Apr 032017
 

In Japan, the best seasons are the fall and spring. These are the times of the year when you can be outside and enjoy all that the flora can offer around town. Or, many people take special trips around this time. 

The spring offers views of the famous cherry blossoms where you can see people sitting under trees having picnics or drinking parties. This is known as hanami – looking at flowers. While there are many flowers to look at, THE flower is sakura or cherry blossoms

My hope this year was to get the timing right for the sakura, but due to the lingering cooler temperatures, they aren’t quite in full bloom yet. 

As today is my last full day of my visit, I made sure to take some photos where I could. 


Here are some from the weekend as well. 



Will keep these handy as I return to the beige desert sands – though the warmth will be nice. 😉

~T 😀

Mar 312017
 

Our last half-day in Kyoto was a cold and wet one. We put on our Oregonian minds and endured the rain drops enough to do the short walk along the Philosophers’ Path (哲学の道哲学の道) where we reminisced about the old days when J and I created our own pronunciation of philosophize to philoSOPHisize because we had trouble saying it correctly. Now, it will never be said properly…. 🤣😂

The Path leads to the Silver Pavilion (銀閣寺) which is J’s favorite place. I think I had a new appreciation for it this time around, perhaps because the rain enhanced the “silver-ness” of the place.

Normally, it is meant to be a place of calm and zen. When I visited the first time as an exchange student I remember being told it was a place for contemplation and to be respectful to other visitors by keeping  as quiet as possible. Well…the tourists of today no longer have received this message or perhaps do not care. We had a few moments with some of the other Asian country tourists, but worked hard not to let it ruin our mood and enjoyment of what the historical space offers. 😍

Overall, it was a lovely way to end our visit, though it was not quite a long enough trip. Next time, we will try to make it a longer one especially since I also did not have the chance to catch up with friends there….😪😓

~T 😀

 

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Mar 302017
 

Nearly another 20,000 steps saw us with a “lighter” touristy day…. We decided to head out to Arashiyama since J had never been out there and it had been quite a while since I went out that way. It is not far outside of the downtown area and E was super excited about the train as it is some kind of special one – afraid it was lost on me. 😉

Arashiyama is more popular during the fall season for the changing colors of the leaves, but it was still rather popular and busy. The highlight definitely had to be the gardens of Tenryu-ji Zen Temple. We also hit a couple of the coffee shops that were listed in our guidebook at the hotel and were definitely not disappointed.

The first was % Arabica Coffee, which has a Hawaiian blend, but was started in Kyoto. We were surprised to find that it has become a chain in countries around the world. The simple branding of it makes sense why it was so popular that lines were consistently formed outside of it throughout the time we were there and probably the whole open hours. We were satisfied with our wait for it too.

The second coffee stop was at Togetsu Cafe on the other side of the bridge. It was less crowded and had a nice modern feel to it. The coffee was also nice, though probably average in taste. Still, coffee breaks are always wonderful.

Our other main pastime aside from cafes and walking to enjoy the scenery is eating. For two nights in a row we have managed to wait in line for dinner. Last night’s was a bit over the top with a nearly two-hour wait at a ramen shop – run by a cute older couple who are making a killing thanks to TripAdvisor. Tonight was just under an hour. Of the two, tonight’s was definitely more worth the wait – though both delicious.

So, aside from putting on about 5kilos this mini trip alone, we have definitely been enjoying our time! 😀

~T 😀

 

Mar 292017
 

It’s been many years since I made a visit to Kyoto again after living there for three years in 2001-2004. 

Sometime ago I made a short visit as my first time back since my divorce. I wanted to remember my love for the city outside of the time being unhappily married during those years. 

Now, I am back again wishing my new hubby was with us, but loving the trip down memory lane with my BFF and godson – who is experiencing it for the first time at 11 years old. 

Our first day was pretty full on especially since we were all up at 4:30am to get ready to leave and catch our 6:50am bullet train from Tokyo station. 

Twenty-three thousand plus steps later, we had toured my favorite part of the city:  Chionin Temple to Yasaka Shrine Park to Kodaiji along the Sannenzaka path which leads up to Kiyomizu Temple. Sadly, Kiyomizu was under construction so we did not go in, but we thoroughly enjoyed our walk stopping in the shops, eating and remarking on the new “kimono experience” craze by so many tourists. 

Overall, despite being exhausted we had a great first day in the old capital city of  Japan 🇯🇵! 

~T 😀

Mar 252017
 

Missed posting yesterday because J and I took a girls’ trip out to higher elevations, colder temps and warm hot springs in Gunma’s Ikaho Onsen area. 

It was a short trip out of Tokyo (about 1.5hrs from Ueno Station to Shibukawa). We did the famous 365 steps up and down from the shrine to the bottom and back. It is a popular tourist location in the fall, but it was still a lovely trip – even more so because it was a free stay due to J’s hubby’s family. (ありがとうございました。) 

Pictures probably say more than I can, so will let the pictures speak for themselves! 

~T 😀

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Sep 062015
 

Back to my updates on summer travels – it is fun to look back at all that I did in such a short time!

So, our last stop in Norway was Bergen. We took another ferry from Belastrand to Bergen. It was a fairly chilly ride, so we stayed inside for most of this one. Plus, the joy of seeing the fjords was lessened after taking it all in the day before.

Bergen was by far the coldest place we visited despite going through snowy mountains. Since it is a harbor town, the sea winds blew in during the late afternoon to drop temperatures, so we were not as keen to be out in it for too long. Therefore, most of my souvenir shopping happened here. 😀

Bergen’s street shops are quite famous in photos – maybe you’ve seen them before and are just as picturesque in person.

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24-Jun-2015 15:32, Canon Canon EOS 70D, 9.0, 50.0mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 100
 

J and I walked around the town exploring. It’s not a big city, but a good size town that took us about two hours to walk around. Then, we took the funicular up to the top of the hill, which many people like to walk (crazy!), for a view of the area. It is quite beautiful to see.

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24-Jun-2015 15:25, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, ISO 32
 

We had a pretty good time and ate a really nice meal here, but we were definitely happy to skip out on the cold!

Here are all the pics from Belastrand to Bergen:

More to come,

-T 😀

Aug 232015
 

One of the main reasons to head to the west coast of Norway is to see the fjords. It was beautiful just to wake up to the view of the lake and we got to watch a bit more of the parasailing competition before we hopped on the three-car local train from Voss to make our way to Myrdal, which is higher up in the mountain.

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23-Jun-2015 13:53, Canon Canon EOS 70D, 11.0, 10.0mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 100
 

Then, we crossed the platform and got onto a small old-fashioned (tourist) gauge train to Flam. Along the way, we made a brief stop to see a pretty cool waterfall

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23-Jun-2015 12:27, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 2.65mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 32
 

and then ended in Flam, which happens to be a stop for cruise ships touring the fjords. Thus, there really is nothing to do there. We had a couple of hours to kill, so we stopped into a little supermarket for a drink and snacks to enjoy in the park.

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23-Jun-2015 13:47, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 2.65mm, ISO 32
 
From Flam, we took a ferry to Belastrand about 1.5 hours through the fjords. There were a number of picturesque moments along the way. We braved the wind the whole time to take as many photos from the back and then fought our way forward from time to time to get some different shots. Although it was beautiful overall and I definitely enjoyed it – I wasn’t overly impressed….I know, I’m spoiled!!! 😛
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23-Jun-2015 16:46, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, ISO 40
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23-Jun-2015 17:38, Canon Canon EOS 70D, 9.0, 10.0mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 200
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23-Jun-2015 16:06, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 32
 
The town of Belastrand isn’t that big and seems to be just a stopover for those touring the fjords.The main attraction in town seems to be Saint Olaf’s church.
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23-Jun-2015 19:46, Canon Canon EOS 70D, 10.0, 35.0mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 100
 
Since there weren’t  a lot of food and drink options in the town, we paid the hotel prices for a nice dinner with a view of the water, which was worth it!
So, that was a lovely visit of the fjords! Here are the pics:
More to come,
-T 😀
Aug 172015
 

After our fairly short visit in Oslo, we took the train from Oslo to Voss. Voss seems to be the European destination for sports, camping and general ‘outback’ family holiday. It is a beautiful town located on a lake and my hotel room looked out on the mountain caps and lake.

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22-Jun-2015 20:01, Canon Canon EOS 70D, 9.0, 13.0mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 100
 

Poor J, got a view of the train tracks….:( 😀

One of the best parts of the journey to Voss was passing the snow!! We were chatting along and suddenly saw out the window a land of WHITE! It was quite amazing and beautiful. Neither of us had seen snow in ages, so it was quite a treat. Plus, the weather was so gorgeous compared to the desert heat we had left behind.

It also happened to be some parasailing/hangliding championship the weekend we were there, so we got to see quite a few competitors fly up high into the clouds and come down with spins and tricks. Quite cool!

We were also a bit giddy from the freedom and escape of the desert. So, everything seemed really wonderful to us. Furthermore, it was still light out even at midnight – we had dinner at 10:30 forgetting the time! It is definitely worth the visit out to Voss if one is going to be in Scandinavia. If I were to return to Norway, I think this would be a must-return-to-place!

Here are the pics:

More to come,

-T 😀

Aug 152015
 

Our next stop on our Scandinavia adventure was Oslo. So, we took the train on a rather wet morning through the countryside and found ourselves in the small capital of Norway.

While people in the touristy areas were friendly enough, no one was overly friendly. We still did a lot of walking and found ourselves seeing a few interesting places within the downtown area. However, when we hit the tram to find our way to Frogenparken and Vigelandsparken, we were amazed by the sculptures and monument created there. It was very moving to walk around seeing the faces and sculptures of people from all walks of life designed as loving in unity.

We also took in the greenery as we do not see much of that in the desert! 😀

Here are the pics:

Overall, aside from the park, it wasn’t a very memorable city as far as sights are concerned. What is memorable is the extremely high cost of just about everything…! 🙁

More to come,

-T 😀

Aug 132015
 

After the couple of days of “work” in London, I flew off to Copenhägen, Denmark to meet my friend, J, for our Scandinavia adventure. We had booked a 12-day ‘tour’ to see the region and I couldn’t wait!

We started with Copenhägen for two nights and fell in love with the sights, people (aka tall men!) and food. Everyone was very friendly to us – perfect strangers – and helped us with ideas for food or things to see. It’s just the right size city that is fairly walkable, but not too small that you’d get tired of it. We did a lot of walking and exploring of the entire city.

Some highlights included the caramelized pork burger smothered with potato salad on a bun and walking through the ‘cannibas’ quarters with its graffiti and liberalism. 😀

Here are the pics!

P.S. I will keep most of these posts fairly short, as I plan to do some travel writing on another site where I have published a few stories before. I’ll update these posts with the links once I get to them. 🙂

More to come,

-T 😀