There were so many highlights in Tokyo, it’s tough to narrow it down to a few. Here are four that stand out the most:
RAMEN AT THIS PLACE
Talk about a taste bud EXPLOSION. And I’m not just saying that. Apologies I have no idea what it was called. A friend sent a text message pin and we found it through google maps (somewhere near Shibuya). My eyeballs grew a little larger with every bite of the most delicious spicy miso ramen that has ever graced my mouth. I savoured every sip not wanting the dish to end.
This was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. It looks similar to slots at a casino, but it’s more like an arcade. Gambling for cash is illegal in Japan but Pachinko balls won from games can be exchanged for tokens and prizes. The place is insanely loud and they are serious about these games. It was most definitely a movie moment, I couldn’t get over it.
My guide book said if you’re lucky when visiting Yoyogi park, you just must stumble upon a traditional wedding. Low and behold I did!! It was amazing and very serious. There were intense drums informing us that something was about to happen and the wedding procession walked through the court yard very slowly. I had no idea this is what they wore. I was blown away.
TSUKIJI FISH MARKET
The Tsukiji fish market is the largest fish market in Japan and it’s wild. We arrived at 4 am to see the famous tuna auction. Yes you read that right. They do a huge auction every day for tuna. I thought getting there at that hour was ludicrous but guess what? It wasn’t early enough because we missed it! But we did get to see the men in action and zipping around in their little carts, all dressed the same in chinos and white rubber boots, looking stylish. We then lined up for sushi breakfast and waited for 3 hours! By 7:30 am the most amazing chefs served the freshest fish I’ve ever experienced, one little piece at a time. A truly unforgettable experience.
From Thailand we hopped on a short flight to Vietnam. From hot to cold. It was their winter season and I wasn’t exactly prepared with the proper clothing. I was expecting 10 degrees, but it was more like 4 degrees, and wet. I wore everything I had for four days straight. Not stylish. We spent a few days in Hanoi and stayed in the Old Quarter. It was unlike anything I had seen before. It was interesting to see how intimate the locals are with using the street as their work space. We saw people cutting heads off chickens, and selling everything from sweets to vegetables and tofu. A lot of people washed their pots and pans on the street, and of course there was a whole lot of street side cooking.
You think you know how to cross the street — until you have to cross the street in Hanoi. It was a crazy experience due to the hundreds of thousands of motor bikes (see video below). I was given the advice to look straight and walk forward without hesitation. Sure enough the motor bikes weaved around and all was good.
Just like Thailand, we ate our way through the city and it was delightful.
Following Hanoi we hopped on a junk boat and toured Halong Bay. It has spectacular views with gorgeous rock formations everywhere you look. We also went kayaking, visited a floating fishing village, went inside a cave, and learned how to make Vietnamese spring rolls.
I would love to go back to Vietnam to see more of it…as a stranger told us we were “really short changing ourselves with only four days in Vietnam.” Never enough time to do everything right?
Over the Thanksgiving long weekend, we went to San Fransisco. It was my first time there and I just loved the look of it…the store fronts, old signs, trolleys, and cool neighbourhoods.
The weather was that perfect sunny California weather I dream about, and I learned that October is the best time to go because it’s the peak of their best summer weather. The weekend couldn’t have been more action packed — America’s cup was happening, it was fleet week, there was a big football game, a blue grass music festival, a parade in Little Italy, AND President Obama was staying at our hotel!! True story. We didn’t see him, but everything was on crazy lock down. Security guards everywhere. It was so interesting to see.
A great Italian restaurant we went to was Delfina that I highly recommend, and we ate delicious sushi and Mexican at random spots. China Town and Little Italy were highlights, and I especially loved North Beach area. It just had a really cool vibe. One thing I would NOT recommend, is going only for a weekend. It’s too far from Toronto to go for 3 days, and the worst decision I made was taking the red eye home. Not glam. A few pics…
Old school kicks at the airport | KangaROOS
Golden Gate beauty | delicious lunch at the market | Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival
Amazing movie combo at the Castro theatre – Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure and Beetlejuice!
Had to find Full House
Sunny day at the park
Before I start blogging about life in Shanghai, I’m going to take a look back on the happenings of last year…mainly travel spots. Back in September I went camping in Algonquin. I use the word camping lightly — we actually stayed in a cottage for 2 nights and camped in the woods for one night. Back in high school I joined the Outdoors Club and did a camping trip in Algonquin and absolutely loved it. I thought I was a ‘camper’ from that one trip and I always wanted to go camping again, but it never happened. Until this particular weekend. Let’s just say I’m not a camper anymore. I love the outdoors, hiking, swimming, and even cliff jumping — but I can do without sleeping in a tent.
Algonquin is so pretty and makes me feel very Canadian.
Outfit: vintage Levi’s cutoffs | fringe tank from Urban Outfitters
I first learned about Dutch Dreams cafe from Breakfast Television, but I never knew exactly where it was. After a stroll through Wynchwood barns and down St. Clair West, we stumbled upon this eclectic building that looked like a fun house. It was the famous ice cream shop – Dutch Dreams! It’s a family run place that has been serving homemade ice cream for 25 years. You can’t help but feel like a kid inside this place – there are streamers, toys, candies, so many different types of ice cream and they top each cone off with fruit and whip cream. It’s truly decadent. Put this place on your ice cream hit list, it’s a gem. You can find it at 78 Vaughan Road, just north of St Clair St West. JD