Home Archives 2011 June

Monthly Archives: June 2011

You could win $500 and be featured in our traveler email newsletter!

If you have a strange, outlandish, or just plain funny story about renting your vacation home, send it to FlipKey and be entered to win a $500 VISA gift card. The winning story will also be featured in the FlipKey traveler newsletter.

Second and third place winners will each receive a $50 VISA gift card. All stories must be submitted via email to rentalstories@flipkey.com by July 31, 2011, so send us your story today!

Here’s How it Works:

1. Write a story about your funniest rental experiences (you can submit up to 5 stories).

2. Each story must be 1,000 words or less.

3. Submit your entry to rentalstories@flipkey.com by July 31, 2011 with the following information:

  • Your Name and Company Name (if applicable)
  • Link to Your Property Listing (example: www.flipkey.com/p116954)
  • Contact Phone
  • Contact Email
  • Funniest Rental Story (enter up to 5 stories)

4. FlipKey will pick the funniest stories and the winner will receive a $500 VISA gift card and promotion in FlipKey’s traveler newsletter. The two runners-up will each receive a $50 VISA gift card.

5. Know someone with a side-splitting vacation rental story? We welcome stories from any vacation rental owner, so tell your friends!

Even the most successful and seasoned vacation renters have had some very unexpected experiences with their guests. Now is your opportunity to share these hilarious, unusual, and occasionally bizarre stories. Don’t be shy!

Too many hilarious guest encounters to just pick one? Don’t Worry. Submit up to 5 funny rental stories to FlipKey. We will decide which gets the best laugh!

For additional contest details, see the FlipKey Rental Story Contest Official Rules.

Majorca CoastThe trips I’ve most enjoyed are the ones I never intended to take; I think that might be true of a lot of things, but especially of travel. There are certain places that get a lot of hype – my home of Paris is one of them. The problem with hype, though, whether it’s of places, movies, books or a blind date, is that it can disappoint in the end. When you stumble upon something amazing, you get to judge it for yourself, and that makes the experience all the richer.

When I first visited Mallorca, I didn’t mean to go there at all. An ex-boyfriend of mine was living in a tiny finca near Santanyi. He invited me for a few weeks; I had nothing better to do.

I have been all over the world, but I can say, unequivocally, that Mallorca is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. It’s an island surrounded by beautiful Mediterranean coast, with hidden coves and beaches that reveal bright, aquamarine sea. Little paths wind amongst sheep pastures and crumbling stone walls, leading to cliffs that extend over the lightly crashing waves.

For three weeks, we were explorers: spelunkers in caves and caverns, tiptoeing on precarious, half-hewn steps, searching for the perfect sunny spot to spend an afternoon. The evenings were filled with native foods enjoyed on the terrace of the finca: pa amb oli – a mouthful to say simple bread with garlic, oil and crushed tomato. We drank local wine and ate local cheese and ham and sausage and stewed vegetables – like tumbet.

I realized later that visitors to Mallorca generally go to Palma de Mallorca, a Catalan capital, like Barcelona, filled with architecture, museums and clubs. But Mallorca had appeared on my radar out of nowhere, and Palma was the furthest thing from my mind; I saw it twice, and barely: once when I arrived, and once when I left.

Recipe: Tumbet

Tumbet from Majorca

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • ½ onion
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 4 whole cloves garlic
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ lb. new potatoes
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil.
  2. Slice the eggplant into thin rounds, and brush on both sides with olive oil. Salt and place on the baking sheet, and roast until slightly browned, about 15 minutes. Remove, and reduce heat to 350.
  3. Meanwhile, slice the bell peppers into strips. Heat the remaining olive oil over high heat, and char the peppers. Reduce the heat and add the onions. Stir fry for 5 minutes, until onion is tender. Add the cayenne and whole garlic cloves, peeled and smashed lightly with a knife. Cook until fragrant, 1 minute.
  4. Add the crushed tomatoes to the peppers and allow to reduce slightly. Season with salt to taste.
  5. Slice the new potatoes very thinly, and layer in the bottom of a casserole dish. Sprinkle with salt. Add the eggplant slices in another layer. Top with the sauce.
  6. Bake for 40 minutes, until potato slices are tender. Cool for 5 minutes before serving. Beware of garlic cloves!

Emily Monaco is native New Yorker, living and writing in Paris since 2007. She loves discovering new places and, of course, their local cuisines! Read about her adventures in food and travel at tomatokumato.com or follow her on Twitter at @emiglia

Surfer Sunset at Porthowan BeachWhen envisioning the perfect summer vacation, we usually picture beaches with spotless sand, clear water and comfortable amenities. But the truth is, many beaches are strewn with litter, polluted with chemicals or sewage, and have awful facilities. They can be unsafe for beach goers as well as local wildlife and waterways.

One way to be sure you’ll be swimming in safe, clean water this year is to seek out a beach certified by the Blue Flag Programme, an eco-label earned by over 3,500 beaches and marinas across 41 countries. Besides looking after your own health and enjoying more pristine views, you will be helping to protect the environment if you choose to catch some waves and rays at a Blue Flag certified beach.

The criteria for Blue Flag beaches include:

  • Water is tested regularly and found to meet quality standards
  • Beach is free of sewage and industrial pollutants
  • Environmental education activities and information are available to beach goers
  • Garbage and recycling containers are readily accessible
  • Restroom facilities are clean and properly maintained
  • Sustainable transportation options are available in the area
  • Plant matter and natural debris are left on the beach
  • Nearby coral reefs are monitored

Actual blue flags are erected at qualifying sites, giving visitors extra peace of mind. While most of the certified beaches are concentrated in Europe and North Africa, there are also Blue Flag beaches to be found in Canada, the Caribbean, Brazil, South Africa, and New Zealand. There are plenty of FlipKey vacation listings to be found near Blue Flag beaches: check out these possibilities in Cyprus, Greece, Wales, Ireland, and England.

The Blue Flag Programme is the most widespread eco-certification system for beaches, but there are similar labels cropping up in other countries. In the U.S., the Clean Beaches Coalition awards deserving beaches with Blue Wave certifications. And in Costa Rica, the Blue Flag Ecological Program rates beaches with one, two, or three stars according to their level of commitment to the environment.

Wales Beach

Joanna Eng is a New York-based writer and editor who covers travel, green living, food, careers, entrepreneurship, and more. Her travel experiences have ranged from hostel hopping in Mexico to staying with distant relatives in China to renting a beach apartment in New Jersey.

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Volume 8: Santa Barbara, CA

Meet Big Tree, a quintet out of Brooklyn, New York with high hopes and empty pockets. Three dashing young men and two friendly ladies make up this indie pop band. We are the luckiest people on the planet. Our job is to drive from one amazing place to the next, play a show, make new friends, and explore new cities. While we’re on the road, FlipKey invited us to share our experiences living like locals everywhere we go.

Santa Barbara BeachEach time Big Tree ventures down to Santa Barbara, this earthy, mystical city fills our heads with dreams of surfer rockstardom and the fantasy of never returning to the real world.  The Pacific Ocean and endless throngs of university students give us musician folk every excuse not to leave.  And why would we want to?  Young people, great food, endless outdoor activities, and more make up this fine town.

First things first: BEACH!  We made our way to a very secret path (so secret that we had take off our shoes and walk through a sketchy aqueduct to get to the other side) and took a nice stroll through the meadows, hills, and woods until we reached a manmade trail in the side of a cliff that we could scale down to reach the isolated nude beach.  For those of you who would prefer NOT to scale cliffs or go to a nude beach, there are endless paths that lead to pristine public beaches all over the county.  We brought a few beers to celebrate our friend’s birthday, and felt beautiful and alive as we spent the afternoon playing in the waves.

Next: a trip to Freebirds.  Any self-respecting food enthusiast must visit the popular Mexican restaurant, frequented by college students and locals alike.  They make killer nachos and burritos, layered with beans, salsa, chicken, sour cream, guacamole, hot sauce, cheese, and the works.  We ordered way too much food and ate it all, wishing we could meet for lunch here everyday.  “Let’s move here!” someone cries.  “Ok!” we all chime.  Why not?  There’s Main Street for shopping, perusing, and bar hopping!  There are beaches everywhere!  There are hikes and adventures galore!

Path to the BeachFinally, it’s time for the showMuddy Waters Coffee House is a fantastic mixture of café, bar, and music venue.  The owner is informative, gracious, and friendly, and the drinks and snacks are delightful.  Inside, you’ll find a hodgepodge of furniture from tables to living room couches.  The artwork on the walls is creative and beautiful.  Touring and local bands stop here often, making it a hang out for youth, music enthusiasts, and people of all ages and backgrounds just looking for a good time.

We played to a great audience, and made many friends.  After our set, an awesome local horn band had a show, and we stayed late dancing to the funky sounds of synthesizer and saxophone.  That night we all dreamt of the ocean and building a new home by the sea…

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In honor of the birthday of the USA, we asked some of the FlipKey bloggers to share their favorite ways to do July 4th right. If you’re still undecided about your Independence day plans, check out these tips to find a way to celebrate that’s not too far from home.

Suzanne Johnson – Bend, Oregon

Space Needle FireworksI propose freedom from drizzle! Emancipation from precipitation! Independence from the overcoat!

July and August are the two months that the Pacific Northwest, especially along the coast, experience more blue skies than gray skies. It’s absolutely the time to visit Seattle – a gorgeous, lively, high-energy city year-round, even in the rain. But when the skies are dry, it can’t be beat for a long weekend destination over the Fourth.

I’d start on Saturday with a toast to our great country at the Seattle International Beerfest, a magnet event for beer aficionados everywhere. Sunday, July 3rd: What could be more American than a home game for the Mariners? They play the San Diego Padres. Independence day will be spent browsing Pikes Place (the outdoor market) free from cumbersome umbrellas! I’d wrap it up by watching 360 degrees of fireworks from the observation deck of the Space Needle.

Hmm. I might have to really make some reservations, not just talk about this!

Karen Ellery Jones – Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Sanwich Bridge JumpingFunny, I was just thinking it was time to start planning the menu for our annual 4th of July beach dinner!

We celebrate the 4th of July here in Sandwich with a bang: starting with an early morning parade, followed by a brunch. Then we head over to the beach for a sunset dinner, bonfire and fireworks. There’s no better place to watch firework displays from Plymouth to Provincetown and all the beaches in between. It’s simply spectacular!

I remember one year when the kids were young and had just finished learning patriotic songs before school let out. My son sang This Land is Your Land, Battle Hymn of the Republic, America the Beautiful. It was before he became self-conscious, and he belted out those tunes in such a sweet voice – just wish I had videotaped it.

Jay Ferris – Seattle, Washington

Waterfront Blues FestIn the Pacific Northwest, no place does Fourth of July quite as well as Portland, Oregon. Every year, downtown Portland comes alive with an annual Blues Festival of epic proportions: four days packed with over 120 performances on five different stages. You’ll also find impromptu jam sessions erupting across the festival grounds, as well as arts, crafts, games, and food galore.

The festival is located on the McCall Waterfront, a 37-acre park that runs alongside the Willamette River. On July 4th at 10:05pm precisely, a massive fireworks display is set off from a barge in the middle of the river, offering spectators 360 possible degrees of “oohs and ahhs”. Those in the know begin staking out a spot for their blanket on the Waterfront lawn at around 6pm, while those with some serious connections get an unmatched view from atop the roof of a downtown Portland skyscraper.

Taryn Collins – Boston, Massachusetts

tanglewoodThere is no better place to celebrate the fourth of July than in the Northeast – the weather is fine, the beaches are hopping, the farmers markets are in full swing, and everyone seems to be sporting a smile. Backyard barbeques are in abundance, and it seems to be a time when happy people come together to enjoy great food and great company.

Whether it’s indulging in a lobster dinner along the coast, sunning on one of the many gleaming beaches, or taking in the pristine beauty of the Berkshires, there is certainly no shortage of things to do to celebrate Independence Day. This year I’m fortunate enough to be headed to Tanglewood, a part of the Boston Symphonic Orchestra, for a James Taylor concert! If that doesn’t scream New Englander on Independence Day weekend, I sure don’t know what does.

Even Homes are Bigger in Texas

“Everything’s bigger in Texas” may not be the state’s official motto, but it’s definitely the people’s motto. Take a trip to the Lonestar State to find out for yourself whether the saying holds true. Beach Comber’s Bungalow is located on Laguna Madre Bay on South Padre Island – the perfect spot for kayaking, body boarding and all-around great fun in the ocean. With a private entrance and yard; you’ll feel large and in charge, and if you book four nights before August 21, you’ll get 3 nights free!

Get 55% off your total stay

Greenlinks Condo

Get $100 off per night

Harbor Vista Half Moon Bay

Located in the luxurious Lely community, Greenlinks is poised within walking distance of a great golf course, and only a few minute’s drive from Florida’s Gulf Coast. Choose between improving your swing, relaxing on the beach, or just soaking up the Florida sun.Traveling as a family can be a hassle. Take the challenge out of your vacation at Harbor Vista. This coastal retreat sits within minutes of Half Moon Bay and only half and hour from downtown San Francisco, so you can appease the beach-lovers as well as the city folk in your clan.

Free Golf!

Myrtle Beach

Stay 7 nights, get 2 nights free

Monarch Colorado

Want to find your inner Phil Mickelson? Then you need to head to the Luxury Beach House on Myrtle Beach. This huge house is perfect for large gatherings and families. Three stories of beach views make it hard to get out the door and go and play. With a pool and a hot tub, this home has everything!Summer is here! At home that means TV reruns and overpriced movies, so get off the couch, head to the Rocky Mountains and experience the great outdoors. Ski Town Condos is the perfect place to go. Surrounded by some of the most glorious mountains in the United States, and right near the South Fork of the Arkansas River, you can have it all in Monarch, CO. With hiking, rafting and horseback riding right outside, you won’t even want to reach for the remote.

Maps are better than ever!In the past couple of months, our Development Team here at FlipKey has launched a number of new site features, and we are so excited to share them with you! These updates and new features have impacted nearly every aspect of the website, and provide a much improved user experience for the entire vacation rental community – owners, property managers, and travelers.

The most noticeable changes involve site-wide aesthetics and structure. The look and feel of the site has been completely overhauled to make the properties shine. We reorganized property listing pages, removing the tabs that used to hide pertinent information and making it easier to navigate the important information in each listing. The new page layout makes it easier for travelers to evaluate the important property details at first glance.

Less visibly, the team has been working hard to improve search speed and accuracy, and anyone who has searched for a property recently will have noticed that results come back faster than ever.

Another big improvement is the new photo browsing experience, complete with a lightning-quick photo viewer; larger, high-quality images; and support for video. The photo viewer displays thumbnails of all of the available photos, and allows users to click on any photo and see it enlarged up to twice its former size in high quality. The upgrades to the photo section really help to make each listing “pop,” and significantly enhance the look and feel of the listings. If you uploaded smaller images to your listing before, then now is the time to add your most recent, high-res shots to your listing!

 

New Review Summary on FlipKey

We also added a new review summary. Due to the substantial number of reviews collected on individual properties, we saw a need to aggregate review data in a way that would be really helpful to travelers. The new review summary provides visitors with high level breakdowns of feedback left by verified guests to help paint the big picture of guest sentiment. We also added the ability for travelers to mark reviews as “helpful” so that future travelers will be able to see what feedback was most helpful to travelers in the past.

Two of the most recent upgrades to the site included the new and improved mapping function as well as the option to add a video of your property. The new maps show much more detail than before and feature nearby attractions and restaurants local to each property. The map thumbnails can be clicked to show an enlarged map, offering travelers a better feel of the area they might be visiting. The option to add video is just another way for owners to showcase their properties, and really offers travelers the closest experience with the property that they can get without actually coming to visit!

We are always looking to make improvements and additions to our website, so expect that as the months go by, we’ll have more exciting updates to share with you! In the meantime, if you have suggestions, we’d love to hear those as well.

Taryn Collins is a FlipKey owner services specialist and vacation rental marketing expert. Her bi-weekly blog, Ask FlipKey, aims to answer the difficult questions that vacation rental owners and managers ask every day. Submit your questions in the comments!

Roasting Red Peppers in San SebastianI’m not very big on vacation, and yet I love to travel. What seems to be a paradox is actually quite logical in my mind: staying in a hotel, running around trying to see as many monuments and museums as possible… it causes me more stress than anything else. The kind of travel I like involves really getting to know a place, taking it easy and living in my destination.

My first trip to San Sebastian was a two-day pause on a whirlwind backpacking trip, but I was immediately captivated by the Basque architecture, thriving nightlife and, of course, the tapas or pintxos culture, and I knew I would have to return. When I decided to truly visit and get to know San Sebastian, I took two months out of my time in Paris, enrolled in a language school, got a freelance writing job, bought a surfboard, and stayed in an apartment in the Amara neighborhood: I didn’t want to be a tourist; I wanted to be a donostiarra.

One of the major reasons I love exploring new places in this way has to do with the people: I love getting to know the locals, sitting at my local bar and chatting with the regulars. I developed my own haunts in Amara and San Sebastian, enjoyed glasses of txacoli wine, followed my surf instructors on their regular night out in the old town… but no matter how much I tried, I found that integrating isn’t always easy in the somewhat self-segregated and exclusive Basque region.

An area that defines itself as other: neither French nor Spanish, neither fully a metropolis nor fully a beach paradise, San Sebastian is a contradiction of itself. The people look at everyone as an outsider, and to be allowed into the group is nearly impossible: gastronomic societies, groups of surf buddies, giant families of cousins and siblings hanging out in bars and restaurants until late in the evening are not immediately welcoming to tourists and travelers from abroad.

I was lucky, then, during my travels and wanderings on the wide avenues of San Sebastian and the exploration of its surf beach in Gros, to meet Jon Warren, an English transport to San Sebastian who founded San Sebastian Food, a company which allows you to delve into the heart of San Sebastian culture by getting to know its food. When I met Jon, he was just getting started, and he was happy to lead me to his favorite hidden pintxos bars, to introduce me to chef friends he knew, and to take me on tours of the Rioja wine country to the south.

Today, he’s created a real business out of it: he has spent the time and effort getting to know the people and options in the area, setting up an office and culinary center in the middle of the old town, the perfect place to stop by, meet people and see where you should be going. Via pintxos bars, cooking classes, and more, San Sebastian Food takes tourism to a deeper level, and the people you meet along the way – chefs, bartenders and fellow pintxos lovers, not to mention Jon himself – make all the difference.

When I was in San Sebastian, Jon and I became friends, and knowing my love for food, he invited me on a day trip to Tolosa, where we sampled dozens of specialties like alubias, a variety of black bean, sheepsmilk cheese, and foreign fruits I had never seen before. But the most memorable were the red peppers.

Pepper Cart in San Sebastian Market

Peppers are a huge part of Basque and Spanish cuisine, but I had never seen anything quite like the pepper-roasting machine set up in the middle of the Tolosa market: kilos of piquillo peppers were thrown into a rotating roaster, popping out at the other side charred and black, to be wrapped up in plastic bags and taken home to jar. I watched as local women filled carts with several kilos of peppers, surely to bring home and prepare with the help of daughters and cousins. Maybe I was slightly jealous; maybe I just wanted to be part of it. Either way, I purchased some and brought them home, and, riffing off of one of my favorite pintxos from my local bar, I made pimientos del piquillo rellenos de bacalao.

Recipe: Pimientos del Piquillo Rellenos de Bacalao

Pimientos del piquillo rellenos de bacalao

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds roasted piquillo peppers, the skins removed
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, 1 minced, 1 whole
  • 3 small potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 250 g. salt cod, rehydrated
  • 1 T. heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. If your peppers were fresh, carefully remove the stem and seeds without ripping the pepper, so that it retains its cone form. Peppers can also be purchased already seeded in glass jars at the supermarket. Reserve 10 of the best-shaped peppers, and dice the rest.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and add the onion and a hefty pinch of salt. Sauté until translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute.
  3. Add the diced red peppers. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally. Add water by the half-cupful until the peppers have fallen apart and formed a chunky sauce, about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. At this point, you can purée some or all of the sauce using an immersion blender, or leave it chunky.
  4. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, heat the cream, salt cod, potatoes and other clove of garlic (whole) in a saucepan. Add 1 cup of water and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cod has broken down and has a creamy texture. Use the back of a wooden spoon to break down the cod completely. When the clove of garlic has completely broken down and been incorporated into the mixture, it’s ready (about 30 minutes). Season with black pepper.
  5. Using a spoon, stuff the cod mixture into the reserved peppers, and carefully place into the sauce. Cook, covered, until just heated through, and serve with bread.

Emily Monaco is native New Yorker, living and writing in Paris since 2007. She loves discovering new places and, of course, their local cuisines! Read about her adventures in food and travel at tomatokumato.com or follow her on Twitter at @emiglia

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A healthy travelerA few years ago in Cozumel, Mexico, my friend Susan made a late night run to the local emergency room with a severe respiratory illness. The stress of feeling terrible was compounded by the language barrier, by the fear of a substandard facility, and by not knowing exact directions. The vacation gods were on her side that night; a few hours later she and her husband returned reassured by a competent physician who spoke excellent English, and armed with strong antibiotics. Her bronchitis was a bump in the road on an otherwise excellent vacation.

Who plans on getting sick on vacation? If we did that, we’d just stay home, right? There’s no way to predict the mishaps that can take place, but there are a few ways to plan ahead and make such bumps in the road just a little smoother. Some of these steps to a healthy vacation require planning before you ever leave home; some depend on where you travel; and some are common sense practices that we all should be doing anywhere, whether traveling or staying home.

First, know your insurance policy. You pay them loads of money for the policy, so dig up that customer service number and give them a call. Find out if your coverage is different in the area you’ll be traveling, especially if you are going abroad–if so, consider purchasing short term medical or travel insurance. Ask whether you need approval for emergency care, and whether the insurance company offers a hotline for advice on symptoms (add this number to your phone’s contact list). Also, let them know the dates you’ll be traveling and the general area, so there are no surprises.

If you are heading out of the country, add the American embassy phone number to your contact list. They can supply information on physicians in your area, and help out in case you have a more serious emergency. If language is a barrier, buy a small travelers dictionary with a large section on words for body parts, maladies, and other terms you’d need to talk to a physician.

Second, pack like a seasoned adventurer: Stock the first aid kit with benedryl, immodium, pepto bismol tablets, and a thermometer. Add a tube of numbing antiseptic cream, butterfly bandages, and a tube of cream for bites and rashes. Pack a travel-sized bottle of hand sanitizer in your carry-on, and use it liberally.

Finally, in order to stay healthy on vacation, just remember all the advice your mom gave you when you went off to summer camp: Wear sunscreen! Don’t go barefoot! Stay hydrated! Eat your fruits and vegetables, but only if they are peeled or cooked! Tuck your pants into your socks when you hike—there might be spiders or ticks in the woods! Wash your hands before you eat! Get a good night’s sleep! Seriously, mom’s advice goes a long way toward staying healthy, especially in an environment teeming with germs just waiting to meet you.

And if, despite your best precautions, you find yourself seeking medical help in unfamiliar territory, just remember Susan. Chances are you’ll come home with the right medication, feeling reassured, and with a great story to tell.

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Volume 7: Denver, Colorado

Meet Big Tree, a quintet out of Brooklyn, New York with high hopes and empty pockets. Three dashing young men and two friendly ladies make up this indie pop band. We are the luckiest people on the planet. Our job is to drive from one amazing place to the next, play a show, make new friends, and explore new cities. While we’re on the road, FlipKey invited us to share our experiences living like locals everywhere we go.

After driving through the desert and watching the tumbleweeds roll by on the highway, Denver was a welcome change of scenery. Evergreens, mountains, hippies and music awaited us in this land of serenity, and we were sure we’d found some kind of utopia.

Denver, CO

The most stress we experienced during our stay was at a sandwich shop, but boy, was it worth it! We rolled into Denver and loaded into the venue early, starving and needing to stretch our legs. The bartender pointed us in the direction of Snarf’s, the best place to get a sub. It’s hard to find food that five people are always in the mood for, but sandwiches are a pretty safe bet for the bandmates of Big Tree. The line to order went out the door, and the tables were all full inside and out, but we waited our turn and got huge, delicious subs. This place makes its own old-fashioned fountain drinks and milkshakes, as well. Not expensive, and SO GOOD!

Cheeseman Park, DenverNeeding to walk off our big lunch before the gig, we found a nearby park and brought a Frisbee to throw around. Cheeseman Park was full of babies, couples, and athletes. The grass was just starting to grow back after a long winter and we soaked up the rays as we digested and wrote a set list for the evening’s show.

On the way back to the show, we decided to grab a drink at another local bar where we had wanted to play  (the date was already booked). The Meadowlark Bar is a cute, cozy venue with a small stage and an awesome vibe. The bartender was the friendliest, and knew a lot about the goings-on around town. We enjoyed our drinks outside while we watched the sunset and some people walking by.

When we set up our gear at the Larimer Lounge, we knew we had chosen the right place after all. The hall was packed with locals drinking cheap beer and enjoying both the inside areas and the patio. With a great stage and a private green room, the Larimer had everything a band could want! It filled up with dancing locals and live music, and became a magical space for the band and the audience.

The next day we drove a few miles west of Denver to spend some time in Evergreen, Colorado. Exactly what the name implies, this town features beautiful mountains covered in tall pine trees and the smell of fireplaces everywhere you go. Beautiful wooden homes and cabins are hidden in the woods, and a huge lake lies close to the center of town. We had delicious coffee and walked along the streets peering into the different shops and restaurants before going on a long walk in the woods. We were glad to have a moment with nature before getting in the van once again for another long day of driving, gas stations, and fast food.