Kyoto 2015

There’s a lovely thing that happens when you travel alone; you are completely undistracted. You notice the strides of the locals walking beside you, your nose discovers new smells and leads you to wonderful places to fill your belly; you’re completely foreign in a place that many call home and that feeling while sometimes being scary, is exciting.

The streets of Kyoto were as clean and as zen as the shrines I visited. I was only there two nights and if you decide to visit the former Japanese capital city, I would recommend staying at least three nights.

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Accommodations

You must stay at a ryokan when visiting Kyoto. A ryokan is a type of traditional Japanese inn. They typically feature tatami-matted rooms (think seagrass carpeting), communal baths, and other public areas where visitors may wear a yukata (a Japanese robe not be confused with a kimono). Shoes are removed when walking within the inn and are replaced with what look like mittens for feet. Bedding is a futon spread out on the floor and while it may seem uncomfortable to sleep on the floor, I had some of the best sleep in my life while in Kyoto. Be advised, ryokans can be a little pricey but include meal packages and overall are a good value.

  • Ohanabo
    • 66-2 Shokuyacho, Shimojuzuyamachi Agaru, Akezudori, Shimogyo-ku | HigashihonganjiKyoto 600-8158Kyoto Prefecture (Kyoto Station)
    • $125/night in low season with shared bathroom; breakfast and dinner included

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Things to Do

You could spend your days circling the peaceful steps of the endless amounts of shrines and temples in Kyoto and that certainly wouldn’t be a bad way to spend your trip. There is a calming energy within Kyoto’s oxygen that just puts you at ease even when you feel a minor earthquake; I experienced a mini 4.0. Some of my favorites places were:

Heian-jingu Shrine

Kinkaku-ji Temple

Gion District

Kyoto Station Building

Kiyomizu-dera Temple

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Eats

I enjoyed the majority of my meals at Ohanabo, but I did spend some time in Nishiki Market where I was able to sample some typical Kyoto street eats. One must eat is the dashimaki (omelet) made with kelp stock. You can find it at Miki Keiran. I also made my way to the Kyoto location of my favorite Japanese Ramen spot in New York City, Ippudo, which was right off the market trail.

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The Hostess with the Mostess

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As mentioned in my first post about Cartagena, we stayed in a fantastic beach side bed and breakfast on Isla de Baru. The host, Olga immediately welcomed us like one of her own and invited us to join her son and grandson and some friends on the white sands of Playa Blanca. We ended the evening sharing a light dinner and a delicious rum with lime (something that I must recreate at home). We left Olga’s the next morning, bellies full and hearts breaking because we so wanted to stay. We will definitely be returning, but in the meantime we will just have to reminisce and enjoy the photos she took of us right before we left.

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Four Nights in Cartagena

When I gave Matt the option for a trip or a fancy shmancy birthday party for his 30th birthday, he chose the trip. The place had to be close enough for a long weekend but outside of the United States. After a month long investigation, I decided Cartagena, Colombia (not Columbia) would be the best place to celebrate such a milestone birthday. JetBlue has a direct flight from New York City and for $330 a ticket (I bought them early), it turned out to be a budget friendly destination.

Accommodations (both found on AirBnB)

The Apartment in Cartagena

The Beach House in Baru

Dining (ordered by preference)

Don Juan (dinner)

Carmen (dinner)

Pasteleria Mila (We went here twice; their breakfast and lunch are delicious) 

Activities

Sweat out that arepa at Cafe Havana

Grab a drink at El Laboratorio

Pick up a pair of emerald earrings at Elia’s