Tokyo Trip Report: Part 3

Rob & I are headed on vacation again this week (squeeeee!!!) so I should probably finish up this Tokyo trip report. Here’s the scoop on our last day!

Friday, 2/20

On our last day in Tokyo, we headed to Kawazu, which is about 2.5 hours from Tokyo by train. Kawazu is known for their early blossoming sakura (cherry blossoms). Their flowering period is late February & March compared to late March & April in the rest of the country. Someday we’ll make it back to Japan for more cherry blossom viewing!



Even the train was decorated in honor of the sakura. Love it.



Rob is ready to go!



I picked out this Sakura latte at the convenience store to go with the theme of the day.

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Tokyo Trip Report: Part 2

Back to Tokyo!

Thursday, 2/19

Sebastian’s birthday! :)



We all did our own thing in the morning (I went shopping at Tokyu Hands – very important!) but we met up for lunch at… SIZZLER! LOL. It was across the street from our hotel so we’d been joking about going at some point during our trip. Sebastian’s birthday lunch was the perfect opportunity! It was better than I remember. Plus, the cheese toast was so NOMMY!

During the planning for our trip, we would randomly get together to discuss things to do. We happened to watch this video where the hosts visit Ishikawa Brewery while sake tasting in Tokyo. Since sake tasting was also on our wishlist, I got in touch with the brewery to set up our own tour of the grounds.

Our tour was at 3pm and since the brewery is about 45 minutes away from Shinjuku, we headed over there right after lunch.



The grounds of the brewery.



Our complimentary tour started in the storehouse. Oh man, when we walked in, the smell of alcohol was so strong. I don’t even like alcohol but it smelled so good!



Our guide walked us through the facilities while telling us about the history of the brewery. Above is a cauldron that was used to make beer during the Meiji period.



This is the spring water well that runs under the brewery’s sacred tree. Up until 50 years ago, this water was the main source for sake brewing.

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Tokyo Trip Report: Part 1

From Hong Kong, Rob, Rob & I flew over to Tokyo to meet up with our friend Sebastian for five days in this awesome city.

WE HAD SUCH A GREAT TIME. I want to go BACK! I don’t think I’ll ever tire of Japan.

Some highlights…

Monday, 2/16

Woke up early to head to the famous Tsukiji Fish Market for sushi breakfast. OH YES.



Instead of lining up at one of the more popular restaurants, we just randomly chose one that looked good.



AND OMG, IT WAS. The fish was incredibly fresh and oh so tasty. I think this meal ruined all sushi for me back at home.



Spent the rest of the day toy shopping. :) We started on Character Street at the Tokyo Station, then headed to Hakuhinkan Toy Park in Ginza and ended in the Akihabara neighborhood.

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Macau (+Hong Kong) Trip Report

Laziness strikes again!

So last month we traveled to Asia with friends — first stop was Hong Kong where we took a day trip to Macau.

I should back up and say that I enjoyed my last couple of visits to Hong Kong but it was a challenging experience this time. Not only was it incredibly crowded (expected due to Chinese New Year), we also encountered quite a bit of rudeness — from pushing and cutting in lines to terrible customer service. I’m usually a pushover so my personal tendency is to ignore things like this but it’s harder to brush off when you’re in a group and want to make sure everyone is happy. It wasn’t so bad that I’d never go back… ask me again in a year. :)

On our first day together we decided to take a day trip to Macau. None of us had ever been — yay for new travel destinations! we took the Turbojet ferry to get there from the Kowloon side of Hong Kong.



The group! Bright-eyed and bushy tailed! Hehe.

The trip over to Macau was only an hour long. Upon arrival, we were immediately targeted by crazy aggressive people trying to convince us to book tours. One lady kept following my friend Rob even though he kept saying we had plans. YIKES! We also had the worst customer service at the information desk when we asked for directions to the hotel shuttles. The day wasn’t exactly getting off to a good start.



We took one of the hotel shuttles to the central area of the Macau peninsula. From there, we walked down the main drag to Senado Square, which is basically a town square/meeting place. Above is the City Hall. I loved the blend of Portuguese and Chinese architecture found in all the buildings in the square.



That’s us in front of a Lunar New Year display! I got stuck holding the selfie stick.



I’m sure Senado Square would be so beautiful at night when all the lanterns are lit up.



I wanted to see the ruins so we continued along the pathway (and made a pit stop at McDonald’s so we could all share the Prosperity Sharing box of chicken nuggets & wings – so good!). It’s lined with bakeries and souvenir shops and is absolutely crowded with people.

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Canada Trip Report: Vancouver

A few weeks ago, my blog celebrated its 13th birthday on January 17th! Happy Birthday Blog!

So I’m finally getting around to finishing up this trip report from our time in Canada last year. Our final stop was Vancouver, which is my favorite travel destination. I just love this city!



We only had a couple of days in the city and luckily the weather was fantastic. I absolutely love this view of the harbour looking towards North Van.



It was a lovely morning to walk along the Coal Harbour Seawall.





We always enjoy watching the seaplanes land and take off in the harbour.

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Canada Trip Report: Niagara Falls

Happy New Year everyone!

The holidays have gone by in an absolute blur, as per usual. I’m in the process of taking down the Christmas tree (yes, still) and all our holiday decorations and I’m sad to put everything away. They represent my favorite time of year! But it’s a new year and I’m looking forward to new adventures and everything else 2015 has to bring.

So I want to pick up my Canada trip report again. I’ve covered Montreal & Toronto so now here is the Niagara Falls installment.

Wed, 9/3
Niagara Falls day!

I had originally considered a bus tour from Toronto but none of them offered all of the options I wanted (most of them skipped a few of the sights since the drive to/from takes 3+ hours alone). So I figured we’d drive there on our own, do a tour then stay overnight. We picked up our rental car from Avis and then we were on our way! Except not really. The GPS that came with our car wasn’t working properly – it wasn’t tracking our location accurately. Luckily I had a general sense of where we were or we probably would have started following the directions. After about 10-15 mins of driving around in circles, it finally found our location and we hopped on the freeway. There was no traffic so we arrived at Niagara on the Lake in about 90 mins.



Niagara on the Lake is a small, quiet town located just before the main tourist area.



The main drag is just one long street lined with souvenir shops and boutiques. Rob noticed right away that we were the youngest people there – lots of seniors in big tour groups. Just a random observation. We spent a little while browsing in the various stores then headed over to our next destination – Inniskillin winery.



We discovered Inniskillin a few years ago during our first meal at the chef’s counter at Napa Rose. Rob had ordered the wine flight and received an Inniskillin icewine during dessert. It was so good! Even I can drink it! Because it’s basically like juice. :) The winery is located in Niagara on the Lake so we decided to stop by. We didn’t have too much time so we couldn’t go on the winery tour which was an hour long (and only $5) so instead we opted to do an icewine tasting.



We tried the two sparkling icewine varieties since we’re already familiar with their classic options. Oh man, the sparkling icewines are incredible. The one in the red bottle in particular, especially with dark chocolate.



Next we drove to our hotel Sheraton on the Falls, which is right in the middle of all the action.

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fall tv 14

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving (if you celebrate)!

Oh man. I haven’t blogged about TV in 2 years. TWO years! That’s insane.

I’m still watching A LOT of TV but not participating in online discussions or general fandom anymore. That’s what happens when you get older — no more time! But I still like sharing my random thoughts so thought I’d list my TV schedule here… :)

SUNDAYS:
Brooklyn 99
– LOLARIOUS. I never used to be a sitcom person but I’ve come around lately. The characters make this show for me. They get into some of the most ridiculous situations but somehow it all works because they’re all so well drawn. My absolute favorite is Captain Holt. His deadpan delivery is AWESOME.

The Good Wife – Still one of my favorite shows on the air right now. But I’m bummed that they’re finally giving Cary a real storyline and it’s kind of killing his character.

I gave up on Once Upon a Time last season when they introduced Peter Pan. Didn’t work for me at all. I wonder if the new Frozen arc is worth trying to catch up.

MONDAYS:
Gotham
– I want to like this show much more than I do. The idea of exploring Gotham before Batman is intriguing. Plus I have a soft spot for Ben McKenzie. Unfortunately this has not become appointment viewing. I can’t pinpoint exactly why that is — I guess a combination of the formulaic weekly procedural storylines and the show taking itself too seriously. Also not a fan of Barbara.

Stopped watching The Originals. I got all the way through the first season but it just wasn’t grabbing me (not even with the promise of seeing Elijah every week :P). Also gave up on The Blacklist. The characters drove me crazy.

TUESDAYS:
One of my favorite nights of television!
The Mindy Project – THE BEST! I adore this show. And absolutely love the theme song. I do wish they could find more for Jeremy to do, though. I’m still not sure why they had to introduce Peter — they just sidelined Jeremy even more! Sigh.

New Girl – Still watching but it’s not my favorite. Mostly because they’ve gone SUPER over the top with the characterizations. Like, Schmidt is just straight up crazy now. He used to be my favorite!

Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD – Ahhh, this show. Last season was rough. It was promising in the beginning, then it hit a creative rut, and finally it reached its potential once it had the chance to capitalize on Captain America’s storyline over in the cinematic universe. That momentum has definitely carried over to this season — I just wish the creative resurgence would equal a rise in ratings too!

The Flash – My favorite new show of the season. This show spun out of my other favorite show Arrow. It’s considerably lighter and funnier and that’s a good thing. They need to loop in poor Iris, though — her pretty much being the only main character who doesn’t know about Barry’s alter ego makes her look really clueless.

I also watched the first episode of Selfie and didn’t love it (I guess lots of people felt the same way since it’s been cancelled). I love John Cho, though — why can’t he get cast on a good show?!

WEDNESDAYS:
Arrow
– Love this show. It’s probably my favorite right now. The storylines are entertaining and I really truly like the cast and characters. They make me root for the show so hard. I even like Laurel. I just wish they knew what to do with her.

ABC Comedy Block – Modern Family, Black-ish, The Goldbergs – Lately I’ve been enjoying sitcoms more and more — mostly because there’s less of a time commitment and almost no emotional investment, lol. I was a little worried Black-ish would be cringe-worthy but I think it balances thoughtful commentary with comedy really well. And The Goldbergs is just a gem.

THURSDAYS:
Big Bang Theory – I do think they could do better by the female characters but I find the show entertaining so I guess I’m not that easily offended.

How To Get Away With Murder – UGH. This show is not good. AND YET I KEEP WATCHING. The mystery and terrible characters keep me coming back. I can’t help it. It’s a short season, 15 episodes, so I’m going to stick it out.

Scandal – I’m not sure why I watch this show either. I enjoyed the fast pace and shock value of the first two seasons but now I’m having a hard time rooting for anyone. I’m a sucker, though, so I’m sure I’ll finish off the season to satisfy my curiosity.

I’ve also been recording The Vampire Diaries but haven’t felt compelled to watch. I guess I have vampire fatigue.

FRIDAYS:
Hawaii 5-0
– Yes, I still watch this show. The cases of the week are pretty weak but I’m here for the characters and their relationships anyway.

I’ll watch Glee, Hart of Dixie and Downton Abbey when they’re back on the air. I also want to check out Jane the Virgin.

Rob watches The Walking Dead and Sons of Anarchy so I know enough to have opinions (ie. Gemma suuuuucks and I can’t wait for Jax to confront her).

I also tried watching Breaking Bad but it was so depressing and intense I couldn’t make it past the first half of season one. Homeland seemed promising but I finished the first season and just never felt the urge to keep going.

So what are all of you watching? Anything I’m missing?

Canada Trip Report: Toronto

After our time in Montreal, we flew to Toronto for the next leg of our trip.

I wanted to try flying Porter Airlines since they fly into the Toronto Island airport which is much closer to the downtown area. The flight was only an hour and 10 minutes but I didn’t realize we had to take the ferry shuttle from the island to the port so that added another half hour to the journey. For some reason I thought taxis had access to the island. They’re in the process of building a pedestrian walkway which will be so much more convenient than waiting for the ferry.

Anyway!

Tue, 9/2

On our first full day in Toronto we visited Casa Loma, which is a former home/castle that is now a historic museum. It’s also well known for being in many movies like The Vow, Chicago, The Pacifier — but most importantly the X-Men series where they used the exterior for Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. That’s a big part of why it was so intriguing to us. LOL.



From the Dupont station, we walked a couple of blocks on Spadina Avenue then climbed the Baldwin Steps (approximately 110) to get to Casa Loma. I was dreading the stairs but it wasn’t so bad. Seeing the house come into view made it all worth it. Though it is a little smaller than I imagined after seeing it in the movies.



We explored all the various levels of the house and got to see many guest & sitting rooms, private suites, the great hall (above) and conservatory among others.



It’s amazing how elaborate and detailed all the furnishings are.

I wanted to take a walk through the gardens but while we were there, it started pouring rain. So bummed!



Great view of downtown. Too bad it was so rainy and overcast.

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Canada Trip Report: Montreal

October marks the start of my favorite time of year. Of course there’s my birthday (YAY) but I just love the holidays. I’ve even started listening to holiday music! I’m such a sucker.

As per usual, I’m behind on my blogging. Back in late August, Rob & I took a trip to Canada that included visits to Montreal, Toronto, Niagara Falls & Vancouver. Thought I’d share some highlights of that trip starting with Montreal!

Fri, 8/29
I knew before we arrived that French is the official language in this province but there’s nothing like walking around and not being able to understand anyone speaking around you. It was a little overwhelming but I loved the international vibe!



On our first full day we visited Old Montreal to see the Notre Dame Basilica.



There’s a nominal fee to go inside which includes a short 20 minute guided tour (sadly our tour guide wasn’t that great). Unfortunately for us there was a mass going on in the chapel at the back so it was closed to visitors until the service was finished.



So beautiful! The detail is amazing. I forgot to take a photo but the stained glass windows all along the sides are exquisite.



We walked through the cobblestone streets to the waterfront to take a river cruise on Le Bateux Mouche.

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comic-con 2014: part 2

I know San Diego Comic-Con has come and gone but I still have a few more photos I’d like to share so hopefully you’ll indulge me. :)

As much as I enjoy the panels, I actually think my favorite part of SDCC is walking through the exhibit hall. It’s a visual treat with all the booths promoting and/or selling a variety of products. It does get incredibly crowded, though, so we visit the hall a little bit each day.



Guardians of the Galaxy was about a week from its release at the time of SDCC so there was a lot of buzz and excitement surrounding the movie (I highly recommend it, by the way — definitely one of my favorites of the year).



The Marvel booth had this great green screen photo opportunity. We didn’t realize it was a line-up, though, or Rob & I wouldn’t have posed so close together, heh.



We got a first look at Peter Quill’s mining pod.



With Rocket Raccoon, my favorite!



We found this awesome Iron Man Hall of Armor at Sideshow Collectibles.

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