Where are you now?

img_5735I haven’t posted anything in a while. If I want to be a known and widely read blogger – this might be a slight problem. I have a pretty good excuse though. My summer plans changed in 3 days and I had to take a plane across the world. I’ll tell you about that later.

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Sashimi love

The last couple of days I’ve been reminiscing on the time I spent in Japan. When I look back and think about it, in turned out to be one of the best trips in my life.

I miss the long sightseeing walks – I used to walk around 10 miles a day there.

I miss having sushi for breakfast, lunch and dinner… Okay, you can add some udon noodles, Asian BBQ and little octopus balls on a stick to the menu. Actually, everything on a stick!

 

I miss respecting all the temples and the devotion of the Japanese people.

I miss the people – so helpful, warm and bighearted. So courteous and sophisticated!

I miss the pink Sakuras and the fat tuna.

I miss the orange Shinto temples and the fresh salmon.

I miss waking up in a new town, walking down unknown streets and trying extraordinary cuisine specialties.

I miss admiring the mixture of old and new in Tokyo, the thousand temples and samurai castles in Kyoto, the A-bomb tomb in Hiroshima, the street art in Osaka…

I miss matcha! Everything with matcha…

 

I couldn’t deal with my cravings any longer so I had to pay a visit to my favorite sushi place in Sofia – The Sushi bar. It’s located downtown near one of the famous streets – Vitosha. It’s relatively small, but cozy restaurant that offers comforting atmosphere and a high food quality. Among the menu you could find numerous kinds of sushi – sashimi (my personal fav), nigiri, unary, uramaki, futomaki, inari, hosomaki, salads, noodles, tempura, main dishes, deserts, two of the well known Japanese beers (Sapporo and Asahi) and of course, sake.

The Sushi bar menu

I love the place and I would definitely recommend it. So, if you’re around Sofia and feel like sushi – give it a try! If you feel like chocolate, give it a try as well! I had this heavenly matcha desert the other night…Yummy!

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Matcha chocolate

 

Japan – getting there and around

Flights to Japan – booked in the beginning of December – check! The countdown was on – we had 70 days before the trip! You would say that’s plenty of time, but think Asia, think Japan, Tokyo, cherry blossom season…

Next step was to make at least an outline of a plan. What did we want to see? We were flying into Tokyo, so we decided to stay 5 nights in the city, see the main sights, adjust and finish planning the little details of the trip.

I usually use Hostelworld when looking for accommodation. When it comes to Japan, I’d recommend any of the Khaosan chain hostels. We stayed at the one in Asakusa – Khaosan World Asakusa Hostel. The location is quite convenient. There are a number of public transport connections that  you could use – 4 Metro Lines and Ueno Railway station.asakusa map

Another advantage of staying in Asakusa district is that you have one of Tokyo’s main tourist attractions at about 5-minute walking distance. With its 1400-year old history, Senso-ji Temple is the oldest and most visited in Tokyo. The streets around it form a vivid, colorful and genuinely fun area to be especially in the afternoon. You could choose from a bunch of traditional souvenirs and snacks such as the typical Japanese sweet bread. I tried one filled with ice-cream –

japanese sweet breadasakusagirls in the hood

A common believe is that if you haven’t seen Kyoto, you haven’t been to Japan at all. Therefore, we decided we would spend 6 days in the old capital. It would be the perfect base camp for our day trips to nearby destinations such as Nara, Inari, Arashiyama, Osaka and even Hiroshima. We wanted to stay in a Khaosan hostel in Kyoto as well. Unfortunately, by the time we were looking for accommodation, almost everything there was booked. We were lucky to find what turned out to be a pretty cozy hostel with the most helpful and friendly staff – in the heart of Gion, the Geisha district of Kyoto. Overall, I am a PRETTY LUCKY girl!

Our flight out of Tokyo was at half past midnight, so we needed to stay there that last night. After booking it, we had the second step of the trip planning covered!

The next challenge ahead would be to figure out how to get from place to place – within the cities and throughout the country.

Food for thought – the distance between Tokyo and Kyoto is 452 km, between Kyoto and Hiroshima – 361 km. How were we supposed to get there, drop bags, check-in and still have time to see anything at all???

To be continued…

Last summer I worked on a train in Alaska. Contrary to common belief, it wasn’t that cold at all. It wasn’t beach weather either. So, at the end of September a week in Hawaii had to make up for 4 months in the Last Frontier. The waiting was totally worth it and I had an awesome island experience, but I was left wanting more. I have a strong deficiency of vitamin ‘sea’Kaanapali (16)

My mom is from a city on the Black Sea Coast. I used to basically live there from May to October every year when I was little. Sadly, the last few years I cannot even get to the sea… Last summer it was Alaska. Summer of 2014 I spent at the office, previous one – working, studying, moving to Portugal and so on.

I came back home from the States in October. The weather was already chilly and cold. IMG_20088250268263I started daydreaming about sunny days, heart-shaped sunglasses, sandy beaches and flip flops… A friend of mine came up with a rescue idea – let’s plan a winter-getaway trip to an exotic island! Deal! I was all for it! We planned for February – we’d already be sick of winter, I’d have passed my exam and I’d still have the money… The timing was right.

Until one evening… just before a family dinner, I got a message from my friend. She was euphoric. One of the biggest airlines flying east had a huge discount – more than 40% off flights to Asia is A BIG DEAL, you know! My friend filled me in – her all-time dream destination has always been Japan and now she could actually make it come true. I was speechless for a moment. So…no beach for me, no sea, no sand, no bikini and flip flops, nor coconut cocktails and exotic fruit… at least it was still an island.

I kind of fell for the Japan idea though. Japan! It had never crossed my mind. What did I know about the country? Sushi, kimonos, ancient traditions, The Memoirs of a Geisha, not much. Yet I was thrilled. It sounded exciting, distant, unknown. Exactly what I needed! Therefore, I just said “yes”.

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In about 10 minutes I sat at the dinner table.

“I bought a plane ticket to Japan.”

“Oh good for you, darling, would like some salad?”

They never take me seriously…

 

Anyway, step number 1 – CHECK! We booked flights with Qatar Airways. We would fly out of Sofia, have a layover in Doha, Qatar and arrive at one of Tokyo’s international airports – Haneda. The dates were random; however, we hoped for warmer weather and did plan to catch at least a glimpse of the cherry blossom season. Every travel guide would tell you the best time to visit Japan is spring – March and April. Once more, perfect timing. So… the planning and waiting could begin!