Quick Stop in Seattle

We popped up to Seattle this week for a short visit. Jonathon had work meetings all day and I tagged along for the ride. I didn't take a ton of photos, but 96% of you on instagram voted that I should post these, so here they are!

We stayed at Hotel Theodore in Downtown Seattle. It was chosen for the name (because of our cat, Theodore) and the gorgeous bathroom. The location was super convenient as we were a short walk to Pike Place market and the pier.

Super warm and inviting. Definitely using this as interior inspo when we build a house.

Super warm and inviting. Definitely using this as interior inspo when we build a house.

The evening we were there, Jonathon finished up meetings late, so we were trying to decide where to eat after 8pm. We wanted to try The Pink Door, but we weren't sure on a time and didn't make a reservation, which somehow is needed for a Wednesday evening. We ended up choosing a little spot called The Carlile Room. I didn't take any photos here because I was tired and hangry, but it was a really cool lounge that had a list of delicious apps. I got a non alcoholic beverage that was basically pineapple and jalapeño kombucha--shockingly refreshing and delicious.  
We got some starters and I had an impossible burger. 

After we ate, we went right to bed. The hotel's bed was so comfortable and we both actually slept well.

The next morning, we got up and walked to a place called Biscuit Bitch for breakfast. You could hear the loud music down the street and we walked up to a crowd of people waiting for their food. "Hey bitches!" and "Come here bitch" is heard over and over. Very pumped up atmosphere, especially for early morning. They had a mushroom gravy option, so I got a biscuit covered with mushroom gravy, garlic grits, cheese, egg. So good and even though I ate only half, I was definitely in a food coma.

These food pics are awful...but I didn't plan on posting anything haha. 

After we ate, we spent some time exploring the Market and watching the people performing on th corners. When we felt like we'd recovered from breakfast, we walked up to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room.

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Beautiful, large building with industrial decor to make anyone drool.

Jonathon got a tasting and I had a decaf affogato. Yummm. We sat and chatted at the family table for a while. Jonathon shared his coffee since the flight came with 24 oz of coffee. His favourite was the Congo and the Hawaii was his least favourite. 

We chatted with some of the employees about how the roasting works. Super interesting and the machines were so beautiful.

After we had our coffee fix, we walked back down towards the pier, did a little shopping, and then headed to Ye Old Curiosity Shop, founded in 1899! It is a little shop at the pier that has shrunken heads, taxidermy, mummies, and fun gimmicky items.

We shopped around here and then headed to Pike Place Chowder. The line was wrapped around the building, but moved quickly. Jonathon got a smoked salmon chowder and I was able to get a vegan chowder! Super exciting. I've never had chowder before. The vegan chowder had sort of a curry flavour, it was super delicious and filling. Coconut based, so it was nice and thick.

I snapped a photo for instagram stories, so it's a really trash photo, but I had a lot of people ask about the chowder. The site says "Velvety chowder prepared with the freshest vegetables simmered in coconut milk, enhanced with the zesty, sunshine flavor of lime juice."

Pike Place Chowder is right next to Rachel's Ginger Beer, a spot I'd read about online and was glad it was in the area. I got a caramelized pineapple ginger beer, and Jonathon got the Blood Orange one. Delicious. I'm glad there isn't one in Portland because we'd go there too often.

We headed home after that! We weren't here very long, but I figured I'd share the photos I took.

Thank you for viewing. (:

 

Yellowstone Roadtrip

Earlier this month, we went on a mini vacation to visit Yellowstone National Park! Jonathon has been working a lot out of town, so when he was home for a week we decided to use the time wisely and have a fun little road trip. 

We both enjoy parks, and Yellowstone has been on my list for a while. We did not realize just how close we were to it now that we live in Oregon. Exciting. 

We decided to drive most of the way and make a stop for the night in Twin Falls, Idaho, and continue the trip to our lodge for Yellowstone the next day.

The drive to Twin Falls was about 8.5/9 hours. We booked a cheap hotel just because our Yellowstone lodge was so expensive....definitely regretted going with a cheap option and staying at the Shilo Inn ha. Dive into my twitter to see photographs of that. It was an adventure and we laughed about it for most of the trip. 

We didn't want to stay in our room unless we had to, so we stopped to view the Perrine Bridge and the Snake River Canyon.

We got there just right as the sun started to set, so we got a beautiful golden hour view of the canyon.

We spotted a stray cat and I /quietly/ bolted back to the car to grab my telephoto lens so I could snap a few photos of him.

He was just lounging on the stone and there were little rodents everywhere! He seemed unbothered and so did they.

Sunset was quite beautiful.  Idaho has lots of flying insects, unlike Oregon, so that was an unwelcome surprise. I do not miss mosquitoes and gnats at alll.

We hung out around the bridge for a while and then as dusk arrived, we headed to take a little peek of Shoshone Falls (mostly so we didn't have to go back to the hotel.)

We got there about 10 minutes to closing, so we took a peek at the falls that had dwindled to a trickle. I somehow saw a deer and her baby from very far away. So far away, you could barely see them with my telephoto lens.

We headed back to the hotel after this and went to bed.

The next morning we headed back to Shoshone Falls so we could see it in daylight. Apparently this is called the "Niagara of the West" as it is actually 14 m (45 feet) higher than Niagara. Irrigation and hydroelectric power stations built on the falls were major contributors to the early economic development of southern Idaho.

You can view the falls from two piers beside the carpark. The wind was heavy and the mist was strong. It was quite enjoyable. 

We drove around to the back/top of the falls where you can drop your boats in the water and happened to spot some creatures. We saw a vulture, eagle, groundhog, marmots, and a pelican (who happened to catch and drop off a fish--you can see it in the photo below him.) 

On our way to our Yellowstone lodge, we decided to visit the Shoshone Ice Caves and the Craters of the Moon State Park. A little bit out of the way for our destination, but super cool and worth it!

The Shoshone Ice caves were less than an hours drive from Twin Falls. We made it there right before a tour started, thankfully.  The tours are about 45-60 minutes and you go down/up about 180 stairs. 

Down below a massive sea of uneven and jagged lava rock is a huge (1,000ft in length) lava tube with ice up to 30 ft thick. Even if the summer heat has you melting to a puddle outside, the cave has below freezing temperatures year round. This ice cave is currently the largest volcanic cave open to the public. 

If I recall correctly, our guide said that a volcanic eruption from a below ground volcano shot lava everywhere and eventually caused the entire lava tube to collapse and seal the area. A young boy found a small opening in the late 1800s when he was supposedly searching for a lost goat. The boy told his father and the father went back to investigate and found the cave full of ice.  They began selling the ice since they did not have refrigerators at that time and used them as means to keep things cold. In the 1930's, to try to get more ice out, they used explosives to widen the entrance.  This act ruined the airflow/seal and the ice started disappearing. The ice in the “ice caves” is caused by air currents flowing through the tubes, which causes subterranean water to freeze.

Thirty or so years later, a man decided to try to restore the cave back to its original state. It took him many years, but he built a wall and door around the opening and the ice started forming again. You get a freezing cave with an ice floor.  They said they actually have to work on pumping out water so they can keep the cave in a state visitors can enter.  If they didn't, the cave would completely fill up with ice in a couple of decades. 

Oh, and there are kind of offensive Indian statues throughout the place...and a giant green dinosaur with a troglodyte riding it... incredible. 

After we drove for what felt like hours in the treeless wasteland that is Idaho, we made it to the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. The protected area's features are volcanic and represent one of the best-preserved flood basalt areas in the continental United States. The monument covers 3 major lava fields and all three of these lava fields lie along the "Great Rift of Idaho." They are some of the best examples of open rift cracks in the world, including one that is 800 ft, the deepest known on earth. 

The Park's entry is $20, but you can put that towards an annual card for all the National Parks, which I would recommend.

We drove around the park and stopped at the North Crater trail first. We might have gone off trail a couple of feet for a moment to take some photos and then pretended we didn't see the sign. Whoops. I didn't damage anything, I swear!

It' such a crazy view, definitely better in person. Almost no trees anywhere. Lots of sagebrush and rocks everywhere. The loose rocks weigh almost nothing, they feel like movie props or styrofoam and have a beautiful, oil slick look about them. The lava here has a purplish-blue tint that tiny pieces of obsidian on the surface exhibit (you can see it in my close up photo.)

We drove around some more and stopped at the Inferno Con. The trail to the top is super steep, but only half a mile round trip. The summit is 6,181 feet and allows you to view a panoramic view of the surrounding volcanic landscape. 

A cinder cone is formed when gas-rich volcanic froth erupts high into the air and then piles into a mound.  There is not crater at the top as it was buried by the wind-swept cinders. The wind up here was insane! It nearly blew me away and I almost lost my sunglasses. There is a single juniper tree that has been blown into growing in a diagonal position. 

We drove around some more and finally exited the area. We had a 4 hour drive to our lodge from the park. We stopped for lunch in a small town and then finally made it to our lodge. After dropping off our stuff, we decided to stop at a little drive in for a root beer float and then headed to Upper Mesa Falls.

This place was absolutely gorgeous. The temperature was cool, the sun was starting to set, and the sounds of the water flowing were incredible relaxing. 

Upper Mesa Falls is probably one of my favourite views that I have seen so far in the US.

Theres a long platform that allows you to get a good view of the falls from a distance and another that lets you get a few feet away. The falls is a thunderous curtain of water at 114 feet high and 200 feet wide. The falls pour over what is left of an ancient super volcanic eruption that spewed ash over much of the US.

Exhausted after a long journey, we made our way back to our hotel for the next two evenings,  Angler's Lodge. It is located on the banks of scenic Henry's Fork of the Snake River in a town that doesn't have that much to offer. This place is supposed to have a massive supply of fish in the river, so it's famous for its fly fishing.

The lodge definitely looked like a southern grandfather's hunting cabin. Interesting and quaint, albeit a little tacky.  The cool thing about this place is that the owner built it entirely with his bare hands.  He felled the timber and everything. 

We chose this place because it happened to be the cheapest, nicer location close to Yellowstone...and I use the term "cheap" loosely.  It was incredibly expensive. Especially for what was around it and what it had to offer.  It was a really cool place, don't get me wrong. I really enjoyed having a back door to our room open to the river. But, the price of two nights hurt my feelings haha. 

After a quick google, we found out that Gordon Ramsay had visited this place for Hotel Hell. We tried to watch it, but the internet service was abysmal, so we saved it for another day.  Our room wasn't hellish by any means, but the dinner at the restaurant was sub par. (as in it took two hours to get previously frozen food)

The next morning, we left super early and made it to a small diner in Wyoming for breakfast. We filled up on carbs and made our way to the West Entrance of Yellowstone. 

We got to the entrance and paid $30 to enter. We had saved our Craters of the Moon receipt and ended up using it toward the Annual Pass, which is $70 dollars (after the other two passes, it technically only cost us $20.) We plan on visiting at least Yosemite within a year, so the annual pass was worth the extra dollars since it allows you to enter most national parks in the US with no extra fees.

We got through the gates super fast, but it took us a very long time to actually make it to the first location. Probably an hour? It fell like even longer! We saw Bison along the way. One was right at the side of the road, so many people stopped and a few low IQ individuals got very close to try to selfie with it. 

Our first stop was the Lower Geyser Basin/Paint Pots. This location features regularly-erupting geysers, hot springs, and a fascinating mud pool that bubbled like a witches cauldron. 

The next stop on our journey was to visit the Grand Prismatic in the Midway Geyser Basin. The Midway Geyser Basin contains a small collection of mammoth-sized springs.

The first stop on the small, tourist filled path to Grand Prismatic is Excelsior. Excelsior used to be the largest geyser in the world, but after some eruptions, it is now a productive thermal spring, presently discharging 4050 gallons per minute. Numerous vents boil and churn the water within the crater, covering it in a dense layer of steam.

We pushed through the tourists and made our way to an upclose view of the Grand Prismatic. Grand Prismatic is the largest hot spring in Yellowstone, and is considered to be the third largest in the world. It discharges 560 gallons per minute and is coated with steam that reflects the beautiful colours. We did not get a birds eye view, unfortunately. It was hot, the hike was long, and I was a little irritated from the tourists and traffic haha. It was still an absolutely gorgeous view and I should probably do a makeup look inspired by it. 

The multicolored layers get their hues from different species of thermophile bacteria living in the progressively cooler water around the spring. The deep blue in the center is because water scatters the blue wavelengths of light more than others, reflecting blues back to our eyes.

Ah, Old Faithful. It's Old and it's...Faithful. I remember reading about this as a kid, so it was pretty cool to see in person. In 1870, Old Faithful got its name for its nearly regular schedule of eruptions. It has frequent and predictable eruptions that happen every 45-90 minutes. It erupts at a height of 110-185 feet and the eruptions last 1-5 minutes. 

We had arrived about an hour before the next eruption which was just enough time to refill our water bottles and grab a salad and some snacks from the convenience store. 

After the eruption, we got back int he car and followed the road to Kepler Cascades. The cascades drop about 150 feet over multiple drops. There weren't many people over here, so it was a wonderful break from crowds and noisy tourists. 

We saw lot of wildlife while we drove. There were Bison everywhere. There was a small mud volcano and sulfur cauldron area where a few were hanging out. The sulfur smell was pretty intense and permeated the surrounding air.

Continuing down the road, we drove to The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and made our way to Artist Point/Lower Falls.  One of the areas to Upper falls was closed, so we just went to the lower, which has the best view, anyways. 

"After the Yellowstone Caldera eruption, the area was covered by a series of lava flows. The area was also faulted by the doming action of the caldera before the eruption. The site of the present canyon, as well as any previous canyons, was probably the result of this faulting, which allowed erosion to proceed at an accelerated rate." The Yellowstone River is what created the canyon and the falls. It is also the longest undammed river in the continental United States.

The beautiful colours in the canyon are a result of hydrothermal alterations. Being exposed to oxygen and the elements give the canyon its colour. The canyon is basically rusting. 

Artist's point gives you a stunning view of the canyon and the falls. 

Lots more driving. We went all the way up and down a mountain as we headed to our next destination. Bison were roaming the roads and we saw some beautiful landscapes. 

Our next location was Lamar Valley. Yellowstone has huge, wide valleys that make excellent habitat for wildlife. It's said your best chance of spotting bears, wolves, bison, pronghorn, and many more species is in Lamar valley.

Like clockwork, we take a corner and see 50+ people crowding around the road and some (idiots) had actually walked about 75 feet off the road into the valley! We tried to see what it was, but it was pretty far away.  I took out my telephoto and it was a little black bear munching on a deer(?) carcass.

I snapped a few photos of it safely from the road and we got in the car to drive a little bit more through the valley before turning around to view the last bit of the park we wanted to see.

By the time we got back, angry park rangers were scolding the people for getting so close to a bear. Serves them right.

Last on my list was the Mammoth Hot Springs. About 10 minutes after we had left Lamar Valley, Jonathon pulls the car over to the side and says, "Look!" It was a deer just hanging out in the grass near the road.  I grab my camera and slowly walk up to her. She seemed unbothered.  I got even closer and asked if I could snap some pics. She just watched me ad let me hang out with her for a bit. 

I hear Jonathon yell from the car, so I look around and there's a coyote running up toward the deer. She turns her head towards him and he stops for a second to stare at her. She stands up and he bolts across the road with her following him. Bizarre experience. 

We continued our drive and made it to the little area where the Hot spring was. We saw some pronghorn (basically an antelope) running by, so I rushed to take a photo from the window.

We also saw a young bull elk walking on the side of the road with a little bird friend.

We made it to Mammoth Hot Springs right at the end of the day.

The area was created over thousands of years as hot water from the spring cooled and deposited calcium carbonate (over two tons flow into Mammoth each day)

It looked like icy stepping stones climbing up a mountain.

Utterly exhausted, we took the long journey back to our cabin to crash for the evening. It took another 45 minutes or so just to exit the park and then we had a 45 minute drive to the lodging.
We'd been in the park 10 hours or so and while it was a great trip, we were ready to leave and sleep!

The next morning, we left super early and there really wasn't any food or coffee near by.  We stopped in Idaho Falls for breakfast at a place called Abracadabra's which was shockingly amazing (and cheap!) They had quite a few delicious vegetarian options. 

We ate, grabbed a coffee, and made our way back. Since we weren't going through Craters of the moon, the drive back to Twin Falls was incredibly short. And when we'd reached our halfway mark, it was only 2pm, so we decided to just drive the entire way home, about a 13ish hour drive.

I hope you enjoyed the images! We plan on going to Alaska later in the year and we also want to go to Yosemite within the next 12 months! So I'm sure there will be a blog/gallery on that. 

xx

 

Japan Trip: Part 2

Thanks for tuning back in and welcome to Part 2 of our Japan trip! This one is even more photo heavy than the last one, I think, so maybe that'll make up for how much text I put in these blogs. I do go more into detail about the Tokyo Metro in a moment for those of you that are interested. I know most of you tuned in for food recommendations, so I also have a few more great spots for you in here.

Speaking of food, Tokyo 7-Eleven is seriously amazing. I wish ours in the states were so nice.  They were always so clean and the "to-go" food was surprisingly really good. We had a few late night snacks/meals/ice cream bars while we were there. 

I forgot to mention in the last blog, but we ate at a conveyor belt sushi spot numerous times during our stay in Japan. There are two similar locations that we went to--the main one being Genki Sushi in Shibuya.  It's a very short walk from the Ginza and Fukutoshin lines/Shibuya Crossing.

The other spot is Uoebi Sushi. A little further down, but if one has a long wait, you can easily pop into the other. They have pretty much the exact menu/system going, just different names. 

Very cheap, delicious sushi with quite a few vegeterian options! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alright, I'm going to try to breakdown the Metro as easily as I can. There are multiple companies running the Metro system, so you have to purchase multiple tickets if you want to be able to easily to get to some destinations. The easiest and cheapest thing to do is go to the Ueno station (G16) and purchase a 3 day tourist pass.  We didn't do this until the end of the trip (out of sheer laziness,) but we wish we would have--it would have saved us a decent chunk of change. 

The 3-day pass costs only a little bit more than the 1-day pass. I think 1500 yen for a 3-day and 800 for a 1-day. The 3-day pass covers the Toei and Tokyo Metro lines and makes travel really simple. 

We stayed in Asakusa and depending on which way we walked from our hotel, we got on G17 or G18. We took the Ginza line for most of our stops. We took Ginza to Ueno and purchased our 3-day pass there. We could only buy a 1-day pass at the other stations near us. 

For our JR pass (which took us to Kyoto and Osaka,) we had to go to Tokyo Station and go to JR Pass West Office. We took Ginza line from G17 (Inaricho) to G14 (Suehirocho) and then took a JR line to Tokyo Station. This was the fastest route and since we didn't have our JR pass yet, we paid maybe 200 yen a person for a short, one way trip to Tokyo Station.

Once in Tokyo Station we went to the JR Pass office to get our passes. We bought a 7-day pass and that was 29,110-38,880 Yen a person (depending on what type of seating you chose.) This gave us access to the Hikari Shinkansen which took us to Kyoto and back and Osaka and back during our stay. A one way ticket for the bullet train is 13,080. So, it was definitely worth the price of the JR pass to go ahead and get it. 
We didn't end up going back to Kyoto for one more day like I'd wanted, but we were SO exhausted by the end of the trip, it just wasn't worth it to us haha. 

The travel was the most expensive part of the trip. We got a great deal on our flight and even with the JR passes, this trip was a lot less expensive than our Paris trip last year. (Which I will blog about soon...I just took SO many photo and I'm still overwhelmed haha)

Tokyo Subway Map!

After being completely worn out by our Kyoto trip the day prior, we took an easy day and visited the Maxell Aqua Park. Entry was 2200 Yen a person and they allow reentry with that day's pass.

This aquarium was beautiful. They had light shows, interactive fishtanks displays, two amusement park rides, and little soundscapes. The Aqua park has 350 species of some 20,000 marine creatures and performances that change depending on time of day or night.

We love Zoos and Aquariums. If you've seen any previous travel blogs or my instagram stories, I'm sure that's obvious. This one is up there on my list because of how cool some of the displays and tanks were. (And how clean everything is compared to the amount of people that it sees every day.) Honestly, one of my favourite parts about Japan was how clean they kept public bathrooms. 

One of my favourite part about aquariums is the jellyfish. This definitely was no exception. You come around the end of a hallway and turn into this dark room with floor to ceiling mirrors and incredible lighted tanks and fixtures. I could have stayed in here for a really long time. What can I say? I like coloured lights and floating creatures. 

Next up was the arena area! We arrived just in time for the dolphin show. The dolphin show was about 20 minutes long and had the creatures and the trainers performing for the audience. There was a water and light show included and the dolphins leaped so high into the air and created monstrous splashes, soaking the first 4-5 rows of the audience. 

The animals were highly intelligent and really enjoyed making splashes and watching the audience squeal. I've never seen an aquatic show before, but I'm sure this one tops most. 

Right after the arena was a small opened area for another show! We made it right before the Penguin show began. The employees brought out two penguins from their enclosure and rolled them out on this "grassy" platform. They danced for the audience and kept playing with each other.

They ended up racing and doing tricks for everyone while the audience kept yelling "KAWAIIIIIII". One of the penguins cheated and skipped all of the obstacles so he could hit the bell first and get the treat. 

They spun and danced for us while we stood under a constant water mist. This show was much shorter than the Dolphin one, but entertaining. 

When you move to the next area, the space opens up to a penguin, seal, and otter exhibit, with some of the large water tanks visible in the back.

The otters were super playful and one kept trying to be in front of the other. He was crawling on him and kept trying to get close to everyone at the window. They had a huge area to run around and a tubing system that led them from a water tank to dry land to a bed area and more.

Next to them was a seal they happily swam around and did little tricks for those watching.

The penguin enclosure was clean and had little to no smell. I normally hate the penguin area at zoos and parks because of how much it smells, but this one was clean and "penguin fragrance" free. 

On the way to the huge water tunnel, there was a wall area with diaphonized specimen and other preserved creatures. I looove diaphonized creatures. It's quite cool.

Next up was the aqua tunnel that had all kinds of sea creatures swimming around and above you. We sat and watched all of them swim about and made weird noises at the sharks. (Here is what makes us laugh)

Next to the tunnel it was something like a reptile room with lizards, turtles, snakes, and a random capybara.

The aqua park wasn't a huge place, but it was very entertaining, clean, and indoors. Totally worth the ticket fee (which is quite low, anyways.)

We did more wandering and shopping and stopped for some shaved ice near our hotel. This was not like your typical shaved ice/snow cone. The ice was shaved super thin and was accompanied by ice cream and topped with strawberry syrup. Delicious. We shared one because the serving size was monstrous.  

While we were in Japan, I found some new favourite treats. Kirin Lemon is an amazing soda. It's a super carbonated lemonade that is tart and sweet. Peach Fanta is the hands down the best Fanta with Orange Fanta next in line.

Gongcha has really amazing boba tea. They gave us a gift for waiting in line and we need up going back to them a couple of times. Their boba was really good and the tea had such a strong, delicious taste to it.

I also found this ice cream wafter bar called Choco Monaka Jumbo in the 7-Eleven. It is amazing. 

If anyone knows how to get Kirin Lemon and Chocolate Manaka Jumbo to me, please let me know. I even emailed Kirin Lemon about it haha. They said it's too expensive to try to sell in the US, which I understand. I still want it sooo bad. 

We spent the rest of the day wandering about and ended up at this amazing "hole in the wall" ramen place that had meat free ramen! No fish broth or anything. I was so happy Jonathon found this spot. It is Kyushu Jangara Ramen in Akihabara

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Veg Ramen! Finally. <3 It can be vegan if you don't include the egg. 

Full and exhausted, we went back to the hotel to sleep and prepare for our long trip to Osaka the next day!

View of Mt Fuiji from the shinkansen.

View of Mt Fuiji from the shinkansen.

We got ready early this morning to make our way to Universal Studios Japan in Osaka!
The trip is about 3 hours by bullet train, so we stopped by 7-Eleven for breakfast and took it with us to eat on the way there. (It is acceptable to eat on a bullet train, just not normal trains.)

We made it to the park right after opening and the park was already slammed! On a weekday, too. I had only ever been to The Wizarding world of Harry Potter (at a Harry Potter convention) so I'd never really been to the rest of Universal, and Jonathon had done all universal, but no Harry Potter.

Our first stop was the Wizarding world. We wandered through Hogsmede and stopped into all the shops. We waited in line for the Wand Experience and Jonathon was chosen! 

When we were done with that experience and went into Ollivanders, the associate showed us the want that "chose him," and it happened to be the wand that I had chosen for my self 8 years before. Fate ;P

I don't think I've ever seen so many people in a theme park before. All the rides had ridiculous wait times. Someone said that during peak visiting season, rides could be 500 minute‽ 

Our first stop was Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey where the wait was 2.5 hours+ long...and we waited the entire time for it. We were all the way in Japan after all. May as well! 

Thankfully, it was a cloudy day. The temperature wasn't bad and the sun wasn't beating down on us, so the wait wasn't miserable. It's such a cool ride, I just wish the wait hadn't been so long! 

Once we exited the Forbidden Journey, we stopped to get some butterbeer. We enjoyed the beverage and once finished, we headed out of the Wizarding world to check out the rest of Universal. 

By then, we were quite hungry, so we stopped for some overpriced park food. I had a pizza slice and he had a hotdog. Nothing special. We spend some time wandering through the park and decided to ride the Spiderman Ride. That was about a 90 minute wait. The ride itself was totally different from the Florida one! The was one ride I did get to ride before. 

By then, our feet were just aching from all that standing, but there was one more ride we wanted to experience! I wish we could have ridden more, but the wait times were just insane on all of the rides, we wouldn't have had enough time even if we stayed open to close at the park. The express passes only work once and for one ride only (or if you buy the pass its 4 rides) but that line was just as long and those passes sell out before/as soon as the park opens. 

Our last ride was a relatively new one (2016), The Flying Dinosaur. It is steel flying roller coaster found only in Universal Japan. It locks you into a prone position and is the longest flying roller coaster, currently. That was also a 2.5 hour wait. It felt like FOREVER. But once we got to the ride, it was dark out and we got to fly through the air and view the park from above at night with all the lights on. It was very cool. I was anxious about the ride for no reason whatsoever...but I'm no wuss. I made myself do it.

After we completed that ride, I really wanted to go on one more, but we didn't have time. If we waited and then took the 3 hour ride home, the station's trains would have stopped running for the evening and we would have been stuck! 

After we left the park, we stopped at an awesome popcorn stand and got giant bags of popcorn for dinner that we ate on the train ride back. I don't think my feet have hurt more in my life haha. I welcomed the 3 hour ride back. I just wish they turned the interior lights off. 

The next morning I was craving eggs, so we went to Eggs N Things--A popular Hawaiian themed breakfast spot. We went to the one in Ginza since we hadn't been in that area yet. We got a balcony spot with a lovely city street view and stuffed our faces with giant portions of breakfast food. (We definitely didn't eat lunch after this. SO much food)

We got their strawberry pancakes with whipped cream tower and eggs Benedict. I had the vegetarian option and Jonathon had seafood on his. Delicious. 

We spend a god bit of the day exploring Ginza and going back to other areas of Tokyo. When it came time for dinner, Jonathon found a place called Kuriya located in Shinjuku and right next to the Godzilla head. 

The restaurant was located in a tiny basement room. It, of course, was vegetarian friendly, but it also was smoker friendly, so there was a bit of a cigarette smell since a lot of the customers chain smoked while they ate. It wasn't as smoky as Paris was. They had vents, so it was bearable. 

I think the place was run by a couple? It was a woman and a man and they were running the entire place. I think cooking, too. I think the man tried to shoo us away because they were full, but we said we could wait and after about 15 minutes, we were seated and the woman seemed very happy to see us, and if she was faking it, she was an excellent actress.

The food was delicious and came out fairly quickly.  Jonathon had a ton of different meats on skewers and I had a delicious radish salad with Japanese herb plum perilla dressing and I also got an item that was Camembert cheese and pumpkin lightly fried. So yummy. 

After dinner, we hopped on the Ginza line and went to Ueno to walk down Ameyoko. Ameyoko is a busy market street the used to be a black market following World War II. There was a Taito Station over there (gaming) that had a Hedgehog plushie we kept trying to win for my mother-in-law. She asked for a Japanese hedgehog, so we tried to get her one! Fake or not. But, it wasn't happening. Jonathon almost got the hedgehog and as soon as it went over the drop area, it fell and went back to the starting position.

We saw lots of shops there - gaming, clothing, candy, fish..etc. but it was late, so most of the stores were closing. We walked up and down for a bit and then went back to the hotel for the evening. We ended up coming back to this spot later in the week.

The next day, Jonathon found a place that had these crazy popular jiggly/fluffy pancakes in Harajuku. BUT, they are complicated to get. They only serve 20 of these orders at a time and they serve them at 11, 3, and 6. The seatings are set 15 min apart, so even if you get a ticket for the 11 o'clock serving, you might not be able to eat until 1 or so.  We were a 20 minute or so train ride away and were not feeling that much waiting and hanging around. You'd have to queue up early enough to even get one of the tickets, so we decided to go and get their other gourmet pancakes instead.

The place is called Cafe & Pancake Gram and is located in the middle of Takeshita street. We got there and had to wait about 45min or so for a time slot to be seated, so we walked around and found an AMAZING outfit shop nearby.

I had been on the quest for an all gold outfit after being invited to Kat Von D's 10 Year Anniversary party for her cosmetics brand, Kat Von D Beauty. I only wear black and gold is not my color, so I was struggling with something.

We walked in this shop and it was full of these amazing, handmade, one-of-a-kind costumes. I tried on one of the futuristic gold ones up front, but it didn't flatter my arms, so we wandered in the back and found this perfect outfit on a mannequin. We asked if I could try it on, so I dressed down in the middle of the store, and it fit...shockingly. I'm huge compared to Asian standards (especially in the bust area.) Jonathon haggled with her tiny bit and we purchased the outfit. It was more than I wanted to pay, but it was for a special event and it was so unique, it was worth it.  

The shop has no internet presence, unfortunately. The woman makes one of everything and she became popular because there were/are some Japanese pop stars that liked her designs. I wish I could order from them from the USA...I would love to have more of the costumes. I don't think I was supposed to share photos, but since they aren't online anywhere, I wanted to share a few. 

The photo below is the outfit I purchased from her. It was a lightly boned corset and pleated skirt. It had big shoulders with fringe attached to them. So cool. The headpiece was made by my dear friend Sarah and the boots are Jeffrey Campbell Big Litas that I sewed boot covers for. 

I'm so happy we found this place because now I have this super cool, unique outfit from Japan. 

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By the time we were finished in that amazing store, it was time for our slot at Cafe Gram. J and I both got their Tiramisu Pancakes which were DIVINE. Something that I would definitely consider a dessert, not breakfast, but it was still so good. It was super rich and creamy. Definitely a sugar overload.

After breakfast/brunch, we went to Ueno to check out the National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo. It was very cheap to enter, about ¥620 and we spent pretty much the rest of the day here. 

Most of the exhibits had English on them, so we were able to read about what the were seeing. I didn't write any of it down, because that would make this blog 300 pages long, so I hope that these images are enough for you! This place was really cool and consisted of two buildings with multiple floors and huge rooms with displays in them. 

After spending many hours at the Museum, we met up with an old friend at Ueno Station. He is originally from Texas, and we met him at Dragoncon in 2010. He moved to Japan a year or so ago and we hadn't seen him in a really long time, so it was nice of him to take a train down and visit with us for a couple of days before we headed home.

After we met up with Chris, we headed to a fancy little spot that has yakiniku/Japanese charcoal BBQ so they could have wagyu beef. I think it was Toraji? I didn't write it down because I didn't expect there to be anything I could eat. Surprisingly, there was something on the menu that I could eat! They had multiple salads and the option to get raw veggies that you can cook on the grill. They both got a meat platter and got to cook their own meat. 

The next day, we took Chris to a lot of the same places we visited when we first got to Japan. That meant going back to the Purikura booth and Kiddie Land. We got more Gudetama merch, this time keychains.  Jonathon got one with meat, and I got one with veg. Sheer luck. 

Once we got our Harajuku fix, we headed to the Nezu Shrine to see the Azalea Festival. I think a lot bloomed super early this year, so it looked like we are at the far end of the festival's time. Not as many blooms as there could have been, but it was still a beautiful place. The Shrine grounds were lovely and they had lots of stalls up for food and games.

We walked the grounds and went through the small Torii gate tunnel. The guys got food and I watched the kids play some of the games in the stalls.  When we were ready to leave, there were women quietly moving about on a stage. I stood and watched for a moment and then more came out and music started playing. I wish I knew what it was, but I did include the short video down below. It was so beautiful.

Here’s a short clip of the women performing. I have no idea what it was for, but I was awestruck.

There was a small shinto shrine on Chris' list that he wanted to see, so we took a train over to it. I honestly do not remember the name of it. I'll ask him and edit this if I hear back. It was secluded from the main road and was in the middle of tall, modern buildings. It was strange coming upon it since it didn't quite look like it fit in. There was no one there, which was really nice, so it was quiet and calm.

After the shinto visit, we were hungry so we went back to Genki sushi. (I think we ate here 5 times? 🤷🏻 It's good and cheap!)

The guys ate a ton of different sushi rolls. I ate more avocado rolls and I fumed at some really rude foreigners who were acting rowdy and clipping their GoPro on the belt that the sushi rode on. 

We wandered about Shibuya and Asakusa and enjoyed our last evening in Japan. 

This was our final day! Bittersweet. I was so ready to come home and eat Beyond Burgers and American breakfasts haha. We had just enough time to visit the Ueno Zoo before we started our long journey back home. 

We got there right at open and the zoo was insanely packed.  I really wanted to see the baby panda, but you have to have purchased tickets and won a special lottery to be able to do so. We did wait in line to see the male panda! By the time it was our turn to get close and see him, he had moved and hidden from everyone. So, these are the best shots I could get. 

The zoo was pretty neat. Lots of exhibits you'd normally see in your average zoo. Most of the animals were really active. Especially the nocturnal ones.  I did get a few photographs of those, but they aren't the best. The room was pitch black with just a tiny pinpoint of red light, so I did my bet with no tripod and a very slow shutter speed. 

There are two photos where a bat has food on her chest and she's hanging there and eating it. Sooo cute.  

It definitely was a really hard to get good photos in Japan, especially at the attractions because of the amount of people EVERYWHERE. I'm still not over that. So many people everywhere. People queuing up hours before something opens. It was pretty crazy.

We finished the east side of the park and headed over to the west side of the park. It was a 5-10 min walk or you could wait for a while and take the Zoo train. We walked. 

I was excited for the vivarium. It had skeletons, reptiles, snakes, fogs..etc. (and a penguin right outside) The pig nosed turtle was probably my favourite just because of how strange he looked. I always love seeing all the frogs and lizards.

There were more nocturnal exhibits and other basic zoo animals. We got to see an Aye Aye up close, and it's definitely as bizarre of a primate as you read about.

We finished up the Zoo and it was time to say our goodbyes. We headed back to our hotel to pick up our bags and said goodbye to Chris and made our way to the airport.

I should have mentioned in the first blog, but we flew Singapore air to and from Tokyo and flew Alaska to and from Portland to LA. Singapore Air gave us a very comfortable, smooth flight (that might have been because of my medicine though), the staff was incredible, and the vegetarian food wasn't that bad. 

Alaska is always good. The might not have the newest interior, but they have some great pilots and I prefer to fly Alaska when I'm flying in the states.

If anyone is interested in a cost breakdown, just let me know and I can edit that in. I just don't want to spend the time if no one is interested!

Photo shoot from the airplane window

Photo shoot from the airplane window

Thank you so much for reading or viewing. I hope this was helpful to any of you that are interested in Japan, trying to see if you can eat in Japan, or just like looking a pics. I'm sorry it took so long to put up...I take way too many photos. Ha. 

I'm working on a short blog for our recent trip to Yellowstone, and that'll be up soon (: 

xx