It’s a dreary and rainy autumn day in northern Japan. Rain, snow, and even hail has fallen intermittently all day, and the chilly wind and clouds, cinereous and heavy with rain, have only reinforced the fact that winter is coming. And as much as I love the grey, cold weather – perfect for readings piles of books, drinking endless mugs of coffee, and burrowing under my cozy kotatsu – I can’t help but dream of the sunny days and blue waters I saw in Turkey this summer.
I mean an honest-to-goodness, medieval castle that looks like it would be the perfect home for Harry and co. I’m talking about Mont Saint Michel, a castle off the coast of Lower Normandy in northern France. When you think of Hogwarts, you might as well think of Mont Saint Michel. Continue reading Throwback Thursday: Mont Saint Michel (Or Hogwarts in the Flesh)
Today I leave for India and Nepal, and my heart is in my throat. My body feels like a roiling storm of adrenaline and stress hormones, and no matter how much I try to quiet it down, it refuses to be still. My pulse is racing, and I cannot help but count down the hours until I can board my plane from Narita.
If you were watching me closely, you might see how my knee is jiggling and how my fingers are trembling. I catch myself smiling and though I try to compose my expression, my mouth refuses to stay in a neutral straight line. It’s been like this for several weeks. I’ve been stealing glances at the calendar, willing the days to pass by more quickly. To look at me, you would think that this is my first trip abroad, my first time on a plane, my first time using my passport. You’d think that it was a whole host of “firsts” for me. (Or maybe you just think I’m a little bit hyperactive, and maybe you’d be right.) Continue reading I Will Always Be a Rookie
Kuta, a tiny town on the southeast coast of Lombok, was the last stop on my Indonesian getaway. Kuta’s famous as a surfer’s haven, and there are tons of tiny beaches whose beauty is matched only by their world-class reef breaks. Incidentally, there’s also a Kuta on Bali. It’s also famous for surfing, but the similarities stop there. Bali’s Kuta is overloaded with tourists. Lombok’s Kuta, by comparison, still retains the charm of a tiny seaside town where traditional life still reigns.
With my (total lack of) balance, surfing is definitely beyond my skill set, so I felt a bit left out among all the tanned surfers zooming around the town with boards strapped to racks on their motorbikes and SUVs. There was still plenty for me to enjoy, though. Continue reading Kuta: Or, “It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Gets Food Poisoning”
Once my few days in Senggigi were up, I headed up north to Gili Meno, a tiny island off the western coast of Lombok. There are actually three Gilis: Gili Air, Gili Meno, and Gili Trawangan. (Calling them the Gili Islands is technically a bit of a misnomer, since “Gili” means “island.”) Collectively, they’re famous for their amazingly white sand and crystal-clear blue water, but each also have a distinctly separate atmosphere. Air is the most traditional and least visited. Meno is the smallest, least populated, and arguably most beautiful. Trawangan is the party island, with tons of bars, parties, and clubs.
It’s funny how you can be totally set on a plan for months on end, only to have it flipped on its head in the space of an hour or two. Such was the case two months ago. For the better part of a year, I’d not planned on going on any vacations until I headed off to India and Nepal for the 2013 winter holidays. And that plan stuck in place…until my traveler’s feet got itchy. (Incidentally, that saying has always made me wince a bit. It makes it sound like some sort of foot fungus causes wanderlust.)
One day in July, I glanced at my work calendar, and saw two consecutive three-day weekends in September that meant I could take four days of paid leave and get ten days off. Cue a few hours of gleefully frenetic Googling, Orbitz-ing, and WikiTravel-ing, and I was set on spending a week on the gorgeous island of Lombok, Indonesia. Continue reading Senggigi, Lombok: Spices, Sunsets, and Sarongs
I have always thought that autumn was the most beautiful season, but since I moved to Aomori, that sentiment has only become more and more heightened. The Tohoku region is specifically famous for its gorgeous fall foliage, and hiking in the mountains when the leaves are changing colors is one of the things I’d been looking forward to this year.
When I got an invitation to head south with some friends to a cabin on the shores of Lake Towada, I jumped at the chance. Camping – or at least getting away from the city – is something that I like to do as often as I can, especially when it’s on the cusp of fall. As much as I like curling up on my couch in my cozy apartment when it’s chilly outside, I’d much rather do it surrounded by some beautiful scenery. Plus, I never turn down the opportunity to spending an evening with some quality company and awesome food. Continue reading A Quick Autumn Getaway