desert.” The city also embraces the Burner Culture year-round. A lot of the art is made in a shared art space called the Generator, and you can find past Burning Man Sculptures with new homes by the river or in the Playa Art Park. However, the event itself is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. This counter-culture event takes place in the Black Rock Desert about 150 miles northeast of Reno. Over 70,000 people attend the event every year. It’s about a week long, but you don’t have to stay for the whole time. I know a lot of people who head in later and leave earlier to avoid crowds. There is a lot of planning and prework involved in attending this event. You must bring everything with you and pack it all out. There are no supplies on the playa. If you are interested in attending the event, definitely read the survival guide.

Reno Tahoe has so many awesome events I couldn’t name them all! You’ll want to check out all of their iconic events, and then see the events calendar for a full listing. What is your favorite Reno Tahoe event? Tell me in the comments below!

Until next time…

Cheers!

Keelie

Ha Long Bay Vietnam

We were headed to Thailand with some friends. My boyfriend wanted to check out Vietnam while we were in Southeast Asia. I said, if we’re going to Vietnam, I want to go to Ha Long Bay.

So, what is Ha Long Bay? It’s a bay in northern Vietnam that features thousands of little limestone islands. Because of this, Vietnam has the most islands in the world. It is a UNESCO World Herit age Site and popular among tourists. The best way to see Ha Long Bay is by boat, and you’ll see that’s how everyone visits the bay because it’s populated with tiny cruise boats everywhere. However, even with tons of other boats nearby, you still feel like your sailing in your own oasis.

Hanoi is the largest city to Ha Long Bay. Here you will find plenty of tour options that include transportation from the hotel to your ship. I recommend booking your tour through your hotel, it was such a seamless process and allowed us to enjoy our short time in Vietnam a little more. We even coordinated transportation from the airport to the hotel which was nice. We had a late flight, and I was glad I didn’t have to navigate the busy streets of Hanoi. And when I say busy, that is an under- exaggeration. I’ve never seen so much traffic. Scooters everywhere, sometimes on the sidewalk, and no pedestrian right away.

When we checked into our hotel, the Meracus, they gave us a guide to navigating Hanoi which included tips for crossing traffic – basically, don’t hesitate and be assertive. The scooters will swerve around you. Through the Meracus we booked a two-day, one-night cruise to Ha Long Bay. The bus picked us up bright and early, and we made our way east. Our bus probably had 50 or 60 people on it, but that was not everyone we would be cruising with. The Ha Long Bay cruise is quite intimate with about 12-15 people.

The boats are made of wood and beautifully designed. Our room had a balcony which I enjoyed, and there was plenty of outdoor seating on the top deck and inside the main cabin. After settling into our cabin, the boat set sail and we were off to our first destination. All Ha Long Bay two-day, one-night itineraries are the same, you just might do them in a different order.

Each boat comes with a tour guide that will also serve as your translator. Our first stop was a massive cave. We took a smaller boat to shore, and make our way through the cave with the other tourists. The cave was massive. We probably walked around for about an hour and only touched a fraction of it.

The other activities are kayaking and hiking or swimming. The weather wasn’t ideal during our cruise, overcast and cool, so it was a trip when the water was warmer than the air. The hike is a short yet steep one to a top of a lookout point with an amazing view of the bay below. If you are a fast hiker, you might be able to hike to the top and take a quick dip before getting back on the boat. The kayaking excursion takes you through a limestone tunnel and into a clearing surrounded by tall limestone cliffs. You can paddle to the edge, but beware of any monkeys!

You itinerary while on the cruise is basically booked, so it’s critical you head back to the boat at the time your guide gave you. Your meals are also planned. Everyone ate together in this gorgeous dining room with massive windows on all sides. And the food is fantastic. It was probably my favorite part, and you will not go hungry. It happened to be my birthday (and Thanksgiving back home) that first night on the cruise, and they made me a cake! My boyfriend made the reservation, so he must have told them about my birthday (swoon). After dinner, you can try squid fishing, just relax and enjoy the evening, or maybe you’ll find the crew downstairs and hang out with them as we did!

You can’t really go wrong with a Ha Long Bay cruise, and it really is an immersive experience. The cruises are intimate, the boats beautiful, the food is delicious and the scenery is amazing. Plus, you’ll learn more about the history of Vietnam and Ha Long Bay and the Vietnamese culture. So are you convinced? Ready to book a cruise to Ha Long Bay? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below!

Until next time….

Cheers!

Keelie

12 Hours in Vancouver

So clearly 12 hours in Vancouver is not enough time to see this beautiful city, but sometimes that’s all you have, so you have to make the most of it. For me, I was spending time with my sister who lives on Whidbey Island, Washington and we decided to take a day trip to Canada and explore the city. It was just over a two-hour drive from Oak Harbor, WA to Vancouver. We left just after the sun came up, and were home just after sunset. So here is how to make the most of your 12 hours in Vancouver

Rent a Bike

If the weather is awful, you might not want to rent a bike. But if the sun is shining, and the weather is good, there is no other way to see Vancouver than on two wheels. Also, the city was meant for biking. I’ll touch on Stanley Park later, but Vancouver has designated roads with protected bike paths – meaning the bike path is separate from the road. I felt completely safe on the bike, and I was glad I didn’t have to deal with traffic or parking. We paid for long term parking in one of the lots, and it was two wheels for the rest of the day. For full-day or hourly rentals, you can check out bike shops like Cycle City or Spokes Bicycle Rentals. The city of Vancouver also has a docked public bike share program called Mobi.

Stanley Park

You’ll forget you’re in the city. Bike or walk the 8.8km seawall located along the perimeter of the park for views of the Pacific and Vancouver Harbor, and then venture inside the park for dining, off-road riding and the Vancouver Aquarium. Since my sister and I were short on time, we biked the seawall and then explore just a fraction of the 400-acre park. The aquarium is definitely on my list for my return trip.

Granville Island Public Market

Ride your bike along the coastline and make your way to Granville Island. You can either ride your bike across Burrard Street or take the Aquabus (bikes are allowed). We took the Aquabus there and rode our bikes back. The public market sits right along the water and is a huge indoor area filled with endless fresh baked goods, produce, seafood, candy and gourmet food. I highly recommend you grab some lunch while you are here and a few macarons. Souvenir shops are also plentiful on the island. Since you are in Canada, I recommend Maple Crème cookies. There is a brewery on the island, but I’ll touch on that later. After refueling yourself, grab your libation of choice and relax in the harbor while you watch the buskers perform.

Lululemon Flagship Store

People flock to the original Starbucks in Seattle, so I wanted to visit the Lululemon Flagship store in Vancouver. It isn’t really any different than the other Lululemon stores, but I was still jazzed to check it out and buy a pair of what are now my favorite exercise shorts. The flagship store is located on the corner of Robson and Burrard, so an easy ride down from Granville Island. Plus, this is the shopping district of Vancouver. Just remember you’re on a bike!

Brewery Hopping

Think of it as a pedal powered self-guided pub crawl, or you can join a brewery tour with Vancouver Brewery Tours. I mentioned the brewery on Granville Island before, so hopefully, you were able to check that out before heading back downtown. I recommend heading to Gastown, especially if you are looking to visit more than one brewery. If you don’t mind back tracking a bit, hit up Yaletown Brewing Company before heading back to the water. At this point, my sister and I had to bike back to the shop to return our bikes before they closed and moved the car closer to Gastown. Grab some dinner at Steamworks. They are a brewpub with a huge two-story location right on the water. The beer was delicious and definitely order some poutine fries.

This was the last stop for my sister and I in Vancouver. We still had a two-hour drive back to Oak Harbor and stopped for gas and coffee on our way out of town. Even though we only had a short time in Vancouver, it was so fun exploring the downtown area. At one point in the day, the clouds moved away and I could see the massive mountains in the short distance. I know where I’ll be going during my next visit to Vancouver. Have you been to Vancouver? What was your favorite activity? Tell me in the comments below!

Until next time…..

Cheers!

Keelie