Part 2: Timeless Kyoto vs. Modern Osaka

Trip date: June 24 – July 10, 2016

Part 2 of 3 will cover the second part of our trip in Japan – Osaka and Kyoto. 

After spending four days surrounded by nature’s beauty in Yakushima (see Part 1), we made our way back to civilization. The next three days were spent in Osaka and Kyoto. Because we had hotel points to stay at Crowne Plaza, we stayed at the one in Osaka since Kyoto had no availability. Hence, we took the train from Osaka to Kyoto for day trips, which takes about 30 minutes each way.

Now, every city is special in its own way. By experiencing Osaka and Kyoto, I saw two cities that starkly contrasted each other.

Related posts:

Part 1: The Beauty of Yakushima
My first time visiting Japan in 2015: What To Do: 3 Days in Tokyo
Destination planning for Japan trip in 2016: Where will we be in Japan?

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5 Reasons to Hike Potato Chip Rock

Location: Lake Poway (Use this address: 14644 Lake Poway Rd)
Hike: Potato Chip Rock via Mt. Woodson Trail
Distance: 7 miles
Duration: 3 to 4 hours

I’ve been wanting to hike Potato Chip Rock for a while now. Glad we were able to make this happen on a beautiful and sunny, Saturday afternoon! It provided a refreshing start to my hiatus from work.

N and I had a $200 Hilton Hotel voucher to use before it expires this weekend (yes, last minute people we are). I thought SD was close enough for a last minute getaway. Since Potato Chip Rock was on the way down, we could do the hike before spending the rest of the weekend in SD. I was also in desperate need of nature.

This hike turned out to be one of my favorite! I recommend it if you’re looking for scenery and a challenge!

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Winter in Europe: Advice and Takeaways

Trip dates: December 26 – January 9, 2016/2017


I feel a little toughened up after spending two, blistering cold weeks of traveling around Europe with 20-30 degrees weather. I guess give it another week, and I’ll be back to involuntarily commenting on how “cold” the weather is, at barely under 60 degrees (*rolls eyes at myself*).

In the process of planning this winter trip to Europe, I did mentally prepare myself to embrace it…thinking of beautiful European architecture or landscape blanketed with snow, colorful lights dancing across narrow, cobblestone streets, and Love Actually moments playing in my head. I was quite looking forward to a winter wonderland! However, truth be told, the weather could still be such a determinant factor in how comfortable you are during the trip. So, I learned to scrap any expectations of a magical, winter Europe trip (although some parts still were!) and to undertake a more spontaneous mindset. 🙂

Our general itinerary consisted of (and in more details below): Iceland —> Scotland —> France —> Germany —> Sweden.

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Where to Eat Your Heart Out in Portland

Portland’s Food Scene

It’s blasphemy to admit that, in general, eating good food is not my sole mission in life. I’m only mildly interested in trying out a cool, new restaurant. When it comes to food, I’m the type to eat what sounds/looks good to me at the moment. I also think my tongue is desensitized from eating too much spicy food, so I’m not a fair judge. Don’t get me wrong – I have a pretty adventurous palate, and I love to eat good food. I just don’t go out of my way too often.

Portland struck a different chord. It was the quirky, nerdy, cute boy that made you (or maybe just me) excited to go to school. Portland made me excited to eat. Everything about Portland was Check out this restaurant! Go try the coffee! Drink all the beer! Don’t mind if I do! Even then, I don’t think we explored as much of the food as we wanted since there were only 10(?!) meals you could squeeze into 2 days. We made a valiant effort though. 🙂

One day had amazing weather, while it rained all throughout the next. Fortunately, the rain wasn’t strong enough to kill our buzz. We pushed on to do our exploring just enough so that our bellies could digest. It was the perfect, short getaway weekend.

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