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Rustic Cabins in Las Terrazas, Cuba

Where’s the coolest place you’ve ever stayed? My list is constantly growing, but a new addition last year shot right to the top. When we were planning our Cuba trip, Kyla decided she wanted to stay in a treehouse. (I mean really, who doesn’t?!) She looked it up, and sure enough, it was *sort of* possible!

In Las Terrazas, an ecovillage about an hour west of Havana (or two hours east of Viñales), there’s an eco-hotel called Moka. The building is a mix of Spanish colonial architecture and forest, with a huge tree growing through the lobby! Moka also owns “rustic cabins“, located about 4 kilometres away, by the peaceful Rio San Juan (map).

The wooden cabins are held up by four sturdy posts, and you enter through a heavy trapdoor, via ladder (maybe only heavy cause I’m weak, but it was a struggle). Then voilà, you’re in (a very simple) paradise! The cabañas are equipped with two mattresses, TP, a towel, a light, an outlet (ours didn’t work), windows that can be propped open, and picnic tables below. Bathrooms and showers are outside, so I highly recommend emptying your bladder before going to bed so that you don’t have to navigate the trapdoor/ladder situation in the night!

There’s a small, open-air restaurant by the cabins, overlooking the natural pools in the San Juan. At this point we had very little money because we’d forgotten to change any beforehand, but we were still able to afford two meals. They turned out to be two of the best meals we had in Cuba! Simple, delicious, and with a great view!

We really felt immersed in nature that night – the rain was soothing on the thatch roof, we woke up to the sound of birds in the trees surrounding us, and we even had some visitors. I woke up in the night to the sound of *very very small* footsteps… after freaking out for a moment, I looked up towards the beam below the roof, feeling around in the dark for my glasses and a flashlight. The light revealed the unmistakable silhouette of two gecko friends, taking refuge from the rain! Breathing a sigh of relief (although I did hope that they wouldn’t come down and join me in bed…), I watched them for a while before drifting back to sleep. So yes, the cabin isn’t completely sealed off from the outside, but that’s part of the appeal.

When I woke up, Kyla was already heading out to catch the sunrise. I joined her in a gazebo near the cabins, as did our new BFF, a doggo that had been following us around since we arrived (but then totally betrayed us as we were leaving, latching onto a couple who had just arrived). It was raining lightly, so we watched the clouds get a little less dark and listened to the birds. We even got to see a group of turkey vultures chattering away in the trees (#birdnerd).

We had an early breakfast at the restaurant before catching our taxi back to Hotel Moka, where we’d arrange transportation to Havana. (We grabbed a cab that was dropping someone off, but I’d recommend setting it up beforehand; there’s not an abundance of taxis driving up the dirt road that leads to the cabins.) We were sad to leave, feeling like we hadn’t had time to take advantage of the location by hiking or swimming in the pools, but it’s on the long list of places I’d go back to.

We’d been planning to zipline in Las Terrazas – their canopy tour is one of the main attractions in the town – but it was too rainy. However, Moka’s tree lobby turned out to be the perfect place to enjoy some tea and watch the rain (and use the wifi) while we waited for our taxi to Havana. Maximum hygge!

I highly recommend staying at the rustic cabañas in Las Terrazas! Like most accommodation in Cuba, it’s super affordable for travellers, and it’s a great experience in any weather. If you don’t have much time to venture outside of Havana, this would be an easy overnight trip and nature escape.

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Here are some suggestions, if you go:

  • Know where you’re going so that you can plan your transportation! The website was a bit confusing, and we didn’t realize the cabins were so far from the hotel. If you arrive by taxi, ask the driver to drop you off at the cabins. If you come by bus, plan for a short hike or hire a taxi to get to the cabins.
  • We had an issue with our reservation and had to pay twice (luckily only about 25 CAD), so make sure you get email confirmation. I actually can’t find a place to book online at the moment, so it might be best to try to contact Moka for availability, and pay when you arrive.
  • Bring cash. We only had 24 CUC to play with, but that got us dinner with beer, and a taxi ride back to Moka. Breakfast was included at the cabins (egg, toast, coffee, a juice box)!
  • Take advantage of the location! There are lots of hikes around the Rio de San Juan.
  • Embrace the experience – if you’re not a fan of camping, you probably won’t enjoy the cabins. If it’s not for you and your budget is a little bigger, consider beautiful Hotel Moka.
  • Bring lots of bug spray, a flashlight, and books, cards, etc. The restaurant closes at 6pm and there’s nowhere else to get food, so plan ahead if you think you’ll want snacks.
  • If you really want to zipline, give yourself at least 2 days as options, in case the weather’s bad.

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Victoria, BC: 10 Things to Do in the Fall

This is an updated version of a post I wrote two years ago. Most of my recommendations are the same, but the info is current!

It’s been raining on and off here in Victoria, which means… hygge time! Being warm and cozy INDOORS! But sometimes, I want to have an answer other than “Netflix” when someone asks me about my weekend. Plus, after 3 years on the Wet Coast, I’ve learned that you pretty much have to suck it up, put on some rain boots, and find things to do until at least December when it’s more acceptable to to start hibernating.

It’s actually a great time of year to explore: the big crowds of tourists are gone (if you’re a tourist, still come visit though!), there’s still lots of sun and blue skies between the showers, and there are so many amazing things to do in and around the city! Here are some ideas:

1. Check out the Salmon Run at Goldstream Provincial Park:

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Continue reading “Victoria, BC: 10 Things to Do in the Fall”

Oregon Road Trip: The Coast

This is Part 2 of my post about our Oregon road trip; in Part 1 you can find some suggestions for what to do, eat, and drink on a weekend in Portland! (You can also find out how much I freak out about driving… #roadtrippp.)

Day 4: Wine and Dunes: Portland to Florence

By now you probably know that Portland is cool, but byeeee Portland! Today’s the day you get to drive out to the coast with the wind in your h—ohh but actually you have loads of time, may as well make a couple of stops along the way!

Eugene’s right on the route from Portland to Florence, so it’s a great spot for lunch. We needed a cheap food day after PDX, so we opted for scrumptious food truck tacos, but there are loads of options, and even a Voodoo Doughnuts if you were too stuffed to try it in Portland.

Ok now it’s time to drive off to the coas—oooh hang on though, there’s a WINERY route basically ON THE WAY?! Durrrr you are going there! There are lots of wineries to choose from near the Territorial Highway, just off the route between Eugene and Florence. We visited Sweet Cheeks Winery and Sarver Winery to share a tasting at each (had to be responsible, we were driving). Both offered great wines and stunning views of the rolling vineyards.

Continue reading “Oregon Road Trip: The Coast”

11 Things to Look Forward to at Victoria Pride 2018

On Monday, the city of Victoria raised 5 flags in anticipation of Pride (including the transgender, two-spirit, genderqueer, and non-binary flags, alongside rainbow). With just a few days left until Victoria’s 2018 Pride Week kick-off, there’s a LOT to look forward to in the next couple of weeks! Here are some events to consider!

 1. Drag Ball (July 1st)

The annual Canada Day kick-off to Pride Week and can’t-miss event: Kings vs Queens in a softball game where, in the wise words of WLIIA, “the rules are made up and the points don’t matter!” An awesome day to get dressed up in rainbow and day drink… or join in the game! More info about Drag Ball.

Continue reading “11 Things to Look Forward to at Victoria Pride 2018”

Guest Post: The Trouble with Travelling as a Lesbian Couple

Jenna Wimshurst is a comedy and travel writer who also happens to be a lesbian. Humorous travel writing and being a lesbian happen to be two of my favourite things, so when she wanted to write a guest post for my blog, I was ecstatic! She even spells ‘travelling’ the right way the same way we do in Canada! Clearly, Jenna is fabulous. Once you’ve enjoyed her insightful and hilarious essay about what it’s like to travel as a lesbian couple, head over to her blog to read more things that will have you guffawing in seconds!

The Trouble with Travelling as a Lesbian Couple

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The couple in room 12 are lesbians

In April 2016, the UK Foreign Office updated its travel advice warning gay and transgender travellers visiting the American states of North Carolina and Mississippi to be careful. It really got me thinking that a) America can be a dangerous place for LGBTQ community, and b) thank God there’s a government body here to tell me to tone down my gayness when on my holibobs otherwise I would’ve been throwing my lesbian self about all over the joint.

Other lesbians and gays will be familiar with those nervous few moments you get when you first approach the hotel reception with your partner and check into your double room that only has one bed.

A few things go through my mind when I first give my booking details to the receptionist:

– Are they going to say anything about us being massive lesbians?

– Will they say that we can’t stay at their hotel because of our sexuality?

– Will they press the homosexual button where rainbow flags drop down, Wham bursts out of the radio and suddenly two sparkling pink cocktails appear in our hands. Sounds fabulous.

But even if they don’t say anything, I know that they’re going to be telling their colleagues that there’s two lesbians staying in room 12 straight after they’ve served us. Ok, I don’t KNOW this, but I HIGHLY suspect it.

Continue reading “Guest Post: The Trouble with Travelling as a Lesbian Couple”

2 Days in Havana

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We only had a day and a half in Havana, so we squished a lot in! I found that it was completely possible to have a great time on a short trip to Havana, without it seeming stressful!

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Photos of me taken by Kyla.

Continue reading “2 Days in Havana”

How Travel Helped Me Come Out

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It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to really put my heart into my writing, but it was such a joy to immerse myself in this piece for Travel with Mei and Kerstin.

Mei and Kerstin have been featuring lesbian travellers on their blog, and they asked me to share a story. The topic was open-ended; it could be about how I started to travel, a specific travel story, lesbian travel, or something else. As I started reflecting, I realized how interconnected travel and coming out were for me, and how difficult it would be to disentangle travel and my sexuality from my current identity. What followed was a sort of summary of 10 years of travel, where I focus on coming out, and the important connection between being a lesbian and being a traveller.

Take a look at the article here: Lesbian Traveler: Leslie from Les Talk, More Travel.

Read more on my blog about: my coming out story, queer and lesbian Victoria, BC (this could use an update!), one of my favourite trips with my girlfriend, and some highlights from Vancouver and Victoria’s Pride festivals.

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Seoul-ed Out: Everything Seoul, Korea!

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My good friend Katrina will be heading to South Korea for the Olympics this year, and I’ve been bombarding her with information about Seoul! I lived there for 2 years between late 2012 and early 2015, and it’s one of my favourite cities in the world. I feel homesick for Seoul all the time. Sometimes I miss the little things, like the subway system, or staring confusedly at the grocery store shelves, trying to make sure I was buying the right kind thing. (Really, I miss that!) Sometimes, it’s the big things. Entertainment at all hours. The food. My lifestyle. It’s always nice to look back on that time, and I was inspired to write a Seoul megapost, for anyone heading that way for the Olympics or otherwise. Here are some things to see, do, and eat in the winter*. Of course, this is not a comprehensive list! Do you have a favourite Seoul food or activity that’s not included? Feel free to leave a comment!

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Continue reading “Seoul-ed Out: Everything Seoul, Korea!”

10 Reasons to Visit Viñales, Cuba… and Stay a While

 

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When Kyla and I landed in Havana a month ago, the first place we headed was Viñales, about 2 hours west of the capital. We stayed for 5 days! After the craziness of Christmas (and life in general), we wanted our first stop to feel relaxing, rather than packing up and moving every couple of days. The Viñales valley turned out to be the perfect place to stay put. It’s not on the coast, but it’s not too far from a stunning beach, and the town and surroundings offer stunning landscapes and tons of activities (plus tons of ways to fill your belly and sample local rum)!

 

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Here are 10 reasons to hang up your hammock and stay a while in Viñales!

Continue reading “10 Reasons to Visit Viñales, Cuba… and Stay a While”

Happy New Year!

What an incredible year! It started with fireworks over the harbour in Victoria, and I’ll be ringing in 2018 in the Vinales valley, in Cuba! I have some great posts in the works for the new year, plus you can expect some Cuba-heavy content once we get back!

2017 was full of close-to-home adventures, and some big celebrations:

Continue reading “Happy New Year!”

5 Ways to Relax in Tofino

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Kyla and I spent the November long weekend in Tofino, a surf town on western Vancouver Island. I’ve only heard amazing things about Tofino since moving out here, and it lived up to the hype!

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Lots of people who visit the town choose to enjoy it the active way… surfing, hiking, that kind of thing. While it’s a fantastic place to do both of those things, and while I’ll definitely do more activities next time I go, we went the more… lazy relaxed route this time! Not only did we need a break, but we were both sick, so you could say that taking it easy was what the doctor ordered. And I mean… it’s not really that hard to chill out in a surf town! Here are 5 relaxing ways to explore Tofino:

Continue reading “5 Ways to Relax in Tofino”

Juan de Fuca Trail Day 4: Payzant Creek to Botanical Beach Trailhead

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Day 4: Payzant Creek (km 40) to Botanical Beach Trailhead (km 47)

Read about our hikes from China Beach to Bear Beach, Bear Beach to Chin Beach, and Chin Beach to Payzant Creek.

Our last day on the trail was a short one: we only had 7kms to go! We woke up to misty treetops, and quickly packed up all of our gear, not minding that it was wet and muddy. Off we went!

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Continue reading “Juan de Fuca Trail Day 4: Payzant Creek to Botanical Beach Trailhead”

Juan de Fuca Trail Day 2: Bear Beach to Chin Beach

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Day 2: Bear Beach (km 9) to Chin Beach (km 21)

Read about Day 1 here.

The 12 kilometres between Bear and Chin beaches are some of the hardest on the Juan de Fuca trail; almost the entire section is a series of steep ups and downs! We started out early, after filling our bellies with oatmeal and chocolate.

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Continue reading “Juan de Fuca Trail Day 2: Bear Beach to Chin Beach”

Juan de Fuca Trail Day 1: China Beach to Bear Beach

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Kyla and I recently spent 4 days hiking the Juan de Fuca trail, a 47km coastal rainforest hike on Vancouver Island’s southwest coast. It was really hard! (Especially for an inexperienced hiker with minimal training, oops!) Lots of steep ups and downs, muddy sections, and tricky creek crossings which required creative, acrobatic moves while wearing a gigantic backpack! That said, it was absolutely achievable, and SO worth it! The trail offered spectacular ocean views and wildlife sightings, great nights of camping on beaches, and lots of hilarity. It was exhilarating to finish, and I’m still riding that high, feeling proud of what we accomplished. (Proud enough to earn a break from multi-day hiking for a while!)

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Here’s the first post from my rundown of the trail (with occasional comments from Kyla!), with lots of pictures.  Continue reading “Juan de Fuca Trail Day 1: China Beach to Bear Beach”

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