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I admit that I am a lover of Italy. Being a country that offers so much I opted for the north. The north is very well represented by Milan and there is a great motivation to go with the Lake Como, a beautiful natural spot. The Lake Como, also called Lake Lario, is one of the deepest lakes in Europe. Each of the three branches that form it is called by the names of Como Lake, Lecco Lake and Colico Lake. The lake is fed by the Adda river, which descends from the Valtellina.

The inverted Y-shaped lake is the result of glacial action, which offers spectacular views of the Como Alps and Bellagio. It is this mountainous landscape and calmness that has attracted visitors for centuries in search of rest, walks and navigation. All this is what made us realize one of our stages in the trip.

We decided to stop only in Varenna and Bellagio in the lake. Of course, it is an area to spend more days and visit other places that are well worth it, but we did not have more days. The first thing to be clear is that the north is expensive. And that is a business city so it has a lot of demand focused on a different public. In the flights there is not much problem since there are many companies, but we must bear in mind that hotels are expensive. And if you want them next to the cathedral they are prohibitive.

Trip to Lake Como

Day 1

We arrived at the Airport and had our flight at 9:35. We arrived at the Linate airport around 13:00. It is a very small airport so finding the bus is very easy. In 45 minutes we were already at our destination. We saw the hotel we chose as soon as we got off the bus. The rooms were fine without any noise with friendly staff.

As it was already lunch time we asked the receptionist for advice for a restaurant. She told us of one in Via Pirelli. There I ate a Risotto alla Milanese that is different from other risottos because it is made of butter with saffron. In the afternoon we decided to go to Sforza Castle and the gardens behind it.

To get there, we take the metro in Lanza station to Foro Buonaparte and we can see part of the Castle. Since we were just in time, we decided not to visit the museums. On the outside the truth is that it is worth it. The Parco Sempione behind is also very beautiful and we walk until we reach the Arco della Pace.

On the way back, we decided to walk to the Duomo, which is only about 15-20 minutes away on Via Dante. As we were a month away from the Expo, the whole street is filled with flagpoles from different countries. It is a commercial street. Finally, we reached the Duomo. It impresses a lot. It was mid-afternoon, so we went to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II where we saw the expensive shops there.

I did not enter any, because I always have the feeling that they are going to kick me out even if I went to the Ferrari store. As a faithful follower of Formula 1, I could not resist seeing Fernando Alonso's Ferrari up close.
As dinner time approached, we decided to take the metro in Duomo to go to the hotel area.

We dined at a restaurant in the station square on the corner with Via Vitruvio. I ate pizza and they were quite good. In this way, we finish the first day, ready for the excursion to Como.

Trip to Lake Como

Day 2

Finally the day comes to visit the Lake Como. We got up early and go down to breakfast as fast. The breakfast was very complete with yogurt, fruit, natural juices, cereals, different, breads. We wanted to go to Lake Como and we knew that it would take an hour to get there by train. So we checked the train schedule and chose the one that left at 9 am from the Cadorna station.

Although our hotel was closer to the central station, we chose the Cadorna station to depart. After having looked at it a lot we decided to take the metro in Central to go to the Cadorna station and take the train there. The choice was because in this station the train leaves in Como Nord, which is on the right side of the Lake, and we did not want to get lost in the city.

As we left with time to spare and the subway took a very short time, at the end when we arrived at Cadorna, we were able to take the previous train, the one at 8:40. So it is better because we had seen the weather forecast of possible rains in the late morning. So the earlier we arrived, the more we could take advantage of there.

We bought the ticket directly at the ticket office, because the automatic machines did not return change. The train is a little older than the one that makes the transfer to the airport, but it was also comfortable and most importantly, very punctual.

We arrived in Como and as soon as we left the station, we saw the signs to the jetty. We had to go down a little hill and immediately we found ourselves with beautiful scenes. We took a short walk to the duomo, to spend a little time until the ship left and then we went straight to the pier, which was only 5 minutes away.

So without more, we embarked on an old converted paddle boat. The truth is that it was pretty cool. It had outside seats both forward and in the aft, and inside is a small bar, with its tables, all in very nice wood.

We wanted to go upstairs as the day went along. As we were the first there was no problem and we took the best place. We sit forward and although it was not raining at the moment, there was a lot of fog in the whole lake. As soon as the boat started, we feel cold, but we did not think to go inside, as we wanted to enjoy the views.

Soon we began to see small villages in the mountainside, all similar, with small houses of different colors, with their own piers. Occasionally we see a church tower sticking out from the rooftops. In a spectacular background, we see the green mountains dotted with trees. It is a typical alpine landscape, and the border of Switzerland is less than 30 km away from there.

There were also spectacular villas, 5 star hotels with waterfalls from the mountains that poured directly into the lake. We see different types of boats that ran up and down the lake. The boat was zigzagging across the lake from one bank to the other, making brief stops to leave or pick up passengers.

The weather was nice, but the sun began to shy away, giving color to the landscape, and highlight the multi-colored houses on the green background. And almost without realizing it, we arrive at our destination, but not before a very popular stop at Bellagio. We got off the ship to go directly to the tourist office. They gave us a map and some more information.

From there we went to see the town. Bellagio is surely the most famous town of Lake Como, especially because of its location on the lake. Walking through its streets and discovering its corners makes it very special. It has some beautiful alleys and its views of the lake are very beautiful. We started at the top of the town where the church is located. We had a beer in one of the bars on the street since in that area they were not as crowded as in the lower part.

We returned to the upper part of town to have a coffee before catching the boat to Varenna. After one more stop on the other shore in Villa Carlotta, and going back to cross the lake we arrived in Varenna. Here we and went down with the intention of visiting the town a bit and eating there. At that time of day, the sun shone, and we did not stop giving thanks for our luck, because the weather forecasts were not being fulfilled at the moment. With sun, of course everything looks much better.

The village is charming with narrow and steep streets, colorful facades, and stone arches. At that time almost all foreign tourists were already eating on the terraces of the many restaurants. So the streets were quiet and almost deserted, transmitting peace and serenity.

After a little round trip, it was time to eat, because we did not want to go in a hurry to catch the boat back. We chose the cafe since we were looking for something light and informal. The restaurant inside is tiny, but it is decorated with exquisite taste. It looks like an old fairy pastry, since in addition to simple meals, they sell sweets and ice creams.

We sat on his terrace, which is on the shore of the lake, and we enjoyed some sandwiches and a good ice cream, with the sun as a companion. At the time of returning to Como, we did not feel like sailing for another 2 hours, since it was beginning to be cloudy. So we decided to take the fast boat, which took us to our destination in 1 hour.

When we saw the ship appear we hallucinated. Well, it's a type of boat whose hull stands out from the water when it has to pick up speed, with some paddles that sustain it. We go as if we were water skiing. I had not seen a boat like that before.

This boat, as is logical, does not allow us to sit outside. So we put ourselves in the first row of the hull that had some panoramic windows. I cannot tell you much more about the trip, because I took advantage of it and had a little nap. When I opened my eyes, we were in Como.

I would have been delighted to have been able to take the funicular up to Brunate, but I had read that if the day was cloudy it was not worth much. So I settled for watching from a distance the tremendous climb that the car has to climb to reach the top. As there was still time to catch the train back to Milan, we took the opportunity to wander around Como a bit.

The truth is that the town has a lot of charm, beautiful buildings decorated with iron balconies, paintings on the facades, and stores. I saw a couple of them with vintage jewels that left me stuck to the window, since they were in the art deco style, that I love. I see medieval stone houses, and streets to get lost and all by the omnipresent Duomo.

When we were heading towards the station, the clouds that were threatening us for a while said, here I am, and they began to spill their first drops. It was not going to be the only thing, because when we were already on the train towards Milan, a hailstorm fell, which we thought would break the windows! They accumulated on the ground forming a white blanket. When we arrived in Milan it was unbelievably clear (although it would not last long).

We then headed our steps to the neighborhood of Brera, with the Italy travel guide in hand. I see a couple of streets with restaurants and art galleries, but as it was too early for dinner we did not stay. We made a stop in the Pinacoteca, to visit its patio. We went on a short walk to the Piazza della Scala.

We crossed the gallery of Victor Manuel, but without stopping too much, since we had planned to visit it the next day more calmly. It was time to think where we would have dinner. We did not have anything planned. So I consulted my guide, to see what was nearby. We ordered risotto with green asparagus and a lake fish with rice and cinnamon, and for dessert a kind of vanilla flan with caramel and we had a good dinner.

And already the day was coming to an end. We were very tired after a long and intense day, so we go to rest after drinking a good wine, as we still had one full day to discover the charms of Milan.

Laos has been a very special destination. In a Laos travel blog I read about the moments of calm, the beers near and far from the Mekong, the suffocating heat, the smells, the curiosity of the children, and the charm of the people. We decided the destination without having images of Laos in our memory.

When we still had 10 months to fly there, we were already convinced of the beauty of the temples and the landscapes. What we did not know was how deep we would find a beauty greater than that of temples and landscapes: the beauty of its people.

I read a few years ago that Luang Prabang is the most beautiful city in the world. That's why, while we were returning from Malaysia, we thought it was the most natural thing in the world to start making plans to visit the most beautiful city in the world and, by the way, the country that surrounds it.

DAY 1 - PAKSE

After a few days in the order and neatness of Singapore, the Changi airport and a stopover at the Bangkok airport, getting to Pakse is not a culture shock. We arrived in Pakse at about 4 o'clock, in a flight with about 15 people on the plane, of which only 2 were Western tourists. I do not know if all arrivals by air are like that, but ours was anthological.

We came from Bangkok airport! The Pakse airport is a tiny building in need of painting. To manage the visa, four soldiers lined up observing and passing from one to the other our passports, as if they were the first ones they had in their hands. In the end, after all the stamps, they released us in a deserted airport. No shops, no bars and,no taxi. Neither other passengers, nor anyone. They were closing the airport.

Luckily we got a taxi out of nowhere with which, of course, we did not even think of haggling. We arrived at the hotel, dropped our bags, shower, change clothes and go to the street. We wanted to locate the cafe, where the next day we would be picked up to start our cruise on the Mekong.

Soon we found a tuk-tuk, took us to the cafe and there we tried the first Laotian coffee. The coffee is good. We walk aimlessly, watching, observing everything! Pakse is a ramshackle city that, like almost all in Southeast Asia, had its grace. I guess it's that kind of chaos and controlled disorder, which makes these sites attractive to me.

After calling home we sit down to have dinner in a small restaurant. That was the first of many delicious dinners (the Laotian food has enchanted us) and it was also accompanied by the first of many cold and wonderful Beer Laos.

Laos Travel Blog

DAY 2 - PAKSE

We meet the manager of the ship. On the boat we would meet only eight passengers. A luxury, since the boat is designed for almost thirty. The first thing we did when we got to Vat Phou was to take off our shoes. The cabins were small, but nice and with everything necessary, including a shower.

The air conditioning only works from 6 in the afternoon to 6 in the morning, but it was enough. During the day we are on deck, watching the Mekong pass or hiking. The food on the boat is exquisite. There I tried sticky rice and laab for the first time, my favorite Laotian dishes. In the afternoons they used to receive us with a fruit smoothie and, before dinner or during dinner, the usual cold beer Lao.

At noon, meals were made on the deck. The ship sails only by day. The first afternoon we visit the ruins of Champasak. They are the same Angkor style, although, of course, not so great. If you saw Angkor, Champasak is not worth it. They are not so spectacular, but the scenery is beautiful and the remains interesting.

Back to the ship, we went further and stopped near a couple of villages in the area and visited the remains of the Oum Muong temple. The truth is that little is preserved, but its enclave, in the middle of the jungle, makes it very mysterious. After we disembarked the luggage and, first in a small boat and then in a van, we went to the 4000 islands and the Phapheng falls.

The area of the 4000 islands is becoming fashionable and it does not surprise me. It is full of guesthouses, cabanas with balconies hanging over the Mekong. The area is very quiet. Tourists walk on foot, by boat, by bicycle.

At this point, of course, we had already let ourselves be carried away by the rhythm of the country. They say that in Asia, the Vietnamese plant the rice, the Cambodians cultivate it and the Laotians sit down to hear it grow. Well there we were, hearing the rice growing and in love with the whole country.

They took us to see the tracks of the old French railway. We ate at a restaurant on the banks of the Mekong. But the highlight was the falls. It is amazing and terrible to see how local fishermen risk their lives on the walks they have built to gather their nets. The strength of the water (and the noise) is incredible. I did not get to go down. I stayed halfway and then I saw them also from the viewpoint. Back in Pakse, they stopped us at a market. They sold absolutely everything.

DAY 3 - VIENTIANE

At 9.30 we arrived at the small airport in the capital of Laos. We collect our bags, and change money. We took a fixed price taxi, to go to the guest house, with good reviews on the Lonely Planet. We see a couple of rooms and although they do not convince us, we are so tired that we stay in one of them.

Immediately, we go around the city, have some beer and eat our first Laotian specialties. We have larb, a kind of very spicy salad with meat and a kind of spring roll, and we decided to return to sleep for a while. After three hours of rest, we are much more fresh, and it is night when we leave the room again.

We take a long walk around the Mekong, where there are dozens of bars with huge barbecues. Cooks prepare river fish (many of them still alive), seafood and various types of meat, and where tourists and locals dine. We look in a couple of agencies how to get to Luang Prabang, our next destination.

Soon our doubts dissipate, since it takes 10 hours by bus, and 40 minutes by flight. Around 8 o'clock in the evening we dined in one of those bars near the river, a huge fish and a plate of noodles. To this we add a huge Lao beer, and a fruit plate (watermelon, mango and melon). It is great, and our first impression of Laos is more than positive.

After dinner, we walk around a small market nearby, and finish the day with some fruit smoothies at a place with a nice garden, located on a street perpendicular to the Mekong.

Laos Travel Blog

DAY 4 - LUANG PRABANG

Although we planned to spend two nights in the capital in our travel itinerary, we decided to go ahead in Luang Prabang on a flight that leaves at 4.30 in the afternoon. At 6 o'clock in the morning we are already awake and after paying for the room, we set out to visit a cozy city, which is awakening. It's a little chilly, so we even need to put on a sweater.

The walk is very nice. The traffic is surprisingly less (it seems incredible that we are in an Asian capital). We walk through large tree-lined avenues, with buildings of communist aesthetics mixed with some colonial houses and many Buddhist temples many of which we visited. Walking through the pompously called Champs Elysees, we arrived at a horrendous triumphal arch, built with the American cement planned to make an airport.

Around 10 o'clock, we stop for breakfast and have some fruit shakes, and later buy tickets at the airlines office. We continue our tour, and it starts to get hot so a couple of hours later we have a few beers in the shade of a huge tree. Then we eat at the one which has some very interesting Asian-Western fusion dishes in its menu. It is almost empty (in general it shows that there are not too many tourists in the city), and we had a great dessert plus a beer.

At 2 in the afternoon we go to the guest house to collect the suitcases, and we negotiate a tuk-tuk to take us to the airport. Here there is very few people and little air traffic (I entertained counting the daily flights, and counted about 10. At the scheduled time, we take a small propeller plane, in which fifteen people would travel.

In 45 minutes it takes us to Luang Prabang, the ancient capital of the kingdom of Lang Xang, a beautiful World Heritage city. It is surrounded by mountains and temples, located between the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers, and is the spiritual and tourist center of the country.

The collection of the suitcases is very fast, and we take a prepaid taxi, not without difficulty, since the taxi driver does not know the address we give him. He takes us to the guest house. The room is great, like a three-four star hotel.

After showering we went for a walk around the nearby and huge Night Market. The products on sale disappoint us a little because, with some exceptions, they all seem to be made in China. In spite of this, we make some purchases, after the noble art of bargaining. We dine by the river in one of the many restaurants and, as a novelty, we tried the freshwater algae which we we seasoned with a spicy sauce.

They are quite tasty, although their appearance is not too attractive. It is early, but there is no one in the restaurant, so we enjoy absolute tranquility. Although the Mekong is not illuminated, we sense its powerful presence in the darkness. At the end we take a long walk to our accommodation, and at 10, we go to sleep.

Laos Travel Blog

DAY 5 - LUANG PRABANG

As usual, at 6 o'clock in the morning we are awake, although this time we attribute it more to the noise of motorbikes and roosters than to jet-lag. We take a shower and prepare the backpack, to go out to breakfast to the terrace where it is quite cold. I think it was about 12-13 degrees, and we wrap ourselves with what little we have. The breakfast is superb with coffee, eggs, homemade fruit jams (tamarind, mango, papaya) and delicious bread.

At about 8.30 we went to discover the city. We visited the Royal Palace, an interesting building with objects from the daily life of the Laotian monarchs, before they were expelled. We move to the Palace. After a couple of hours in the building, we began to visit the Buddhist enclosures, called Wats, which are composed of a more or less interesting temple.

Around it are lodgings, dining rooms, schools, toilet areas, in which are swarm of monks with yellow robes. The entrance to each of them is free (except in some cases). We can wander through them with total freedom, and we conveniently ask the monks if they can be photographed in their daily tasks.

By one of these temples, I try to speak in English with a young monk, of the few that dominate this language. After visiting about ten Wats, although it is early, we decided to take a break looking for a pub-restaurant. It's a bit difficult to find, but we quickly realize that the effort was worth it. The place is spectacular, with a lush garden, oriental sculptures on all sides.

At one end, a terrace with bamboo floor, full of hammocks, cushions and low tables hang over the Nam Khan River. The view is wonderful together with the tranquility of the place (there are only 4 tourists). With the soft chill out music, it makes us spend several hours there, drinking beer, eating rolls and noodles with prawns and a couple of cocktails.

Before leaving, in a small volleyball court, I play with a couple of Englishmen to touch a small irregular ball. After negotiating a bit, we got a bike. After signing the contract, and some tests, we put on our helmets, and we begin our journey. Our destination is the Kuang Si Falls, about 35 km away.

Once we leave the city, we find roads in good condition, where there is hardly any traffic. We cross small villages, where we make some stops to visit Wats, but also to feel the life of its inhabitants, who, oblivious to our status as tourists, perform their daily tasks. The children take advantage of to play football.

The feeling of freedom is absolute, and the result is that we enjoy the tour enormously. In an hour and a half we are at the entrance to the falls. After parking the motorcycle, we secure it with a padlock (although later we will verify that it is unnecessary, because the theft is something exceptional).

We begin the climb path following the course of the river, whose water presents an extraordinary turquoise color. The tourists that surround us can be counted on the fingers of the hand. We managed to climb to the top of the waterfall, not without some slip, through a thick jungle.

When going down, although the weather is not too hot, I cannot resist taking a dip. After the impressive bath, and visit to an enclosure where a few brown bears sit, we leave the falls and eat at a nearby restaurant. We later start the return, making multiple stops to take pictures. In one of them, I try to play with some children.

When arriving to Luang, it must be rush hour because the traffic is chaotic, although, they drive quite slowly. I quickly adapt to the disorder. Before returning the bike, we have time to visit some more temples. After seeing a beautiful sunset on a terrace on the Mekong, we go to the guest house, to pack our bags and pay the bill.

After returning to our guesthouse, take a shower, before returning to the Night Market. We realize that the sellers are less aggressive than the Vietnamese, and do not get angry. In the market we dine in an open-air enclosure, with a great variety of delicacies. We head for dinner at a nice restaurant with garden, whose specialty is the varied barbecues (meat, fish or vegetarian) at a great price.

The atmosphere is very lively, and we had a lot of fun. We chose the vegetarian area, and filled the containers to the full, and tasted them along with the huge beers that have a fairly stable price everywhere. Although very few people speak English, we manage without problems. At 11 o'clock at night, we retired to our room, after crossing dark and silent streets.

DAY 6 - LUANG PRABANG

At 3 o'clock in the morning I wake up. It is still night and it is cold. So we wrap ourselves up as best we can and go out into the street, where almost all the day market tendentes are already on. We are careful not to step on any chicken. We arrive at the door of a Wat where we wait for the monks to leave, which takes place at 6 o'clock.

Each of them carries a kind of basket, where they will keep food. Several people kneeling on the sidewalk give each of them a bit of sticky rice and some banana. There are many tourists with their cameras, and the procession crosses several blocks until returning half an hour later. Then we learned that in all the temples something similar is done.

After this curious spectacle, we enter the fantastic morning market. Many products are for sale from vegetables and fruits of all kinds to live fish of various species including pigs, chickens, bats, rats, frogs, crickets, grasshoppers and many varieties of rice. There is also a food stall with roast chickens, waffles, fried plantains, and assorted pastries.

We have been hungry, so we have a potent breakfast in the guest house, and when finished, the body asks me to sleep a bit. After a little more than an hour, I am as fresh as a lettuce and we are about to cross to the other side of the Mekong, to visit a couple of villages, which have three or four wats, and a cave.

After bargaining we managed to rent a boat for ourselves, although when we reached the other shore we paid half. The owner agrees to pick us up again in a couple of hours. The change with respect to the city is brutal. We observe rural life with children running around among animals.

Several children accompany us with the intention of becoming guides. They take us to a cave, that have nothing interesting to see, and in which it is necessary to use a torch. In the vicinity of a Wat, we observe how several teenagers play. When we return to the shore, our boatman is not there. So we waited 10 minutes and finally decided to take one of the boats that moves people from one side to another.

When we disembark, we have a beer, and then we go around a couple of other temples, until we stop at a street bar. There are enough people taking a spicy soup similar to the Vietnamese Pho, and that it has rice noodles accompanied by meat or vegetable. We ordered a couple of tasty dishes that have a ridiculous price.

After the frugal meal, we go to the room to rest a bit, before going to give us a massage, which I enjoy very little because the masseuse does not care about it, and it leaves me quite sore. When we finished, we tried to dine at a famous restaurant.

As it is closed, so we went to another we had seen on the way with good looks and a nice garden. There we took a very interesting menu with beers included. It's cold on the terrace. So we take not too long to go to sleep.

DAY 7 - NONG KHIAW

As soon as I wake up, I head to the market to buy fruit. A long trip by the river awaits us to arrive at Nong Khiaw. It is a small town where we will spend the night, as a previous step to reach Muang Noi, our final destination, and which can only be reached by boat. We had reserved the ticket the day before, and after breakfast, we went to the pier where they accommodate us in a small boat, with about 10 more tourists.

The route, initially by the Mekong, and then by one of its tributaries, is spectacular, with an incredible landscape. The river meanders between great mountains, covered with lush vegetation typical of the tropical jungle. We go up the current, crossing strong rapids that balance the unstable boat, and observe the life of the inhabitants of the small villages nestled on its shores.

The seat is not too comfortable (wooden chair, with lifeguards on top of it as a cushion). So when we get to Nong Khiaw at about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, we are quite tired, although we quickly forget to observe the postal environment, in which the town is located. Almost all the guest houses swirl around the river, with various types of bungalows.

After visiting several of them, we decided on the bamboo bungalow with a bathroom with hot water, as well as a mosquito net, and a terrace overlooking the river. The first thing we do is buy a beer and a bag of chips (they are more expensive than a plate of noodles) and we enjoyed watching the sunset.

When we finish showering, it is night, and there is very little light in the town, so we go to the only place where we can connect to the Internet. At about 7.30 we go to dinner. After comparing several restaurants, we decided on an Indian-Laotian with a quality cuisine. The beers are the cheapest we have taken to date, and an hour later we return to our privileged terrace, where we make time before going to sleep.

In the distance we hear music like a disco, which we assume erroneously that it will end soon. Protected by our mosquito net (which overwhelms me more than anything else), we cannot sleep until 2 in the morning, till the party stopped. The fact is that between the music, the mosquito net, and the one that at 5 o'clock in the morning, dozens of roosters agreed to sing at the same time, I hardly slept all night.

DAY 8 - MUANG NOI

There is no point in staying in bed, so we got up, and decided to take a walk around, while a crowd of children walked to school. After the brief, but demanding walk, we had breakfast at a nearby restaurant. I go to the pier to confirm that the boat to Muang Noi, does not leave until 11 in the morning, as we were told yesterday, and buy the tickets. I go back to take the backpack and cross the bridge that connects the two sides of the town.

At the jetty we sit some time, until we leave at the scheduled time, along with a mixture of tourists of different nationalities, and some locals. We see a small boat half as big as yesterday, in which there are not even seats, but we do not care, because the landscape is becoming more beautiful.

In less than an hour we reached our destination, and again the ritual of looking for accommodation begins. We choose in this case a guest house, with a terrace on the Nam Ou River, where we are told that there is hot water. We left the dirty clothes to be washed, and we bought some fried plantains and a pancake, in a stand located in the main street, and almost unique, of the town.

After lunch, we went on an interesting route, which will take us to several caves used in the Indochina War, as a hiding place for people. Although we carry a flashlight, we are afraid for fear of getting lost. We continue walking in the direction of Ba Ha, a village located 5 km away through rice fields surrounded by rugged mountains, where farmers work with hand tools. We have to go through unstable bridges and small streams, and we meet many people.

At 4 o'clock in the afternoon we still have not reached our destination. So, fearing that it will be night, we return where we came to get to see the sunset from the Guest House. Immediately, the generators that provide light to the town are lit from 6 to 10 at night. At the same time I take the opportunity to ask about a trip we have seen announced in several agencies.

It consist of fishing, visiting a couple of riverside villages, going down tubing down the river (which is to let yourself be carried away by the current, on a truck tire), to finish eating the fish, grilled over a fire. The price is quite expensive, although the manager tells us that if we find more people, it will be cheaper.

We have dinner at the town's best looking restaurant, and then take a walk to discover the surprisingly lonely garden pub. We hear Western pop music, with a trunk burning outside, as a heating, though the temperature is excellent. There, we started a conversation, with one of the waiters, who turns out to be a guide.

We asked for the excursion, who offer to do it with us for about half the price that the owner of the guest house had offered us. We accept, pay a part and book him for the next morning.

DAY 9 - MUANG NOI

At last we have slept 9 hours at a stretch, without annoying noises. At 7 o'clock in the morning we prepare the backpack for the excursion and arrange the luggage a little. After breakfast we go to a bar that has the kitchen, literally on the street, with a bonfire and a couple of pans, with which they prepare fried plantains, and pancakes. There are already many people wandering around the village, and we relax taking a pancake with banana and a great assorted fruit plate.

At 9, we met with our guide, who tells us that he can only accompany us initially, because he has to go to his village, upstream, to see his son, but to replace him has brought his brother. We are about to embark, and they tell us that there is one more traveler, a young German. So they reduce the price of the trip, which we appreciate. Immediately we left in a small boat, with the guide, the boatman and the three tourists, with the tires for the tubing, on the stern.

The landscape is amazing, and the river has a green color, so even though we are quite uncomfortable, we enjoyed the trip. Half an hour later we stopped at a small village of artisans. We climb back to the canoe and shortly after we stop in the town where the children receive us with the cry of falang, falang (foreigner, foreigner). There live families dedicated to fishing, growing rice, and collecting fruits (almost as 10,000 years ago, with the Neolithic revolution).

I began to slide on the tire. The water is not too hot, but as it is sunny, it is very good in the river. The current takes us slowly and I enjoy like a dwarf of solitude in the middle of the river, with the song of the birds in the background, and the lush green of the mountains, whose pointed peaks seem to reach the sky.

The sun hits me in the face, and causes golden reflections on the water, and I think I fall asleep, in such a relaxing moment, that I will remember all my life. From time to time the noise of some boat, disturbs that peace a little. I notice how our passengers look at us, a little surprised that at this time, (it seems that in the summer, it is very normal), there is tourists doing tubing.

An hour later, the clouds begin to cover the sky, and it is not so good. Fortunately, we soon reached the small beach where the others are waiting for us, roasting a dozen small fish that others have managed to fish. I tell the guide to let me try, and with the net, I can catch one more. So the menu is made up of fish for each one, glutinous rice with hot curry, and some leaves that have been picked from a nearby tree, and which serve as a salad.

After lunch we go back to Muang Noi, where we pay what we owe in the guest house. After taking a shower with warm water, we have a beer on the terrace, looking at the river. At about 5 we went to school, where yesterday we saw that there were children practicing football, with the intention of playing. I'm on time, because a match is going to start.

The field has grass, but it is full of potholes and cow poop. People cross in the middle, and if we add the difficulty to know who is on which side, makes it difficult to give a good pass. The course of the game is a true reflection of the Laotian daily life, with continuous interruptions, without knowing very well why, and with a referee, who whistles all the time. Anyway, I spend a fun hour, and yes, I take all the balls up, because I'm the tallest of them all.

When it's over, it's already dark. So I take another shower, and we go to the bar, where our guide on the river is baking bread in a traditional oven. It's a starry night, and the music is in the background, that makes us order another beer and another slice of bread.

At 8 we go to dinner, fearing that they can close the restaurants. We took alone a bamboo soup, duck skewers and noodles. At the end we take a little walk in the dark, and observe inside the houses, that despite the cold, are completely open, as families watch television. In the street there are people chatting around a bonfire, some tourists scattered by the few bars and little else, so we go to sleep.

DAY 10 - LUANG NAMTHA

Another night we have slept well as the fatigue is accumulating. After preparing the suitcases, we go to breakfast. I have some fried eggs and a cheese sandwich. We bought the tickets for the boat to Nong Khiaw, and in half an hour we sail downstream, to get to the pier quite quickly. The landscape is almost prettier than on the outward journey, because the clouds seem to want to play with the mountains, and offer some amazing photographs.

Once with the bags in our possession, we walk to the nearby bus station, consisting of a booth and two vans at the door. We get the tickets for Oudomxay, city where we have to change to Luang Namtha. Quickly we went up to a minivan, quite decent, next to two French couples and a Laotian. The road is a real hell, and potholes make us bounce like balls.

So it took us 3 hours to get to Oudomxay. There we have an hour until the bus leaves for Luang Namtha. So after buying the tickets we take advantage of an open-air bar to have a grilled fish, soup and a beer. Fifteen minutes before the start, we see that almost everyone is already seated, so we went running and take the last free seat.

The trip is amazing, with continuous stops, where people go up and down. When we arrive at Luang Nam Tha it is night, and there are several tuc-tucs, waiting. We go to the guesthouse recommended in various guides. After dinner we go to the restaurant. After dinner we go to a cyber to connect to the Internet, and after reading the emails, we go to sleep, since we are tired after 8 hours of boat and bus.

DAY 11 - LUANG NAM THA

We thought that we were no longer affected by the sound of the cocks at dawn, but it is not like that, and again these animals wake us up. We moved the luggage to our new guest house. We had breakfast in the restaurant. Although the day is cold and very foggy, we rented a motorcycle for an amazing price, to see the surroundings.

So, after equipping ourselves with several layers of clothes, and loading the fuel, we began to visit temples and markets, crossing unstable bamboo bridges. At this time the sun warms up strongly, and we take advantage of the opportunity to remove clothes, while they prepare a great pineapple bought from a roadside stand.

Around one o'clock in the afternoon, we stop for a few beers and a little fish, before wandering aimlessly, penetrating into villages where the children look at us with curiosity. After 2 hours, we arrive at Muang Sing a village located very close to China of which they speak quite well in the Lonely Planet guide.

We arrive is a lazy hamlet, where there is hardly anything to see, because even the market, which can be the most interesting, is almost empty. For that reason we approach the checkpoint of the border with China, although it does not have anything special either. When we got back we had a beer in the garden of a guest house, where a few tourists snoozed, and we bought a huge pineapple, which we eat under a tree.

It's early, but we decided to go back to Luang, and make stops along the way. In one of them, we diverted to visit some very cool waterfalls, badly indicated. After leaving the motorcycle we walked, a path surrounded by thick vegetation, which makes us feel like Indiana Jones, although the sight of a pair of spiders of considerable size, makes us no longer enjoy so much. Upon returning, two countrymen who live in a cabin, on the edge of the road, charge us for the entry.

Before nightfall, we return to the city, and leave the motorcycle (we tell the manager, that tomorrow we want to change it because it has the speedometer broken). After taking a shower, we take a walk, although there is not much to see, and we opted for an Indian dinner, which a British couple had recommended.

It really has a great dinner, and I especially love the green chicken curry. When we left, we decided to go somewhere other than tourists, and we got into a pub full of Laotians. Upon entering, some young boys and a girl invite us to come to their table. The most fun was that the waiter handed us a letter written only in Laotian. We try to have a conversation with them.

Today it was time to say goodbye to La Spezia to go to the Ligurian capital of Genoa in Italy. As a curiosity, apart from the rich history that Genova had, the invention of cowboys is attributed to it. Apparently the word jeans to indicate the famous fabric, originated here around the year 1500.

With the name Blue De Genes and the distortion to English blue jeans, indicated a type of blue fabric very resistant to the weather. It was perfect for the sailors of Liguria, and was used for candles and to cover merchandise. It was manufactured in the French city Nimes, from which originates the word denim.

Day 1

About 9:30 am we we gave the keys to the apartment to the landlady. We had breakfast for the last time in the cafe and we headed to the train station. We had taken the ticket online with what we saved something in the rate with respect to take it out at the time.

A lady announced by public address that the train from Roma Termini to Genoa will arrive 20 minutes late. So we have to wait more on the platform, where we entertain ourselves watching the movement of passengers. There are enough tourists equipped to visit, probably, the cinque terre. We see a group of pigeons that flutter on the tracks trapping small pieces of biscuit that a man has purposely crumbled for them.

We ride on the float, as the Italians call the wagon, and we settle on the left side to go to the sea. The journey lasted an hour crossing the villages that we already knew in addition to Sestri Levante, or Deiva Marina among others. Through the window we could see the calm sea, with people bathing and the sunny day.

We got off at the Brignole station and, in 10 minutes we arrived at the hotel. Thanks to a rewards promotion we got a good price for this hotel in Genoa that was in a quiet place and at the same time close to the center. It is on the Via Corsica, in a residential neighborhood, located on a street that looked more like a Parisian boulevard. It is very different from the characteristic Genoa caruggi or alleyways.

After check-in they gave us a genoa map and, after leaving the luggage in the room, we went out to wander around. We found the layout of the streets marked on the map with black arrows indicating the different heights that exist. Genoa is built on levels. It has been growing around its great port in a disorderly way and adapting to the irregular orography that surrounds it, towards the hills.

From Via Corsica we went to the Dante square. After going down some stairs we found an enclosure full of motorcycles. There are many throughout the city. In the background stand out the two towers of Walls of Genoa that was once the main gateway to Genoa. It is one of the medieval works that are preserved, very close to the central Piazza De Ferrari. Just next door is the house museum of Christopher Columbus, whom the Genoese consider their countryman. Although his origin is not very clear, as it is disputed between Spaniards, Portuguese and Italians.

The house can be visited but we only see it from the outside and we stop at the remains of the Cloister of Saint Andrea. Here only part of the arches of the cloister remains. These were absorbed, like the towers of the door, by the subsequent development of homes in the area.

From there we go to Piazza De Ferrari, where we find an open space with a huge fountain in the center which is a meeting place for young people. At the beginning of the nineties the area was rehabilitated and paved for the celebration of the V centenary of the discovery of America.

At one end we find the Ducal Palace, one of the main historical buildings. Inside, we can find different exhibitions and activities used as a cultural center. The lunch hour was approaching and we headed to the Vico Superiore del Ferro, where I had located a restaurant that was not far from the square. We moved between the alleys and soon found a kind of tavern where they serve typical dishes and others. The place is decorated and they have used the chopping boards of the butchers in the tables.

We take a dish of the day to choose among several, water or glass of wine and a coffee. With caffeine in the body we go uphill to the Spianata Castelletto, after climbing a lot of stairs. It is a panoramic point, an esplanade from where we get a view over the roofs of the city, with the port, the sea and the lantern or lighthouse in the background. We sat for a while in the shade while we observed the houses crowded with manifest disorder that, in surface, formed a labyrinth of narrow alleys.

We resume the march in search of the D'Albertis Castle that hosts the museum of the cultures of the world. It was built on a fortification of the sixteenth century by Captain Enrico D'Albertis. He donated it himself to the city along with all the ethnographic, nautical and archaeological material he had collected during his travels around the world. Access to the gardens is free so we decided to go and see them.

After resting for a while in the area we went down to the center making a stop at the botanical garden near the university. Here they have some greenhouses and plants with their names on posters.
We continue with the descent until we find ourselves side by side with the Basilica della Santissima Annunziata del Vastato. We found it quite ugly on its side facade.

We entered to see it. Its interior completely erased the first impression after discovering the artistic splendor of the Genoese baroque. The church dominates in an imposing way on the Piazza della Nunziata. The ambitious project that entailed its expansion and maintenance was partly financed thanks to the families of Genoese noblemen. We sat for a while looking at the paintings on the ceiling, the solomonic columns and the ornate decoration of his style.

On leaving, we headed for the Via Balbi, which comprises the junction of the square where we were with the Piazza Acquaverde. Here the other great Genoese railway station is located, that of Principe.

Via Balbi was built in the early six hundred by a member of the Balbi family, rich Genoese bankers. Here we find a good number of prestigious palaces, many of them inscribed in the Genoese rolli and declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco. The street is the seat of the university specializing in Law, Political Science and Philosophy. The university library is also present, a building of the six hundred that belonged to the Jesuits.

We went first to the Palazzo Reale, from which we saw only the gardens with free access. At the entrance there is an exposed carriage and, on the other side, the sculpture of a huge foot. In the background a garden opens with a fountain where a child, accompanied by his grandfather, spills coca-cola in the pond because he says that the fish like soda.

The university is not very busy but what we do see is a large number of announcements in a bulletin board regarding the search and offer of accommodation during the course. We left via Balbi, after having seen its palaces with decorated facades we went down the alleys to the port. There we ran into the Chiesa e Commenda di San Giovanni di Pre.

It is a monastic complex consisting of two Romanesque churches and a three-story building, the commenda. It has undergone numerous restorations and is located in Via Pre, one of the oldest streets in Genoa. In this area we can breathe the atmosphere of what port cities were in the past. There are people from different parts of the world, small workshops, typical buildings with painted facades and narrow alleys.

We soon go to the promenade located in the Old Port, which for several years has been converted into a cultural, tourist and service center. It was renovated on the occasion of the 500th centenary celebration of the discovery of America in 1992. We first see the Galata Museo del Mare.

It is the largest maritime museum in the Mediterranean where boats, armory of the dock, atlases and fishing objects among others are conserved. There is also a room dedicated to emigration.
Very close we came across the boat that Roman Polanski used to shoot his movie Piratas and it is a museum that can be visited. Around we met a lot of people selling handbags on the sidewalk that mimic the most exclusive brands and models.

We leave the ship behind and see the entrance to the Genoa Aquarium, the second largest in Europe after Valencia. As we knew this one and in March we visited several in the Emirates, we did not enter to see it either.

Another of the main buildings of the old port, is the Bigo, a panoramic elevator that turns on itself. It was built for the cargo cranes that were in charge of lowering the merchandise that arrived at the port. The structure rises allowing to see a view of the city and the rest of the port.

We continue with the walk along the pier and we find the Bolla, a kind of glass and steel sphere inside which live exotic plants, reptiles, insects and some birds. We approach to see the interior and we can only distinguish between the plants an orange bird.

Both the sphere and Il Bigo were designed by Renzo Piano, well-known Italian architect, in charge of remodeling this area of ​​the port. After resting for a while in the port, watching the people on a sunny afternoon, we approach a market where they sold all kinds of food under the painted facades that once had to look splendid.

Strolling we arrive at the San Lorenzo Cathedral, in the square of the same name. It is a medieval church on which later additions were made. The initial project included two towers but, as it happens in other places, only the right was finished housing the only bell tower of the temple.

The decoration with black and white strips of the facade was a symbol of nobility typically used in Genoa. As a symbol of the struggle of Christ against evil, two lions appear on the sides, with a curious sad expression on their faces.

We took the opportunity to take a refreshing gelato sitting on the steps of the cathedral watching the incessant movement of people from one side of the square to the other. Nearby is the Chiesa del Gesu e dei Santi Ambrogio e Andrea. We went to see the interior, where we discovered a lot of paintings.

Upon leaving, we decided to end the day by going to the hotel. We take advantage of the fact that it has a small wellness area with spa, which is comforting after the intense day in Genoa. We dined at the hotel restaurant because they offered us with a voucher to use in bars and restaurants. We took advantage of it, although there are numerous options outside. We have an aperitif and dinner with the pinchos and a rich pizza.

Day 2

Our second day in Genoa dawned clear, with splendid sunshine and pleasant temperature. After breakfast at the hotel we stopped at the first kiosk that we saw to buy tickets for the urban bus. As we had planned to make several trips, we opted for a one day ticket and allows unlimited use of the bus for 24 hours.

We went to the Via XX Settembre. In front of the eastern market, we took bus to Prato. Our goal was to visit one of the most outstanding cemeteries in Europe. It is famous for hosting an important collection of funeral sculpture and having outstanding figures such as the wife of Oscar Wilde or Giuseppe Mazzini.
Although cemetery tourism may sound a little strange, it is well worth a visit, because it is an authentic open-air museum. The extension is considerable and we spent three hours traveling it and they flew by us.

The monumental cemetery of Staglieno is for the Genoese people a place of remembrance and commemoration. It also represents a fascinating artistic and historical testimony of the city of Genoa. The municipal administration, aware of the cultural importance has, has undertaken initiatives aimed at the restoration and enhancement of the numerous works that have made this cemetery famous. In one of the main doors is the statue of the Faith, a work in white marble of 9 meters high, made by the sculptor Santo Varni.

We got off next to the flower stalls and, at the entrance, a man came to offer us a plan of the whole. Later another one appeared offering its services like guide but we decided to make the visit by free.
We started with the less monumental part, and already here the decoration of the tombs seemed surprising to us. We move between sculptures and niches and soon we cross an aqueduct leading to the part of the English cemetery. Two sculptures of a perfectly dressed couple draw our attention in the middle of a forest of trees.

A little further up were the tombs of the Orthodox. This cemetery welcomes people from different confessions, reflecting the cosmopolitan character that Genoa has always had. The Lutheran tombs looked more austere and those of the Jews wore their symbols such as the Star of David and the 7-branched candelabrum, along with the name of the deceased written in Hebrew and Italian.

We had climbed stairs and, from the top we saw the central temple. We accessed without ceasing to surprise us with all the sculptures that are there. Here the dust has accumulated over the years and where silence reigned, only disturbed by the curious steps of some visitors. In the interior of this pantheon the remains of illustrious citizens are conserved.

Along the perimeter walls extend the galleries, authentic chests of sculptural works. There are several thematic itineraries such as the Risorgimento, the Angels, the Charity and Charity and the Emotions. We began to walk the galleries to the west and up, below and at the top. The themes of charity are represented by female figures.

As for the emotions, in Staglieno art and nature merge, creating an alliance of exclusive beauty in a context of thick vegetation. In the Ammirato tomb the dramatization is exalted, which prevails over the melancholy, evidenced by the singular pose of the young woman, with her head tilted, letting her hair fall.

Empress Sissi, visiting the Staglieno Cemetery in March 1893, stopped for a long time before the monument to Giacomo Carpaneto. It is a notable work of Scanzi. This tomb was commissioned by Francesco Oneto, a wealthy merchant and president of Banca Generale. The angel who holds the trumpet of universal judgment with his right hand, offers no gesture of consolation, for he seems distant and imperturbable.

The sensuality of this statue profoundly shocked the contemporaries, but it enjoyed great success as it was repeated countless times, both by Giulio Monteverde himself, the author of the work, and by the imitators of the artist. It can be found in several versions in many cemeteries in Italy, France, Germany or England.

In the Erba edition of the Genoese sculptor Saint Saccomanno, the female figure sitting on the tomb with her eyes closed and holding the poppy seeds in her hands, the pagan symbol of eternal oblivion, also shocked her contemporaries, partly because the sensuality that emanates from the naked shoulder of the woman.

From 1860 Realism had a rapid diffusion in Staglieno that can be seen in the representation of human figures and their surroundings, treated with great precision and attention to detail. The expressions of pain are recreated, the gestures of the hands, the dresses and the hair seem tremendously real. In the Pignone tomb, by sculptor Giuseppe Benetti, a representation of death appears on its own. The young wife discovers the veil, a symbol of long illness, which covers her late husband, rich businessman, owner of a large shipping company.

In the tomb of Rivara, by Giovanni Battista Villa, the brother, the sister-in-law and the nephew are represented. The sculptor captured his clothes with maximum detail, as can be seen in the boy's shoes or corduroy trousers. It also represents on their faces their state of mind and the wedge of the stylistic precepts of bourgeois realism.

The tomb of Caterina Campodonico, the walnut seller, may be the best known monument in the cemetery. This woman saved all her life to make a sculpture in Staglieno and is represented with the necklace of nuts in his hands and a thread of bread. Caterina managed to get Lorenzo Orengo, a sculptor of the Genoese bourgeoisie, to make this sculpture for her.

At times, the sculptures take on a more macabre tint and we cross corridors with a ghostly atmosphere, with the cobwebs hanging from the ceiling, the walls with humidity and a sepulchral silence, perfect props for a horror movie.

After the long walk through the cemetery and, overwhelmed by the amount of sculptures we have seen and those that have yet to be discovered, we take the bus to the center of Genoa. We eat again in Taggiou and after resting for a while we go to Via Garibaldi, very close to there. In this street there are several mansions and manor houses.

Formerly known as Strada Nuova, Via Garibaldi is one of the most visited places in the city, as it contains that representative set of the commercial society of the sixteenth century. The numerous works of Renaissance architecture are surprising, with sculpted facades, stuccoed and medallions.

Along the street are lined buildings with atriums, steps, patios, rooms with frescoes and hanging gardens. Here we find outstanding art galleries such as the Red Palace, the White Palace and the Spinola Palace.

We leave via Garibaldi walking through the Caruggi, the narrow alleys that lead to the port. We cross the Via de la Maddalena, a curious street that the Genoese do not frequent at night or during the day.

We arrived to the cathedral and took the opportunity to visit the interior, since the previous day we found it closed. In the Dante square, right next to the house of Columbus, we took the bus to Boccadasse, the fishermen's neighborhood a short distance from the center. In 25 minutes we got out and saw the silhouetted silhouette of the coast with a group of houses near the sea.

From the church we go to a pretty busy square. There are people walking, fishing, taking a gelato in front of the sea or enjoying the afternoon in this quiet place. Boccadasse is a small neighborhood that opens around a small port and a pebble beach. There are people lying down and others bathing, because of the temperature.

Our idea was to enter the Glacier National Park and go through what gave us time on the road that runs through it. Although the sky remained quite covered, but at least it stopped raining. When we arrived at Radium Hot Springs we made a technical stop and took the opportunity to buy some sandwiches. To recover some time, we were eating them along the way. Slowly the miles were falling and we realized we were arriving at the border with the United States. As you can imagine, we left the camera in the back seat so there would not be any misunderstandings.

When we arrived at the Roosville border crossing there were not many cars so we did not have to wait long. Of course, we had time to read all the notices that were on the posters. The one that put us most nervous was the one that said that everything that had been bought outside the United States had to be declared.

The agent asked us where we came from, where we were going, if we had bought something. We explained that we were going to spend a couple of days in Montana and then return. The police looked surprised. We clarified that we would first stop in Minneapolis. Regarding the issue of purchases, we said that we had only bought gifts. And the truth is that we were not lying.

We continue on US93 through Whitefish, Columbia Falls and finally we reach Coram, the small town where our lodging was for the next two nights. In addition to single rooms and individual cabins the site has a huge place to park caravans. At the reception we were met by a very nice man who explained where our room was. He also asked us about our trip and what we were going to see in Montana. When we told him we were just passing through, he told us that the Glacier National Park was very good.

Finally he recommended a couple of places that he knew for dinner and breakfast. We went to locate the site for dinner and it was on the same road in the direction of Columbia Falls less than 3 kms away. We were back in the United States with the food, the atmosphere, and the people!

Day 2

We started to regain consciousness at 7:00 am accompanied by the sound of rain hitting the outside of our little cabin in Twin Butte. With the prospect of a breakfast at 8:30 and the almost total assurance that today we will not be able to visit practically anything due to the severe weather over Glacier NP, we are in no hurry to get up, not even to start preparing our luggage.

Through the windows, in addition to the expected drops of water glued to the glass, we see an unknown car that must belong to our neighbors, although we have not heard their arrival during the night. We stretched and reviewed photographs and videos with special attention to those of the bears a few hours ago while the interior of the cabin is lit up slowly by natural light.

When we planned the trip, we thought it was not a good idea to cross the border the same day we had the flight, just in case there was something unforeseen. That's why we prefer to spend the last part of our trip in the United States. The planning for today was very simple and quiet.

We knew that we were not going to be able to go through it as we had read on the park's website that from September 21 they close the Logan pass to fix the road. The first thing we did was go to breakfast where they had recommended us at the typical roadside bar. What a breakfast!

We were not aware of what we had ordered until they brought it to us. For breakfast today we have some spectacular french toasts. With maple syrup and, for those who tolerate it, a little bacon or butter on top, are a first bite of the exquisite day. Our new neighbors and dinner companions are a nice couple on honeymoon from Texas.

Once we had breakfast and with a full belly, we went to the park entrance. When we arrived at the port, the person who answered us told us that the National Public Lands Day was celebrated. The entrance to the park was free, so we saved the entrance cost.

Although we were warned at the entrance, a few kilometers there were signs that warned of the works and that the road was cut 50 km later.

The truth is that the weather did not favour us as the sky became increasingly gray with clouds that did not bode well. In addition the temperature was at 3 degrees.

So we continued forward and when the road allowed, we stopped to enjoy the scenery and take some pictures. One of the photos that follows is from the Bird Woman Falls (293 mts). The glacier that is just above is one of those that provides water to the waterfall.

And as announced, upon arriving at Logan Pass, we found the road closed. Also, since we were already out of season, the visitor center was also closed so we could not do much.

From this point a lot of trails come out, but as the weather was so bad (at the top the fog was quite thick), we did not try to do any trail.

Seeing that things did not improve, we decided to go down to the lower altitude areas to see if, at least, there was not so much fog. And although we had some downpour, we were able to make several stops to take pictures of what most caught our attention, like the little waterfall from Logan Creek.

While we were going down we came across one of the attractions of the park: the famous red tourist bus. As we did not have another plan until lunchtime, we stopped by the lookouts that we found on the road. Most were spots where there was some waterfall.

Lunchtime caught us near Lake Mcdonald, so we took advantage of it to buy some refreshments and eat the sandwiches we had bought in the morning.

After lunch we made another attempt to climb Logan Pass to see if the weather had improved somewhat, but just the opposite. The fog had become even thicker and the traffic on the road became a bit dangerous, so we decided to go back to the room and gradually prepare our bags.

Although we had to do an engineering work, in the end we got all the suitcases closed, although some little thing had to stay there. After going out to dinner (we repeated the same bar as the day before), we tried to check online to confirm the flight.

Day 3

We wait from the window for a small break in the downpour that does not stop dropping us to take the luggage to the car without getting soaked. But far from dying, the number of snowflakes that land on the lawn per second increases more and more. So there is no choice but to collect waterproof layers and optimize the travel necessary to bring our bags, backpacks, isothermal bags and shopping bags to the trunk of the Chevy.

While we update the family and social networks, time seems to be even more violent. It does not snow but the rain is strong, which advises driving with great caution. We do this, bypassing the detour to Waterton Lakes and taking the route that will take us, some 40 kilometers later, to the Chief Mountain border crossing.

Fortunately it seems that we are getting ahead of that Canadian storm that promises to wreak havoc in the next few hours, since according to the black clouds are left in our mirrors the driving becomes much more pleasant. Of course, the charming alpine landscape that characterizes this union of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park is hidden behind the thick clouds.

We reached the control by which to leave Canada after having discovered and explored it for two weeks. After a mere process of a few seconds with a robust border agent we are already back in the United States of America, nothing more and nothing less than in the first hours. We circulate at 3,000 meters high, not bad for a reunion with the country of the stars and stripes. And during our first kilometers moving south we came across several herds of cows roaming freely on the road.

At a much better pace thanks to a simple rain much less dangerous than the flood with which we started, we reached the scattered houses that form the town of Babb and after passing it we reached the cabin. We found the office closed and some vague directions on how to find the management, but after a couple of laps we managed to find it.

The woman in charge of the complex regrets that our room is not ready yet, because with a storm like today, late departures increase. We pay the remaining half of the reservation and receive the key to the cabin anyway in case we want to leave our luggage, but we decided not to go and have a look until it is ready.

Without much to do due to the storm, we go to the nearby town of St. Mary where one of the two entrances closest to the National Park is located. We reached the visitor center of this access to the complex.

Together with the receipt of our payment they already give us maps and a park guide, a good summary of very useful information during the visit and something that we have missed in the access to Canadian parks. And from the minute zero the difference with the National Parks of Canada is abysmal. The care for the detail, the investment of the American government and the pride for its network of National Parks.

It's something we've never seen anywhere else. We receive a nice room with all kinds of details such as a large screen with the weather forecast, a detailed model of the entire surface of the park, a small museum on the history and fauna of the place and, most surprising, an auditorium with capacity for more than 200 people where every 30 minutes an introductory movie is shown with the benefits of the Glacier National Park.

We take advantage of the Internet connection to reassure the family about the trance on the road that we had to pass. Once the process is completed, we inform our plans and preferences to one of the always willing Rangers before asking for advice about how to distribute the hours that the weather allows us to enjoy the park.

Finally, we look for nearby self-service laundries in order to take advantage of today's circumstances and free ourselves from tasks and messages, thus trying that the next two days are entirely destined to take advantage of the scenario. The predictably charming Ranger who serves us at the counter confirms what we thought was our best option is to reserve for a possible sunny day what we are most interested in seeing at its peak, Hidden Lake Overlook.

We trust that when tomorrow at noon the worst of the storm we can attend our second most priority option Grinnell Glacier or Iceberg Lake, with her sharing our opinion that, although it is worthwhile to travel both. We approach the St. Mary Falls after a moderately short walk under a rain that will not disappear in the next few hours. We will follow your advice but before that you have to eat, which has already passed 13:00.

After a couple of failed attempts stopping next to coffee shops that turn out to be closed we tried our luck in the cafe. It is located door to door with a hotel with similar prices to our cabin that once ruled out by the horrible reviews it has received on Tripadvisor.

We entered the premises, which in reality is more a family restaurant than a cafeteria, and a rustic interior awaits us with nothing that seems forced or artificial thinking about tourists. Two waitresses are on duty, one urging us to take a seat and one that takes our order.

We ignore the Sunday special of fried chicken dish with soup and several sauces and we decided on a hamburger with cheese and what they say here as banana peppers, which is a very powerful type of pepper. The burgers are delicious as my mouth burns. The potatoes taste good and the enigmatic soup does indeed carry everything, including meat that gives it the appearance of stew.

There is no choice but to accompany it with soft drinks and water since alcohol is not served locally. We ended up satisfied and paying, including the tip. Now, let's try to get something out of this decaffeinated welcome to Glacier National Park with a short and accessible tour. After about 10 miles behind the wheel with how nice it was to think about kilometers we found the parking lot from which the path leads to St. Mary's Falls, a route that crosses mostly a forest that year Last burned after an incident in a picnic area.

However, as we would know later, the incident apparently had positive consequences for the ecosystem since the nature of the forest was dead anyway. Among the charred trees, the low visibility due to the rain and fog and the sleet that at times tightens strongly, is one of the most grotesque excursions of our trip.

Covered up to the eyebrows with supposed waterproof clothes some pieces more than others and after about half an hour dodging puddles and slippery stones we reached the bridge and the natural viewpoint in front of the falls. And they are not bad, but circumstances do not invite us to enjoy this goal more than about ten minutes.

From this bridge and adding another kilometer and a half more the road leads to other waterfalls, but as we know nothing about them. We decided not to take the risk. It's time to go back to the car, dying to get rid of a layer of clothing that is already completely soaked and that has not completely isolated our inner clothing from the ravages of the rain.

It's 4:00 pm when we're back inside the vehicle, and we take advantage of the fact that it's about an hour before we close the St. Mary's Visitor Center to make a new stop during which we reconnect to the Internet and request a brochure specific with information about all the excursions of the park.

Something before 5:00 p.m. is the time to discover at last how is our cabin number 5. It is not hard for us to find it following the indications that its owner gave us hours before, and what awaits us there is a construction much wider than that of Drywood Creek with a sofa accompanying the large bed, a bathroom with a slightly smaller prefabricated shower of the desired thing and, first time in the whole trip, without television in sight.

The interior is somewhat cold, so we put the heating with the dual function of warming up and helping us to dry the soaked jackets and boots. The trick works wonders and in just 10 minutes are ready for a new adventure. It's time to buy time for future days by washing clothes at a nearby service, even though the initial intention was to do our last laundry within two days taking advantage of the washer and dryer included in our next accommodation.

The best option that we have found online is a campsite near the entrance to the park by St. Mary's. It costs nothing to find it thanks to the good signage from the main road, and welcomes us with exactly what we needed. There is a room with about 15 washing machines and almost the same dryers, needing for the whole process a total of about five dollars in coins.

In a corner with sofas and TV a few elderly people are enjoying Casablanca in its particular version of neighborhood cinema every Sunday. Attached to the laundry is the gift shop and small grocery store of the camp, modest but enough to get out of a hurry in case of emergency.

In what we wait for the appliances to fulfill their function, Casablanca says goodbye with its titles of credit and the veteran division of the laundry leaves the place. A few minutes later the countdown of our dryer reaches zero and we are ready to pack our things and leave the campsite.

In doing so we see how the weather has improved slightly, stopping the rain at last and slightly increasing the visibility on the horizon, where the countless frozen mountains that make up the Glacier National Park are already sensed. The thing promises and a lot, and it makes us want even more strongly that tomorrow the sky opens and lets us see that wonder that is surrounding us without being aware of it.

We only have to go back to our cabin number five and prepare dinner, which this time will rely mainly on our particular microwave since the cold, humidity and muddy ground do not invite to make round trips to the common hut with full kitchen and dining room. We just stopped by her to get a can opener and a couple of cups and spoons for breakfast tomorrow, and found inside a London girl who immediately guesses our origin.

We dined pasta with tuna and a canned clam chowder, that cream of clams typical in the two coasts and that can be consumed in a low cost version in the rest of the country thanks to the supermarket preserves. Along with a couple of beers, a coffee with milk and a cookie for dessert we closed the dinner service.

It is 9:30 pm when we are ready to see one or two episodes of Masterchef before turning off the lights. Tomorrow, if everything goes as we expect, at noon the sky should give the starting signal to finally enjoy Glacier NP in all its splendor. We do not see the moment of that happening.

Journey through Glacier National Park

Day 4

It seems that an eternity has passed since that good night when we rested surrounded by the comfort of a room of the inn facing the Athabasca Glacier. Things have changed a lot since then. Much more ground travel, many more wonders seen and here we are, after 22:00 in a mysterious cabin. It is the same cabin that we arrived yesterday. This part of the mystery does not make much sense. B

It is a quiet and clear night outside with the threat of frost during the night. Our feet beg for a bit of rest, and that has been a hard day. Not that we expected a path of roses, but the truth is that the effort has been somewhat greater than we imagined. Of course, the effort has had a reward according to its magnitude. What reward is that? Let's start from the beginning.

The Visitor Center of St. Mary receives us much more solitary than yesterday despite having been open since 8:00, but as the minutes pass with us sitting near the heater and laptop in hand begins to populate visitors. The forecast is good, again indicating that at 12:00 the sun will begin to appear.

Our reentry to the park has informed us that the Going to the sun road, precisely the road that starts in St. Mary and crosses Glacier National Park, has a section closed by the storm a few miles ahead. However, it does not affect us since our planned excursion for today is born in Many Glacier, another nerve center of the park which is accessed by another entrance a few kilometers to the north.

We spent more time than expected inside the visitor center, watching with hope as the clouds are rising little by little and even begin to show the snowy mountains. We take advantage of the discreet but sufficient Internet connection to gather new episodes of television, starting with the premiere of the last season of Masters of Sex. Evenings without television or Internet in the cabin can be very long and all entertainment is welcome. Loosely passed 10:00 we decided that it is already good and we set course.

About 30 kilometers separate us from the car park we are looking for. Going through them takes us a bit longer than expected because the road that enters Glacier on this side presents several sections that urgently need a review, with potholes that will end up being expensive one day to a car rental company. We arrived safe and sound and around 11:00 we left the car sheltered until the eyebrows to face the challenge of the day. We're going to Grinnell Glacier.

Until the last moment we kept open the debate about which excursion to use today's day. The Glacier National Park has itineraries to give and take, enough to justify staying in its surroundings for more than a week. Unfortunately the budget and days available for vacations are limited, and that conditioned our passage through here to only three days. One of them, yesterday, was almost completely ruined by bad weather.

Another of them, that of tomorrow with guarantees of good weather, is reserved for what is our most priority excursion. That leaves us today to dedicate it to another great excursion, meaning anybody that passes more than 10 kilometers and requires ascending several hundred meters along that distance.

Two candidates came to the grand final after our research on Glacier National Park: one was Iceberg Lake and the other Grinnell Glacier. Both began their journey from nearby points, accessing the park through the access of Many Glacier that we have just crossed. Both had respectable distances and ascents, although Grinnell was winning by an additional three or four kilometers between the round trip and something more to overcome.

And most of all, the big difference is that while the trip to Iceberg Lake consists mainly of visiting the glacier lake at the end of the road, which is no small feat, with the Grinnell Glacier Trail we were going to have the complete package. It also awaits us at the goal a glacier lake with the corresponding mass of ice on it, but its itinerary seems to be willing to other sights and attractions that give it more variety than its competitor.

So after weighing pros and cons and after verifying that even a Ranger from the visitor center provided the same reasons as we did, the Grinnell Glacier proclaimed itself the winner. And there we go with nine kilometers to go, another nine to return, and between one thing and the other a difference of over 500 meters that we must overcome to reach the end of the road.

The first four kilometers take place around the lake Swiftcurrent first and leaving behind the Lake Josephine to our left. The landscapes that it presents are already noteworthy although we hope that on our return the sky, still covered at this time, will have been uncovered and that will improve still more the postcard. But the worrying thing is the little, almost null rise of those first 4,000 meters.

That means that the more than 500 meters of height to be won will be concentrated in the second half of the route, and greater problems are already pending. Meanwhile, the clouds finally decide to start ascending, clearing the view and giving us more reasons to continue. The temperature begins to rise, so that layers of clothing begin to be left over, which we must either keep in the backpacks or tie at the waist.

We passed by the detour that would take us to Grinnell Lake, a lake fed by the waters of the glacier that should not be confused with the real glacier lake, that which lies at the foot of the frozen surface collecting its mass in the form of liquid. When we passed the milestone of the five kilometers, small concentrations of snow began to appear on the vegetation that we left on both sides.

When we have overcome the six kilometers the shy snow has become a complete protagonist of the landscape, invading treetops and branches of trees and accumulating in thicknesses of between three and six centimeters. We spot several specimens of goat in the distance Big Horn. Also called ram of the rocky and characterized by huge horns in the form of ensaimada on his head.

We met a photographer with the appearance of a professional, equipped with a camera and telephoto of those that cost several months' income and showing a calm and tranquility that only someone who has spent hundreds of hours in solitude waiting for the moment to take the perfect snapshot can get.

When the count is over seven kilometers and we have even started to leave Grinnell Lake from above, the glacier begins to appear on the horizon beyond the timid but extensive waterfall that connects both points. At eight kilometers, with many meters already at the back of unevenness and uneven terrain full of roots and rocks with slippery aspect, one begins to wonder how much more you must tighten your teeth before reaching the goal.

The snow covering everything has stopped surprising, being assimilated into the landscape. And finally, after a final 600 meters that put your energy reserves to the test, the steepest slope of the day and a zig-zag finish ready to break your legs, there we have it.

A lustrous example of an ice block that rises beyond the horizon until it reaches almost to our feet, only interrupted by a precipice in which the ice turns into water and this precipitates into a lake completely calm. Grinnell Glacier is considered a modern glacier since it was not discovered until 1887, and yet it suffers like all the unstoppable advance of climate change with its icy surface receding several meters year after year.

We have been successful with our decision that relegated the visit to Glacier to the last days of the trip. To witness this during the first days would have reduced much impact to the rest of the nature attractions visited, which, although admirable, can not be required to compete with this monstrosity.

The untainted white of snow and ice not as in Athabasca, where we almost saw more brown than white from the exploitation of the glacier.The setting with snowy trees where only the sleigh of Santa Claus pulled by Rudolf are missing of the three lakes to overcome before reaching this goal in the heights. Everything contributes to the arrival at Grinnell Glacier from the minute one well, after recovering the breath for the final ascent.

Reaching the top of the Grinnell Glacier Trail is not synonymous with reaching the end of the road. There are still about 200 meters that now seem like a walk to reach the very shore of the glacier lake. And it is then, when it expands before you, when you realize that more than half of the lake remains static for a reason. It is frozen, covered by a very thin layer of ice, surely unable to bear the slightest weight on it.

This is the place to drop the backpack, look for a relatively comfortable stone and observe in silence. And after doing it and before moving on to the submachine gun of photos and videos, take hold of those sandwiches that we have loaded on our backs and so deservedly we have won. We recover the layers of clothing lost during the climb, and it is that the thermal sensation is not the same stopped that in march.

It is not cold that makes us want to go back indoors, but this amount of snow and ice does not stay solid for no reason. While we savored both the views and the food we heard the crunching of some piece of ice that has broken in the distance and that none of the seven or eight visitors present dares to interrupt with his voice.

Between the climb and the visit to the finish line, it was already past 4:00 p.m. We better start to return if we do not want the sunset, and therefore the perfect time for bears to roam the areas with vegetation, reach us in full return. We allow ourselves one last look with which to leave the scene engraved on our retina and we turn around.

As always, the return becomes heavier after disappearing that feeling of approaching the unknown. And with nine kilometers ahead there is a lot of time to start getting bored, although the sky and the sun are much more optimal than during the ascent, it brings some incentive to the way back. We try to cope with it in the best possible way, making a photo here and there, chatting, joking.

We almost forgot that constant warning that must be had when walking through the area until we come across something. In the exact center of the road a mass with the appearance of vomit but of improper dimensions to come from a human being rests on the ground. In addition you can clearly distinguish in it dozens, almost hundreds of those small red berries that apparently both attract both black bears and grizzly.

We would remember perfectly having come across something like this during the climb, so the animal indigestion may have passed through here four hours or four minutes ago. Needless to say, from that moment we increased the pace and began to speak at a much greater volume and with a tension in the voice unpublished until now.

Following the recommendations of the park we alternate the chat with slaps. I even clap my hands singing the first song that comes to mind, in this case one of the Beatles. Spotify in special version for bears, very soon available for long nights of hibernation.

We passed the section with the highest probability of bears sighting and we allowed ourselves to begin to relax again. We reached, and it is getting very long back at this point, the pier of Lake Josephine where a boat passes the day crossing the water from shore to shore for those who want to shorten slightly the distance on foot to the glacier although the height to win remains the same.

The boat has been parked for more than an hour without any sign of moving again until tomorrow, but the lake offers us one of the best mirror effects of the trip reflecting with almost total precision the snow-capped peaks before it.

We complete the nine kilometers back looking sideways at the huge façade of the hotel, on the other side of the last lake that borders. It's 7:20 when we can finally get rid of almost half of the costumes and get back into the car, with a temperature of four degrees that is hardly a difference compared to two degrees Celsius with which we started the tour six hours ago.

We do not have time for more and, although we had it, probably we would not consider going any further. We knew it was going to be a tough stage but being a linear route without as many stops as the circular itinerary of Lake Louise has made it more tired than the effort of that day. We said goodbye to the area and therefore to Many Glacier under a sky that, now,

I would still like to give us access to Many Glacier with two presents before we finally said goodbye. First with a new sighting of a bear in freedom, this time about five miles from the entrance to the park and without possibility of immortalizing it with a camera that rests in the trunk.

Shortly after our arrival the bear decides that there has already been enough function and starts to gallop downhill, in the direction of one of the countless lakes that accompany the road. Second, the last rays of light of the day coincide with our last miles before reaching the main road, giving us the excuse for a last stop in which to contemplate the different shades that the sky adopts before the watchful eye of the Many Glaciers, literal translation of Many Glacier.

It is 8:00 pm when we have left Many Glacier behind, and we do it to park at the supermarket open until 10:00 pm between the four buildings that make up the town of St. Mary. It is not a Walmart but it has enough to cover basic needs such as precooked food, drinks, snacks or protein for cooking.

Once the process is completed, we return to the parking lot of the Visitor Center of St. Mary, where several dozen cars rest despite the fact that the center has been closed for three hours. Why then so much public influx? Well, because the Internet connection has no schedule and from the parking area closest to the entrance can still be detected. Unemployed in a somewhat precarious way we invested about 15 minutes in updating the networks and knowing about our families. And now,

We reach it just before 9:00 p.m. and with the right energies. Today's dinner, which consists of two separate chicken dishes with different preparations and microwaved noodles, tastes great despite the austerity of its preparation. The shower ends up sinking us in that need of rest after a day that has demanded the best of us, but that has given us in return something that has made it very worthwhile.

It's 23:10, an hour too late for a country like the United States where the prime time of television has already ended, and our only remaining goal is to turn off the lamp and rest to face tomorrow another day. No, I'm not talking about one more day. It is our last day at Glacier, and therefore our last day in the heart of a natural park. After him, only a small tip will remain in the form of roads, shopping centers and urban parks, but nothing comparable to scenarios capable of giving us shows like today.

Journey through Glacier National Park

Day 5

It's seven in the morning in our cabin number 5 in Babb, Montana. We start the day with a new domestic breakfast that this time includes a breakfast burrito with egg, cheese and sausage heated in the microwave and that fills as much as its composition suggests but is not as tasty as expected.

We look out the window and the sky is blue, blue that amazes. We can already see among the trees some snowy peaks of the environment and it seems that it will be an unbeatable day. But there is something that we overlook and do not remember until we see the state of our vehicle. Tonight a strong frost was predicted and it seems that the prediction has been successful.

When we look at it, our Chevy looks like the Delorean after returning from its first time trip in the parking lot of the Twin Pines Mall. It is completely frozen, with a coat that glows in the sun covering crystals and bodywork. We have to use hot cloths to melt the worst part of the crystals and we must push some doors from inside to get them to open. When we started the car the thermometer marked -3 degrees.

We collect our things. We load them in the trunk which also needs a bit of insistence to open up. We left in the communal hut the cups and spoons that we had borrowed for breakfast. It has been a nice accommodation, with somewhat expensive rates but according to the prices of the area.

We head back to St. Mary's where after four miles we refuel what fits in the half-full tank before entering Glacier National Park predictably for the last time. The Ranger of the gate informs us that the Going-to-the-Sun Road is still cut during a stretch that prevents reaching the starting area of ​​excursions from Logan Pass and let's not say our next Columbia Falls lodging on the completely opposite side of the park.

That means that, unless we give considerable detour through the south of the park, for now we are trapped without being able to continue our route. Fortunately we have the already familiar visitor center of St. Mary by our side to offer us shelter and Internet connection while we wait. The sky is still completely clear and in this short period of time the temperature has already risen to one or two degrees above zero, so there is hope that the cut of circulation does not last too long.

It is 10:00 when the park agents update the warning signs of the visitor center, indicating now that it is possible to reach Logan Pass but from there the traffic is still cut. For now it is enough to satisfy our plans, so here we go.

The Going-to-the-Sun Road is, being brief, an animated one. With a totally clear sky that makes the conditions are optimal to drive through it, we are unable to pass by not even one of the dozens of viewpoints that happen every few meters. The rodeo that gives the road to a huge valley surrounded by high mountains, including the one we expect to see in a few hours from the Hidden Lake Overlook, make any other route that has the audacity to be called scenic route must rethink if it deserves Title.

We rediscovered the snow despite the fact that the temperature has already risen to a perfectly bearable six degrees Celsius. After about 15 miles from St. Mary reached the huge parking lot of Logan Pass where there is a new visitor center of the park and signs and more signs indicating the large number of routes that hikers can take from here. Indeed the road remains open only here, preventing us from continuing to drive west and truncating our plans to link from here with access to the park by West Glacier that would later take us to our next accommodation.

The traffic is not the only one sacrificed by the frost. The Visitor Center also remains closed, we do not know if for having destined all the personnel to inform of the precautions to take throughout the park or for not being able to guarantee the security in their accesses, since it is built on several floors and the steps to reach the upper floors are completely covered by several centimeters of snow.

In its surroundings the snow becomes ice in the shaded parts, being very inadvisable to try to continue walking on it. The beginning of the road towards Hidden Look Overlook, however, seems to have already been subjected to the efforts of the employees of the park since it is possible to distinguish perfectly a freeway of snow and ice opening hollow along it.

Hidden Lake Overlook is one of the most visited points of Glacier National Park. To reach it requires traveling the two and a half kilometers that separate it from Logan Pass, during which it gains a height somewhat higher than 150 meters. This climb is concentrated in the first kilometer, helped by a series of long stairs and wooden walkways that now present the additional risk of ice waiting for the smooth soles of an unwary.

As we ascend the landscape that we leave behind becomes colossal and the one in front of us does not detract, with Bearhat Mountain towards which we are heading growing more and more in perspective with each step we take. I am delighted with the change of scenery, because of our habit of starting our trips at the end of August.

Due to the state of the terrain and the precautions against the ice, the two and a half kilometers are slow to travel, which in normal circumstances would be doubled. In doing so, we reached the viewpoint at Hidden Lake. While still magnificent, the landscape is flattened by being covered in snow everywhere.

The photos we saw during our research they showed, along the lake, accumulations of flowers of different and vivid colors on a mantle of vibrant green, giving an amazing amount of nuances to the landscape. However, all that gift for the eyes has been covered by snow, which also threatens to cover parts of the mountainside that normally allow to distinguish its texture.

The viewpoint consists of a wooden walkway of about 10 or 12 meters above which the snow is still far from disappearing despite being constantly trampled by visitors. From here you can continue and descend to the shore of the lake, but this implies two kilometers and 260 meters of descent to advance, which must be overcome, a challenge that does not sound very appetizing knowing the state of the surface.

We begin the return to Logan Pass, still more careful on the catwalks since when tilting the weight forward due to descent the possibility of an untimely slip is even greater. Approaching 14:00 when we reach the parking and both the Visitor Center and the extension of the road are closed to our misfortune. After eating in the car rolls of chicken caesar salad I ask a Ranger what he thinks about waiting a little longer in case he opens the road or starts the long detour to the south.

He informs me that the cut area is only three miles, but the ice that is parked there is resistant to melting and, if at this time of noon it has not yet done so, there is a high probability that it will not do so until the day in the morning.

Highline Trail, another star excursion that is born here and that although we did not plan to complete. We return to our departure point of St. Mary and from there start the route to the south. We say goodbye to Logan Pass a very remarkable 12 degrees that make the experience of stopping again in viewpoints along the Going-to-the-Sun is very pleasant, and something almost mandatory now that the sun is higher and allows us Enjoy the views in the opposite direction to this morning's.

During the march, a new black bear with the appearance of being quite young crosses right in front of the car after which we circulate. We can only see him galloping for three seconds before getting lost in the woods to our left, but with this one there are already five bear sightings in the wild during the whole trip.

Coming from three previous trips where our expectations were not met to be able to see these animals in freedom, it seems that all the luck that we lacked then has been concentrated on this occasion. We made our last stop along the scenic route in the viewpoint to the small islet of the Wild Goose Island, which actually offers much more thanks to the lake that surrounds it.

We arrived at our favorite Visitor Center in St. Mary, where for the umpteenth and last we took advantage of the free Internet connection. Now, yes, there is no choice but to start the unexpected detour. What was going to be 63 miles crossing the park becomes 97 surrounding it from the south, but since it is 3:30 we believe that we still have time to make a raid to the park from that side before moving away in a southwest direction to Columbia Falls.

The landscape of ice and snow immediately gives way to green and brown wastelands with the only trace of white tones on the horizon thanks to the peaks that continue to lean to our right.

The alternative route crosses several towns consisting almost entirely of motor homes with fences to delimit the farms and all kinds of improvised outdoor furniture in what are supposed to be tables, slides and others built with loose pieces. Cars and vans with abandoned appearance can be counted by tens. Of course, perhaps they will be inhabited by charming people, but the appearance of these small towns does not invite you to stop and greet them.

From this side and at this distance, Glacier National Park looks like a theme park. We see in the distance a dense concentration of snowy mountains, but all perfectly delimited by a natural wall of lower mountains and without any relationship with the rest of the landscape, which is rather desert and autumnal. It's like getting close to Port Aventura and seeing the silhouette of the Dragon Khan or the Shambhala surrounded by the absolute nothingness.

Did I say five bear sightings in the wild? Well, there are already six. During the second half of the detour to West Glacier, a couple of black bears try to cross the road seconds before us and the previous truck pass through it. We are surprised that the truck driver has been able to see them from his cabin and stop in time, when the first of the two bears takes advantage of his goal to cross the road and get lost in the vegetation of the left shoulder.

The second one seems to flinch when he sees the traffic and returns to take refuge among the bushes on the right, waiting for the next opportunity to meet with his brother, gang colleague or, you know. At last we reached the signal of West Glacier after an hour and a half of driving that has become heavier than we imagined. We do not waste time and we enter the park on this side, reaching first the south bank of a huge Lake McDonald that accompanies us to our left for nine miles. However, the forest between him and us gives us few opportunities to appreciate its magnificent dimensions.

We continue the march with the intention of reaching the cut of the road from this side and from there start to descend. For this we still have about 20 miles, only three less than it would take us to reach the Logan Pass again on this side if the road was not cut. The tour becomes monotonous.

Well, there may be someone who is passionate about it, but to us more than two miles with only forests on either side of us bores us after the spectacular eastern half of the Going-to-the-Sun of the that we have witnessed this morning. The road takes time to start gaining height but when it does, it does so with a steep slope. Those snowy peaks that are already familiar begin to appear in the distance, but now they seem to be turning their backs on us. We make a single stop before reaching the end,Bird Woman Falls from the car window.

We finally reached that fence with the text of Road Closed which confirms that hours later the stretch that remains to reach Logan Pass continues cut. The closure takes place at the height of the Weeping Wall, a vertical stone wall that for several meters becomes dark due to the fall of water on it, giving it the name of weeping wall.

We have here, next to the parking lot with a lot more people than we expected, a shy but elongated cataract that reaches us from the heights in several sections. However, we are among the few who seem to pay attention to it, since most of those present are more attentive to several rams of the Rockies that are grazing a few tens of meters above our heads. We already saw several of these copies yesterday and a better distance, so we are not as excited as the others.

We started the descent back to West Glacier and unfortunately the time of day is the least suitable for the views that the route could offer us. At 18:33 the sun is already preparing for its farewell to the west, so the viewpoints to the valley, with the river meandering several meters below us, are totally tarnished by the resol. It makes no sense to stop to see the Lake McDonald, since the light would blind us equally if we tried to look at it. We arrived in a short time to West Glacier, where we entered another failed gift shop.

We are already going to Columbia Falls, a small town 17 miles from West Glacier where we can find the room we have rented through Airbnb . Yesterday we contacted the hosts to let them know that our arrival time would be quite late, to which they responded with facilities to access even though they did not return until 9:30 pm. and a list of restaurants in the area could interest us.

Among them was one specializing in meat and, importantly, barbecue pork ribs. That is one of the favorite dishes that I have been waiting to taste since we landed in Seattle, so the decision is almost immediate. Since it is already 8:00 PM we decided to stop in it first and have dinner before discovering our home for tonight.

What we find is a local with a rustic look, something old, and a price list that seems acceptable. We both ordered small portions of ribs, which are more than enough and worthy of their name. The surprise of the dish is a kind of fried bread exclusive to the house that looks like Chinese bread on the outside but inside it tastes like a donut. We went with everything including black beans, coleslaw and baked potatoes with a Pepsi and a Moose Drool for me from Missoula and that is exquisite.

Now we go to the Airbnb house, just six blocks from the restaurant. Despite the difficulties due to the almost complete darkness of the street we managed to locate it but when we tried to enter it we found the surprise that the door is closed despite the fact that the hosts assured us that they would leave it open. It is 21:10 and according to your answer they would be back at 9:30 pm, so we can only wait in the car until at 9:35 p.m. there is a vehicle that stops in front of the house.

Once the question of what had happened was cleared, we can finally enter and reach our room. It is huge, with a bed of an amplitude as we had never seen before, a carpet at his feet and all kinds of tables, drawers and chairs as well as a refrigerator and a microwave. A good router gives us an Internet connection while they leave the bathroom on the ground floor, which is exclusive for us since they use the basement.

It's 22:00 when we can finally shower and lock ourselves in our room to start storing clothes in the depths of our suitcases, since after today our particular winter is over. Tomorrow we have a hard, hard day, as hard as driving about 1,000 kilometers west until we reach the Pacific. Today nature has ended. The scenarios have been up to the task, and now it only remains to think that the end is near. We are almost in it.

Day 6

There is a risk that you always have to evaluate when you enter a road trip. When cities, parks and other itinerary stops trace a circular route on the map, everything goes smoothly. The search for flights is simpler, the available days are optimized and the rental car does not present any problem as it is returned in the same office (or at least, the same State) in which it was collected. Unfortunately that is not always the usual case, and an example is this trip. Travel the distance from Seattle to Glacier National Park.

Crossing Canada has been a joy, but it presents us with the small problem that we are now almost a thousand kilometers away from the starting square and we must head back towards it. And we have to do it because the alternatives did not work out. Getting our return flight to leave from Montana not only limited the air supply a lot but also added a considerable surcharge to the rental of the transport. So today there are no great landscapes or efforts for the legs. Today it's just about driving for hours on Interstate 90 heading west.

The room rented in Columbia Falls through Airbnb. It has been correct although quite uneven. The stay has already started turbulent because of the misunderstanding that we had 20 minutes waiting in the car the night before. Let's add the impossibility of using the shared kitchen to be affected by the reforms underway inside the house.

And let's finish it with several ambient noises during the night that do not help guests with a light sleep, being especially annoying the sound of the trains that pass a little distance from home. It has not been the best rest of the trip, but some forces have been able to recover.

The objective for this morning was to start up as soon as possible and we achieved it with flying colors. When the clock still shows 7:20 and the car returns to present some ice on it although not in such dramatic amounts as last night we turn on the heat to clear the windows and we hit the road.

Previously our host has recommended some detours and places to visit along the way, but I must admit that we did not pay much attention because we were still stretching and our listening comprehension had yet to wake up. We only have one mission to get to Everett as soon as possible, the city several kilometers north of Seattle that will welcome us on our last two nights of travel.

We began to travel along the first hours of light the state of Montana in the direction of the west. And what does Montana have to offer us one Wednesday morning before they have even opened the shops? Because of the highways that force you to slow down from time to time to cross small villages, meadows, tractors and more meadows and watch cows resting, small deer crossing the road and a small fragment of the Lolo National Forest, the latter being the most attractive our last moments in the state that houses Glacier National Park.

At last the highways of a single lane in each direction end and we connect with Interstate 90, the one that crosses the country from coast to coast very close to the border with Canada. The speed limit goes up to 75 miles per hour and that encourages us with the prospect of being able to discount miles to the destination with greater speed.

We said goodbye to Montana and began to shoot about, according to some license plates of our fellow travelers, the status of the Famous Potatoes. We are in Idaho, the American corner that we already travel on our way to Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park.

The virtues of the interstate are sometimes interrupted due to the numerous road work, those sections where cones appear, lanes disappear and, what affects us the most, the speed limit is drastically reduced. It is impossible to get rid of them as there are everywhere. Given how numerous these road construction zones are and how difficult it is to distinguish what they are improving or maintaining exactly, I still do not discount the theory that they are excuses that states manufacture to generate employment.

We drive for several kilometers within walking distance of a car that needs a good wash and has a sticker on the back that reads choose Hillary Clinton. It brings us a certain sense of relief, because so far all the posters we had seen circulating in the United States were supportive of her political rival in the presidential campaign, a Donald Trump that needs no introduction.

We made the first stop of the day after a good first pull of something more than 200 miles traveled in more than three and a half hours. Rest is the excuse to drink coffee in the city of Coeur d'Alene. The exterior welcomes us with about 15 degrees that already predict that the temperatures of previous days are a thing of the past. Only nine miles later we make a second stop, this time longer, to settle accounts with the supermarket chain Walmart.

And ah friend, now yes. The establishments of the franchise in the United States are exactly what we remember and were looking for, and not the constant disappointment that their equivalent of the neighbor in the north implied. Not only do we find things of which there was no trace in Canada but also the prices are noticeably lower, even using a stronger a priori currency like the US dollar.

We have to take yes or yes a couple of those chicken BBQ Wraps that made us salivate in previous trips. I fall into the temptation of a pair of t-shirts, one from Star Wars and another from The Avengers. We renew our stock of earplugs, so useful on difficult nights. And we took a whole load of ChapStick lip balm bars. We take them of several types like apple, cake or pumpkin.

We resume our mission to travel on Interstate 90 heading west. There are 320 miles left when we arrived at what was our first and will be our last State of the trip in Washington. We won with the change one hour to the clock, since we return to the Pacific time zone after several weeks in the Mountain Time Zone.

We refilled, probably for the last time fuel at a gas station, which does not allow us to indicate in advance how much we want to authorize on the credit card. 13:30. We overcome the barrier of the remaining 200 miles. We are still surrounded by farms and tornadoes. That our discography for travel has reached the selection of themes of Mumford & Sons comes to hair for this landscape.

What separates Seattle from the eastern border of the state of Washington in which it is located? Well, the absolute nothing. Miles and miles of farms guarding huge plots only interrupted by countless small tornadoes that remove the earth. We stopped a few minutes in a service area in the middle of nowhere to eat one of the two barbecue chicken wraps and take turns again at the wheel.

Again running after the meal, using the huge coasters of the vehicle to let a Dr. Pepper Diet bought in the service area. The 26 degrees outside remind us what it is to live in short sleeves. 170 miles to the destination. We overcome the psychological barrier of the 100 miles to arrive. We enter a new National Forest that gives us some views of a beautiful lake before crossing a long bridge.

We were doing a great time. Ten hours after starting the march we were barely 30 miles from the destination, which was quite an achievement as we expected the trip to take us about 12 hours including intermediate stops. But then Seattle had to arrive. And his hellish traffic. We spent half an hour trudging through to finally reach exit 26 that will take us to Everett.

We finally take the exit. Fret the record time to reach the destination. We still do not arrive because the damn detour did not mean the end of traffic jams. And now we must add eternal traffic lights and a multiple accident that has left two cars in deplorable condition for the enjoyment of the onlookers who consider it a good idea to almost stop altogether to take a look.

I thought we were never going to say we had arrived, but here we are. We parked in front of Everett's house, and go home. Three floors of which we will only occupy the living room, bedroom and private bathroom of the basement, although we will have access to the kitchen on the ground floor and the laundry room on the top floor. Allison receives us, a Canadian lady who is all kindness.

More effusive than his two cats, who well, like good cats, prefer to opt for the step of you instead of giving you a warm welcome. But less effusive than his three Golden Retrievers who go crazy and jump for joy, especially the two males. There is still the tour of the facilities. The bedroom and bathroom are more than right. Who knows, a lot. And connected in a timely manner to an Apple TV with which we have access to countless channels and even the Netflix catalog.

Very satisfied after the welcome tour to the house we started to download the car for the last but one time after a fairly long and lively conversation with Allison. Their dogs do not stop playing around us and demand attention and pampering from time to time. After freeing ourselves from their harassment, we showered and went upstairs to make our last washing machine for the trip.

It's 8:00 pm. After a 25-hour day, let's remember the time change when we made the decision to postpone our food for tomorrow at noon. We will have a local of the franchise two miles from the place where we will spend all day and it is more advisable to kick the stomach at noon than at night, with less room to seat the banquet. Tonight we take advantage of some of the meals that we have left and that surely we can not exhaust before returning home.

After a chapter of Braindead in the best home theater that we have ever enjoyed, at 10:10 pm and despite having no need to get up early the next day, we decided that the day is over. What's up tomorrow? Why the hell are we in Everett and not near some remote park or national forest, or even near the airport to leave the next day?

The reason is very simple. Our trip to North America is ending and we have not yet covered a mandatory milestone. We have not yet made the traditional visit and consequently busted the stores of a shopping center. Tomorrow does not happen.