Zacatecas Mexico: A Weekend Trip

The city of Zacatecas is full of history, culture, beautiful architecture and great food! All of this makes it the perfect city for weekend in Mexico. While this city does get tourists from other areas in Mexico is seems to be mostly undiscovered by the rest of the world. We absolutely loved our time in this city and would definitely love to go back!
The city is very walkable and we feel this is the best way to soak it all in. Finding parking on the street can be tricky but we managed to find a spot where we could stay all weekend for free. There are several public parking lots around the city but you will have to pay to park in one of these.
After you park the best thing to do is to start walking! We headed straight to the the center of the city where the Catedral Basilica and the Plaza de Armas are located.
Catedral Basilica and the Plaza de Armas: All of the churches in this city are beautiful and worth walking to see! Even if you aren’t religous at all, the architecture is stunning! Just across from this cathedral is the Acropolis Café Galería where you can sit outside and enjoy a coffee and some lunch while taking in views of the catedral and the surrounding part of the city.
Just behind the catedral is the Plaza de Armas. You can find a small tourist office here where you can get maps of the city and more information. The plaza also has some great street art painted on the inside and is well worth walking around.
In the evenings the Plaza comes to life with locals and tourists alike hanging out, playing music, eating, drinking and just enjoying the city. If you chose to attend the Callejoneada Zacatecana event (which we highly recommend and will talk about in greater detail later on in this post) then you will meet here to get started at 7:30 or 8:30PM depending on what your ticket specifies.

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Next up on the walking tour…
Rafael Coronel Mask Museum and Ruins of Templo de San Francisco: We stumbled upon these ruins and didn’t really realize that there was also a full museum here. The entrance fee for the museum is 30 pesos per person. You cannot walk around the ruins without paying the entrance fee but it is worth it. The museum is laid out really well within the ruins and is known for having Mexico’s largest collection of masks from the pre and post hispanic eras.

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Hotel Quinta Real/ Plaza de Toros San Pedro: We did not stay in this hotel but did walk over to see it and have cocktails at the bar. This hotel encircles and old 17th century bull fighting ring. The bar is on the ground level, underneath where the guests watching the bull fight would sit. It has a cave like atmosphere with stone walls and ceiling. There are tables near large windows which open out to the bull fighting ring. While we were there the ring was under some construction/setting up for a wedding the following day but it was still very cool! We ordered a mezcal flight and then a cocktail while we were here. The Mezcal flight was really good – Mezcal can be very smoky and bitter but good mezcal tastes very similar to a really good tequila. This area of Mexico is know for Mezcal so you have to taste some while you’re here! If you do want a cocktail while your here we highly recommend their palomas!

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Acueducto el Cubo: Just outside the hotel Quinta Real you will see a huge aquaduct. It was in use until 1910 to bring water to the city from El Cubo mine.

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Templo de Santo Domingo: This is another large church next to universal art museum. We did not go into this museum or church just admired the outside as we walked by.
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Templo de Jesús: This church is a bit further from the main part of the city but worth the walk.
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Templo de Fatima: This was our favorite church by far. There was a wedding about to start when we walked by so we were not able to look inside unfortunately.

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Plazuela Miguel Auza/ Templo de San Agustín: For a break from all the churches and site seeing we recommend you head over to this plaza and sit down at one of the restaurants/cafes. We did this twice on our trip, its a great location to people watch, enjoy the warm weather and just relax with a beer or glass of wine or a coffee.
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Mina el Edén: Zacatecas is an old mining town. The mina el Eden offers tours of the mine during the day and offers a night club you can go to starting at 9pm. The night club does get busy so we would recommend arriving a little before 9pm so you can get in quickly. We arrived just after 9 and there was already a pretty long line. You do have to take a train into the mine to reach the club so only so many people can enter at a time. The train is pretty quick but this does slow down the entrance process.  The mine dates back to the 16th centry. The tours are only offered in Spanish so that is something to be aware of. We only know a little Spanish so we didn’t understand alot of the information on the tour but the mine its self is definitely worth seeing. After you go through the mine you can walk through the mineral and rock museum before taking the train back out of the mine. The museum is not an additional fee; if you pay for the tour you can see the museum. In total the tour and museum took us about an hour and a half.

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Bufa Hill/El Cerro de la Bufa: This hill offers excellent views of the city and is a must do! There is a teleferico (or cable car) that will take you up to the top. Erika is terrified of heights so needless to say, we didn’t do that. You can also drive up to the top which is what we opted to do. We did this on our last morning before driving out of town (that way we didn’t risk leaving our parking spot and having to find another one). Once you are at the top of the hill you can take in the views of the city. There is also a short hiking path along the side of the hill giving even better views of the city as you walk. There are also several large statues to visit, a chapel built in 1728, the Plaza de la Revolución Mexicana and the Observatory de la bufa. After exploring all of these things there are several small food stands on the hill if you want to stop for a snack.

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Callejoneada Zacatecana Event: You can buy tickets for this event at any tourism office or stand that you pass by in the city. The event started at 7:30 PM in the Plaza de Armas the night we went. We believe this event is put on every Saturday and sometimes Friday nights as well. You will follow a group of local musicians as they play through the streets. When you show your ticket you will be given a small cup to wear around your neck for your mezcal. They will pour you as many re-fills as you want during this event. You will enjoy locals and other tourists dancing and just having a good time. While the mezcal was not of the highest quality we would still highly recommend this event!  You could follow the musicians through the streets without buying a ticket however then you won’t be given any mezcal and really that is part of the whole experience!

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This is a foodie destination! Mexico in general is a fantastic place to eat but this city has some really, really good food! None of these places are fancy or high end restaurants, instead what they offer is really good, local food at a very affordable price.
Where to Eat:
El Sultan: Small tacos but really good, great place to stop for a snack as you walk around
La Toska: Maybe our favorite place, it smells amazing as you walk by! We actually ate here twice because it was so good! They had a taco deal going the weekend we were there- 10 tacos for 59 pesos. The tacos are small but if there are only two of you it is the perfect amount of food to share. We also ate one of the best things ever at this place- a pile of tortillas, cheese and whatever meats you chose (we had a carne asada one and a pastor one) all topped with a thin layer of fried cheese! So, so good!
Rincon Tipico: We stopped in here for lunch when we first arrived. They have no menu, just a few options each day. There were three options to chose from when we were there. We both had chicken and rice served of course with tortillas and salsa.
Gorditas doña Julia: There are a couple of these around the city. Its a simple place serving up some great gorditas! We really enjoyed the peppers and potatoes  (pimientos y papas) and the pork (cerdo) but there were plenty of options to chose from here.
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El Callejon: This is located near a small market area in town (Plaza Bicentenario). You will find multiple vendors selling food, drinks and other items around this area. We stopped in for a second breakfast/mid morning snack here and were very happy we did. Try the chorizo and potatoes (chorizo y papas)  and the bean and cheese (frijoles y queso) gorditas!
Plaza Bicentenario: While you are wandering around this market area be sure to try a donut (donas) They are very good! We aren’t really even donut people but trust us these are delicious!
Cervecería Shannons: We stopped in here late afternoon for a drink. It definitely has a younger vibe. We were probably the oldest people in this bar and we are 30 and 31. None the less the place is very cool. It’s got loud music and cool modern art on the walls. They are up on the second story with small balconies overlooking the street below. We attempted to just order a beer here but our waitress wasn’t about to let that happen. Our Spanish isn’t that great so we were not exactly sure what she was saying. We are pretty sure she was trying to upsell us which she did. We ended up with giant beer cocktails. We are pretty sure they were Mitcheladas- beer with clamato, hot sauce, lime and a chili salt rim around the glass. This doesn’t sound good in our option but it was suprisingly really good!
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Birrieria Alvarado: We stopped here our last morning for breakfast honestly because they were the first place we passed actually open at 9AM on a Sunday and we were ready to start our day. We aren’t 100% sure what the type of meat we ended up eating was- either sheep or goat is our best guess. We had a traditional soup with shredded meat, onion and cilantro in a spicy red broth, of course served with tortillas. And we had a few tacos with either goat or sheep (again not 100% sure what we ended up getting). The soup and the tacos were both really good. Honestly it seems you can’t really go wrong for food in this city. Everywhere we stopped was great.
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La Bartola: We stopped here for a small dinner/late lunch and a drink after more walking around the city. They have outdoor seating and are located on the corner of the Plazuela Miguel Auza. We ordered a gringa and two volcanes (these are similar to a tostada). Again really good food and great spot to sit and people watch as you eat and drink.
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Churro Place: Every time we walked down the Juan de Toloso road we smelled churros frying. We weren’t able to find it on the map now that we are back, but trust us, you will smell them! These were probably some of the best churros we have had!
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This just might be our favorite city we have visited in Mexico! We highly recommend this as a weekend trip or part of any larger trip through Mexico!
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-TFWYs

Maui Adventure: Hike, Snorkel, Beach and Eats on Maui

Maui is a great destination with tons to see and do! Of course everyone reads about the road to Hana which is absolutely amazing and you definitely need to do that as part of your trip! We have a full post on driving the road to Hana which we have a link to at the end of this post! Here we will tell you where else on Maui to explore during your trip! We explored the island via camper van. We spent our nights at camp grounds and used the van as transportation to make sure we could see as much of the island as possible on this pretty short trip. We had about four and a half days to explore. Here’s our list of what to see and do on Maui outside the road to Hana.
Lava fields at Perouse Bay/Hoapili Trail: Our first full day it was a little rainy in the morning so we decided to drive out to the lava fields and hike. We were one of the only people on the trail that morning. It was really nice to have the place pretty much to ourselves. You are walking on a pretty rocky/uneven path but it is an overall easy hike. You will get great views of the ocean as you walk. As you walk farther you will see large rock cliffs that drop straight into the ocean. We also came across a few small tidal pools among the rocks. We even found one large and deep enough to swim in. We would recommend wearing you swim suit under whatever you are hiking in so that you can easily go for a swim if you would like. Do watch out for sea urchins if you are swimming over here, they are very sharp so you don’t want to step on one!

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Lava Fields Kings Trail: On your way to hike the lava fields you will pass this beach. We stopped here after our morning hike to do some snorkeling. It doesn’t look like much when you walk down to the beach but just offshore you will see amazing coral and lots of fish! Literally as soon as we put our faces in the water we were surrounded by fish here! We also saw a sea turtle and an octopus while we were here.

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Big beach and little beach at Makena Park: These are both white sand beaches and both are beautiful. Little beach is a clothing optional beach so do be aware of that if you are walking over there. It is just a short walk in-between the beaches. There is also a small path that follows the coast past little beach. The path is along lava stone on the coast, it is a pretty walk but we would recommend the lava fields to get your lava experience over this path.

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Hookipa beach: This beach is another white sand beach. It’s a good surfing spot and is right before the start of the road to Hana. There are bathrooms here, showers to rinse off at and picnic tables. We spend a little while here our last afternoon on the island. This beach has a great mix of locals and tourists.

Papalaua State Wayside Park and Ukumehame Beach Park: We stayed at camp Olowalu our first two nights. As you drive along the Honoapiilani highway from Kihei towards Lahaina (or towards camp Olowalu) there are these narrow beaches running just off the road. It is easy to pull off, park your car along the beach and relax during the daytime hours. We also heard this is a great spot for long boarding. These beaches are also great spots to watch the sunset! Camping at Papalaua State Wayside Park is also an option, if you’d like. Check our our Maui by Camper Van post for more information on camping throughout Maui- Maui by Camper Van

 

Papawai Point: This look out is a really great spot for sunset and for whale watching in the winter. Again this is along the Honoapiilani highway as you drive from Kihei towards Lahaina. We watched the sunset here our last night on the island. It is a popular spot (for good reason) so do be aware that the parking lot will likely be full.

 

 

Snorkel tour with Pacific Whale Foundation on Ocean Explorer: We chose to do a smaller tour group that offered more snorkeling spots than some of their other, larger tours. Our group was only about 15 people total which was really nice. It made getting on/off the boat much better than having to wait for everyone in a larger group. The tour starts at 6:30 am. You meet up at the Pacific Whale Foundation where you sign in and they provide you with breakfast as you watch the sunrise over the marina. At 7:30 am you will head down to the boat. You are on the boat a total of about 6 hours. We stopped at five different snorkeling spots on our tour. You get a small snack provided about half way through the tour. You also get lunch on the boat once you are done with your final snorkel. The tour ends back at the marina at 1:30pm. They have water and other beverages available at any time during the tour. You are welcome to get off the boat at each stop or sit on the boat and relax if you want to skip one or more of the snorkels. We had a captain driving the boat and two lifeguards/marine life specialists with us on our tour. Each snorkel one of the life guards would come into the water with us to make sure everyone was okay. They would also help point things out for us in the water. We snorkeled in the “turtle town” area where we saw tons of turtles! We then did another reef off the coast where we saw more turtles and a small eel. From there we did a drift  snorkel (the boat stopped, let us off the circled nearby while we snorkeled since it was too deep to anchor) to see a small place crash and all the fish that are living in the wreckage.  Then we headed to the back side of Molokini Crater (another drift snorkel) where we saw a seal and then snorkeled along the wall there before finishing our tour inside Molokini Crater snorkeling the reef. We would highly recommend this tour! We had a great time on this tour. The Pacific Whale Foundation does a lot of great research and advocacy for the environment/ocean. Part of the money you spend on your tour is going directly to the foundation to allow them to keep doing the good work that they do. The link below will take you to the snorkel tour that we did on their website. From there you can check out the other tours and activities that The Pacific Whale Foundation offers.

https://www.pacificwhale.org/cruises/maui-snorkel/molokini-wild-side-eco-adventure/

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Food:

We are foodies and typically food is a huge part of travel for us. But this trip was shorter and we were camping and moving around the island quite a bit. Food was not our top priority here. We ate a lot of snacks in the camper van and stopped along the way for more full meals as needed. Here are a few of our recommendations for where to eat on Maui:

Paia Fish Market: This place has great fish burgers! Also make sure to try some Maui Brewing Company beer while your here! This was our first stop after we picked up our Camper Van! The portions are huge and the prices were fairly standard, definitely not an expensive meal but very good!

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Da Kitchen in Kahului or Kihei: This restaurant is BYOB. It has great kalua pork! The portions are huge! We both ordered an entrée for dinner and could have easily just split one meal.

 

Star Noodle in Lahaina: This place was one of our favorite restaurants we stopped at. They have really good food! We planned to eat in for dinner however when we arrived at 6-6:30ish there was an hour wait for a table. We ended up ordering take out which  only took about 15-20 minutes to prepare. We took our food back to our campground and enjoyed it there instead. Moral of the story, make reservations if you plan to eat dinner here and avoid the long wait time.

Jawz Taco Truck at Makena Park: This is a great option for a quick lunch on the go as you explore the island. We headed to Makena park after hiking the lava fields our first day. The trunk arrived to the park about 12:30 pm. We had pork and fish tacos here and both were really good but we preferred the pork.

For Food recommendations and recommended stops along the road to Hana check out our full Road to Hana post here: Road to Hana Camper Van Adventure

There is definitely more to Maui then we listed here. Another big thing to do is head to the top of Haleakala for the sunrise. We heard very mixed reviews on this so we decided to skip it on this trip. We have read that sunset on the top of Haleakala can also be really great and can be less crowded. If we had one more full day we would have added one of these two options to our itinerary. But now we saved something for the next time we are in Maui!

 

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-TFWYs

Maui by Camper Van

Last year for the first time ever we decided to do what we called a mystery trip! What that meant for us was that we got time off work approved and then waited for a cheap flight deal to determine where we were going to go. We ended up finding a really great deal to Hawaii through Scott’s Cheap Flights. We did a little research and decided on Maui! After we booked our flights we started looking for an Airbnb or boutique hotels which is what we typically do when we travel. Turns out most of the Airbnbs on Maui are not cheap! So our cheap trip was becoming more expensive. We started looking into other options and quickly came upon several camper van companies. There are a few companies you can book through on Maui, we decided to go with North Shore Vans (https://www.northshorevans.com) and we would highly recommend them! The owner (Chris) was great and super helpful!. He picked us up from the airport and dropped us back off at the airport after we returned the van.
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Here’s our van named Tall Boy!
The van is your lodging and your transportation for your trip all in one which makes seeing all of Maui really easy. We found the van to work out really well for us, it allowed us the freedom to explore the island without having to make sure we got back to one spot each night.
You will see vans pulled off to the side of the road on small beaches and other locations all over the island. Legally you are not supposed to do this, you need to book a spot at a campground with your van each night. This was a shorter trip for us, we only had about four and half days on the island so we picked a couple different campgrounds to really make sure we could see as much of the island as possible.
This is where we stayed:
Camp Olowalu: Start Here
This place can fill up fast so it is recommended that you make reservations ahead of time. We spent our first two nights here. This was definitely the nicest campground we stayed at. They have hot showers and nice bathrooms. There is also a small black sand beach on the property. Tent camping and van parking spots are available, as well as tentalows and cabins if you want to do some glamping. There are chickens all over this property, they are not shy and will walk right up to your tent or van! They did not bother us at all and would typically quickly run away if we got too close to them. There is also a large group of stray cats on this property if you walk along the path near the beach. The cost for a night here is $20 per person. We also headed back here our last evening before taking a late flight home since the last campground we stayed at didn’t have showers. To stop in here and just use their hot showers the cost is $10 a person. This campground is about 15-20 minutes from the airport which makes it a great place you start your trip. It is also a good central location if you want to go up to Lahaina or over to Kihei/Makena/lava fields!
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Camp Kaenae/YMCA: Awesome views, but bring bug spray!
Reservations are recommended here as well as it will make checking in easier, but it was almost empty while we were there. This campsite is just about to the halfway point on the road to Hana. You likely won’t have cell phone reception here so making sure you already have your spot reserved is very helpful. The cost here is $30 a person – which is honestly a more than it’s worth. They do have hot showers and bathrooms. There are spots for van camping and tent camping here. The night we were here it was very buggy which we were not prepared for. If you can handle the mosquitos, the view out to the ocean here is amazing! One final word of caution – make sure you bring food to cook on the grill/stove. We had planned to stop at a BBQ food stall on the way but that place was closed and there were no other options close by.  You are in the middle of the Road to Hana and there was literally nowhere to eat. We ended up eating pretzels and trail mix for dinner.  Also the night we were here there was only 2 other vans so for the most part we had the place to ourselves.
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Kipahulu- Haleakala National Park: This is about 10 miles past Hana. This park is where the seven sacred pools are located. The campground here has no showers, it does have vault toilets. Van and tent camping are allowed here. They do not take reservations ahead of time, but they had a lot of campsites. We arrived late in the afternoon and had no trouble finding a spot to park. It will cost $25 per vehicle to enter the park. Your park pass is valid for three days and also allows you to drive up the Haleakala volcano and even stay at the Hosmer Grove Campground within the three days. There is no additional fee for camping. The van parking spots are very close to the water. If you are tent camping you can camp even closer to the water if you like. We walked along a small path in the morning to find a quiet place to do our yoga and we passed several small tents in small openings along the path/trail with great views of the water.
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Here is a list of other campgrounds on Maui that you can legally park your van for camping:
Wainapanapa State Park
Papalaua campground
Hosmer Grove -Haleakala National Park (uses the same pass as the Kipahulu campground!)
Check out North Shore Vans Website for more information on each of these locations and links to each campsite where reservations are needed- https://www.northshorevans.com/campgrounds
Other Logistics:
We were recommended to grocery shop Mana foods in Paia which is actually a small, health food store. They have fairly good prices however they didn’t have everything we were looking for, so we ended up having to go somewhere else to get a few other random items. There is a Costco and several other big name stores near the airport. We went to Walmart since it was the first one we passed after leaving Mana foods. If you are looking for any toiletries, sunscreen, or alcohol Mana foods won’t have these items for you.
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Also something we didn’t consider is that all of these campgrounds do have grills so you can cook food. The van also had a small gas camping stove for cooking. The van does have a cooler for keeping food cold. The cooler is sitting in the hot van all day while you are out exploring so we did find we had to refill it with ice almost every day. We relied on snacks and stopping for food along the way each day since we were on a shorter trip. Camp Olowalu is within 15 minutes of several small towns so you can definitely eat at restaurants when staying here. The other places we stayed were along the road to Hana where food options are very sparse. There are restaurants in Hana, so we got take out when we were there the next afternoon and kept that in the cooler for dinner the night we stayed at Kipahulu-Haleakala National Park.
The back of the van had a bed, storage for all of our stuff and a sink. Simple dishes and silverware were provided as well as a map of the island with points of interest to help us make the most of our trip. There were also curtains to cover the windows at night when we wanted to relax in the van. There were also lights and a power inverter to charge phones/ipads, etc.
We found the camper van to be a really nice way to see the island. We would highly recommend this to anyone looking to travel cheaply! You always hear that Hawaii is not a cheap place to travel but trust us when we say this is the way to do it! It isn’t your typical Hawaiian vacation but we loved every minute of it! We haven’t visited any of the other islands yet but there are camper van rental companies on the other islands as well and we are looking forward to exploring those islands in this way as well!
For more on the Road to Hana check out our post here: Road to Hana Camper Van Adventure
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-TFWYs

 

Road to Hana Camper-Van Adventure

The Road to Hana is a must do for any trip to Maui. A lot of people do the road to Hana in one day which you can certainly do. If you have more time to spend in this area there is definitely a lot to see and do! We wanted to make sure we had time for as many stops as we wanted so we took more time on this side of the island during our trip. Places to stay are limited along the road to Hana, there are a few very small hotels in the town of Hana its self but that is really all we saw. We rented a camper van for our trip which worked out very well since there are a few places to sleep along the way. We stayed one night at Camp Kaenae YMCA which is just short of halfway to Hana. We then drove the rest of the road the following day and spent one night at the Kipahulu Distric of Haleakala National Park which is past Hana (this is the park where the 7 sacred pools are located). You could also tent camp at these locations if you have camping equipment available to you. We found the camper van to be perfect since it served as our transportation and our lodging. We didn’t have to worry about setting up and taking down a tent. We could simply get up and drive off to keep exploring. We rented our van through North Shore Vans and would highly recommend them.

We have broken this post up into our “must do” stops and then at the end are some extra stops worth including if you have more time. Most of the best stops are towards the second half of the road to Hana. We actually started the road the Hana drive around 2pm since we knew we were staying at about the halfway point. The second day we had a full day to explore, and we were already pretty close to everything we really wanted to see. This worked out very well and we found we were in much less traffic since most people start early in the day at the beginning and only dedicate one day to this trip.

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Must dos:

Keanae Peninsula mile marker 16-17-  Take the turn off down to this peninsula and the little town. The views of the ocean are amazing! The town was struck by a tsunami in 1946 which destroyed everything except the church. You can still see this traditional stone church when you visit. Also while you are here we would recommend stopping at Auntie Sandy’s for some banana bread still warm from the oven!

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Tree Bears falls mile marker 19.5- This waterfall is absolutely beautiful. When the rain has been heavier and more water is rushing over the falls it appears as one waterfall. When it hasn’t been as rainy the falls are separated into three which is where the name three bears falls comes from. If you are a little bit adventurous you can wander down under the bridge and get right up close to the falls. There is not really a path, you will be walking on rocks, it can be a bit muddy but overall it isn’t too challenging. We both walked down here and there was one other couple walking around on the rocks while we were there.

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Nahiku mile marker 25- Follow the turn off down the small, windy road to the very small town of Nahiku. There isn’t much “in town” but once you are there you can park and walk down to the shore. You will get beautiful views of the ocean with large black lava rocks and huge waves crashing up on the rocks. From the main look out point to the ocean you can follow the small path on the left side (if looking at the ocean) down to a small tidal pool that is protected from the waves. It is a bit rocky so we didn’t swim here but were told by a few locals it is a good place to go for a swim.

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Black Sand Beach at Waiapanapa State Park mile marker 32- This is definitely a more popular stop so be prepared for more people. It is for good reason that everyone is stopping here! You should definitely walk to the beach and go for a swim, from there we highly recommend walking to the left (if you are looking at the ocean) and hiking along the black lava rocks. Here you will get great views and the further you walk you will get away from the crowds and have the path to yourself. Our favorite picture from our whole trip was taken along this path!

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Kaihalulu red sand beach in Hana mile marker 34- We had heard that the path to this beach can be dangerous. We even read a few blog posts that said they didn’t visit this beach because of the dangerous path. We found the path to be completely fine but that being said if it was really rainy we could see how it could be pretty sketchy. There is a fairly steep drop off down the ocean from the path and the pebble ground is likely slippery after/during a lot of rain. The walk to the beach is fairly short. The beach is beautiful once you arrive. There are several large rocks blocking the larger wave making this a nice place to swim. We have heard that this is a clothing optional beach so if that is something that bothers you do be aware of that. Parking is also pretty restricted, but it was a Sunday when we were there and parked at the preschool near the Thai food truck and walked from there (also, grab some Thai while you’re at it!)

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Kipahulu Distric of Haleakala National Park mile marker 42:

Seven Sacred pools- We actually enjoyed the Venus pools (which are on our list of additional stops) better than these pools however if you are only dedicating one day to this than the day goes quickly so you’ll have to make some tough decisions on where to stop and what to skip. This park has the best hike on Maui (in our opinion) so overall the park is a must do! The seven sacred pools were open for swimming when we visited however in the past they have closed at times so do be aware of that. The pools are beautiful and worth seeing. They are freshwater, if you are camping in the park there are not showers so a dip in these pools is a nice way to rinse the salt water off if you have been exploring and swimming all day.

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PipiWai Trail-  This was over favorite hike on Maui! It is a 4 mile hike through bamboo forest and up to Waimoka falls which is a 400ft waterfall. The trail is easy to follow but it is uphill most of the way. As you get closer to the end where Waimoka falls is the trail can get a bit wet and muddy. Definitely wear your hiking shoes/boots for this hike. If are giving yourself more than one day on the road to Hana we would recommend getting to this trail early. We started our hike around 7:30-8AM and we didn’t see anyone else until we were on the second half of the hike back after seeing the falls.

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Additional stops worth making if you have time: 

It is worth saying that some of these stops are also really cool and we loved them! Just because they are on this part of our list shouldn’t deter you from stopping. But if you are doing this trip in one day and trying to make it back before dark then your time really will go quickly!

Venus pools mile marker 48- This was one of our favorite stops! if you have time for one of the additional stops we have listed this would be the one we suggest! The Venus pools are a short walk from the road. Finding a parking spot along the road can be challenging, and mind the sings as some people had tickets on their windshields. There are giant rocks surrounding the major pool where you will see people jumping/diving into the water from various heights. If you aren’t brave enough for that you can easily get into the water without jumping/diving. Just beware that it is a bit tricky to get out of. The pool is quite large with lush jungle on the far side giving it a perfect Hawaii feel!

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Twin falls mile marker 2- these falls are smaller than some of the others we stopped at. But they are still beautiful and you can swim in them. There are two separate waterfalls here. you will see a fairly large parking lot at this stop with a fruit stand. From there you follow the path along to the falls. Both waterfalls are just a short walk from the parking lot.

Waikamoi Ridge Trail mile marker 9.5- This trail is 1.1 miles. It is near the beginning of the road to Hana. It is a nice trail and if you really want to get out and explore it is a good option for a short hike but we don’t feel it is a “must do”.

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Hanamanu Bay mile marker 14- This is a smaller black sand beach than the park we listed above.  We have heard there is a narrow road you can turn off on if you want to actually get down to the beach but we did not do that this trip. You will get amazing views of the beach along the drive and there is a look out point on the drive back from Hana so you can stop and get a great picture of this beautiful bay!

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Keanae Arboretum mile marker 16- This place is where you can walk right up and see a patch of rainbow bamboo trees. These trees are beautiful to see up close. The arboretum is also full of other beautiful plats and flowers. It is a fairly short walk through the main part of the arboretum so this stop won’t take you too long. It would be easy to add on if you have extra time.

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Pua’a Ka’a State Wayside mile marker 22- This stop is a pretty popular one so be prepared for it to be more crowded. There are bathrooms here so it’s a good place to stop. There is also a small waterfall you can swim in here.

Wailua Falls mile marker 45- Another beautiful waterfall. You can get views of it from the car as you drive by. If you have extra time you can park nearby and explore for even better views.

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There are a few good look out spots along the way with views of the ocean and the volcano, if you have the GyPSy Guide app for Hana which we recommend (more details on that at the end of this post) the audio guide will point out these spots for you.

Food Recommendations:

If you are camping along the way do take into consideration that there aren’t a ton of places to stop for food/groceries. We recommend packing snacks and stopping for food when you pass an opportunity! There is a small grocery/convivence store in Hana to stock up on things as needed but don’t expect them to have everything a larger grocery store would have.

Ka Haku Smoke shack mile marker 10.2- This place does close fairly early in the afternoon so do be aware of that. The first day when we drove by at about 3-4pm it was closed. We stopped here on our way back from Hana closer to 11:30-noon and it was open. The chicken and ribs are both really good! This is a simple place, just a parking lot with some picnic tables and two guys working the grill. Doesn’t look like much but it is worth a stop!

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Halfway to Hana Stand mile marker 17- This small stand has coffee, water, juice, snacks and great banana bread! This was our breakfast after staying at the YMCA.

Nahiku Marketplace/food trucks mile marker 29- There are multiple options for food here, we arrived around 11 AM when everything was just opening up. We had some great BBQ. There is also a small gift shop here if you would like to pick something up to take home with you. If you can plan to be here later in the afternoon then all the options would be open for you.

Thai food by Pranee in Hana mile marker 34- This place is amazing! It is right in Hana. We got food to go from here for dinner the night we were camping in the Kipahulu Distric of Haleakala National Park. We would highly recommend eating here!

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A few other random tips:

Bring bug spray!

Bring snacks because as we said, depending on what time of day you drive by these places food stands and shops may or may not be open.

Be aware that you will lose cell phone service shortly into the drive so download any maps or information you think you may need before you start the drive.

One last recommendation we have is to download the GyPSy Guide app for Hana. It costs $5-6 but is totally worth it. Open the app and once you start driving the guide will begin talking. You will get some history and general information about the area as you drive. The guide will also point out each stop for you with a bit of information to help you decide if you want to stop or not. All the stops along the road are not super well marked so it would be very easy to miss things without the guide telling you when to stop.  Also of note, we have listed the closest mile marker for each stop but some of these stops are not right at the mile marker. You will have to keep your eyes open for where each stop is truly located.

 

Take your time and enjoy the drive!
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– TFWY’s

Galicia and Rias Baixas

Galicia is the far northwest corner of Spain, above Portugal. It is full of small fishing villages, rugged and beautiful coastlines and not a lot of tourists. This part of Spain is also home to the Rias Baixas wine region where the Albarino grape is grown. Galicia is quite large, you could easily spend a week or two exploring this area. There are lots of great options for where to base yourself. We decided on Pontevedra as a home base since it is near the coast and fairly centrally located. The one complaint we had was the tolls around Pontevedra are pretty brutal. We have also heard great things about A Coruna which is in the northern corner of Galicia although we didn’t make it there.

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Pontevedra is a very nice little town situated along the river. We stayed right in the center of town in a lovely apartment we found on Air B and B. It was pretty overcast every day we were here and we did have one very rainy day but don’t let that deter you, the city is still beautiful! It is full of cobblestone streets and a lot of old architecture. We spent most of our time in the old part of the city just wandering around. There is no driving in the old part of the town, so you have to park then walk in. There was free parking available here:

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We would recommend these two restaurants in Pontevedra specifically:

King Omar Doner Kebab: This place is super small, they have take out or you can eat there. The kebabs are absolutely amazing! By this point in our trip we were looking for different types of food and we just wanted a quick and inexpensive dinner. This place was perfect!

IceWolf: This restaurant has international food. They have dishes from all over the world prepared with fresh ingredients from the area. We really enjoyed the scallops and the pad thai.

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The rest of our time here we ate mostly pintxos or grocery shopped and cooked in our Air B and B apartment but there are plenty of other great restaurants in the city.

We had read about and really wanted to go to the Cies Islands off the coast. There are two companies that run ferries to and from the islands. You do need to get authorization to visit the islands. They only let so many people visit each day. The dates that we were in Galicia at the end of September they were not allowing visitors so we were unable to go. If you do get a chance these islands look amazing! To obtain authorization, you need to visit this website.

Since we couldn’t visit the islands we decided to drive to the peninsula just south of Pontevedra and see what we could find. It looked like there were several beaches there so we just went for it. We ended up spending most of the afternoon out there. We happened to find a few look out points with great views of the islands called Faro de Punta Robaleira. We then kept driving and found a hiking trail. We followed that down and found a lighthouse as well as a few small, secluded beaches. We got great views of the islands and the coastline from up by the lighthouse.  From there we drove to Praia de Vino. This was one of three beaches all in a row, separated by large boulders along the coast. Every beach in this area that we stopped at we either had it to ourselves or there were only a couple other people there. Be aware, nudism seemed to be common on these beaches. If that offends you, you may want to go to the first of the three beaches (Praia de Nerga) which is closer to the town. We would recommend packing a lunch and planning to give yourself plenty of time to explore if you do head to this area!

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The next day was pretty rainy. We decided to drive to Isla de Arosa, which is connected to the mainland by a bridge. There is a park on the south side of the island with hiking trails that follow the coast. As you walk you will come upon lots of small, secluded beaches. It was extremely rainy and windy while we were there but the hike was still beautiful. On a Sunny day this would be a great place to hang out on one of the beaches. After our hike we drove around the island and found a little café to stop in for lunch. We ended up having some of the best octopus we had during our entire Spain trip in this small restaurant. We also had razor clams which were delicious.

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While we were in Galicia we of course had to do some wine tasting. We have done a lot of wine tours in the past so we stuck with just two wineries this time. We chose to do the tour and tasting at Pazo Senorans. They have a traditional manor house on the property which they host weddings and other events at. We got a full tour of the house and the surrounding grounds before heading into the winery for our tasting. We really enjoyed this tour, the house is beautiful and full of history. We learned a lot about Galician traditions that we wouldn’t have learned at a more standard winery tour. We tasted their standard albarino and an aged albarino wine. They do not blend their wines with any other grapes or age their wine on oak. They focus on showing off what the albarino grape can be on it’s own using different methods during the wine making process.

We also learned here that most wineries in Galicia also make a distilled spirit called Orujo. This is distilled from the wine pomace (fermented grape skins and seeds). At Pazo Senorans we got to taste the standard spirit and one that is flavored with a blend of herbs and spices. We really enjoyed both. This is something that is unique to Galicia and definitely worth a try while you are here.

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The second winery we visited was Mar de Frades. This winery is close to the sea. You can actually see the ocean from their vineyards. Here we did your standard vineyard and winery tour which ended with a tasting. The thing that was different here was that we got to try the juice of the grapes since they had just recently finished the harvest. We also got to taste the juice about halfway through fermentation to see how it changed. We ended with a tasting out on the patio next to the vineyard. Here we tasted their standard albarino, an oaked albarino and a sparkling albarino. Our tasting was accompanied by a light snack of sardines and crackers to pair with the wine. We also were given extra wine and then given time to finish our snack and our wine out on the patio.

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Galicia has so much to offer! We only saw a small portion of it but that just gives us an excuse to go back and explore some more!

-TFWYs

 

 

 

3 Days on the Camino del Norte

We decided to do a few days on the Camino del Norte path as part of a larger northern Spain road trip. We didn’t have enough time this trip to allocate to the entire Camino, which takes about a month. We chose the del Norte path since we were already planning to travel along the northern coast and this path follows right along where we had already planned to go. We really like the ocean and so we chose a few days on the trial which follow the sea fairly closely. There are also parts of this trail that are more inland. The days on the Camino del Norte are broken up in 12-18 mile days or 20-30 km on average. We planned on doing 4 days but ended up only doing 3. Mainly because we packed way too much and after 3 days of carrying our heavy packs we were ready for a change of pace.  Here are our recommendations if you are planning on doing all or part of the path and some lessons we learned.

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  1. Pack light, you need way less than you think you do. People always say that but it is so, so true. We knew we were packing pretty heavy but we hadn’t ever done something like this and just weren’t sure what our weight limit would be. We had 65 L packs and while they weren’t completely full of stuff they were much too heavy. What feels okay when you briefly put your pack on at home and walk around will start feeling very heavy after a few miles of walking. Most people we saw had under 40 L packs.
  2. Bring snacks- lots of snacks. Siesta is no joke. If you walk all day and arrive at your destination late afternoon/evening you may not be able to find a meal for several hours. While restaurants may be open, often the kitchen won’t be open for dinner until 8 or 9pm. There may be a grocery store in the town you are staying at but sometimes they close for siesta as well. We would recommend carrying some type of snack with you each day. If you don’t have anything when you start the day we would recommend stopping when you do pass a town with a restaurant or store that is open in the afternoon. Even if you aren’t hungry right then or even if you want to just push through and finish your day we would recommend grabbing at least a small snack to tide you over until dinner time.

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  1. Take a break during the day and take your boots off! The first few days we took a few short breaks but were worried that if we took our boots off we wouldn’t want to put them back on, or it would somehow feel worse putting them back on after a break. The third day we walked we came to a large beach during the second half of our day and decided to take a bit of a longer break to sit on the beach. We took the advice of a fellow pilgrim we had talked to and took our boots off. Our feet felt so much better the rest of the walk that day having had that break out of the boots. We saw lots of people who were doing the entire Camino who had hiking boots or shoes and more of a hiking sandal that was open toed. We didn’t have that option since we only did a few days but it definitely seems like a good idea if you are going to be walking for many days in a row.
  2. Bring clothes that dry quickly. Your clothes don’t have a ton of time to dry if you are washing them when you are done walking for the day and then you head out to start walking again in the morning. Even if it isn’t raining it may be humid or cloudy which won’t help things dry. Many of the albergues along the way don’t have laundry so you will be hand washing, ringing your clothes out and then hanging them outside.

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  1. Hiking poles are SUPER helpful. This path follows the coast and has a lot of hills. Hiking poles are very helpful at taking some of the weight off your feet and giving you more stamina to get up all those hills.
  2. Take time to talk with other pilgrims on the trail or people you meet along the way. Some of our best memories from this trip are thinking back on the people we met and talked to. Even though it may have been a brief conversation over lunch it’s just nice to be with other travelers and people of like minds.

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  1. Don’t be afraid to take a detour off the path. We took a few detours during our days on the Camino, all of which were to see some of the great beaches we had read about prior to our trip. Detours will make your day of walking longer but they can be worth it! There are footpaths along the coast that are easy to follow. These trails meet back up with the official Camino trail at some point so you can get back on track
  2. Know that there are buses that travel throughout the trail as well as train stops along the way. This is good to know in case you need/want to skip a day of walking or if you need an out like we did. We are not the type of people to say we are going to do something and then not do it to the fullest. We planned to do 4 days of walking but after 3 we just needed to stop. We will need to try the camino again some day, with much, much less stuff in our packs! Know that it is okay to be honest with yourself and that doing what you need is okay.

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  1. Do train ahead of time. We did not do much training and definitely didn’t do any training with our packs. We are fairly active people and we figured since we only planned on walking a few days on the Camino we would be okay. We are pretty busy at home, especially in the summer and we took this trip in September. So getting out for longer walks consistently just didn’t happen. We learned the hard way that being active and in shape is different than being prepared to walk all day with a heavy backpack on.
  2. Slow down your travel! This is probably the most important tip or lesson for us. This is actually a big part of what drew us to include a few days of walking the Camino in our trip. We tend to cram a lot into our trips because we want to see and do so much. We only have so much time in a given place and we don’t want to waste it. Walking forces you to slow down since there is literally nothing else to do except walk and take in your surroundings. You are walking to pretty small towns each day so when you reach your destination each evening there isn’t a list of things you must see and do in that town. The thing to do is to relax and take in the feel of the place you are in, to just enjoy it. We put our few days of walking towards the beginning of our trip to help get us into the slower pace and we do feel like it helped. The rest of our trip we did see and do a lot but we also took time to just be in whatever city or town we were in.

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  1. You will learn more about yourself and what is important to you. Another thing you hear a lot with the Camino but it is true! You have nothing but time when you are walking. Time to think, to dream, to plan, time to be with yourself or in our case with each other. We could tell how much this trip really changed us when we got home. We purged our entire house of things we didn’t need. We downsized our hobbies and other things in our life to allow us to focus on the things that are most important to us. Travel should challenge you and change you, on both of those fronts the camino certainly delivers!

If you chose to do the entire Camino or just a few days like we did hopefully these tips/lessons will help you. We would love to go back and try it again, packing much lighter so we can make it more than 3 days! Even though we didn’t do as well with the Camino as we had hoped it was still a good experience for us.

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Buen Camino to anyone heading out!

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-TFWYs

Visiting Haro: Rioja’s Wine Capital

We clearly love wine so of course our northern Spain trip would have to include a stop in Rioja to do some wine tasting. We based ourselves in Haro since it is surrounded by many of the wineries.
We have done many wine and winery tours so this time we were looking for something different. We only booked one tour ahead of time; Bodegas Conde de los Andes. We chose this winery because the tour went through their wine caves. The rest of our time we planned to just find one or two more wineries where we could just taste or have a glass of wine and relax.
The tour at Bodegas Conde de los Andes was very different than most wine tours we have been on. Typically you go through the vineyard and the winery and are educated on the wine making process, then you end with your tasting. At Bodegas Conde de los Andes you immediately go down into their wine caves and actually spend most of your tour in the caves. You are given education about the history of the caves and the wine in them as well as some education about their more modern day wines. We were super excited that about half way through the tour we stopped at a beautiful cave and actually got to taste a bottle of their 2005 vintage that had been aging. Our small group was just us and one other couple along with our guide. The five of use shared this entire bottle and then the tour continued through the caves. We thought that was the tasting and we were really happy with the wine. But then the tour continued on through the caves and concluded in the modern part of their winery with a tasting of two newer bottles. This tasting was accompanied by snacks  (almonds, iberico ham, chocolate) to pair with the wines. Our guide explained a little about each wine we were tasting and then gave us time to enjoy the wine and the food on our own. We would highly recommend this tour to winos or anyone else visiting the area. The caves are a bit chilly so we would recommend bringing a light jacket or sweatshirt with you. If you don’t have a jacket or sweater the staff will offer you a vest to help you stay warm in the caves. There are some narrow hallways were only one person can walk through at a time but other than that none of the caves are super small or claustrophobic.

 

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We also stopped at Bodegas Muga which has a modern tasting room where you can taste their wines without having to do an entire tour. The tasting room was full of tourists from all over while we were there. Here they had a set flight so you tasted four of their reds and your fifth wine you could chose from two of their roses or a white. We really enjoyed all of the wines we tasted here.  Our last stop was CVNE, here we chose to taste two different reds which again we really enjoyed both.  They have multiple tasting options if you wanted to taste more than we did. For a quick lunch near the wineries we would recommend Asador Cerveceria Tirondoa. This place is nothing fancy but they had great fried chicken!
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Haro is a small city that is very walkable. There is a central square where you will find lots of places to sit and enjoy a glass of wine and a tapa or small snack. There are also several wine shops in the city where you can find a great variety of Spanish wines. Our last night in the city we had dinner at Restaurante Arrope and would highly recommend it.

 

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There are plenty of other wineries in Rioja to explore as well. We spent our time in Haro but have heard that Logrono is also a great place to base yourself for exploring Rioa. Either way you are sure to have some really wonderful wines!

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-TFWYs

Visiting San Juan de Gatzelugatxe

San Juan de Gatzelugatxe for anyone who doesn’t know, is an island off of Spain’s northern coast. It’s in Basque country near Bilbao and San Sebastian. The island is connected to the mainland by a manmade bridge. On top of the island is a small church dedicated to John the Baptist.

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When we first saw pictures of San Juan de Gatzelugatxe we knew we had to visit while we were in Northern Spain! The place just looks incredible.  We later learned this place was also featured on Game of Thrones so it recently has been getting more tourists for that reason. We didn’t watch the show but we can certainly say that this place is beautiful! As long as you are up for a hike it is definitely worth a visit! We visited as a day trip from San Sebastian which was very doable. It was a little over an hour drive from the city. It is much closer to Bilbao so if you are planning to visit both of those cities it would be easier to get to San Juan de Gatzelugatxe from Bilbao.

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A more recent change to this place is that you now need a ticket to enter. The tickets were free of cost when we visited. You can book online ahead of time and then just scan your pass to enter. If you don’t book ahead of time you can get your tickets when you arrive but there will likely be a line you need to wait in to register for your tickets. We arrived just before 10 AM and then line was pretty small but having booked online we got to skip right through. Online it says this place opens to visitors at 10AM however there were people already at the top when we started our walk so they had to have let people in early. We would highly recommend getting there right when it opens so that you can be there before the crowds. Get your tickets here: http://web.bizkaia.eus/es/gaztelugatxe

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You will get great views of the church and the island as you walk the path down from the parking area to the start of the stairs. Then the real climb begins as you walk up the 231 steps up to the church. The staircase is pretty steep for much of the climb and fairly narrow. You will pretty much be walking single file. There are handrails the entire way but we would not recommend doing this walk if you do have mobility difficulties. The steps are cobblestone and uneven at times making it a bit challenging to navigate, wear good shoes for sure! The views of the surrounding coastline as you walk up are incredible, you will want to stop for pictures along the way! Once you are at the top you can see the church and if you would like ring the bell three times and make a wish. Total time it took us to walk from the entrance all the way up to the church and back down was about an hour and a half. We did see a small café and there was an ice cream truck setting up by the parking lot when we got back to our car. We didn’t eat at the café so cannot comment on the food or pricing but know that it is an option for after you hike.

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For more recommendations on what to do in the surrounding cities of San Sebastian and Bilbo check out our other blog posts here:

San Sebastian

Bilbao

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-TFWYs

Asturias Spain

Asturias is in the central part of Spain’s northern coast. It is a less traveled area but has a lot to offer! We had initially planned to do a road trip across northern Spain. But then we were listening to a podcast about the Camino de Santiago and got inspired to look into that. In doing some research we quickly found the Camino del Norte path which happens to go along the coast just as we had already planned to do. We decided to take a few days in our trip and walk part of the Camino del Norte. We got a guide book which said the best views on the trail are in Asturias so that is where we chose to do our walk. From Bilbao we took the train to Colombres. From there it was a short 5-10 minute walk to La Franca. This is where we started our time in Asturias and from there we headed to Llanes, Nueva, La Isla, Villaviscosa, Gijon and Cudillero. Asturias is a beautiful area full of some awesome beaches and cute little towns, whether you are on the Camino del Norte or just travelling through the area by car or bus we would recommend stopping into some of these towns.

La Franca: This is a very, very small town. Not a ton to do here but if you are on the Camino it is a nice place to stop. There is a pilgrim restaurant with an open kitchen all day long. You don’t need to be a pilgrim on the Camino to eat here,  the big difference with this restaurant is that the kitchen doesn’t close for a long siesta. If you arrive late afternoon/evening you can get a meal without waiting until 8 or 9pm when most restaurants in the area open their kitchen. We ate at this restaurant for dinner. We ordered the menu de la noche and were surprised when they brought out two of the biggest steaks we have ever been served. The steak was a Austrias traditional dish called Cachopo. This dish consists of two thin steaks with ham and cheese in the center, covered with bread crumbs and fried up. It was delicious! You will see mostly locals in this town. We didn’t see any other tourists or pilgrims while we were here. We stayed at a traditional cidery which had rooms above; Sidreria La Casa Abajo. The rooms are nothing fancy but they were clean and if you are passing through for a day or two we felt it was a good option. The cider here was actually one of our favorites we had during our time in Asturias. The cidery did have a restaurant but the kitchen didn’t open until 9pm and we were starving when we arrived so we couldn’t wait. We did of course have a few glasses of cider there after dinner and the food looked really good. Cider is big in Asturias, you will see apple trees growing everywhere and every little town will have at least one sidreria/cidery. When you order cider in Asturias you just get a bottle or a glass of whatever they have, you don’t have a list of ciders as you would at a brewery or cidery in the U.S. A bottle is very cheap so if two of you are sharing it is definitely worth ordering a bottle, maybe even a second!

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Llanes: We stayed at a pilgrim albergue called Albergue La Casona del Peregrino. We had a private room with our own bathroom. There were also shared rooms for very cheap. We booked online ahead of time and didn’t have to show proof that we were on the Camino but definitely all the other people staying here were pilgrims doing the Camino. Llanes is a much bigger town than La Franca. There is more of a tourist, beachside town feel to it. There are plenty of shops and small cafés and restaurants. There is also a small beach in town and a port where you can walk along the waterfront. This would be a great town to base yourself in for a couple days. The town just has a great vibe! It is full of prilgrims, locals and other tourists from all over just there to enjoy a beach vacation.

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Nueva: Again a very small town. We stayed at Hotel La Casona de Nueva. There are a few options here for food but again kitchens don’t open until 8 or 9pm. You will be able to have a drink at most restaurants; they won’t fully close for siesta but limited food options until later on for dinner.

La Isla: We spent a bit more this night and stayed right on the water at Hotel Bahia. The room here was very nice and we had a great view of the beach! There is a restaurant at the hotel but it was closed for dinner the night we stayed. They did have a breakfast buffet available in the morning which had a lot of options. Food options for dinner in this town are limited. There are several small cafés along the water but several of them just offer drinks and small snacks. Again we were starving after a long day of walking so we had limited patience during our search for food. We ended up eating at the hostel that was right next to our hotel called Hostel El Furacu. They have a small bar where you can order drinks and food which they will bring out to you at outdoor tables by the water. The food was nothing special but we were starving so it did the trick! We were supposed to go on from here and walk the following day but we decided we had gotten a good feel for the Camino. We honestly packed way too much and were also tired of carrying our way to heavy backpacks all day. So we decided to take the bus the next day after relaxing on the beach here in La Isla for the afternoon. The beach here is quite long, great for a beach walk. There is also a small rocky outcropping which is an island at high tide but you can walk right now to it and climb all over the rocks at low tide. This town also doesn’t see many tourists so we were some of the only people on the beach that afternoon which was nice. From here you can take a bus onward as we did. The bus company doesn’t have a website so we actually found the bus schedule on google and used google maps to also find the bus stop. There is a stop right outside of one of the pilgrim hotels: Hotel Monte Y Mar. There is a small sign that says Bus. That is your only indication that there is actually a bus stop here.

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Villaviscosa: This is the only town where we booked our accommodations through Air B and B. The rest of these towns we booked our rooms through booking.com. Here we stayed in a small apartment just a 5-10 minute walk from the center of town. There was a festival going on while we were here so we wandered around that for a bit and then had dinner at Sideria LENA. This place was amazing! The food was great and the staff are great. It’s important to know that cider in this part of Spain is meant to be drunk quickly. They pour you a small amount and if you don’t drink it quickly they may dump out what is left in your glass when they come back around to pour you more. The waiters and waitresses here are very skilled at pouring the cider from very high up which helps it get fizzy. We did not know the proper way to drink the cider until our dinner here when our waitress made sure she explained the rules to us. We would highly recommend eating here if you are in the area. Again from here we took the bus to Gijon and then from there we rented a car for the rest of our trip around northern Spain.

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 Gijon: Gijon is a large city with plenty to do. We stayed right in the city center at Hostel Gijon. Our host was amazing! He gave us a map and a ton of recommendations for places to see and places to eat. He was super helpful and made sure we had a great time even though we were only there one night. We would highly recommend this hostel. Do be warned it is right in the city center so it was a bit noisy at night. We ate dinner at Ciudadela and would highly recommend it, the food was absolutely amazing! We spend our afternoon walking around the city and relaxing on the beach. The beach here is huge at low tide but at high tide it comes all the way up to the city wall leaving no beach at all. Gijon is a very walkable city. From the city center where we stayed it was easy to walk around and find all the major attractions.

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Cudillero: This is such cute little seaside town! We drove here from Gijon for a few hours in the late morning. It is a place that you will see a lot of other tourists but for good reason. The town is built up into the hillside. There are plenty of small, windy stairs up the hills. You can easily get away from the crowds by going up. We wandered by a local lady out in her yard who very kindly pointed us in the direction of a specific staircase leading to an amazing look out point with great views of the city. There are also plenty of small shops and cafes in town.

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Asturias is full of some really amazing beaches to check out along the way. Check out our list of top 10 beaches in Northern Spain for some of our highlights. Also we recommend downloading the asturplaya App to help you find even more beaches then what we have listed.

Top 10 Beaches in Northern Spain

The picos de Europa are also in this area, We admired them as we walked the Camino but didn’t get a chance to head up into the mountains. We have heard that there are plenty of great little mountain towns to check as well if you have more time in this area.

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-TFWYs