Valentine’s Day Weekend hiking from Germany to Austria

Austrian Alps.

One of the things I’ve enjoyed the most about being in Europe for the past seven months is how easy it is to walk. There are trails, seemingly everywhere, and you can hike mountains, go past beautiful lakes, cross towns and keep walking. The many ancient trade routes made by the Celts and later by the Romans are still here for you to explore.

This Valentine’s Day weekend, with Michael, we walked from our apartment in Füssen, in southern Germany to Höffen, in Austria. It was not the largest of hikes, Höffen being four hours away walking (and about half an hour driving), but it was the perfect way to explore, be in nature and see new places.

On our way there, we followed the Via Claudia Augusta, a long Roman trail that goes all the way from Bavaria to the Adriatic Sea. It is funny to think romans were using these trails through the Alps. Most people bicycle along the Via, and there were parts we had to walk along the highway with cars rushing past us, in which we were confused and angered at how unsafe it was.

This happened on our way from Pinswang to Pflach, in Austria. Pinswang is a small farming town with outstanding views of the Säuling, one of the tallest mountains in the region. After walking along the highway for about ten minutes, we soon discovered a new path, that did not follow the Via Claudia, but went through the woods.

We were soon walking on the Lech Weg, which follows the river Lech for about 125km, and finally arrived to Pflach and then kept going to the bigger town Reutte.

Reutte is a town perfectly located for many things to do on a weekend. It is surrounded by the Alps, with the Ehrenberg ruins, the remnant of great kingdoms, and the world record longest Hanging Bridge, the Highline 179, very close.

We arrived at Reutte at 4 p.m., with about an hour of daylight left. After having a Weisswurst with a pretzel at a pub, we inquired at the Tourist Information Office about places we could still walk to. We wanted to reach the lake Plansee. In the end we decided to stay at a Pension and call it a day, we would continue exploring the next day.

We stayed at the Haus Lechner in Höffen, and we couldn’t have been more pleased with it. When you stay at a hotel in this region, you get the Aktiv Card which gives you amazing discounts and perks like free entrance to the bridge and museums at the ruins.

Our second day started with daybreak. We had a nice breakfast, watched the sun rise like fire from behind the snowy Alps and even caught some deer coming out of the forest behind the house.

Ehrenberg Castle. Dating to 1290.

The owner of the house was kind enough to drive us to the Highline 179 Bridge and we climbed the mountain up to the entrance, where the Ehrenberg Castle Ruins lay. The trail was frozen and it was quite a challenge to get to the top. But the floor at the ruins was also frozen or completely covered in snow, which made it impossible to see all of it. The views, however, are beautiful as you find yourself surrounded by towering snow covered mountains and the valleys with little towns are right under your feet.

Highline 179 Bridge.

The Bridge was quite the experience by itself. It does not move with the wind and it actually feels safe, with the thick cables that support it, but knowing that you are at 114.6 meters above the ground, taking steps in a man made construction that could fail, makes you lose your breath. However, I stopped in the middle to take in the view, reminding myself that I might not have this chance again, and that was what really took my breath. If you go, don’t be paralyzed by fear. Feel the power from being so high up and marvel at human engineering and the nature around you.

We crossed the bridge and then crossed it again once we decided we’d rather go down the way we came. By the time we got back, groups of tourists were arriving. We were lucky to have arrived at about 8 in the morning, a time in which we had the ruins and bridge all to ourselves.

On our hike back.

The walk began once more, but this time we knew better to follow the Lech Weg and it was the best decision we could’ve made. We came back to Pflech and followed it through the moutains, going so deep into the forest where it was all silent, where all creatures seemed to have hidden from us, not used to seeing humans. It is not hard to understand how legends were created, since every inch of the forest seems so magical. The trail takes you up through mossy meadows, fallen trees, old ruins, hidden farms, creeks and finally to the grand Alpen See, in Germany, and towards the castles of Hochenshwangau and King Ludwig’s famous Neuschwanstein.

The border between Austria and Germany was my favorite discovery here. An old rock dated 1844, with a T on one side and a B on the other, which marked the division of the old county of Tyrol and Bavaria. (The first had become part of the Kingdom of Bavaria in 1805).

So we crossed, like many others had done for centuries and we arrived back home. Hiking has become one of our favorite pastimes, and when you slow travel, it is a great way of exploring the new countries and meeting its people.

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House-Sitting Digital Nomads

Fields in Switzerland, near the house we were sitting, where we walked daily.

After a holiday trip around southern Spain and Portugal with Michael’s family, we found an online website that changed our winter travel plans, and possibly the way we do Digital Nomading.

TrustedHouseSitters is a website that lets people find someone to look after their house and pets when they go out on holidays. But for people like us, the website is also excellent to list to housesit somebody’s house, get free rent and visit new places.

We found an awesome place in Switzerland, just outside of Lausanne. We had not planned to go to Switzerland at all, so it was a nice change of plans. Our original plan was to stay in Romania, try to find a short-term rental, and just work for all of the winter. After a couple of days in Cluj-Napoca in Transylvania, we realized how hard it is to find short-term rentals. Airbnb prices there are very high for what regular rent would cost in Romania. Cluj is a University City, so most apartments are for rent for whole semesters, nobody rents you a place for just one month. We met awesome people who were more than willing to help us. Romanians are very nice people, like the girl in one of the Real Estate agencies we visited who went out of her way to help us find a place. We didn’t find anything suitable in the end, so we had to act fast and find a new destination.

That’s when we found out about housesitting. We made a cool profile, with a video to introduce ourselves to people looking for trustworthy people to live in their houses. After only a day of sending out requests to different people, with the only requirement being fast internet connection, Antonio from Switzerland replied that he would love for us to look after their house.

So we left Romania, spent my 25th birthday week in Milan, Italy and then traveled by train to Lausanne. (If you’re looking to buy train tickets in Europe, I recommend using Loco2).

We looked after the house for a month and a half, and not only did we have a giant house with breathtaking views of the Swiss Alps, fields and forests to go on hikes to, and a full pantry, we also had to beautiful dogs, a Weimaraner and a Pointer, to keep us company.

Milka, Latte and me in the forest near Villars-Sainte-Croix.

Being a nomad can become tiring, not having a place to call home, but in Switzerland we took a break, made the house we were looking after our home and had time to work and focus on great projects we want to see grow in 2016. I finished writing my novel during this time!

The family was awesome, we made friends with them, and we were truly sad to leave the dogs we looked after and fell in love with. Our first house-sitting experienced opened a whole new possibility to make long term travel more enjoyable.

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Being a Londoner for a Month, Part 2

“I like the spirit of this great London which I feel around me. Who but a coward would pass his whole life in hamlets; and for ever abandon his faculties to the eating rust of obscurity?”
Charlotte Brontë, Villette

Who would not want to live in London? After only a few days we had discovered the magic the city holds. How many great stories have been written here? How many works of art have been inspired by this city?

I’m still trying to think what it is about this city that charms everybody, or charmed me from the first time I came, three years ago in 2012. Maybe it’s its history and culture or its peculiar buses and phone booths, or its winding streets and town houses.

In October of this year, it was glowing in golden and red as Autumn covered the Northern Hemisphere. We quickly discovered what would be our favorite thing about London: parks.

Michael in Hampsted Heath

There are so many of them and they are giant. Beautiful acres of grass, trees, trails, ponds, birds, memorials, people exercising, people kissing under trees, people walking their dogs and feeding the geese and the friendly squirrels. Coming from the “Land of Eternal Spring”, I have never experienced Autumn. I’ve seen tons of Tumblr posts of beautiful colored trees, or heard stories and Ella Fitzgerald songs, but London in October is more beautiful than I imagined.

Our favorite park was Hampstead Heath, for it is a giant park made of natural trails, big spaces for pets to run free, forest, ponds and fresh air. You won’t find fountains or memorials here, but you will find some pretty majestic trees.

Our second favorite thing about London is the theater. We saw the musical, Wicked, and the play War Horse that was recommended to us. Wicked had some impressive moving sets, choreographies and live orchestra. I’m still trying to understand how some of the scenes were achieved, with tricks of light and props. War Horse was a heartwarming play about a horse during the Great War. But the amazing thing about the play is that there are no horse actors, but they were made like giant puppets. You can see the people inside of them, making their every move, but you soon forget that is not a real animal you’re seeing.

Wicked.

There are always many shows to see in London, and we wish we’d been able to see one every weekend.

As I mentioned on Part 1 of this post, Londoners are very kind people. We met awesome people working on Cooks Yard, a really cool and cozy coworking space in East London. Leo, the owner was great with us and we were so happy to find this place where we could rely on 24/7 desks, internet and coffee for a reasonable price. It is also located in a great place, with two stations at a walking distance, restaurants, cafes, markets, and a Tesco just across the street. We met some other cool Londoners (and others I will call interesting) and we became part of the city. We commuted every morning by train and Overground and came back late every night from London Bridge Station or Charing Cross. We had a routine, we learned the voice announcements like “Mind the gap, between the train and the platform” or “This is Whitechapel. Alight here for The Royal London Hospital”. (I personally had never even heard the word Alight).

Cooksyard, our coworking space.

It is pretty incredible to be in a city so big and have a well connected transport system. It was not hard at all to move from east to west or south. We were constantly surprised of finding new neighborhoods as we got off at new stations. London is so big and there’s so much to see!

We also found meetups with other coders. In a city so big you will find many people like you. We found people who work on the tech industry or are getting started on it. I read online about many meetups, workshops, job fairs, etc. all over the city. It is really cool to know you don’t have to travel too far to find people like you.

If you are a tourist, the touristy things will not disappoint. It’s a beautiful sight to see Big Ben proudly standing overlooking the Thames. But if you have the time to live like a Londoner, you will find something different to do every day. You will meet people from all over the world, you will hear many languages, you will eat many foods and walk many streets.

Isn’t it beautiful?

I can say it is a myth that the weather in London is awful. Whenever we told people we would be there in October they all wished us good luck with the rains. We got there with waterproof jackets ready and were surprised, and delighted, to find that it didn’t rain as much as they said it would. It probably rained three or four days over our stay and all the weekends had clear skies and sunshine, maybe getting a bit cloudy in the afternoons, but nothing too bad. We had some spectacular sunsets in the parks and enjoyed the cold air on our walks.

I now understand why everybody wants to live in London. It is packed and rental prices go through the roof, but it is an amazing city. It inspires you to be worthy of a city so grand. It makes you feel like you belong, like you live in a place were history is being written.

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Being a Londoner for a Month, Part 1

“My Dad says that being a Londoner has nothing to do with where you’re born. He says that there are people who get off a jumbo jet at Heathrow, go through immigration waving any kind of passport, hop on the tube and by the time the train’s pulled into Piccadilly Circus they’ve become a Londoner.”
Ben Aaronovitch, Moon Over Soho

I took this picture back in September, 2012.

I was born in Guatemala City, also a capital, but I have never known city life as the one London offers.

We got to Gatwick airport in London from Split. Immigration line was not as long as the ones I’ve made in the United States. When it was my turn, I put on my best smile and handed my Central American passport that now collects several stamps. The regular interrogation began: “Why are you here? Where are you staying? For how long?” After this last question, to which I answered “One month” a more thorough interrogation began. I had never been asked by an immigration officer to make a multiplication in my head as he inquired on how much I made a month in pounds. Later I was told I could stay only for three months in all of Europe, when in fact I can stay for six in the United Kingdom and three in the Schengen Zone, which is most of the other European countries. I had never had an immigration officer raise their voice as they stamped an ugly stamp on my passport and scribbled something telling me that I could not overstay, otherwise I would get in trouble, and that I had exactly a month to leave. I only smiled and agreed. I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I might not have the most desirable of the passports, but I am not trying to stay in the United Kingdom. There was no reason to be nervous, I had planned to leave after a month, anyways.

The stamp says six months.

Next was transport to central London. Oh we’d heard stories of London’s incredibly high prices. We’ve found an Airbnb outside of the center, in zone 4, that was cheaper than most. But what we didn’t consider was the fact that we would have to take trains and metros in order to get to places.

A “Season Pass” for a month that would take us from zone 4 to zone 1, and anywhere in between came out to £177.10 each. We’d payed almost 10 times less for a monthly bus pass in Split, Croatia.

That taught us a lesson: It’s not always best to go for the cheapest option, it might come out to be more expensive. We chose the cheapest (decent looking) Airbnb option, but paying a bit more to be closer to the center woul’ve been cheaper in the end, because we would’ve not had to pay for train tickets.

As we approached London Bridge station, defeated after only a few hours, I started questioning why we’d decided to come to London.

I started seeing the famous landmarks, and even if I wanted to feel excited, I just felt confused. Maybe Ben Aaronovitch’s father was right. We had become Londoners, knowing of the struggles to just move from one place to another. We had already learned to move quickly, with bags on our shoulders, through the stations, like programmed machines.

But London is much more than expensive living, and we would soon discover that.

The day after we arrived England played Australia on the Rugby World Cup. We had never watched a rugby match, so we decided to hit the local pub, The Baring Hall Hotel. Well, I still have no idea of what was going on at the game, but the night was exciting (except for the fact that England was eliminated). We made friends with some locals, sang over rounds of beer and wine and went back with cheerful hearts. We had discovered Londoners are very nice people, and on the next weeks that would be confirmed. Anybody we asked for help on the train or trying to find an address was always nice and willing to help. London is a metropolis and you would expect Londoners to be cold and distant, but all the Londoners we met were warm and welcoming. Things were starting to get better.

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Living in Split, Croatia

Split. View from the Cathedral of St. Domnius.

The Dalmatian city of Split in Croatia became our basecamp for all of September. In a previous article I recounted our weekend trips on the Croatian coastline. Split is on the Adriatic coast and it’s the second largest city in the country. It is a top destination for tourists, but more and more digital nomads are discovering its many qualities.

There were several reasons why we chose Split out of all the other cities.

The first one was that being in Croatia, it was outside of the Schengen zone. With my Guatemalan passport and Michael’s American one, we can only stay for 90 days of 180 inside of the Schengen zone. In Croatia, we get an extra 90 days.

We picked Split specifically because being on the coast, we would be able to enjoy the last days of Summer. We had great weather, with only a couple of rainy days that came as a nice break from moving around all the time.

Accommodation, food and transport is relatively cheap for a top European city. We stayed on a lovely Airbnb, didn’t spend much on restaurants, but tried to cook as much as we could (though we could always cook more to save money, but this is another story) and this was made easier with the many supermarkets open until late hours at night.

Internet in general was reliable. We got unlimited data packages on T-Mobile for about US$12 and had no trouble with the network all over the city.

We got a monthly unlimited bus pass for about 300HRK (US$44) and this made our trips easier. We found a nice coworking space, Amosfera Coworking, which is not too far from the Old Town where we were staying. In here we were able to meet local people who were always helpful and friendly and meet other international digital nomads. The place is also located in a great area with many cafes, stores and markets in walking distance.

People, in general, are incredibly friendly and we were surprised to find that most people spoke English, which made everything much easier. People where always nice when we asked for directions and when we were trying to order food or get medicine at a pharmacy.

Split is perfectly located to make weekend and daily trips. From here we took boats to the islands and buses to nearby towns. We rented a car twice, with two friends from the coworking space, and we visited the Plitvice National Park and the city of Dubrovnik (while also going through Bosnia and Herzegovina and getting time to visit Montenegro).

The city itself has a lot to offer: The history with Diocletian’s Palace in the center, the Adriatic cousine (even with the tiny fried fish dish that make me nervous but locals seem to enjoy eating), the culture with concerts every night, movie festivals and theaters, and of course football with their beloved team Hajduk, that have an incredible and kind of crazy fandom.

Split is a perfect destination for working travelers like us. They say the weather is very nice year round, with winters being not extremely cold, so we are now considering coming here again soon, and perhaps staying longer.

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Exploring the Croatian coastline

View from the Fortress of Hvar. Pakleni islands in the back.

The Adriatic Sea coastline is the most beautiful coastline I have set eyes on. This is the number one reason I can give anyone to visit this country.

One month was not enough, and on our last days, I’m already looking forward to coming back.

We picked Split as our basecamp. Split is the largest city in the region of Dalmatia and is built around the roman emperor Diocletian’s Palace. The ancient charm can be felt in most parts of the city.

Our Airbnb apartment was in a perfect location, on the Old Town just before the climb towards the Marjan Park begins.

View of the city from Marjan Park.

Split is in a perfect location for day or weekend travels. On our first weekend we visited some of the island towns. Split is a very touristic city and there are plentiful options for tours. On our first weekend we payed for a day tour of several small towns in the coast and islands. At first I thought of how nice it is for a company to do all the thinking for you, however it is not enjoyable when you are being rushed from one place to another and don’t really get the time to explore. I would not recommend taking these tours for that reason, they don’t give you the freedom to really see the places. There are many different buses, boats, caramarans and ferries that will take you to almost every town for very cheap.

Cathedral of Trogir.

We visited the town of Trogir after having been there on the day tour but having barely had time to explore. This town is a maze of small streets where vendors offer coral jewelery and hand made chess sets, and you can find many restaurants and cafes. The highlight is the Cathedral of Saint Lawrence with it’s tall bell tower that overlooks the picturesque red roofs and the Adriatic Sea.

Plitvice. Two lakes can be seen on the picture, on different elevations.

The National Park Plitvice was my favorite of our weekend trips. We rented a car with two more friends and mare our way to the breathtaking park where the grandeur of lakes and waterfalls are on display. Different lakes that, by being on different elevations end up in waterfalls that connect to the next lake, make this place like no other. The water on these is so clear you have to think twice before stepping because there doesn’t seem to be any water. The park is big enough to explore in more than a day and is definitely worth a visit.

Another great park is Krka. The main attraction is the great waterfall. The park is smaller than Plitvice, but you are allowed to swim here. For us, the best part was going on a boat ride through the river, which is on a higher elevation. This river takes you through a canyon and to the Visovac Monastery which is on an island. Here you can visit the museum and church and walk through the gardens. You can see pumpkin patches, fig trees from which the monks make brandy that is so unique in flavor you will want to get a bottle to bring back home. The charm of this franciscan monastery cannot be found anywhere and it is nice that it is somehow isolated on this little island, where it can be kept secret.

Croatia has countless islands and not all of them are inhabited. From Split you can take boats to a lot of them. We visited Brač, where we rented a quad and explored. The island is very mountainous, and is covered with fields of olive trees and vineyards. The views from the mountains are breathtaking: the sea and mainland in the background. We passed through some small towns, all quiet on a Sunday morning. We also visited Hvar, another island, and climed up to the Fortress. From there you can see the Pakleni islands, the port and the many red roofs.

Dubrovnik was our last great trip. Separated from the rest of Croatia by a tiny bit of land that belongs to Bosnia and Herzegovina, this city is becoming more and more popular every year. The city is walled and is one of the best preserved medieval cities in the world. The city is amazing, but the roadtrip there made the experience better. The Adriatic coastline, as I said before, has to be one of the most beautiful in the world.

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Week 2: Writing my novel with the help of FindFocus

11:51 p.m. on September 10th and I barely made it.

But I completed my challenge of writing 3,000 words of my novel.

I’ve been using the app FindFocus.co to help me write this and each week I’m setting myself a challenge until I finish writing the novel I’ve been saying I will write for years.

This week I got sick and I just really didn’t feel like writing. But that was the perfect excuse, wasn’t it? Like when you’re in school and your mom writes a note to your teacher asking her to excuse you from not finishing your homework, but you had been sick. Well, my novel is never going to be published or read by anyone else if I give in to the resistance of minor things like this.

I think it is the accountability part that is really helping me continue. I have an accountability partner but I’m also writing my progress on here. If I don’t report on here, that will mean I failed on my challenge for that week.

Finishing things is not as hard when you just have no choice. And accountability helps you with that.

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Week 1: Writing my novel with the help of FindFocus

This is the end of the first week, and first challenge.

I had already started writing my novel, but was stuck at 9,000 words.

With the use of the FindFocus app, I challenged myself to write 2,000 words this week to continue on the path of finishing my novel.

I will be doing this for the next several weeks, increasing the amount of words written every week, until I finish my novel.

You can read it here, though it is in Spanish. It is about a young boy whose mother disappears and they have reasons to believe she’s dead, since they live in a very violent city. Julian, the boy, finds out she might no be gone, but that she might be in a completely different world…a city right under his city. (Probably the description will be better once its published).

Wish me luck! Next week I will have written up to 14,000 words!

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Using FindFocus.Co to help me finish my novel


I’ve been meaning to write a novel since I was 14 years old. I always have these amazing ideas and I spend a couple of months excited and writing but I have never finished anything.

This year Michael started working on his app FindFocus that was built for people like me: people that have something awesome they want to finish, but they haven’t. The app let’s you challenge yourself and have a partner hold you accountable. You can even put some money on the challenge, as an incentive to do what you need to do. If you don’t succeed your challenge, you will lose the money. It’s that easy.

I’ve been helping Michael build this app, so it also has a special place in my heart and I want to see it succeed. For that I will prove that it works by finishing my novel.

Wish me luck!

Oh and if you want to read my progress head over to Tablo and read La ciudad bajo la ciudad, The City Under the City in Spanish.

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One month. One island.

Mallorca is one of the Balearic Islands in Spain. An island surrounded by the cerulean Mediterranean in which many cultures come together to form one great destination for someone who is looking to have a break and take a vacation, for the one looking for a new home or someone who is about to retire.

Or like us, for people that are looking to live for a month as they work and travel.

With Michael we decided on Mallorca long ago, even before we got our first tickets to come to Europe. I had been here about 7 years ago, and was excited to see the island again. If it was not for visa restrictions, we would stay here for a year.

If you’re a slow traveler and are looking for a place to spend a couple of weeks, a month or several months, Mallorca is perfect for you.

Palma de Mallorca

Palma is the capital, and for a tiny island, it is a pretty big city. It’s labyrinthine structure will get you lost, but even that will prove a great experience. There’s thousands of small cafés and restaurants serving tapas, foreign cuisine and tons of jamón serrano. There are also so many shops you could spend a month just hopping from one store to the other and still have more to see.

The Catedral de Palma de Mallorca is its banner, a Gothic cathedral that overlooks the sea. Its enormous structure makes it a majestic view if you’re approaching the city from the ocean or by bus from the airport.

Catedral de Palma de Mallorca

Museums, churches and old castles can be found throughout the city, so you will always have something to do here.

If you are working while you travel, there are some coworking spaces in Palma. We found one in the center that is simply perfect. Sant Miquel 55 has great internet speed, friendly people and comfortable desks all for a really good price.

More than a city

But Mallorca has so many other places that are worth seeing. If you rent a car you can go around the island in one day, but there are also many buses that leave the city daily that will take you to all corners of the island.

On the western side of the island there is a range of mountains called Tramuntana, and hiding here we found the most charming towns. These were our favorites.

Pollensa / Puerto de Pollensa / Cala Formentor

Pollensa had been on our plans for a while, and it didn’t disappoint. The town itself is gorgeous, but the port town is worth seeing. During the summer it attracts lots of tourists, and there are many hotels and restaurants by the beach for all tastes and cravings. The beaches are family friendly and not very big, and you can swim in the clear waters of the Mediterranean that feel like a pool.

From the port you can take a bus to another beach, Formentor. This has been one of our favorite beaches so far, but the road makes the whole experience like no other. Climbing to the top of the mountain, and later descending, you have some of the most incredible views. Halfway through you will find a lookout that is worth stopping at.

Once at the beach, enjoy every second of the experience, as it is out of this world.

Cala Formentor

Sóller / Puerto de Sóller

A charming thing about Sóller is that it can be reached by taking a special train from the city. El tren de Sóller is a vintage looking train that goes through the mountains and across tunnels that seem endless before it suddenly comes to a stop and shows you the beautiful town of Sóller at your feet. The train will stop for about 10 minutes to allow the passengers to come outside and take pictures, and then it will continue its journey down to the town.

As you arrive, a lovely homey feeling will greet you. Wander the streets and you will find hidden treasures like Café Scholl, that has a nice garden where you can enjoy a cup of coffee (with almond cake, our recommendation) or eat breakfast.

There is a Miró and Picasso gallery right outside of the train station, which is very nice to see. Miró paintings will have you captivated and staring at the colors and shapes and the Picasso ceramics will make you admire more at all this artist was capable of creating.

Another one of the charms of the town of Sóller is the tramway that can be taken to the port. You can enjoy the beach, explore the shops and restaurants, or hike, as we did, up to the lighthouse and restaurant Es Faro. Also, up there, you will find a refugio, or hostel, for those walking the GR 221, a hike that crosses all of the Tramuntana mountains.

The Lighthouse

St. Elm and Sa Dragonera island

If you are looking to hike and then relax on a beach, I highly recommend St. Elm. The beaches are family friendly, and many cute and cozy restaurants line inviting the visitors to come inside, relax and enjoy the amazing views.

Michael had read on the internet about the island of Sa Dragonera, famous for being a national park with several trails, and that is not far from St. Elm. We took a boat and were surprised to find that, other than a closed tourist information office that offered maps and information on the local fauna, there was nothing else. A map showed us that there are four hikes, and we decided to do the longest, to a lighthouse on top of a mountain. We had already booked a boat to get back to the main island, so we had limited time. The hike could be made in 3 hours, but we managed to do it in 2.5 hours.

The climb was not very hard, but we definitely recommend having the right shoes, sunscreen and lots of water. At the top, you will be greeted by the famous inhabitants of the island: the lizards, or dragons as the majorcans call them, the sentinels of the old Far Vell, a lighthouse that dates to 1851. The island takes its name after them, and you can see them all through the island, but at the top is where you can really appreciate how many of them there really are.

The views from the top are impressive, and you will not be disappointed.

The old lighthouse at the top, and Michael.

Valldemossa

Many great artists have been attracted to this town hidden in the mountains. Chopin and George Sand, being the most famous, lived in here for a winter, but others like nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío have made of Valldemossa their home. And there is no doubt of what brought them there, the charm of the town is like no other. The serpentine streets and the terraced vineyards and fields with olive trees give this place a fairy tale feeling.

La Cartuja, the monastery, was the home to Chopin and George Sand, and you can visit the room where they stayed, as well as see the piano he played. The rest of the monastery is a museum that shows what the life at the monastery was like. (Tip: if you visit the museum, make sure you buy a ticket to see all the rooms, not just the Chopin room).

Cartuja de Valldemossa

Other than seeing the museum, we found ourselves wandering around the streets, we found one that led just outside the town, to a forest where we found a trail. We spent some time reading under the trees, before we got back to the town and started trying wines in some places.

Sa Cova is a hidden gem, a small restaurant that has the feeling of being inside a wine cellar, but later it opens to a small terrace with fantastic views of the fields. For €2.50 each we had a glass of wine, and tapas. Their wine is exquisite, locally produced and one of the best we have had on our trip.

A view of the town of Valldemossa.

Llucalcari

This is a place that you will not find in all travel guides, but it is definitely worth checking out. You can take a bus and between the town of Deiá and Sóller, you will find Llucalcari.

It is a rock beach hidden from any main roads, you have to hike and later descend on a hanging ladder to reach the giant rocks where you can set your towel and take some sun. The water is clear and beautiful, and some bigger rocks stand in the middle of the water, so you can climb them and dive.

The beach is not completely isolated and you can find several locals and some tourists enjoying the sun or the mud pools to exfoliate the skin.

The rocky beach of Llucalcari.

A warning, nonetheless, even if to our surprise in many of the beaches in the island women walk around topless, in Llucalcari do not be shocked if people walk around and swim completely naked. It was a big surprise to us new worldians, and I think it will be a while until I am brave enough to even change my top without covering.

A beach for the adventurous, Llucalcari was a hidden surprise in many ways, a place we recommend for anyone visiting the island.

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