Hotel review: Pan Pacific Hotel (Hanoi, Vietnam)

While searching for the accommodation in Hanoi for my business trip, it came as a surprise to me that hotels in the heart of Vietnam capital are relatively cheap. At first I chose a 3-star hotel with a perfect central location and very high ratings. Unfortunately it turned out that the location in the bustling area of Old Quarter was not my cup of tea (after 10 hours flight everyone needs a rest, right?) so I upgraded myself to a 4 star Pan Pacific hotel. A smart decision indeed!


Pan Pacific hotel is located across the street from the West Lake, which offers very romantic day and night views, especially in higher floors. I got a room in 12th floor with lake view and it was spectacular. It is a bit dislocated for those who want to go out for a beer in the lively Old Quarter, but taxis in Hanoi are so cheap that you shouldn’t even bother about it. Uber from the hotel to Hoan Kiem Lake (distance about 3 km) costed me just 1 EUR. On the other hand there are many interesting things to see on foot – like Tran Quoc pagoda and a must see Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.

There are plenty of taxis in front of the hotel all the time, and the Noi Bai International Airport is about 30 minutes’ drive away. If you rent a taxi in the hotel it will cost you around 15€, Uber costs a bit less, depending on the demand.


Maybe I was under the impression of the first hotel, or maybe it was because of the view – either way, my room was fantastic. It was very spacious, the bathroom was modern, beds were good, wi – fi was working all the time (which can be quite a challenge in other hotels). The only thing that could have bothered me a bit was a carpet on the floor (allergies, remember?), but I was there just for one night so no harm done.


Breakfast in Pan Pacific hotel was awesome as well – everything you need and hope for. Tropical fruits, which I am a sucker for, cold and hot choices for all tastes and also a chef who makes you almost whatever you want. I think they also had sushi.

Room service food from the main restaurant was again amazing. You are probably starting to think I was paid for this review, but I swear I am being totally honest. I ordered a light dinner as I was too tired to go out: pumpkin soup (absolute killer!), focaccia with mozzarella, tomatoes, salad and free French fries (which I asked the waiter to take back, thank you very much) and a tropical fruit plate. Yummy. At this point I should probably mention that eating in the hotel is not only more expensive as on the streets of Hanoi but also much more boring – but I guess this is a sad life of a businesswoman 😉

Pool, Fitness and Spa

The pool is covered with a transparent roof, and there is also a small terrace outside for those who want some suntan. Fitness is great, and they have very spacious dressing rooms with several showers. I pampered myself in Spa with a 90 minutes Vietnamese massage, which was worth every penny. 35 EUR, to be correct. Again, on the streets these things are much cheaper…

At last but not the least, all the staff was professional, kind and very helpful with everything I needed. Probably this is the reason why I will chose Pan Pacific again – next time I come to Hanoi.

Anda’s rate: 9.5 from 10

Bottom line: Pan Pacific hotel was a really pleasant surprise in chaotic Hanoi. The price was actually a bit over my usual budget and I am sure I could have found something cheaper with comparable service, since Hanoi is crowded with hotels. But I definitely don’t regret my decision and I can recommend Pan Pacific to everyone. So why 9.5? Well, because of the carpet 😛

Continue Reading

From Valencia to Costa Blanca

You know that feeling when you just decide to pick up a flight from your nearest airport, rent a car and go with the flow? Well I don’t do it often but last May it all added up for a week escape to sunny Spain. We chose the direct flight with Ryanair from Trieste to Valencia and decided to drive along the South East coast towards Benidorm. It turned out that a road trip from Valencia to Costa Blanca is a perfect getaway for everyone in search of endless sandy beaches, tasteful cuisine, liveable night life and impressive historic monuments.

Located at the Mediterranean Sea, Valencia and Benidorm are popular destinations for tourists of all ages. With a pleasant climate tourism is present during the whole year round, with a peak season in the hot summer months from June to August.


Valencia is the third largest city in Spain and the capital of Valencian community, with more than 1 million inhabitants. The city is full of culture, offers exciting nightlife and is the right place to indulge your taste buds with the Mediterranean cuisine.

An important landmark of Valencia are the 12 gates that once formed the ancient city wall of Valencia, with the Quart and Serrano Gates being the best preserved. The city centre is distinguished by a green line, that was once a flooding river Turia, now turned into Jardines del Turia, which is a perfect spot for families, nature lovers and all sports enthusiasts. If you are planning your trip in July and want to see some local and international artists performing, you can visit the Royal gardens which transform into an outdoor concert scenery during the Valencian Festival.

Football fans will probably want to visit Estadio de Mestalla (Mestalla Stadium) which is the 5th largest stadium in Spain. If you happen to be in Valencia in the time of a football match, make sure you watch it in one of the bars – I am a Real Madrid fan but still I enjoyed the company of locals yelling at the judge and cheering for their team.

Even if you decide to visit Valencia only, car hire is a good option because you don’t want to miss the city beaches with numerous fashionable bars where you can relax having a drink and some tapas. And just 10 km out of Valencia you will find some mesmerizing wild beaches which are surrounded by thick vegetation and offer a vast view of the Mediterranean Sea.

Tip: Try paella, a traditional Valencian dish, and Horchata, a sweet refreshing drink, exclusively offered in Valencia, made of a locally grown fruit called the tiger nuts.

Road trip along the South East coast

We stayed in Valencia for 2 days and then hired a car for our trip towards Benidorm. I have used different car hire agencies in the past but lately I found this one to be the cheapest option. Benidorm is about an hour and a half drive from Valencia, and the road offers many interesting spots to stop at.

One is a picturesque small town Altea, located on top of a hill, famous for its white houses and cobblestone streets, overlooking the Costa Blanca. Walk towards the main square with “Our lady of Solace” church, which is easily recognizable for its blue and white dome. You can enjoy some coffee in one of the bars on the square or shop some souvenirs and clothes.

I was even more surprised by the beauty of Guadalest, a small village just a 30 minutes’ drive inland from Benidorm. You can park in the village and head towards the castle which you will spot from far away. The castle can be reached through a tunnel hewn in stone and once you get to the ramparts you will be stunned by the view of turquoise water and green valley beneath. The lake is actually a dam which was built across the Guadalest River and supplies water to many towns in the area, including Benidorm.


Benidorm is a small city in the Alicante province with a population of about 70.000 inhabitants. Once a small fishing village has become a popular tourist destination famous for its sandy beaches of the Costa Blanca and a lively nightlife. Yep, Spanish people really know how to party 🙂

The most central and famous sandy beach is Playa de Levante with a lively promenade surrounded by bars and restaurants. Find a place with beach view and try thier cañas y tapas, which is a term for a local bar offering snacks and a beer. There are 2 other city beaches in Benidorm: a bit less crowded Poniente beach and the Malpas beach.

Although Benidorm has grown quite a few skyscrapers, hotels and other works of modern architecture the city’s centre speaks of its rich history. The Old Town is well maintained and represents a more tranquil spot of Benidorm.

If you are into clubbing, Benidorm is the place to be. The majority of clubs are on the Av. Communitat Valencia, throwing parties with some of the world most known DJ’s, while discos are centred around “The Square” in the Old Town of Benidorm.

If you rent a car you might also be tempted to visit Callosa d´En Sarriá, an ancient village just 12 km from Benidorm, known for its Muslim history. And if you want to relax from bustling city atmosphere, take a hike in Parque Natural de la Serra Gelada (8 km away) which ends up with a lighthouse on top of the hill and offers nice scenic views.

Tip: I mentioned spanish food several times, which obviously means this is something I enjoyed very much. Just don’t forget that in Spain, time schedules for restaurants are different than in other countries. Having dinner after 10 pm is just not my idea of healthy diet 😉

Continue Reading

5 things to see in Puerto Rico

Beaches. Rainforest. History. Shopping. Food. Puerto Rico has it all. If you are seeking for more than just beach and party time, I suggest you rent a car and explore the country as it has so much to offer. We did just the eastern part of the island, but from what I had read I believe it is fair to say that these are the best 5 things to see in Puerto Rico:

San Juan old town

The capital city is located in the north-eastern coast of Puerto Rico and it is divided into 18 districts. We found San Juan Antiguo (Old San Juan), which lies on a small island and is connected to the mainland by two bridges, the most impressive. This district reflects the influence of Spanish architecture with narrow streets made of blue cobblestone and picturesque colonial buildings from 16th and 17th century. One of the most famous buildings is La Fortaleza (The Fortress) which was built to defend San Juan Harbor in the 16th century and has been the official residence of the Governor of Puerto Rico ever since. The mansion is also known as Santa Catalina’s Palace and is included on UNESCO World Heritage List.

Sections of the old city are surrounded by several defensive structures and large walls which offer fascinating views of the city. Stroll down the Paseo de la Princessa to feed some pigeons and then take Paseo del Moro walkway – start from La Fortaleza and continue along the coast all the way to the end of the peninsula. It’s really romantic.

Castillo San Felipe del Morro

Just above the Paseo del Moro, in the NW point of Old San Juan, lies a beautiful national park, surrounded with a vast green area with an impressive citadel as its highlight. Castillo San Felipe del Morro was named in honor of King Philip II of Spain. The fortification was designed in 16th century to guard the entrance to the San Juan Bay and defend the city from seaborne enemies.

In 1961 it became a part of the National Park Service and was declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations in 1983. It is one of Puerto Rico’s most visited attractions and I can confirm it is really impressive. The citadel on one side offers views of a smaller fort which lies in the middle of the ocean, while on the other side the view of San Juan cemetery is even more spectacular. It is for sure one of the nicest places in the world to rest in.

Tip: The entrance fee is 5$. Bring a blanket and a food basket, lay in the park and soak up the history of this fabulous place.

Cabo Rojo lighthouse and cliffs

On our way from Ponce to Mayaguez we decided to turn south towards Los Morrillos Lighthouse which lies in Cabo Rojo wildlife refuge on the southwest coast of Puerto Rico. Situated in the southernmost point of the peninsula (at the end of “Salinas” Road 301) it is a bit off the grid but the trip is worth every hole you will curse while driving on a gravel road.

A fairly steep trail leads from the parking space to the lighthouse and it takes about 10 minutes of modest walking to get up there. We didn’t go inside because the interior was closed due to renovation, nevertheless the limestone cliffs overlooking the Carribean Sea themselves are worth the trip. We came expecting “just a lighthouse” but instead we spent hours walking around, enjoying spectacular views and ending up on one of the most beautiful beaches in Puerto Rico – La Playuela (also named Playa Sucia) which lies beneath. I am not sure what was better – looking down at this peace of white-sand heaven from the top or swimming in the turquoise water after we finished our cliffs photo session.

Tip: Take some water with you as there are no restaurants or bars in vicinity. 

Batey Zipline Adventure

Puerto Rico owns one of the world’s longest single run ziplines, which is a part of Toro Verde adventure park in Orocovis. Unfortunately the park was closed during our visit, so we went for the second best choice – Batey Zipline adventure park. The night before we slept in Casa Grande Mountain Retreat which I highly recommend if you are in the neighborhood and looking for a place to stay.

Batey Zipline adventure park is located in Utuado and offers lush trails thru Tanamá National Forest vegetation. You can choose from different adventure tours, including hiking, horseback riding, kayaking through the bat cave, rappelling and ziplining.

We did the ziplining, which included a short drive through a really nasty road and about 15 minutes walking to get to the starting point. It was my first zipline ever so in the beginning I felt a bit nervous but in the end I was sorry it ended so soon. The staff in Batey Zipline park is very professional and you are safe all the time. Trust me, instead of wasting time with shaking and screaming, just relax and enjoy. And have someone to take your fearless acrobatic pictures while you are hanging out there.

Tip: The road to Ushuaia is not an easy one, so take at least 2 hours if you are arriving from San Juan. Be careful as there are some really narrow parts and the local drivers are sometimes quite reckless.

Gilligan’s island

Even though Puerto Rico coast offers a variety of beaches, this little gem is a must see if you are on a road trip or staying somewhere near the town of Guanica. Take Road #333 and follow the turn to Copamarina Beach Resort, after that make a right and soon you’ll see a parking lot where you can get your tickets. A small ferry leaves to the island every day, operating from 9 am to 5 pm.

Gilligan’s island lies around 2 km off the coast and is one of the three cays that make up Caña Gorda Cays. There is no typical beach around the island as the sea is really shallow – instead just bring your chair, pull it into water and relax. While the crystal clear waters offer nice snorkeling opportunities, the island hosts some birds and friendly lizards which are quite fearless and friendly. I guess they are used to being photographed all the time.

By the way, you can swim all around the island if you are fit to fight the gentle current. Don’t worry, the cay is surrounded by mangroves so you can catch them if you get tired 😉

Tip: The ferry ride costs 8$ per person. If you are visiting PR in high season, get there early to grab a spot and picnic table. Locals tend to visit the island on holidays and weekends, especially during the summer so it can get crowded.

Continue Reading

Spomladanska utrujenost – izgovor ali prava nadloga?

Pomlad je tu, z njo pa prihajajo tudi vse daljši in toplejši dnevi. Narava se prebuja, vse okoli nas cveti, zimsko garderobo smo že zamenjali z lahkotnejšimi oblačili in polni energije se podajamo novim izzivom naproti. Če vam nekaj v tej zgodbi ne štima, pa ne veste, kaj, odgovor morda skriva spomladanska utrujenost. Ali gre le za pregovorno lenobo, ali pa v tem grmu morda res tiči zajec?

O ja, tiči.

Verjeli ali ne, številni strokovnjaki se strinjajo, da spomladanska utrujenost praviloma ni hipohondrične narave ali le izgovor za podaljšanje »zimskega spanca« – ampak posledica različnih dejavnikov, povezanih z menjavo letnega časa.

Seveda ne gre za kakšno bolezen, pač pa je to neko »utrujeno« stanje našega organizma, ki se pojavi zaradi menjave vremena in nenazadnje tudi premika ure na poletni čas. Spomladi se moč sončnih žarkov poveča, temperature so višje, naše žile se razširijo, kri se hitreje pretaka in s tem se pospeši tudi presnova organizma. Poleg tega nas sonce hitreje zvabi na plano, dalj časa se zadržujemo zunaj in večina med nami ravno v tem obdobju začne s projektom »plaža 2017« – torej izklesati svoje telo najkasneje do poletnega dopusta.

Vse to je velik napor za naše telo, ki zlahka zapade v stanje utrujenosti, ne glede na to, ali ste tudi pozimi fizično aktivni. Verjemite mi na besedo – kljub temu, da skozi vse leto pridno telovadim, sem tudi sama te dni podobna zombiju, ki posega po kavah ali še raje prehranskih dopolnilih za zmanjšanje utrujenosti. Pa delujejo?

Kako zbrcati zajca iz grma?

Iskreno, kava pri meni ne deluje. Gre bolj za navado in pa seveda izgovor, da se lahko prestavim iz pisarne eno nadstropje nižje, v lokalni kafič, kjer mi natakar postreže, še preden se usedem. Prehranska dopolnila pa sem, roko na srce, začela uživati po službeni dolžnosti – nekatera jemljem zato, ker so me tudi osebno prepričala, druga pa kot poskusni zajček, ko testiramo nove izdelke. Seveda v nobenem primeru ne pretiravam in se vedno pozanimam o morebitnih stranskih učinkih in predoziranju. Na srečo imam okoli sebe res dobro ekipo nutricionistov, ki ji lahko popolnoma zaupam.

Recepta za preprečitev spomladanske utrujenosti, ki jo vsako leto bolj občutimo (saj se tudi vi starate, kaj ne?), žal ni. Letni časi so in letni časi bodo. Vsaj na naši zemljepisni širini. Vsekakor pa se da s kombinacijo kvalitetne prehrane, redne športne aktivnosti skozi vse leto in občasnega jemanja prehranskih dopolnil zadevo omiliti in jo hitreje premagati, kot če se zgolj brezvoljno smilimo samemu sebi in čakamo, da nas napad lenobe mine.

Nasvet iz prve roke

Lahko temu rečete tudi poskus promocije, a dejstvo je, da lahko verodostojno priporočaš samo tiste stvari in izdelke, ki si jih sam preizkusil in vanje verjameš. Če ste ostali z mano do tu, potem si vzemite še eno minutko za zdravje – obljubim, da vam ne bo škodila.

Sama pozimi in občasno tudi spomladi jemljem vitamin D, za katerega se je v preteklosti izkazalo, da mi ga primanjkuje (več o tem morda kdaj drugič). Ne glede na to, da gre pri uživanju te »dnevne doze sonca« morda za placebo učinek, pa s tem zagotovo investiram v svoje zdravje v poznejših letih. Predvsem ženske smo namreč podvržene nastanku osteoporoze, ki je ne imenujejo zastonj »tiha bolezen« – zanjo največkrat žal izvemo takrat, ko je že prepozno.

Sicer pa skozi vse leto, praktično brez prekinitve, uživam koencim Q10, za katerega lahko rečem, da je ena izmed najboljših investicij v moje zdravje. Študije namreč kažejo, da nam ga po 25. letu začne primanjkovati (to se lahko čuti tudi kot padec energije) in bi ga zato moral uživati vsak med nami. Gre za močan naravni antioksidant s pomembno vlogo pri nastanku in prenosu celične energije ter s številnimi drugimi pozitivnimi vplivi na zdravje. In, nenazadnje, tudi na izgled. Le-ta pa je, kakorkoli vzamete, ogledalo našega počutja, mar ne? 😉


Continue Reading