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EXTREME HIKING: Angels Landing


HIKING ANGELS LANDING:

ZIONS’S MOST DANGEROUS HIKE

Look, we’re not hiking gurus. In fact, we’ve only hiked together a handful of times. Lone Pine Peak and Cowles Mountain are the only two that even come to mind, why? Because hiking just doesn’t do it for BOTH of us. Brandon is more gung ho about climbing large land masses practically naked with just a sleeping bag, where I (Jules) would rather helicopter Jame’s Bond style arriving to a beautiful peak in the swiss alps where a glass of champs and live music awaits me. So, why did we choose to hike Angels Landing? Because it’s listed in almost every magazine, blog, newsletter and article as the top 10-20 “Most Dangerous Hikes in the World”. Not to mention, we were already there trying to score a permit to see the Emerald Pools at Subway (which is a whole other story for another time because THAT never happened).

Here’s a list of why you shouldn’t hike Angels Landing. But what is life without risk? BORING.

At the end of the day, yes, people have died (like, 6 people since 2004) and it’s definitely not for people who are terrified of heights. Let’s just say there were plenty of curious Georges hanging out on the sidelines in everyone’s way with their cheerleaders rooting them on to conquer the hardest thing they’ve ever done in their life. Good for them for taking that leap of faith OR shame on their friends for lying about the extremity of it, regardless, let’s talk about why you SHOULD. Because if you’re going to hike anything, it might as well be dangerous or breathtaking, right? Well, you’re in luck, because Angels Landing in Utah is both.

zionnationalpark

WHAT TO REMEMBER (especially if you’re hiking in the summer):

As the trail gets steeper and leaves behind a river, it becomes paved. After a series of steep switchbacks, the trail goes through the area between Angels Landing and the Zion Canyon that is a gradual ascent. Walter’s Wiggles, a series of 21 steep switchbacks, are the last hurdle before Scout Lookout. Scout Lookout is generally the turnaround point for those who are unwilling to make the final summit push to the top of Angels Landing. The last half-mile of the trail is the fun part! This can be strenuous for most and littered with sharp drop offs and narrow paths. Chains to grip are provided for portions of the last half-mile to the top at 5,790 feet. <— that last paragraph was totally taken from Wikipedia because who’s taking notes when you think you’re about to die? Moving forward, be the know with the following 6 pointers:

  1. Soak your clothes. Yes, you read that right. Head over to the fountain where the bus drops everyone off (because you can’t just park there) and get your clothes wet. It’s going to evaporate anyway like an hour in, but you need to know that this hike doesn’t really have any shade and this little trick was a LIFESAVER. With that said:
  2. Bring plenty of water/hat, etc. I can’t tell you how many people didn’t have enough water and were asking people for water who were on the way down. Mindboggling.
  3. Try heading out no earlier than 8am and no later than 1pm. If you’re too early or too late you’ll arrive on top with both valleys masked by the shadows from the mountains. While it can be beautiful and less crowded, I would recommend you leave wisely if you want that postcard shot.
  4. Try not to go to the bathroom. Imagine hundreds of people a day climbing a mountain with the same entrance and exit. It’s gross, and all the Rangers seem to gripe about it. Yes, there’s a porta-potty half way up, but if you can breathe you’ll probably throw up. I tried, failed, and got creative.
  5. Bring food. Look, apparently, it’s about 5 hours there and back. Especially if you’re out of shape, scared, or you’re trying to get footage for Spielberg’s next big hit. Personally, it took us 2.5 hours and we took .5 to just hang out on top and have a late snack and feed the squirrels (that are so cute at the end of our video). So I would plan for 3-4 hrs.
  6. Don’t be a jerk or a bad parent. It’s common courtesy to let people pass you if you’re slow or through a path first when coming down. This hike is sketchy and there are LOTS of narrow paths that are shared between hikers coming up and down. Be courteous, and if you’re a parent, assess your kids. This is NOT a hike for a squirmish unruly fam bam. We’re not saying they’ll die, but your probability of them falling to their death will go WAY up.

There’s little things here or there to note but in all honesty it really is a fun hike. It’s just enough in all the right ways: suspense, longevity, and overall accomplishment. We actually did this hike right after we hiked The Narrows. I would recommend doing it by itself, but we definitely proved you can hit Zion National Park’s top attractions in just one day. #goals? Till our next post, enjoy:

Blog, EUROPE

Monte- Carlo: Shaken, not stirred, day trip no overnight and why…


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Oh, Monte Carlo (sigh).

A billionaires playground to say the least but for rest of the world, it’s only as impressive as your lowest expectations…unless you’ve never been anywhere else in the world, or France or near blue water.

I’ve always wanted to gallivant the streets of this James Bond famed location with it’s impressive Casino and posh atmosphere, but unless you’re pulling up in a million dollar mega yacht, there’s not too much going on. I’m sure we could have stayed the night and found a chic place to dine at or maybe wander into Buddha Bar located across from the Casino de Monte-Carlo, but the South of France has so much more to offer so I’m glad we didn’t waste too much time here, in fact, a few hours was plenty.

Monte Carlo Casino

The grounds are beautiful and the city is super clean. I didn’t know Monaco was it’s own country until after a little research but I guess I can add that one to the list! We walked the cities, viewed the location where the famous Grand Prix is usually held, saw the ports, and then some. Then some, as in, that was enough for us after an amazing lunch and the best fire-lit creme brulee I’ve had in a long time. We’ll never go back but glad we checked it off our bucket list and drove in the appreciate it’s fame. if you find the time, grab lunch on top of the Fairmont Monte-Carlo and if you drive in, you might as well park right under the Casino or a block or two down. It’s about the same all around town: 2-4 euros/hour.

Blog, EUROPE

Cinque Terre: What to see, where to stay and when to go.


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We stayed in Riomggiore with an amazing balcony view of the street and ocean and visited Manarola, Vernazza, Corniglia, Monterosso and took a day trip to Porto Venere: Our Favorite.

  • First and foremost you can get to all five places from the train that’s right there. Technically six if you count Porto Venere. . Parking will cost about 20 euro per day but there is only so much parking.
  • Day trips from Cinque Terre? See the leaning tower of Pisa or visit Tuscany.
  • Try and go during Spring and fall, especially if you plan to hike. There’s not much of a breeze and the beaches can get really crowded. These coves are very tiny and to truly enjoy and appreciate the area it’s best to go when it’s not overcrowded.
  • Stay in Vernazza for things to do, Riomaggiore for ocean tranquility, Monterosso for the beach or Porto Venere for the port, castles and cool vibe.

Here’s our take on Cinque Terre from North to south:

1. The best beach is in Monterosso. The rest of the places, either, do not have a beach at all or the beach is very small or rocky. Monterosso is a lot more spread out and flat. There are plenty of shops and restaurants on the beach if that is what you’re looking for. The sunset is beautiful here and one of very few Purgatorial society Churches left in the world is located here. You can’t miss it. It’s slightly creepy.

monteroso

2. Vernazza has the best views. You have to explore a little but if you climb up to the top there is a lovely restaurant and some really cool views. Plenty of adorable shops and a place to definitely people watch. The cove is beautiful and peaceful. If you stay anywhere, this would be one of the best places to stay that has it all

Vernazza

3. Corniglia was awful. If you rule out anyone let it be this one. I don’t even have any pictures worth uploading of this place. The hike from just the train for one, sucks and two it’s the farthest you’ll walk to get the worst of the five. There really wasn’t too much to see. The problem is its situated high on a hill and once you make it up the hill, it’s not that pretty. It’s extremely steep, not very many rustic buildings and when you reach to the other side there’s a small cove that isn’t nearly as appealing as the rest. The hike down to that spot looked awful and not worth it. I’m pretty sure we wasted almost two hours to check it out.

4. Manarola is more of a Tourist Trap filled with narrow streets and more brightly colored buildings. The picture below is of us waiting to jump on the train station. Its a cute place but the cove is tight. Any of the pictures you google are most likely taken from a boat so to truly see it that way you would have to travel that way, I would say it’s mostly shops. Nothing too special about it.
manarolla

5. Riomaggiore is where most of the famous pictures of Cinque Terre are taken of. Note that those pictures are taken from a boat 🙂 As most of the pictures are. It’s beautiful though, not as pretty as most of the pictures you’ll see online but lovely and quaint nonetheless. There isn’t a whole lot to see. A few restaurants and shops. We lucked out and rented one of the only private apartments with a terrace available on the south side of Riomaggiore. It was a two bedroom apartment and was amazing waking up to the sound of crashing waves. If that’s what you’re looking for and more tranquility than, say, Vernazza, then this is the place.Riomaggiore

PORTO VENERE was our favorite from this area. While the “Cinque Terre” region is the reason we visited, Porto Venere was only a 25 minute drive from Riomaggiore and worth every second we were there. If you’re a castle lover you’ll LOVE this area. The castle is huge. There’s a few actually that are worth exploring. The area is a huge port with plenty of restaurants and more to do. If you want an area with it all, stay here. You can catch the train to hit Cinque Terre and back just note that the last train is early like around 9pm!

porto venere

Blog, EUROPE

Mallorca: What to see and NOT to see


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Mallorca is beautiful when it comes to the coast. Inland? Not so much. It kind of reminded me of the dirty parts of southern California: a dry and distressed desert. So if you’re headed to one of the largest of the Balearic Islands be prepared to rent a car if you really want to explore its beauty and don’t hesitate to stay overnight in just one place. MOVE AROUND. The island has so much to offer.

Two of my favorite resources we’re Virtual Mallorca & See Mallorca. Unfortunately, the descriptions are vague and somewhat off. “Virtual Mallorca” gave me more of a visual of the island and “See Mallorca” gave me a little more of a modern insight.

With that said, if you’re headed to Mallorca you’re probably antsy to hit a beach. We rented a car and hit the top ones on our list, and then some, so here are some of the TOP TEN BEACHES IN MALLORCA as well as things to see and not to see:

1. Unless you’re a british 16 year old that wants to get wasted every night, stay away from Magaluf. If you’re not, you’re going to want to kill yourself past 10pm. We love our nightlife so through that alone we were veered to stay in Magaluf from mutual friends and little research. We stayed at the luxurious Melia Hotel called the Beach House. I really wanted to rage at Nikki Beach Mallorca (which was amazing if you don’t mind $20 a drink and $80 for a hookah) and this hotel happened to be right next door. Other than that the hotel really wasn’t worth the price (service was slow, etc). Magaluf is like a cheesy carnival. Think vegas lights but not…with hundreds of drunk brits and terrible bars. We did have fun during the forth of July at The Daiquiri Palace in Magaluf. They had live music on the beach and it was a really good time. I’m all about beach parties so that was definitely the most fun for me 🙂 . BCM Planet Dance is in Magaluf as well so if there are any big performers they’re most likely going to play there. Another reason we opted to stay in Magaluf was due to the fact that Calvin Harris was performing there LIVE. Aside from all the activity, the beaches aren’t as nice as the rest of the ones listed. Not even close. But the location isn’t bad from the airport at 40 euros to get there one way

magaluf

2. Our Favorite Beach was the infamous Cala Mondrago Beach in Cala d’or. This area is lovely and about an hour and a half from the airport. Not as “beachy” as Alcudia, but the windy roads and high terrain is adorable and Mondrago beach was by far one of the coolest and prettiest beaches we saw. If we stayed anywhere for a few nights it would here and we would have rented a boat to hit the whole coast. The coves are to die and the water is so many different shades of blue. Random places to cliff dive, however, the beaches can get very crowded in the summer. Just another reason to experience this place on a boat. Worth every euro 🙂

Mondrago Beach

3. If you want to relax: visit or stay NORTHEAST on the island near Alcudia Beach or Formentor Beach listed next: This beach had the most crystal clear water, white sand that stretched for miles and wind that picked up fast enough for plenty of Kite surfing. para-sailing and other wind sports. Definitely a place to stay and relax in peace. This beach is long enough for it not to get too crowded in the Summer but you have to find the right spot. The closer you are the port, the more crowded it gets so spread out if you can! You can walk out into the ocean for a while. It reminded us of Hawaii a little. (Note that if you’re not renting a car, it’s about 60-80 euros from the airport to this location so it may be worth just renting a car for a few days. It’s about an hour-ish by car from the airport).

4. IF YOU WANT IT ALL head to Formentor beach (also known as Cala Pi de sa Posada). We hit it on the way up to Cap de Formentor. Celebrities are spotted here for a reason. If you only have a few days this would be the spot to be around. If you’re renting a boat or have a car you have so much to see: plenty of hidden coves, the “Cap de Formentor”, amazing restaurants, an adorable town, plenty of wind for wind sports & ports galore as well as Parking and facilities. This is where I would head if you only have a few days and really want to see all of what the island has to offer all-around in one location.

alcudia beach and Formentor Beach

5. Cap de Formentor wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Don’t be fooled by the pictures on Trip Advisor. The one at dawn is lovely but who’s up that early? In fact, the Cove of Cala Figuera was the prettiest part of the drive. You pass it on the way up to Cap de Formentor. You can’t miss it. There will be signs and lots of sketchy parking. It’s the prettiest cove with crystal blue water. We didn’t have time to park and walk down there but it would have been well worth it- especially by boat. The Cap de Formentor can be nightmare to park. Be prepared to wait if you’re there around noon. There’s a little building on top with a restroom as well. The roads are windy on the way up but you can park anywhere there and back for pictures. I have no idea how they get buses up there. Our car barely fit.

Cap de Formentor and Cove of Cala de Figuera

6. IF YOU WANT TO STAY CLOSE TO THE AIRPORT BUT AWAY FROM TOURISTS TRAPS stay in Portals Nous. Great shopping, a huge Marina and some of the best restaurants and bars. Only 10 minutes from Palma de Mallorca and Magaluf but with a more ritsy feel and prettier. We had the best sushi in the world at TAHINI. If you’re a huge sushi fan this place is to die for. Worth every penny and right next to the marina. Head to Ritzi after for fabulous drinks and music on the weekends.

Tahini in Portals Nous

7. Unless you’re German and trying to rage, avoid S’Arenal. Don’t even bother unless you’re aiming for cheap accommodation and a crowded beach. You’re better off staying in Magaluf. In fact, it’s gotten so bad they’re trying to weed the German trash out. “We will transform the appearance of the Playa de Palma,” Alvaro Gijón, Palma’s deputy mayor for tourism, told the German tabloid Bild in an interview published on July 21.

That’s a wrap! All in all, choose your location wisely but no matter what you do, plan on renting a car to get the most for your money from this island….

EUROPE

The Trift Bridge: One of the longest pedestrian-only suspension bridges in the World


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The Trift Bridge is one of the longest pedestrian-only suspension bridges in the swiss alps and quite possibly one of the only ones in the World. It’s only 25 minutes from Interlaken, an hour from Lake Lucerne and is absolutely amazing.  It is some 550 feet long and sits 300 feet above Trift Lake, in central Switzerland off the Trift Glacier. We took the dog and had a complete blast. Our friends we’re terrified to cross it but we we’re almost disappointed at how much higher we thought the bridge would be. Regardless, it’s still really neat.

Switzerland visit

Here’s the top then things you need to know about the The TriftBridge:

  1. You can’t drive to the bridge. You must drive to the triftbahn, park for free across the street and take a 10 minute, 16 euro ride up the mountain
  2. You must hike the rest of the way up-which takes roughly 2 hours. You can opt to hike it from the bottom (which takes 4+hours) and take the trift bahn back but you must time your hike accordingly and buy your ticket back BEFORE you hike.
  3. Only 8 people are allowed in the Triftbahn at once…so the early bird catches the worm in this case and if you don’t arrive early (they open at 9pm) you may be waiting an hour or two until your number is called.
  4. The trail is mapped out kind of sketchy so just remember to go LEFT. If you only speak english you’re SOL when it comes time to choose a route halfway through your hike. Just know that the easier route and fastest route is LEFT and the more difficult route is right. If your short on time or have kids, opt for the left route.
  5. Dogs are allowed on the Triftbahn and en route. Yes, you have to buy your dog a ticket. I believe it was 5 euros for both ways. There are plenty of dogs off leash so if your dog is well behaved, feel free. However, you must have it leashed when crossing the first bridge over water.
  6. BRING PLENTY OF WATER & FOOD. No there is not an amazing restaurant or snack shack up at the bridge. There is one when you get off the Triftbahn but that’s it.
  7. The Trift Bahn is only open mid June – mid October.
  8. VISIT IN JUNE. Why? Because the glaciers from the ice are melting. The water is absolutely gorgeous and it’s still warm enough to hike with a little snow up top to make it picture perfect.
  9. If you’re short on time, Go back down the way you came. Some people tried hiking back a different route. FAIL. When you’re handed your ticket for the time you’re expected to be back on the triftbahn, try and make that. They hand them out for a reason and you don’t want your ship to sail.
  10. Bring your goPro. There’s something really spectacular about this bridge. They reconstructed it in 2009 so its perfectly safe but if you visit in June when the glaciers are melting there’s something really peaceful and wonderful about it.