Traveling to our Coeur d’Alene winter getaway We got in to the Spokane Airport from Denver on Thursday night for a four night Coeur d’Alene winter getaway for our anniversary weekend. I surprised Brendan with this trip over Christmas (well, semi-surprise, because he ultimately did guess it) and had previously purchased the tickets from DEN to GEG on United at a pretty good price ($300/pp) – it was assuredly off-season due to the Coeur d’Alene winter climate – wet, rainy, sleety, overcast. We did catch some sun for a few hours over the course of the long weekend, but not much more than that. That said, we had brought the right clothes, and the soggy weather did nothing to dampen our moods. Brendan was feeling stressed out from work and Thursday had been a tough day, both of us trying to tie off loose ends before catching the 7PM flight out. I received an upgrade using my last vestiges of status (gone after January) on United, but felt so bad for Brendan’s sorry state that we swapped so he could enjoy first class. Now that’s love Once at GEG airport, we easily found a Lyft in the passenger pickup area….
After a day of hiking and fine dining at The Compound, our final full day’s adventure would consist more of museums and spontaneous wanderings – the highlight of course being Meow Wolf. We woke up pretty late, missing breakfast at the hotel, so we decided to find a coffee shop / cafe in town instead. We ended up at Henry & the Fish, a little bakery and sandwich shop that had good, fast, light breakfasts. I ordered a blueberry scone, drip coffee, and a yogurt parfait. Brendan ordered an eff sandwich and a salted pecan and chocolate chip cookie, accompanied by a cold brew. The service was really good and the manager was notably friendly. After breakfast, we walked around a bit and then left for Meow Wolf with plenty of time for our 14:00 reservation. We’re clan we built in extra time – parking in the main Meow Wolf lot was impossible to find, so we ended up having to look for street parking several blocks away. As we approach the Meow Wold parking lot, it was nearly our ticketed time. After only a few minutes waiting in line, Meow Wolf started to let us in. We had to….
After a great first couple of days in Santa Fe we were excited to keep the adventure going while fine dining and hiking Santa Fe. On Saturday, our second full day, we decided to find a long mountain hike in the Sangre de Cristo mountain range, just a few miles from Santa Fe. But first, breakfast! We found a highly rated French bakery and cafe called Clafoutis on TripAdvisor that was on the way to the hike. They wait looked long, but turned out to only be 20 minutes. We thought everything about Clafoutis was exceptional – the service, the whimsical dress (staff were all wearing suspenders), the coffee, and of course the food. I ordered the coconut French toast and Brendan ordered a croissant breakfast sandwich. Pretty soon we were fueled and on our way. We did a little research prior, and found what appeared to be a moderate 3 mile loop hike in the Hyde Memorial State Park. There was a parking fee (using the honor system) of $5 for hiking Santa Fe through the Hyde Memorial State Park. We luckily had some cash, dropped it in the envelope, and parked right at the visitor’s center which was….
Brendan surprised me with a trip to Santa Fe for our first date anniversary, when we first met at the Botanic Gardens’ Corpse Flower exhibit. I had been wanting to get to Santa Fe for many years now and, embarrassingly, New Mexico was on my list of states I’d not yet visited (Idaho, Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and Puerto Rico are the others). So I was thrilled when he announced the plans to visit Santa Fe over Labor Day weekend. Apparently there’s a Santa Fe, California as well (and a Santa Fe Drive in Denver to be fair that also had a lot of art!), so I guess i should have asked for more information before getting too excited. I was excited either way. We were on our way to – yes indeed, Santa Fe, New Mexico – on Thursday afternoon after working from home in the morning. Here was our path from Denver to Santa Fe – literally the easiest drive in America, straight south on I-25. We missed Colorado Springs and Pueblo traffic, but surprisingly hit a few random spots of construction and major accidents causing it not to be as fast as it could have been. Still,….
This is the final blog for our epic adventure through the Balkans, and I wanted to focus it on lessons learned on the road during the Balkans road-trip. Starting in Ljubljana and ending in Zagreb, we probably drove over 1,500 miles, crossed six countries (five new countries for Brendan and four for me), had two separate cars due to a flat tire, dealt with parking, livestock, crazy drivers with death wishes, police stops and speed traps – pretty much everything you can think of. Here is a recap of lessons and #travelhacks for others planning a Balkans road-trip adventure. Driving in middle of road expected on smaller roads. One of the characteristics of drivers in this region is a a relaxed interpretation of road rules. On highways, lanes are adhered to, but not on country and mountain roads. You will definitely see oncoming traffic driving in the middle of a small 2 lane road, and they will eventually get over as you pass them. This can become dangerous when taking sharp turns on some of the mountainous roads, so honking as you go around a tight turn isn’t the worst idea on your Balkan road-trip. Spare bill handy in Bosnia….