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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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Sunshine Coast Trail: Lewis Lake to Tin Hat Mountain Loop

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Last weekend, we hiked a very small part of the Sunshine Coast Trail, a 180 km hut-to-hut trail north of Vancouver. Because we only had one vehicle to work with, and the price of getting a shuttle to pick us up along the trail was fairly steep, we opted to do a loop this time around. Plus, we really wanted to include Tin Hat Mountain in our trek, which is easily accessed via a 2 day loop from Lewis Lake.

Here’s a rundown of our 2 days on the trail, broken down into sections, including stops in Powell River. Let me know if you have any questions or, if you’ve done the hike, suggestions for next time!

Victoria to Powell River:

The ferry runs 4 times daily from Comox (Vancouver Island) to Powell River (Sunshine Coast), and takes about 1.5 hours. You can also drive the Sunshine Coast from Vancouver, which includes 2 ferries.

Powell River was a cute little town! We had some time to kill once we arrived, so we headed straight to Townsite Brewing; they had great beer, arcade games, and they’re the sponsor of Tin Hat Mountain hut! We had dinner at Costa del Sol, which had so-so food and service, but a fabulous atmosphere and ocean views from the cozy patio.

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Cayo Levisa, Cuba: Bedbugs and Bare Bums

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Aaah Cuba. Where we rode horses through the Viñales valley, open-air salsa danced in Trinidad, played in the waves on the Havana Malecón… oh and where we went to dinner basically in the buff on the romantic island of Cayo Levisa!?!

How did we manage that? Long story short, it had a little to do with some uninvited roomies in Viñales (bedbugs, baby), and a lot to do with a tropical storm that set in RIGHT after we’d stripped down to wash all of our clothes and get rid of the icky buggy feeling. But you can read the long story long, because Kyla and I joined forces for the first time to write allll about it in a guest post for comedy writer Jenna Wimshurst: Nearly Naked on Cayo Levisa

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Oregon Road Trip : A Weekend in Portland

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Or: The Story of How I Overcame My Anxiety/Mild Phobia of Highway Driving with DIY Exposure Therapy (i.e. just driving, no escape) by Splitting an 11 Day Road Trip with My Ever-Patient Girlfriend! JK, I’ll save that riveting story for another time! But suffice it to say, when we planned this trip, I wasn’t ONLY thinking about all the food we were going to eat in Portland and the dramatic coastal landscapes we were going to see, I was also thinking about passing trucks at high speeds on the I-5 while remembering to focus on the MILES, not kilometres, on my speedometer, and lots of other things to do with driving. Obviously, I didn’t die, and I didn’t FEEL like I was going to die for at least MOST of the trip. Plus, it was so nice to have the flexibility to choose where we wanted to go and how long we wanted to stop. In conclusion: successful DIY project, and also: successful road trip.

K so back to Oregon: Here’s a guide to an excellent (IMHO perfect) Oregon road trip, based on a compressed version of our trip (we started in Vancouver*, spent an extra night in Portland, and had to stay the night in Port Angeles on the way home to catch the ferry to Victoria). Next up is the coast!

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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.

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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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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:

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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”

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