Tokyo adventures: Disneyland

Tokyo adventures: Disneyland

While we were in Tokyo, we couldn’t resist spending a day at Tokyo Disneyland. We just can’t resist a good theme park. Our bodies had given up on any sense of time, so waking up early to make our way through Tokyo rush hour traffic (wouldn’t recommend it to my worst enemy) and make it to Disney for opening time.

IMG_1145

Getting there:
The trip there is easy – we took the Keiyo line from Tokyo station to the Maihama stop. You can see the part from the train and it’s a quick 10 minute walk from the station. We didn’t have our tickets ahead of time, so we first had to go through security and then to buy our tickets. Since we were there early, all of these procedures were pretty quick. When we left, we took the same route back. We already had the Tokyo subway system semi figured out, so it was pretty straightforward and we managed even without wifi.

IMG_7772

The Park:
We were there in early October, so the park was beautifully decorated in Halloween style. I definitely recommend paying it a visit this time of year. Also, considering the time of year, it was hot all day, so by the end of the day I sported a not so cute sunburn. So even if you think you won’t need it, bring sunscreen.
First things first, Pav downloaded an unofficial app, estimating the wait times at different attractions. Since they don’t have wifi in the park, we brought the pocket wifi from our Airbnb. In combination with the park map, we were set.

            1st tip: If you have pocket wifi, bring it with you.

 

The Attractions:IMG_7757
There are quite a few attractions in Tokyo Disneyland that are everywhere – Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, Peter Pan’s Flight and Alice’s Tea Party. Most of these are similar to other Disney parks that we’ve visited.

The Haunted Mansion was transformed into a Nightmare Before Christmas theme and it was completely different from the usual way the ride looks. Again, totally worth visiting at this time of year.

Pirates of the Caribbean was themed around Dead Men Tell No Tales and was one of the less popular rides at the park. That just meant that we went on it whenever we needed a relief from the heat outside and to take a break.

Unfortunately (lucky for Pav, who doesn’t like the ride too much), It’s a Small World was closed for repairs, so we weren’t able to go on it. We also visited a lot of other Disney staples: Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, and Star Tours.

 

Pooh’s Hunny Hunt:
This ride is unique to Tokyo Disney. We were a little on the fence as to whether we should go on it or not (let’s face it, it doesn’t sound too great), but the fact that it had a 2+ hour wait almost the entire day convinced us that it might be worth it. Eventually, during the main parade of the evening, the wait was under an hour, so we slipped away from the crowd to go check it out.
The ride itself is definitely worth the wait. Its premise is that Pooh ate too much honey and suffers a psychedelic dream. It functions completely differently from all other rides at the park, so it’s an absolutely different experience.

            2nd tip: Even if it might be against your better judgment, go on Pooh’s Honey Hunt.

Final Thoughts:
We were happy that we spent a day at the Tokyo Disney and it was a great experience. The one problem we ran into was the language barrier – the story based rides were all in Japanese, so it was a problem. But again, if you know Disney, you’ll be fine. Other than that, the usual Disney tips apply: comfortable shoes, plan your day and take advantage of Fast Passes.

If you’re a fan of Disney Parks, you shouldn’t miss this one.

IMG_1152


READ MORE:
Japan

Kyoto

Travel Tips: Japan

This October, we were lucky enough to go to Japan again. And this time, we went together. So, we’ve compiled a list of tips for you, if you’re planning a trip to Japan.IMG_1256

  1. Always have cash on you. Foreign currency ATMs are hard to come by and you’re never sure a vendor will accept your debit card.
  2. Download Google Translate (and Japanese) before you go. It’ll be a lifesaver.
  3. If your hotel or Airbnb offer pocket wifi, go for it! And bring an external battery to recharge. Wifi hotspots are almost as hard to find as foreign currency ATMs.
  4. Get a JR pass. They’re flexible and will let you take as many trips as you want. Plus, trains are a lot more convenient than cars.
  5. Plan, plan, plan. Know where you are and where you want to go. It can sometimes get overwhelming in Tokyo and places don’t always have convenient connections to where you need to go.
  6. Don’t be afraid of street vendors and tiny restaurants. Some of the best places we’ve been to seat less than 10 people.
  7. Bring comfortable shoes and don’t forget nice socks. Chances are, you’ll be taking your shoes off multiple times a day, be it in restaurants, temples or other places.
  8. Shinkansen trains leave on the dot. If you’re late, you have to get on the next one. Luckily, they go fairly often.IMG_1259

Exploring Japan is amazing and we definitely recommend visiting. As everywhere, being polite takes you a long way and you’ll always get great treatment. Enjoy your trip!


READ MORE:

 

Japan

Kyoto

6 Reasons Why you should Road Trip

6 Reasons Why you should Road Trip

Everything right now is about doing things faster, sometimes this includes travel. Everybody tries to find the fastest ways to get to a place and that can mean that you miss out on great experiences! Here is why you should talk the extra hours and drive to your destinations if it is at all possible:

IMG_3716.JPG

  1. Things to see and things to do! When you fly, you only see your destination. If you drive to your destination, you can stop in different places and see so many other sights. If you drive through the US, you can see multiple landmarks, instead of just the one you are heading towards. If you drive through different countries you can experiences many different cultures!IMG_5147 2
  2. Food! You have so many more opportunities to try different foods. If you drive through multiple countries on your road trip, you can try food that is native to this country. I found some of the best places when I just did a quick google search of what’s near me. Not to mention all the junk food you can enjoy, because everyone needs fun snacks! 
  3. Spending time with your friends. When you spend hours in the car you get much closer with your friends. You tend to look at your phone less and actually talk to each other. Not to mention all the adorable photos you can take together! Hopefully you won’t get into any fights, otherwise the journey will be really long.
  4. Music. When is the last time you truly listened to music without scrolling through your phone or reading the newest headlines? There is nothing like blasting music with your windows down while driving down an endless road. You can belt out the lyrics and no one will care what you sound like! So make sure to create a fire playlist before setting out on the journey!
  5. Bring more things with you! Whether this is a short trip or a long one, everyone hates weight limits when flying, when you drive there is no weight limit, just a space limit. If you are a good packer this means you can bring LOTS of stuff!
  6. Learn about more cultures. This is even true if you are road tripping through the same country. Each state in the USA has its own culture, you will definitely meet completely different people in California than in a cafe in Boston. If you are driving through different countries, then there is absolutely no doubt that you will come across many diverse cultures.IMG_3637.JPG

Hope this helps you slow down a little and enjoy your trip! There are many benefits to taking your time and driving around while you head to your destination.

 


READ MORE:

 

Brunch and dinner: California’s best

Grand Canyon: the place that makes you feel tiny

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

This weekend we decided to go to Arizona to see Grand Canyon! We were so excited to see it, since it was one of our top priorities on our bucket lists. We drove 9 hours from Los Angeles and it was definitely worth it!

We rented out camping equipment from lowergear.com, packed up the car and headed out on Friday afternoon. The drive was really long, but when it got dark, the stars illuminated the sky. It was gorgeous, especially before the moon, which was really low and huge, rose. The first night we planned on staying in a hotel, since we were going to get to Arizona pretty late. Highland Country Inn was a good choice, since it was cheap and all we really needed was beds for a couple of hours.  

In the morning we checked out and when for brunch. We picked The Toasted Owl Cafe, and it was amazing! I found out that Arizona has an incredible amount of gluten-free choices. We had to wait for food for some time, because the kitchen is tiny, but it was so worth it! So definitely check out this quirky little place in Flagstaff! We finally hit the road towards the Grand Canyon, which ended up being an 1.5 hour trip. When we got there we checked into our campsite and successfully built our tent.

DSC_6633

We finally hit the path towards the rim. The view was stunning! No pictures and not descriptions will ever measure up to what you feel like when you see it! Nothing makes you feel quite as small as standing on the edge and looking out over the canyon that goes on seemingly forever!

DSC_6821

We walked the western part of the rim trail that afternoon, making it all the way to the Hermit Point. We stopped about every five seconds to take many, many pictures (total adding up to about 500). We turned around at Hermit point and found the perfect spot to stop and watch the sunset over the canyon. We sat there for almost an hour and a half. A quick tip for the hike: bring snacks! Either in the form of granola bars or nuts or anything! Its nice to sit down and refuel before continuing the hike!  

After the sun set it got pretty chilly so we went to Yavapai lodge for dinner, yet again I was surprised at all the gluten-free choices. It was so nice to sit in the warmth and eat hot food. Definitely recommend sitting down in a restaurant for dinner before heading to the tent.

We headed back to the camp and set up a campfire, roasting s’mores until almost 11pm. Another tip: layer up for the night! The temperature dipped down to about 1 degree celsius (33.8 degrees fahrenheit).

DSC_6901

We got up at 5am to see the sunrise. For this we went to Mather Point and found a spot to sit down for about 45 minutes. We decided to go ahead and walk the east part of the rim trail and complete the whole rim trail. It was definitely a good choice to do so right away, because this way we finished the hike and packed up our tent by 8:30am. Also, we got super lucky and even saw a herd of elk on the path, since it was so empty and quiet in the morning. At this point we decided to walk west along the trail and hit the gift shop by El Tovar. This concluded our trip beautifully and we got to say goodbye to the canyon.

DSC_6585

We hit the road and decided to drive through Las Vegas, so we headed north-west. We even drove by and saw the Hoover Dam, but we decided not to stop and walk around, since we still had a long drive ahead of us. We only drove through Vegas, since we didn’t have too much time. It is definitely an interesting city with such an eclectic collection of buildings built in different styles.

We drove back to Los Angeles, finally getting back around 10pm. The experience of going to the Grand Canyon is something indescribable! Definitely go and see it on your own!

 


READ MORE:

Disneyland

San Diego Road Trip

 

San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo

A couple of weekends ago we went back to San Diego, this time to spend the entire time at the zoo! The San Diego zoo is known for their pandas, so we were really excited to see those. So, we got into our car and drove two hours from Los Angeles to the iconic zoo.

The tickets are $52 for a day visit, which is a little overpriced, but the zoo is beautiful, so you can tell they use the money in a good way. First we saw the orangutans, one of our favorites. They are huge and look pretty friendly! We then made our way to the tigers, one of which looked very impatient and hungry, definitely waiting for his lunch to get there.

DSC_6436

We then made our way to the hippos and monkeys. We walked through the area where they keep the leopards, wondering what it would be like to cuddle with the white leopards. Finally we reached the Panda trek and walked along it, seeing various bears. Panda Canyon was under construction, so the pandas were relocated to a new enclosure. This didn’t much matter, because the two pandas were asleep when we got there, so, sadly, we couldn’t see them. We knew we wanted to see them better, so we decided to circle around later.

DSC_6360

Then we went to the Urban Jungle, where we saw giraffes, that absolutely loved us (at least we like to think so). They followed us wherever we went and posed for pictures! The rhinos seemed very cuddly, so when one of the caretakers came up to the fence, the rhinos came over, waiting for her to pet her. What we found interesting was the zebra and the donkey in one enclosure, with a sign saying they are best friends! What was even weirder, in another enclosure they had cheetahs and dogs, which are best friends. The dogs are called animal ambassadors, helping the zoo domesticate the cheetahs and make them friendlier towards humans. It’s such an odd concept and I’m not sure where it came from, but it seems to work.

Next we saw koalas, which are adorable! Most of them were sleeping and when they were sleeping, they were chewing or leaves. We moved on to meerkats (my personal favorites) and elephants. We paused at the Sabertooth Grill for lunch. I had the “incredible nachos” which were good and a refillable soda, which came in handy throughout our walk around the zoo. We then walked up to the lions, which were shockingly sleeping and then up to the arctic to see the polar bears. The polar bears were one of my favorite to see, because they were so active! They were splashing around in the water, cooling down from the warm weather!DSC_6337

We finally walked around to the gorillas, which we had been circling the entire day, but haven’t actually seen them. They were also very active and we ended up sitting there for a while, watching as the youngest one taunted the older males.

DSC_6403We decided to go around to the tigers and the pandas again before calling it a day. The tigers had obviously moved to a new spot to sleep, but continued to nap through the afternoon. The pandas were awake though, so we finally saw them at their most active time: meal time. They sat there, chewing on bamboo and leaves. We found out that when pandas are 18 months old, they have to be separated, because they start seeing each other as competition and start getting aggressive. A good time to see them is around 4:30pm, when they get fed, so plan around that!

DSC_6457Before leaving, we stopped by the giant turtles and the alligators. At the end of the day we had walked about 10km (6.5 miles) around the zoo, spending about 5-6 hours there. I definitely recommend this zoo, it is a beautiful zoo!


READ MORE:

San Diego Road Trip

Los Angeles -> San Francisco Road Trip