Authors Posts by Charlee Dyroff

Charlee Dyroff

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Rabeang Pasak treehouse resort

Haven’t you always wanted to sleep in a treehouse? There is a place in a small town in the northern part of Thailand where your childhood dreams can come true. A treehouse resort called Rabeang Pasak has multiple different treehouses where you can spend some quality time with your family, friends, or even by yourself.

Rabeang Pasak is a family-run place that started in 2010. The houses were designed by former Architect Mr. Bullsiri Suwannachin, better known as Lee. When he retired, Lee decided to put his creative juices into designing a treehouse to live in, later expanding to a small collection of treehouses. Each house is a different design and has a unique name such as “Moon House” or “Bamboo House.” There are eight houses in total, six regular and two that are set aside for families.

Rabeang Pasak treehouse resort

When you think of a treehouse, you may imagine a haphazard pile of planks nailed together with a rickety latter. However, these treehouses are unlike anything you’ve ever seen or imagined. Lee transferred his passion as an architect into creating these magical houses within the trees of Thailand complete with stairs, showers, and windows.

Rabeang Pasak is located in Doi Saket, right outside of the popular city of Chiang Mai. When traveling to Thailand, stop in Chaing Mai, a city that has been around since the 1200’s to soak in some history and culture before driving to Doi Saket to enjoy the rural market village and experience beautiful nature of Thailand. The Treehouse resort is built in the Teakwood forest where you can hike around, wander within the trees, explore caves and more.

A couple of attractions near the treehouses include the Mae Ngat Dam and Reservoir and the Maetaman Elephant Camp. The Reservoir and Dam are great for picnics and for fishing and swimming. There is also a waterfall near the area that you ca hike to. The Elephant camp is a little bit more of a trek and might be worth renting a car for. The camp has mixed reviews. While some people truly love seeing such majestic creatures in real life, others worry about their treatment.

The Rabeang Pasak resort is truly a magical experience. Sleep and live in the trees just like you imagined as a kid on your next trip to Thailand.

Would you stay at the treehouse resort in Thailand?

Rocks are part of our everyday lives. They form the brick for buildings we work in, asphalt for roads we drive on, and are laying around in parks and nature everywhere. We often overlook them or tend to view them as dirty and dull. However, the Rock of Guatapé in Antioquia, Colombia is a rock not only worth noticing, but traveling to see.
The Rock of Guatapé is also known as “La Piedra” (rock in Spanish) or “El Peñón de Guatapé.” It is a huge 10 million-ton smooth rock that stands 200 meters tall, overlooking the countryside surrounding it. This giant rock was once worshipped by natives that inhabited the area called the Tahamies. It was a giant spiritual force in their region.
el Peñón de Guatapé
Flickr photo via Edgar Jiménez
The smooth 10-million-ton rock has one giant crack that runs from the bottom to the top of one side.  Even though The Rock of Guatapé was first scaled in 1954 by three brave men using only sticks Pedro Nel Ramírez, Ramón Díaz and Luis Villegas, there were eventually stairs built to help others reach the top. There are 649 steps built into the giant crack that runs up the rock for people to climb. From far away, the stairs look like stitches or some sort of mend to repair for the crack in the rock.
On the face that looks north, there are two large painted letters that look like a “G” and an “I”, which is just the first part of what was meant to be a “U.” The Rock of Guatapé was long fought over by the people of El Peñol and the people of Guatapé. Each region claimed ownership of the beautiful natural masterpiece. The residents of Guatapé attempted to claim ownership once and for all by scaling the rock and painting it with their town’s name. However, this was not a very stealth operation, and the people of El Peñol noticed and put a stop to the painting. Even still, the big white “G” and beginnings of a “U” exist on the rock today.
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Flickr photo via Tim Regan
Unfortunately, because the rock is so majestic, it has become a popular tourist spot. It is also located only 2 hours from a popular destination town of Medellin, and therefor many tourists drive to the rock to climb it. At the top, there is a small fenced in space with places to look out and buy refreshments and souvenirs. The view is breathtaking (literally, after climbing so many stairs) with the site of gorgeous andes, Guatapé lake and a 360 panorama of Colombia that will make you never want to leave. The best time to climb the Rock of Guatapé is in the morning right after breakfast before others arrive. Even though it has become somewhat of an attraction, there is nothing in the world quite like the Rock of Guatapé and it is still worth visiting.

Have you visited el Peñón de Guatapé?

 

Get your candy cravings ready and start thinking about what costume to wear because Halloween is just around the corner. Halloween is such a fun holiday filled with creative decorations, spooky parades and delicious treats. One of the best places to celebrate Halloween this year is a trip to New York City! Manhattan has incredible activities ranging from dog parades to halloween balls—there is never a dull moment. Check out just a few of the reasons New York City is the place to visit this Halloween

The infamous village parade:

nyc halloween 2015

Flickr photo via Gene Han

Every year there is a giant parade that begins in the Village and progresses through the city. This year, there are going to be over 50 different bands performing along the way. The village parade is famous for the strange people and costumes it draws… you must wear costume to participate. Get ready to get weird.

Some of the best and scariest Haunted Houses:

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Flickr photo via DowntownTraveler.com

New York City is one of those cities that goes all out in everything it does, including haunted houses. Whether you visit Blood Manor to be chased by Zombies or Black Out where the theme is “Abandon All Hope, Ye Who enter Here.” Get ready to have your pants scared off of you.

Pumpkin Displays:

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Flickr photo via Andrew Dallos

Every year the New York Botanical Garden brings in some of the largest pumpkins in the world for display. Some of the pumpkins weigh over a thousand pounds! Walk around the beautiful garden and experience the majesty of these amazing pumpkin displays.

Halloween-themed restaurants:

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Flickr photo via Aaron Fellmeth Photography

Restaurants in the west village are always fun to attend because the parade stumbles through the area. However, if you are looking for an all out Halloween meal check out Jekyll and Hyde Club that serves yummy food such as Frankenstein’s Favorite Burger. Jekyll and Hyde’s plays halloween music and is decorated to the extreme: it is New York’s Halloween hot spot year round.

New York knows how to make Halloween fun whether you are with a family or looking to party hard. Check out some of these events as just a starting place when looking where to travel to celebrate the Halloween holiday!

Will you participate in any NYC Halloween events this year?

Fall is an amazing time of year with the beauty of leaves changing, delicious baked goods, and fun holidays to celebrate. As the air starts to get a slight chill, think about planning a weekend fall getaway to one of these lovely places.

  1. Aspen, Colorado:

fall getaways

Flickr photo via Mark Land

The name of this quaint town in the Rocky Mountains gives away why it might be the perfect place for a fall vacation: tons of Aspen trees. The fall foliage in Aspen, Colorado is incredible. There are tons of different ways to enjoy the fall scenery such as hikes ranging from easy strolls to difficult climbs, bicycle rides and tours, fourwheeling trips or even a gondola ride. Aspen is also known for it’s delicious restaurants and upscale dining, so the food-lovers can enjoy the best fall dishes from professional chefs. Check out this website to snag a 2 for 3 night deal,.

  1. Highland Falls, New York:

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Flickr photo via Mark Wyman

The small town of Highland Falls in upstate New York is a hidden gem to escape to during the changing seasons. If you like the small-town vibe, Highland falls is the perfect place to sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee from a local coffee shop or stroll around Bear Mountain lake and relax. The fall colors in the trees within the town and in the surrounding Bear Mountain area will be ablaze with vibrant colors, showing the true beauty of fall. Don’t forget to stop by the family run “Ice Cream Shop” for a fun flavor and run in with locals.

  1. Harbor Springs, Michigan:

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Flickr photo via Michael Patterson

Another fun place to vacation to enjoy the beautiful scenery of changing leaves is Harbor Springs, Michigan. Not only is the foliage in the small town beautiful with the change of seasons, but there is also a road called the “Tunnel of Trees” on the M-119 heritage Route where trees meet overhead creating a tunnel for cars. This route is unparalled in the fall and provides stunning views of Lake Michigan as it twists and turns. Take a bike ride or drive along the Tunnel of Trees to soak in the sights and see the historic lighthouse at Beaver Isalnd. Harbor Springs also offers cute little candy shops and restaurants to grab apple cider from after a day of exploring.

Even though we will miss the hot summer days and fun-filled summer nights, there are many reasons to celebrate the arrival of Fall. Try out one of these Fall get-away spots for a relaxing trip and beautiful views of the changing leaves.

What are some of your favorite fall getaways?

Did you know that the Philippines is made up of over 7,000 islands? With so many beautiful islands to visit, this is the perfect country to go island hopping this winter.

When planning the trip to the Philippines, one of the best parts to visit is a province called Palawan. Palawan was ranked the #1 Island in the world by Condé Naste Traveler… and with good reason. The province of Palawan has the main island Palawan and a smaller group of islands called the Calamian Islands which are great for island hopping.

island hopping

Flickr photo via nennnn

The Calamian Islands is made up of Busuanga, Coron, and Culion. Busuanga is probably the best island to start because it is one of the largest islands in the Phillipines. It is also just incredibly stunning because it is not overrun with tourist hotels and restaurants. Busuanga is one of the islands grouped into the Calamian Islands which are in the province of Palawan. This giant island is surrounded by the Sulu Sea and the South China Sea. Divers from around the world travel to Busuanga because there are tons of creatures and treasures hidden in the waters around the island due to the wreckage of Japanese ships sunk by the American Navy during bombings on September 24th in 1944.

Coron Town is the main town on Busuanga and has a great local vibe. It is mostly made up of divers, local and from abroad. There are other activities besides diving including hiking to the Maquinit hot spring or trek to the top of Mt. Tapyas. However, if you want to escape to some amazing beaches, the best activity is to island hop from Coron Town, Busuanga to the other smaller islands Culion and Coron. (It is a little bit confusing because Coron Town is located on Busuanga and not on Coron Island). To Island hop, you can hire a native boat called a “banca” or be a part of a larger tour.

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Flickr photo via Bro. Jeffrey Pioquinto, SJ

The island of Coron has tons of coves, lagoons and beaches that are so picturesque you won’t believe your eyes. One of the must see landmarks on Coronis Kayangan Lake with clear water and Limetone cliffs that create a majestic scene. It is supposedly the cleanest lake in Asia and is hidden in between mountain walls.

Another island worth hopping to from Coron or from Busuanga is the less visited island of Culion. Culion was once the largest leper colony in the world and still holds some sort of stigma that keeps people out. With that said, Culion is beautiful because of how under-developed it is and how small and cute the town is. The main town on the island has a huge coral wall on a church of La Inmaculada Concepcion that is breathtaking in it’s simplicity.

The province of Palawan is filled with interesting and fun activities worth exploring this winter. For you next trip, plan to island hop these three islands to get a taste of diving and adventure on Busuanga, beautiful beaches on Coron and pure small town beauty in Culion.

Are you planning on island hopping around the Philippines this winter?

 

 

barcelona clubs

Barcelona’s nightlife is one of the best and craziest in the world. There are great bars, clubs and a lot of live music shows. Often times, people stay out until the sun rises dancing their shoes off or talking with friends. The majority of people will recommend making an appearance at one of the infamous beach clubs, or “discotecas.”  These are huge clubs known around the world such as Pacha, Opium, and Carpe Diem with a ground floor opening to the boardwalk and sand of the beach. However, even though these clubs are a lot of fun and have a great location, they are packed with tourists. If you want to party with the locals, check out a few of the best Barcelona clubs below.

Mojito:

barcelona club

Located in the friendly neighborhood L’exaimple, Mojito is filled with locals who want to dance and have a good time. It is not a huge club with tons of different levels or crazy streamers and smoke, but they do play great music in Spanish (whether it is Spanish music or Latin music). Everyone in the club dances and the club gives off a simple but fun vibe. It even offers dance classes for salsa and bachata during the day so that if you don’t think your dancing is up to speed, you can learn with professionals! Because this is a very local “discoteca” be ready to speak some spanish!

Moog:

Moog is a small hip little place right off of Las Ramblas, the famous large pedestrian main street in the center of Barcelona. The club is known for it’s electronic music and has the best up and coming DJ’s come through nightly. The club is small, but people go crazy dancing! Make sure to get there a little bit early (which is around 1 in Spain) or else there might be long lines. Bling Bling:

Located a little higher up in L’exaimple than Mojito, and across the Diagonal, one of the main roads in Barcelona, is located one of Barcelona’s gems: Bling Bling. The name itself is fun to say and the “discoteca” is even more fun to visit. This club is a large warehouse-type space decorated with big neon flowers and peace-signs like the 70’s. There is a main room, a VIP room with different music from the main room, and a private loung. Bling Bling has a great energy and there is usually a long line to get into this one.

So the next time you travel to Barcelona, brush up on some spanish, brush up on your dance moves, and party with the locals at one of these “discotecas.”

What are your favorite Barcelona clubs?

Granada is a special city with an ambient difficult to describe in words. There is something magical about walking through the streets of this beautiful Spanish city situated in the Andalusia region in the south of Spain. One of the main tourist attractions of Granada is the old Moorish fortress and palace, La Alhambra.

La Alhambra began as a very small fort in 889 that was eventually rebuilt into a larger and dominating fortress in the Eleventh century. The beautiful walls and magnificent size of La Alhambra looking over the town of Granada is evidence of the power that the Moorish civilization once held in this part of the world. The biggest renovation of the palace, making it into what we see today, was constructed under the rule of the emir Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar.

Alhambra granada spain

 

Flickr photo via Nathan Rupert

Although La Alhambra is an overwhelming structure from the outside, it is filled with intricate details everywhere. For example, there is one room inside called the “Embajadores” hall where there are prayers and songs to god carved subtly in the walls an floors. The rooms are organized around a central courtyard and the palace is constructed to have beautiful fountains and running water. In some of the rooms there are mosaics that look as if they would take thousands of years to complete. This majestic palace was lived in by the last Muslim emirs before the city was conquered. Granada was one of the last cities to be conquered by Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand II, the Reyes Catolicos. Even the Catholic Monarchs were impressed by La Alhambra and couldn’t make themselves destroy it, but instead used it themselves.

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Flickr photo via Phillip Capper

When visiting La Alhambra, make sure to book a ticket online to guarantee an entry as it tends to be a very busy and coveted place to visit. Tickets range from 8 Euro to 14 Euro depending on whether you go during the day or night. You will have to pick a time online, but this time only applies to Nasrid Palaces of La Alhambra, so be sure to head to this part first before exploring the other beautiful buildings on the grounds. For more information on tickets check out this link.

One of the most beautiful parts of La Alhambra are the large gardens on the grounds. When the emirs lived in the fortress, they planted orange trees, myrtles and roses. In 1812, the Duke of Wllington introduced English Elms to the park which are now a commanding presence. Enjoy walking through the park and listening to the many fountains and running water as well as the sound of singing birds while looking out over beautiful views.

For one of the best views of Granada and a perfect site of La Alhambra, hike up to the “mirador de San Nicolas” There is usually someone playing lovely guitar music and it is a great place to relax and soak up the Alhambra in all of it’s greatness.

Have you visited La Alhambra?

With so many museums, famous restaurants, and tours it is hard to fit everything into one vacation to Paris. However, usually some of the best memories are un-planned. They come from mistakes in the plan or from stumbling upon hidden restaurants or meeting unexpected people. So when booking a trip to Paris, make sure you leave at least one day to walk around and wander. One of the best districts to stroll through is the Jewish Quarter, specifically the street called Rue des Rosiers.

Rue des Rosiers literally translates to “Street of the Rosebushes” and is in the middle of the Jewish Quarter of Paris. The Jewish Quarter is within a ten minute walk to La Seine, the giant river that cuts through Paris, and is also close to the Ile de La Cite where the Notre Dame Cathedral is located. This quaint little street is located in the 4th arrondissement and nearest to the Saint-Paul metro station.

Rue des Rosiers

 

Flickr photo via Eric Parker

Rue des Rosiers is the perfect place to start wandering because there are very beautiful buildings, a great energy of people, and cute little shops ranging from fashion to food. You will be able to tell as soon as you enter the Jewish Quarter or begin wandering along this street in the center because people will be walking around or sitting on curbs eating giant falafels or gyros. Falafel shops line the street with the most famous and renowned one, L’As Du Fallafel, in the middle of Rue des Rosiers. There is usually a long line for this one, with french men taking abrupt orders and collecting money as you wait. However, the line moves quickly and the Falafel or Lamb and Chicken gyros are delicious, not to mention stuffed to the brim with different sauces and fresh eggplant and veggies.

If you don’t feel like Falafels, the street is lined with Jewish bakeries filled with fresh sugary treats. For example, have you ever tried Mandel bread? or Challah? or Hamantashen cookies? or Rugelach? There are shelves and shelves of pastries that are considered Jewish, or pastries that are considered just regular. Take a break, browse the shelves and pick out something delicious served hot (and homemade that morning) with fresh coffee and people watch.

Paris is a place for wandering. There are so many great things to see and do, and walking through the Jewish Quarter should definitely make the list. The buildings are beautiful and the streets are fun to get lost within. And don’t worry! If you get lost, just follow the people holding Falafels back to Rue des Rosiers.

Have you wondered Rue des Rosiers?

When people think of Vail, Colorado, they are likely to think of snowy mountains and incredible ski runs. While it is true that Vail has one of the best and largest ski areas in the world, making it a great tourist destination in the winter, there are also tons of things to do in this charming small town during the warmer months.

Beautiful mountains are just the beginning of what Vail has to offer during the summer. The wildflowers start to bloom, dotting the mountain with pretty colors such as red, purple, pink. A mixture of green surrounds you with lush grass, vibrant aspen trees and tall pine trees. Even though the wonderful mountain scenery is worth the trip itself, the activities on and around the mountain are what make it an exciting adventure for the summer.

Vail Mountain offers different activities for all types of people ranging from thrill-seeking outdoors fans to families with little kids. Take the gondola to the top of Vail Mountain to see amazing views and join in some fun activities. At the top, there is an adventure club that offers trampolines for kids, obstacle courses, horseback riding and more. There is also a nice restaurant to find some air-conditioning and great food, or a grill to enjoy the sunshine and some BBQ.

From the top, you can also find a range of hiking trails to explore including Eagle’s Loop, which is a short circle around the ridge. There are also a ton of other hiking trails that do not start where the gondola drops you off. For example, Booth creek is a gorgeous trail leading to two amazing waterfalls. For a list of hiking trails in Vail, head here.

vail mountain colorado

 

Flickr photo via Jeff Dzadon

For those seeking a little bit more of an adventure, the mountain is criss-crossed with mountain biking trails and there are lots of tours for all different levels of biking. For example, Hank’s Hideaway is a single track that provides a little bit of a challenge but is also enjoyable. Check out the rest of the trails here.

The adventure doesn’t stop with the mountains. Get your adrenaline flowing with a trip down the Colorado River. Vail and the towns surrounding it offer tons of rafting trips during the summer with high and low levels of difficulty. Some levels are better for families and first time rafters while others are for more advance and experienced groups.

colorado river

 

Flickr photo via Bill Gracey

After an exhilarating day on the mountain, walk the cute streets of Vail village or check out the farmer’s market. The cobblestone streets are fun to wander and are scattered with fountains that children often run through. Stop by the best candy shop in town, Fuzzywigs, grab a bag of candy and find a shady spot to relax and people watch.

Don’t forget about this magical mountain town when planning out your vacation. Summer/fall in Vail makes for a great adventure in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Have you visited Vail, Colorado in the summer?

Step back in time and into another world by visiting the breathtaking Incan civilization Machu Picchu. Sitting in the Peruvian Andes in Cusco, Peru, this hidden old ruin is the perfect place to go for an adventure of a life time.

Machu Picchu means “old peak” and is considered the biggest tourist attraction in South America. It was first discovered by a Yale lecturer named Hiram Bingham, although many farmers and locals had known about it before. The location of the city was actually kept a secret during the Incan rule as a defense mechanism. The steep mountains and deep valleys helped keep out threatening enemies. The site is also surrounded on three sides by cliffs dropping directly into the Urubamba River 1,480 feet below. The valleys that surround Machu Picchu have been cultivated over the past thousands of years by local people, imitating the way their Incan ancestors used to work with the land.

hiking machu picchu

 

Flickr photo via Guillén Pérez

The trail to hike to Machu Picchu takes four days. The best time to plan a trip is in May when it is less crowded and, if possible, during a full moon because the four day trek starts very early in the morning and it would be nice to hike with moonlight. In June through September, the busy months, there are flocks of tourists on the trail and it taints the experience a little bit. It is also best to avoid traveling there in the rainy season.

To hike the trail to the old Incan Ruins, you must hire a guide. This prevents the landmark, trails and nature from being destroyed along the way by reckless travelers. You can book a guide out of Lima or Cusco who will take a bus with you to the Andes in order to start the hike. The guides will provide tents and food to eat, and you provide your own gear.

The Inca trail goes along the Urubamba River as well as past other ruins on the way to the main UNESCO heritage site, Machu Picchu. Be prepared for long days, camping at night, and some of the most breathtaking views. Hiking to Machu Picchu is the adventure of a lifetime.

Are you planning on hiking Machu Picchu?

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