From Seattle to Tokyo | Odaiba


When I was planning our autumn trip to Japan, I made it easy by dividing up different districts of Tokyo to explore. For this post I’ll be focusing on Odaiba which is located at the southeastern part of Tokyo on a man made island in Tokyo Bay.

For our trip to Odaiba I knew for sure I wanted to go to the Oedo Onsen Monogatari Hot Spring resort. I had read about this ultra ultra ultra touristy attraction in books and didn’t care that it was possibly a tourist trap. ūüôā All I knew was I had to visit because I love saunas & hot “springs”. Springs in quote since this isn’t a real hot spring. ¬†Anthony on the other hand was most excited for the Gundam statue which is located in the Diver City area.

From Shibuya Station we caught the Ginza line then transferred onto the Yurikamome line and got off at the Telecom Center Station stop. From there it was about a 5 minute walk to the resort. The trip took a total of about 40 min by train from the city BUT a very easy and scenic ride.


View from the Yurikamome line of Tokyo Bay and the Wangan Bridge

Upon entering the onsen resort, we were greeted by the front desk. We paid our entry fee which is good for the whole day so we could stay however long we pleased. They supply you with a yukata to wear and even offered different colors and patterns to choose from!


Anthony & I in our yukatas

We each entered the gender separated locker rooms to change. Inside the locker rooms there was a locker room, changing area, showers, a few different pools all with varied temperatures and then an outdoor hot spring.¬†You wear your yukata around the resort but when you enter the hot spring, pool area and saunas you go nakie wearing nothing except you can cover up with a tiny little hand towel that they give you….It was weird at first being “free” but if you are in the resort alone without a ¬†female friend or companion and don’t know anyone like I did it wasn’t too bad! It actually felt kind of liberating.


Beautifully strung lanterns inside the public area of the resort

I spent most of my time in the hot spring bath outdoors. Sitting on the bed of hot rocks outside with the crisp fall air¬†made for such a relaxing afternoon. Prior to the trip we were busy with work and house reno projects like painting so our vacation couldn’t have come at a better time. We had been on the go the few days prior to our visit to Odaiba so this was a much needed afternoon of relaxation & tranquility.

After some time, we finally met up in the gender free area and walked around the rest of the resort. The inside was cutely decorated with lanterns strung all over and themed to feel like we were inside an old bath house from the edo period. One section of the resort had many booths where you can buy snacks, clothes, little trinkets and souvenirs. Another section was full of different kinds of amusement park games and about 75% of the rest of the resort was full of booths & restaurants selling all kinds of typical japanese snacks & food like ramen, takoyaki, yakitori, mochi, curry, etc.


All guests at the resort enjoying the amenities in the all gender public area in their yukatas

After a few hours at the resort we made our way to Diver City to check out the Gundam statue. Having limited internet access, we used our google maps app which we pre-downloaded at our airbnb in Shibuya before going to Odaiba. I think we took the long route according to the map because after walking through two large corporate parks in the dark, we saw a giant statue all bright & light in the far distance.

It was a really nice walk from the resort to the statue and if you were to ask me which route I took I couldn’t tell you haha. I just know it was FAR. It was a good 30 minute walk but peaceful and it felt so safe. Even walking in the dark for that long we didn’t feel like we would get mugged or attacked by anyone or anything. In the US, I probably wouldn’t advise anyone to walk in dark or even dim lit areas at night.


Front view of the Gundam statue taken with an iPhone

As we approached the Gundam statue it got bigger and bigger and when we finally reached the front of the statue and looked up it was massive. It was much taller, wider, brighter and heavier looking than I had imagined or seen in pictures. It was incredible to see all of the details put into making the state and how real it looked in comparison to my brothers gundam figures that he put together when he was little. And believe me those tiny figurines are chalk FULL of fine lines and details.

The statue is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen and if you don’t have it on your itinerary for Tokyo, put it on there RIGHT MEOW! It is absolutely worth the trip out and it would be weird to describe the Gundam statue like this but it was jaw-droppingly stunning. It is a MUST SEE.

Feeling hungry we stopped inside the mall just behind the statue for some delicious food court yakisoba and takoyaki. After our quick meal, we walked around to take photos of the Wangan bridge above Tokyo Bay and “statue of liberty” which looks very similar to the real deal ;). It was a beautiful sight at night with all of the lights and the lit up Wangan bridge as the backdrop.


Anthony is a huge japanese car fan and one of his highlights of our trip was seeing the Wangan bridge. Fun fact: apparently a lot of “tuner” car [aka fixed up Japanese cars] enthusiasts like to drive along the Wangan highway where the bridge is located. I have no idea if this is a real fact or not but it seems like it since many youtube videos feature tuner cars on this bridge. ūüėČ

It was a long & eventful day. I would recommend both of these stops to anyone visiting Odaiba! Although the island feels incredibly artificial because it’s so new & modern spending time at the onsen resort was a nice way to relax & get away from the hustle and bustle of central Tokyo. The Gundam statue was unique in that you don’t see many statues of that size & kind anywhere else in the world.


From Seattle To Tokyo | Ghibli Museum & Harajuku


Because we loved Ichiran so much the day before we decided to go back again bright and early before starting our 3rd day in Tokyo. It was a Sunday morning at 4am and you really can’t go wrong with Ichiran any time of day. We. were. and. still. are. obsessed.

When we arrived at the crack of dawn there was already a long line forming starting from inside the seating area all the way out to the front of the sliding door entrance. We got a spot standing just outside the front door and just a few minutes later it started to wrap all the way up the stairs on the streets of Shibuya.


Ichiran employee inside the area where they take orders and serve customers warm bowls of ramen

Patrons of the ramen establishment that morning were all younger people who were of drinking age. I’m pretty sure they all went out Saturday night and some were getting ramen that morning to cure some hangovers. The people behind us in line were still drunk haha. I wish there was an Ichiran in Seattle to cure hangovers or the late night munchies! One can dream….


Hubby enjoying is “extra rich” bowl of ramen

After a ramen breakfast {again} at Ichiran (which you know I will be raving about again & again & again….) we made our way to Shibuya station to catch the train to Mitaka. I had purchased tickets for the Ghibli museum as soon as they were available in Seattle from JTB USA and we had reserved a day & time for our visit.


Ghibli museum sign

Prior to our Japan trip the #1 thing I had on my list to do was to visit the Ghibli Museum. I was so excited and probably driving Anthony crazy because every time I thought about it  or even mentioned it I would squirm from excitement. I grew up watching Hayao Miyazaki films so to see this museum dedicated to his works was unreal.

From Shibuya station we took a train to Shinjuku where we transferred to the Chuo line and got off at Mitaka station. From Mitaka we walked about 15 min through residential areas to the museum. It was a quiet & pleasant walk from the station and as we continued walking, we spotted decorated signs with famous Hayao Miyazaki characters (i.e. totoro). The excitement was continuing to build up….


Gate sign outside of the Ghibli museum

When we crossed the street and turned the corner I knew we had arrived because upon entering we were greeted by a little Totoro themed GATE. I took a billion pictures in front of the gate and because our reservation was for 10am and we had arrived half an hour early, we decided to go and meet Totoro!! He was sitting to the West of the building building behind a glass window. We got there before everyone else caught onto our idea so I had him all to myself for a gazillion more pictures before people started to line up and take turns for pics.


TOTORO looking all cute

It had started to rain on our trek to the museum¬†and although I am a Seattleite I would typically complain about the droplets. On this day I didn’t even care and took photos posing with my umbrella, with no umbrella, with umbrella and hand on the side of the hip, and yeah..I took a ton of photos haha.


Exterior of the Ghibli museum

Once you line up to get inside the actual museum, attendants as well as many signs tell you NO¬†photography or video. Because it was obviously not reiterated to me enough, I started taking photos with my iPhone inside the Ghibli museum…..Oops hehe. They sweet attendant manning the entrance kindly told me no photos and I put away my iPhone & go pro inside Anthony’s bag.


Ichiran employee inside the area where they take orders and serve customers warm bowls of ramen


Ichiran employee inside the area where they take orders and serve customers warm bowls of ramen


Ichiran employee inside the area where they take orders and serve customers warm bowls of ramen

The actual museum is extremely small but the¬†quality of the exhibits is excellent. I don’t want to give away too many details and surprises but when you walk in the place is designed like a house with different corridors and rooms. You get to see all of Hayao Miyazaki’s works on the top floor with references to every movie he’s ever done. Upstairs you get to walk through what would be his work desk with artwork, books where he did research on different types of trees/plants/flowers illustrated in his movies and all the inspiration behind his works.

Next to his office and I think inside there is an¬†old movie projector using film and when you look inside you get to see a couple of his famous works! I won’t spoil it and say which one though. ūüôā

Following signs to go outside, there is a giant Laputa robot from Castle in the Sky. Here guests are allowed to take photos freely so you know I did! If you take a photo with the robot, don’t forget to turn around right under his feet and look on the ground because hidden is a tiny crab made of metal.


After exploring the museum for about an hour and a half we made our way to the Ghibli Museum Cafe where I wanted a nice cup of something hot & a dessert which I believe are all themed! When we got there, the line had already wrapped around the outside foyer and the cafe hadn’t even opened yet!¬†Such a bummer. We didn’t want to wait in line for hours so we decided to walk back to Mitaka station.

The plan was to visit the museum for a FEW hours, have a snack or lunch at the cafe and then find another area to explore. Since we only spent a couple hours at the museum, we decided we’d make our way to Harajuku to have lunch and do some shopping.

Feeling hungry since we hadn’t had anything to eat since 4am we decided to try a pasta restaurant called Italian Tomato Cafe Jr. that was poppin with tons of local diners. Luckily for us when we got inside a couple was getting ready to leave which freed¬†up a nice corner table for us to have lunch! We ordered at the counter and then sat down.


Ichiran employee inside the area where they take orders and serve customers warm bowls of ramen

I got the bolognese with Japanese black beef & pork & Anthony got spaghetti with german steppan cheese in a tomato cream sauce. For our beverage we shared an iced matcha green tea latte. Everything was SO good and we couldn’t believe how cheap our pasta was! Each of our pastas were about 650yen which comes out to ~5.50USD. Unbelievable! Similar dishes in Seattle would easily cost minimum $15.

Feeling energized we left and continued to walk down “Harajuku Champs-Elys√©es” eyeing all the designer shops along this street. It actually did remind me a lot of the actual Champs-Elys√©es in Paris without the Arc de Triomphe at the end of the street. Because we have designer stores at home I didn’t care too much about stopping by or window shopping at any of the fashion houses. I was more interested in local boutiques and independent stores. Walking around and around looking for what was Takeshita dori (but we didn’t do our research and know that was the name of the famous street in Harajuku) we got lost for at least an hour and a half. Maybe even longer….


Couple rings we bought in Harajuku

Feeling tired (food coma maybe?) and not wanting to look anymore we gave up and walked back towards where we came from while “taking shortcuts”. We somehow ended up along Takeshita dori so it actually worked out! Already exhausted from all the walking and by now there were crazy hordes¬†of¬†people shopping & snacking along Takeshita we lost patience. We agreed that maybe we will just return another day during our time in Tokyo when it’s less crowded.


Ichiran employee inside the area where they take orders and serve customers warm bowls of ramen

It was around 3:30ish when we left Harajuku and by the time we were back in Shibuya it was already a little past 4pm. Still tired and probably jet-lagged we decided to go back to the airbnb to rest our feet and take a nap. SIDE NOTE: taking a nap is never a good idea when overseas! haha It leads to what happens next….

Our “nap” turned into a real good rest because we got up about 6 or 7 hours later…. We woke up hungry and decided to just relax the rest of the hours left in the day rather than go out. We walked to the nearest convenience storeS which was a Family Mart and a 7-11 to try out the food they had available. Being the fatties that we are, we took the food back to our room to chow down and then went back to bed. ūüėõ Twas a fun, fun day!

From Seattle to Tokyo | Asakusa Edition


Due to jet lag, we were ready to explore Tokyo at 3am on the 2nd day we were in Japan. The night before I was looking up places open late and found a ramen shop called Ichiran that opened 24 hours. It had excellent reviews so we decided to give it a try. Luckily for us, Ichiran was only about a 7 minute walk from our airbnb so we decided to get ready for the day and have a super early breakfast of noodles!

Ramen was one of the top things on my MUST EAT list so this was the perfect opportunity to grub on noodles since the Ichiran in Shibuya technically never closes. I’ve been to a few ramen shops in Seattle (Samurai Noodle, Hokkaido Ramen Santouka in Bellevue, and Fu Lin to name just a few) but I was never a fan of any of them. I didn’t get the ramen hype so I figured we had to try it in the motherland to see why everyone was so obsessed.


We left our airbnb around 4am, headed toward the Shibuya Crossing, passed a Mcdonald’s by a couple of stores and then headed downstairs through the glass doors to the Ichiran entrance. Upon entry, we were greeted by two mechanical ordering machines. We put in our yen and then proceeded to check out the food menu. This was our 1st time ordering anything from a machine (not including a vending machine). So COOL!

We both opted for the bowl of ramen with pork and a half boiled salted egg and Anthony ordered an extra side of pork. After we received our order receipts from the machine, we were greeted by an Ichiran host and were assigned two seats to the left side of the restaurant.


artsy fartsy picture of a diner on the other side of the restaurant

Upon arrival to the seating area we looked around and realized that the seating arrangement was much different than what we’re typically use to. In-between each guest, there was a little divider making eating alone much more private. When you sit down, to the left of you is the water spout and cups and to the front of you is a little bamboo curtain that folds up and down. The server lifts the bamboo curtain to get your order receipts and to deliver your food. On the table there is a button to call for service as well.


Once we sat down, the same host lifted up the bamboo curtain and handed each of us a form to fill out. It was for us to customize our bowl of ramen. How neat! I circled the light oil broth, extra firm noodles, 1 garlic clove, light green onions and the normal portion of their house special red¬†sauce. Anthony had a similar order except he chose the extra rich oil broth (of course ūüėČ ).

Our ramen arrived just a couple of minutes later and we were so ready to dig in. The noodles came piping hot with a generous amount of 2 slices of fatty pork, green onions & a dollop of red sauce. The ramen noodles and soup broth at Ichiran were SO. GOOD. SO GOOD. SO GOOOOOD!!! The soup was the perfect saltiness- so rich and creamy. The fat & flavor from the pork bones used to make it were prevalent.¬†It was so flavorful, I couldn’t stop sipping on the broth. The homemade noodles made in house were extra chewy, which is how I like my noodles. The red sauce was just the right amount of spicy and the garlic wasn’t overpowering. Damn, I want a bowl of Ichiran ramen right NOW!


BELIEVE THE HYPE. The ramen at Ichiran was ah-mazing.

After our delicious ramen breakfast, we just sat there looking at each of our almost empty bowls (I didn’t drink all of the broth to save myself from many bathroom trips) and couldn’t believe what we just ate and HOW GOOD IT WAS. You bet we came back to Ichiran many times in¬†the two weeks we were in Japan. I¬†LOVE japanese¬†ramen now.¬†I don’t get why people love the ramen in Seattle though…Anyway…heh.

We literally left the noodle restaurant smiling and made our way to Shibuya station. We took the train to Asakusa station via the Ginza line to the famous buddhist shrine there where we would spend most of our morning.

After going through the Kaminarimon gate (1st big gate you see coming from the station), which by the way is the symbol of Tokyo, we walked along Nakamise. Nakamise is a street filled with many shops selling cute Japanese souvenirs, kimonos, rice crackers, sweet mochi desserts and miscellaneous goods like wooden kitchenware. Nakamise street led us straight through to the Hozomon gate (2nd gate) where we finally reached the main hall of the shrine.

No adventure is complete for us unless we stop for snack breaks. We tried some sweet red bean filled pastries, mochi, rice crackers made on the spot and green tea ice cream! Everything was really delicious but the green tea ice cream was on point even though it was a little chilly outside with a light drizzle. It was worth it to freeze eating the ice cream at Funawa.


Shops along Nakamise in Asakusa


Kaminarimon gate


BEST green tea soft serve ever from Funawa along Nakamise


Vendor selling sweet pastries filled with different fillings like azuki bean

We finally made it to the shrine and upon entering, we stopped by a little goblet filled with lit incense. I didn’t realize that people were trying to waft in the smell. I was taking my hand and waving it side ways to get rid of the incense smell as others were waving their hand front to back to inhale the incense. Oops…. Super tourist mistake made by me hehe.





Asakusa Pagoda

We donated some money and decided to get some fortunes. Similar to buddhist temples we shook a little jar¬†with #’d wooden sticks until 1 came out of the jar. Then we picked up the fortune associated with the number on the stick we got. After reading our fortunes we decided to walk around and see what else was around Asakusa. We passed by small residential areas and many local eateries¬†packed with diners on their lunch break.


Small goods store with a special Ninja visitor on the rooftop. Haiiiyah!

It was a¬†nice & quiet stroll around Asakusa with the majority of people and tourists at the shrine. Feeling hungry again we decided to stop by for another snack. This time we had hot green tea, orange soda (random huh?), stomach lining (tripe) stewed in a spicy soy braised sauce and traditional beef stew with tendon. Both were delicious and hearty and really the perfect small snack for two people who weren’t hungry but wanted to eat! As you can see from the picture below, this restaurant was poppin inside with many diners. Go where the locals go!


Orange soda and green tea


beef stew & stomach lining stewed in a spicy sauce

We kept walking and saw a little shop selling homemade takoyaki. Knowing we couldn’t just pass up and keep walking we stopped by for some octopus balls. We got an order of 6 balls served in a cute little boat that looked like wood.¬†The octopus pieces inside were big & generous and the dough slightly soft, almost gooey. It definitely wasn’t the best takoyaki I’ve had since I prefer a little bit more of a bite to the dough but it was still tasty nonetheless.


Hubby with our takoyaki boat


Octopus ballz

Deciding we could snack no more and needed to really burn off all the calories we ate, we kept walking. Ok, I’ll just admit it. We did stop by for one last snack of croquettes. We each had a potato croquette….When on vacation….


so much fried goodness!

After our FINAL snack in Asakusa, we stopped by a small arcade for Anthony to play a few games before heading back toward the station.


Anthony in a state of intense concentration

Instead of taking the train back to Shibuya Anthony wanted to keep walking to see where we would end up. We have this thing where we love to just get lost for no reason. We think it’s the best way to discover hidden gems and see a city. We walked past the station, crossed the bridge and ended up in Sumida City. Still energized from all of the fats & carbs we continued walking.


Crossing the bridge to Sumida City


Famous Sumida City painting

In the distance through the fog and semi-darkness since the sun was starting to set, we saw a large skyscraper and decided to follow it. 15-20 minutes later we finally arrived and found ourselves standing under the Tokyo Skytree skyscraper! It was a beautiful sight and unexpected since I hadn’t planned on even visiting the Skytree at all. We decided since we made it all the way there that we had to pay the admission to go up to the top. Fun fact: The Tokyo Skytree tower is the tallest building in Japan!


Us being silly outside & under the Tokyo Skytree


Tokyo Skytree


Beautiful river outside the tower


Taking the escalator up to the entrance of the Tokyo Skytree

We rode the elevator all the way to the top and walked around enjoying the night view of Tokyo. It was a pretty sight with all of the lights and the fog but in all honesty, it was like visiting any other skyscraper at night. We took our time taking pictures and admiring all the twinkling lights of the city.


View of Tokyo @ night on the top deck of the Tokyo Skytree


Night shot of the Skytree

One thing we didn’t know about Japan was how big, no huge Halloween was. We didn’t even know they celebrated that holiday at all but I guess it’s a huge deal over there. The top floor of the skyscraper was decorated with halloween themed items like witches and pumpkins. On that evening, there was a special show that everyone was crowding around. Not knowing what to expect we waited around with everyone else and when the clock stuck 7pm all the lights turned out, techno music started playing and glow in the dark witches came out dancing. It was interesting to say the least but fun and festive. The crowd got really into it haha ;).



Pumpkins were used as decor all over the viewing deck


Glow in the dark witches dancing to techno…

We took the escalator down to the middle floor and decided to rest our feet and enjoy the night view from some leather benches. We made our way to a walkway made of all glass for us to glance down and see how far up we were.


Me sporting my  sneakers I bought in Barcelona [left] & husband wearing sneakers he bought in Roma [right]

Tired after being up since 3am and out and about until then, we decided¬†it was time to go back to Shibuya. Too exhausted from all the walking, a little jet lagged & not wanting to walk anymore we made our way to the Skytree station to train back to our airbnb. We made a bathroom pitstop inside the mall connected to the Skytree and there it was…!


bidet! so clean for a public bathroom

Our first experience with a bidet! It was love at first sight. I didn’t use the bidet but I sat on the seat and it was so warm and made my bum feel so good since it was cold. I didn’t want to leave that bathroom stall that evening….We actually loved the bidets so much we ended up ordering and installing one for our house. ūüėČ Heated toilet seat 4 life! Holla!

On our way out of the loo we followed signs to the Skytree station and to my surprise we found ourselves inside the official Rilakkuma store! Let me say it again. THE OFFICIAL RILAKKUMA STORE! If you know me, I am a huge Rilakkuma fan. This was a huge deal.

I had refrained from buying anything (except for a pillow & folder…) Rilakkuma in Seattle because it is $$$ and I knew we were going to the land where Rila was created. I did some damage inside the store buying some cute stationary & accessories before finally getting on the train to go back to Shibuya.


Feeling hungry ¬†and wanting to escape the pouring rain we decided to stop by a gyudon restaurant and each had a bowl of rice with beef slices. Anthony got the original gyudon bowl and I had curry gyudon. Barely able to stay awake we passed up on claw machines and headed back to the airbnb. That’s how tired we were!

By this time it was around 930pm and we were ready to hit the hay. It was a long day but so much fun. It truly felt like a spontaneous adventure since we had stopped by the shrine as planned and ended up at the Skytree which we never planned on visiting at all. Oh where our feet will take us :).

From Seattle to Tokyo | Arrival



Anthony & I spent 2 weeks in Japan during the month of October 2015. Usually near the end of our intl trips we always come at peace with the realization that it’s almost over. Everything is okay and we don’t mind going back home to the daily grind. This time around we had the hardest time coming to terms with the fact that we were leaving Japan! We had an I.N.C.R.E.D.I.B.L.E. time and are already thinking about going back soon. Perhaps this year? ūüėČ

For the last few trips that I blogged I organized each entry according by day. Because we spent a full two weeks in Japan, we took our time exploring all the districts of Tokyo and going back and forth between them. We also made our way to Yokohama, Osaka & Kyoto. On some days we did touristy things and on others we took a laid back approach by just eating,¬†stopping by Sega, shopping and/or wandering around. I most likely won’t have 14 blog entries since some days were more exciting than others but I’ll include all the highlights from our trip! Plus it will be a good way for me to think about what I want to do again the next time I’m there.


One of many arcades we went to. There will be plenty more mentions on arcades in the next few blog entries I write on my Japan trip!

If you know me, I love detailed itineraries. No. OBSESSED with detailed itineraries. When we went to Italy in 2012, I made this crazy itinerary for each day we were there with activities, potential restaurants to be eaten at (with names) and tourist sites to be visited all with dedicated time slots. Of course I knew we weren’t going to follow it exactly but I love having an itinerary to refer to “just in case.” I think that’s where my 20% type A personality kicks in.¬†Plus, it’s an excellent way to research a city and get me excited for an upcoming trip.

With that said, every trip no matter big or small there is an itinerary. Even when we go to Vancouver, BC for the day (which is only a 2-2.5hr drive from Seattle), there is an itinerary. For Japan, I was so busy with work and house projects that I barely did any research. It was a big shocker, yes to you and to me. My aunt even joked that I probably already had my itinerary LAMINATED weeks before departure. Smh.

After our Japan trip, I’d say my “travel style” has changed and for the better. I now prefer a good mix of laid back with some busy days where it’s go-go-go. Sleep is important too. I don’t mind sleeping in before setting out for an hours long adventure. Working full time and then going home to work and juggling a small home remodel got really stressful so our trip couldn’t have come at a better time.

The flight from Seattle to Narita Int’l airport via ANA airlines was only 10 hours 22 min nonstop. It was our first time flying ANA air and I have to say it was a pleasant experience! The customer service is top notch and the cabin meals served were pretty tasty. I liked that we were given an option of a Japanese or Western meal choice. For snacks they handed out rice crackers instead of the typical pretzels or peanuts which was a nice “Japanese” touch and so tasty!


Aromatic Kabosu drink & rice crackers


White fish teriyaki with cold soba noodles

We arrived at Narita around 3pm. After going through customs & immigration then picking up our luggage, we were out the door and in line to buy our NEX¬†train¬†tickets. Conveniently the NEX offered nonstop service to Shibuya where we were headed to check into our airbnb. With so many signs in english and attendants all around, we were able to figure out where to buy tickets and where to catch the train easily. It reminded me so much of Paris since that’s where we used a train system for the first time ever. So efficient.


Chivalry at its finest ;). Hubby carrying over 100 pounds of luggage up & down the many stairs.

Already feeling the jet lag, I was slowly falling asleep on the train ride to Shibuya. Anthony had already passed out next to me and after falling in and out of sleep, I finally rested my eyes. About an hour later we finally made it into Shibuya! The power nap helped with fatigue and we were ready to explore once we got off the train. We took the West exit (South gate) out of the station, crossed the bridge and made our way to the airbnb. By the time we arrived in Shibuya it was a little past 6pm. ¬†We are finally HERE and we couldn’t believe we were actually in Japan!! The rush & excitement of the very first time I step foot into a new city is always the most memorable for me.


View of Shibuya station from the West exit (South gate)

Just a 5 minute walk from Shibuya station we finally found our airbnb. We retrieved the key, got settled in, unpacked a bit and then set out again to find a place for dinner. Deciding on sushi we decided to walk around until we saw a place that looked appealing. We walked back toward Shibuya station to the Shibuya crossing. We couldn’t believe we were actually crossing the Shibuya crossing after seeing pictures of it all over the internet, in our guidebooks, youtube videos, and really every time you look up things on Japan.


A sea of people at the Shibuya crossing during rush hour

We had walked around for an hour amazed and in awe of all the billboards, lights, advertisements, sounds, music and all the people commuting during rush hour. It was insane but thrilling to be lost in a sea of people. I would never say I like large crowds but in that moment at that specific time there it was just something so magical and unforgettable.

We made our way through different alleys filled with shops and restaurants. Anthony spotted a fried chicken street food stand and you know we hit that up. We got in line and got a small order then made our way to the different condiments. It was a good snack before dinner since we were starving and hadn’t eaten anything since around 2pm on the plane. While we were enjoying the fried chicken, we saw a conveyer belt sushi place just across the shop and it was filled with locals. We realized it was Genki sushi and not wanting to walk around anymore since we wanted to eat we decided to have dinner there.


Fried chicken street stand


Japanese fried chicken goodness. MmmMmm

We got to experience a different kind of conveyer belt sushi that evening. We made our own green tea with hot water provided at our seat through a little spout and matcha powder. We ordered sushi using individual touch screens. When our sushi orders were ready, it was sent along a conveyer belt that shot straight down to our table vs the ones we’ve been to in Seattle that have plates going round and round on the belt. Once we retrieved our plates on the belt, we pressed a button saying we received the items and then the train shot back to the kitchen. It was pretty neat! The fish tasted fresh & delicious and we left with happy tummies. Yeah, yeah it’s Genki and it’s a chain is probably what you’re thinking. Haters gonna hate! Jk. It was a fun experience and Genki is a Japanese chain originating from there so it is a bit different than what you’d get say in Seattle.


Fried chicken stand to the left and Genki sushi to the right


Seared salmon, salmon & gooey duck sushi


Salmon with mayo & onions & a house special roll

After dinner, we continued to walk around. Still feeling a bit jet lagged and tired with droopy eyes, I was ready to go back and hit the hay early. Anthony who was somehow super energized wanted to keep walking so I just told myself let’s do it so we can burn off some calories. We made our way to Sega and played one of¬†many no probably thousands, no more like millions of claw machines during our time in Japan. They’re so addicting and fun and the toys are way better than I’ve seen here. We won quite a few things which I’ll talk more about in my next few posts!


First experience of MANY with claw machines in Japan! So much fun, so addicting & so poor after every arcade visit. But it was worth it ūüėČ

After arcade fun, we were finally ready to call it a night and made our way back to the airbnb. At 10ish lights went out and we were up again at 3am ready to start the day….

My next post will be about our FAVORITE ramen place, Asakusa and our outing in Sumida. ūüėČ





Barcelona, Spain | Day 5 & Day 6


The last two days in Barcelona were bittersweet. We were sad that our two weeks of honeymooning in Europe was coming to an end. At the same time though we were so excited to come home with all of the food ideas we gathered and wanted to try them out at home. ūüôā

Because we did similar things on day 5 & 6 I decided to combine the posts. Plus, I am looking forward to starting my Japan travel blogs while all the memories are still fresh in my mind :). Ok back to Barcelona! We spent the majority of our mornings both days relaxing at the Mediterranean Sea, afternoons at a tea house and evenings chowing down on more tapas.

We woke up to warm sunshine and decided to finally spend some time¬†by the water.¬†We gathered our beach essentials like sunscreen, sunglasses and our camera equipment. We pretty much brought everything BUT a beach towel on day 5 (…only we would forget something so critical for a beach day…) and of course remembered the towel on day 6. On day 5, we left the hotel early and headed over to La Boqueria to pick up some items for a picnic. After wandering the market to decide what we wanted, we finally settled for some feel good classics like spaghetti carbonara, ¬†white sauce lasagne and a quarter pound of spanish olives stuffed with peppers. For day 6, we had a quick breakfast of pastries and picked up some churros to enjoy at the beach.


Camera & GoPro equipment- check!


Us @ Barcelona Beach with our La Boqueria goodies

The walk from our hotel along Las Ramblas was a good 15-20 minutes and was straight shot. Trying to decide upon which part of the sea we wanted to layout our picnic we decided upon the “Barcelona Beach” area since it was quiet with not many people around.

For all of our international trips together, we always bring our Artisan Cafe logo coffee cups with us. We look for scenic spots to lay out the cups and do a mini photoshoot. It’s our thing ūüėČ and on this morning we decided on using the Mediterranean as our backdrop for the cups.


Artisan Cafe coffee cups (16oz – 12oz – 8oz)

We laid out our La Boqueria picnic items and enjoyed lunch before doing our cups photoshoot. After taking pictures of the cups, we did our own little couples photoshoot for fun. The rest of that morning consisted of:

Dipping our feet in the freezing but gorgeous blue water
Running on the beach
Letting sand rest between our toes

…and just enjoying each others company as newlyweds. ūüôā After beach fun, we walked around the boardwalk watching street performers along the way¬†before deciding to stop by the Maritime Museum to look at some handmade boats in their collection.


Being silly


Maritime Museum

After carrying our 100000000 pound tripod all day we were ready to go back to the hotel to drop it off and travel lightly for the rest of the afternoon and evening.

After dropping off the heavy tripod we made our way around the gothic quarter¬†(I sounds like it was our favorite area to explore in Barcelona and it was!) to do some shopping at the boutiques then AFTERNOON TEA. I did research before our trip and knew we had to check out Caelum which is a cafe located in the Jewish quarter. Caelum is situated in a space that use to be an old Jewish bath.¬†The walls and ceilings were made of what looked like original stone and flooring made of bricks. As you walk inside and head downstairs you will feel like you’ve gone back in time to the medieval age. The sweets and baked goods are made in monasteries and convents throughout Spain with a wide variety to choose from!


Caelum storefront

At Caelum we ordered coffee con leche and a pot of earl grey tea. For baked goods, we tried a frosted Spanish style donut, almond cake and heart shaped marzipan. Everything except the donut was delicious. The atmosphere was dim with lots of candlelight and the hot beverages were perfect pick me ups after wind picked up during our shopping prior to stopping in the cafe. To order the sweets, the waitress had one of us come up to the table to check out the selection of items available for the day. We pointed at what we wanted and shortly after they were brought to our table to enjoy! MmmmMmm.


Almond cake from Caelum


Day 5 table spread of sweets & hot bevs

Because we loved Caelum so much, we stopped by the next (and last) day of our stay in Barcelona. This time we got a pot of their house loose leaf tea and a rich cup of hot chocolate. We enjoyed the almond cake and marzipan so much the day before we ended up ordering those again along with a fruit tart. All were delish.


Table 6 table spread


Rich hot chocolate from calm


Strawberry fruit tart

I’ve been to my fair share of high tea places but Caelum is no doubt in my top 3 list of the best afternoon tea spots in the world. The atmosphere, pastries and selection of beverages were excellent and everything was so high quality. I highly recommend this place to anyone visiting Barcelona.

After Caelum, we walked past the Santa Maria Del Pi church where there was a night market in the square. We browsed the booths selling soaps, wines, oils, dried fruits and different kind of sauces. Next to the night market we stumbled upon a poster for a spanish guitar performance by Ekaterina Zaytseva for that evening at 9pm inside the church and decided that would be the perfect way to end our trip. We purchased tickets and then headed back to the hotel to drop off all of the things we purchased before setting out for dinner before the show.


Our last meal for dinner was at none other than Sens’i. We loved everything we ate the first night and knew we wanted to end our time in Barcelona there. This time around we came extra hungry and ordered quite a few items to share. We started with some potato croquettes and padron peppers (Anthony’s fav) and then went on to enjoy some Iberian Pork tataki, Tuna tartare “Asian style”, saut√©ed mussels with red curry and fresh basil, fresh truffle ravioli with truffle oil and baby chorizo sausage braised in beer. What. Happy. Tummies.


Ham & potato croquettes


Padron peppers


Tuna tartare “Asian style”


Iberian Pork Tataki


Large mussels in coconut curry


Truffle ravioli


Spanish sausages – so cute huH?!

Dinner was delicious and as we rolled out of dinner we made our way into the Santa Maria Del Pi church for Ekaterina Zaytseva’s performance. There we enjoyed about two hours of beautiful spanish guitar played flawlessly by Ekaterina.


Sign upon entering the church


Ekaterina Zaytseva

After an incredible performance by Ekaterina, we took our time walking back to the hotel. We wanted to remember and take in all of the beautiful Spanish architecture that we were so lucky to be surrounded by for 6 days.

The rest of the evening consisted of snacking, packing, snacking, and really just trying to finish up all the leftover snacks we had. ūüôā Barcelona was such a fun city to explore and I’m so glad we chose it as our 2nd city for our honeymoon. We plan to go back to Spain again sometime in the near future to explore more cities there.


Barcelona, Spain | Day 4


After such a long day 3 packed with 2 major tourist attractions we decided to take it easy on day 4. We got a good nights rest and woke up a little later than usual. Thinking that we only had a few more days left in Barcelona we decided to go back to La Boqueria for breakfast, yet again. Anthony was craving mussels and El Quim served up some excellent food when we were there a few days earlier so we came back.

We got seated on the opposite side of the bar as last time and glanced at the English menu. As we were figuring out what we wanted to eat I looked around and saw that everyone had ordered breakfast type items like egg omelets. Unconvinced about the more traditional items, we proceeded to place check marks on the order form for¬†mussels, mixed seasonal mushrooms, blood sausage w/ onions & the octopus bomb with wasabi mayo. Yup, that’s how we do breakfast in Barcelona. Haters gonna hate and judgers are probably going to judge. We had the best breakfast and the biggest smiles out of everyone once we were done :).


Blood sausage from El Quim


Seasonal mixed mushrooms from El Quim


Octopus bomb with wasabi mayo from El Quim

Craving something sweet as I usually do, we decided to get some more churros from Xurreria located along Banys Nous street. If you are in Barcelona— YOU. MUST. GO. HERE. The people who work here are so incredibly friendly and they fry up the absolute best churros I’ve had in my entire life. It comes out fresh, piping hot and they sprinkle a little sugar only after you determine how many grams of churros you’d like to buy. Fun Fact– Churros are believed to have originated in Portugal. I always thought it was Mexico?!



As mentioned earlier, we were regulars at Xurreria once we found out about it and came back almost everyday until our flight home to Seattle. IT IS THAT GOOD AND I’M NOT EXAGGERATING.



We ordered 200 grams of churros for take out and we snacked on it as we walked around trying to decide what we wanted to do next. The night before, Anthony was flipping through my Rick Steves’ Barcelona pocket guide and stumbled upon “CosmoCaixa”. We also saw it on the map and once he found out it was a science museum he was intrigued.

We caught the train next to our hotel which took about 20 minutes and then walked the rest of the way to the museum. Once there, we were greeted by Albert Einstein at the front desk where we checked in and purchased tickets.

Before starting the exhibit we stopped by for a little “drinks” break. We may have had a snack too but I can’t remember. We probably did. Snack breaks are essential in our daily life and travels. I’m sure you’ve already noticed….

Cappuccino break

Cappuccino break


We were greeted by Albert Einstein at the welcome desk of the museum

We walked through the dinosaur exhibits, learned about the mediterranean sea, tasted olive oils from different kinds of trees, learned about fishes of Europe, and played with the different hands-on exhibits. It was a huge museum with 3 or 4 floors worth of exhibits and it was very nicely done. I’ll spare the details but we felt just like kids again! We were probably the biggest kids there as I saw a few different school children on a field trip in the museum. It was really fun & informative and I’ve certainly never been to a science museum that large and detailed before.

Having fun @ the color spectrum exhibit

Having fun @ the color spectrum exhibit

Anthony taste testing different kinds of oils at the olive oil exhibit

Anthony taste testing different kinds of oils at the olive oil exhibit


After about 3 or 4 hours in the museum, we took the train back to the hotel. We rested our feet for a bit before heading back to the Barri Gotic area to find a good restaurant for dinner. I had found El Callejon on tripadvisor prior to the trip so we decided to give it a try. We came right as they were opening so we ordered some beer until they were ready to open the kitchen. The restaurant quickly filled up and when we finally ordered we got the argentinian steak with potatoes, the pasta special of the day, seasonal mushrooms in sautéed butter and padron peppers.

Argentinian steak with potatoes and pasta

Argentinian steak with potatoes and pasta du jour

After dinner we walked along Las Ramblas and got some gelato from one of the street vendors in the middle of the street.

Barcelona, Spain | Day 3


The best thing about writing travel blogs and trip reports is it takes you back in time of when you were at your destination. I love taking a stroll down memory lane not only through all the pictures my husband takes but also through my thoughts for these blog posts. ūüôā

With that, Day 3 in Barcelona was my absolute favorite! It consisted of visiting a couple major tourist attractions, eating some of the best Spanish food I’ve ever had and seeing some breathtaking views. Keep reading to hear about the deets!


Selfie stick came in handy during day 3 in Barca


We woke up extra early around 7:30am to get ready to leave the hotel around 9:00am for Sagrada Familia. Prior to our trip, I had purchased admission tickets online for the 9:30am time slot for the Basilica and the 11:00am slot for the Tower on the Nativity Facade. My smart self also booked our visit to Antoni Gaudi’s House at Park Guell for 2:00pm which meant that our 1st meal of the day would be lunch.

As we hustled out of the hotel room, I asked the concierge to call a taxi for us and Anthony ran to the bakery a couple doors down from the hotel to pick up some pastries for breakfast. He came back right when the taxi driver came so we chowed down in the cab as our ride would be about 10 minutes to Sagrada Familia. 2 minutes into our feast and¬†we stopped eating because the cab driver kindly asked us to not make a mess. Um how can I enjoy what I’m eating after a comment like that? He was really nice about it though and I felt guilty so we decided to pack up the goods for a snack break later on. While putting away the pastries I saw a pile of powdered sugar on my shirt…Oops hehe.


Some sweet bread wheels from a local boulangerie

After we arrived at Sagrada Familia we handed our cab driver some big bills to pay for our fare and he told us for future reference to try and carry small bills because most cab drivers don’t have change. Double oops…. We got out and headed for one of the entrances to the Basilica. Luckily with our entrance tickets in hand we were able to skip to the front of the long line. I read online that if you don’t get an early time the wait for admission tickets on warm days can be up to 2 hours! Crazy!

Looking up at the Sagrada Familia

Looking up at the Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia is a roman catholic church commissioned and directed by famous architect¬†Antoni Gaudi until his tragic death in 1926 from a tram accident. The basilica is a Unesco World Heritage site and is the #1 visited attraction in Barcelona. It was also #1 on my list of must see’s in Barcelona.


View of Sagrada Familia after the entrance gates

We stopped by the little tent on the right after we passed the entrance to purchase audio guides and were on our way! At last we were standing right beneath the basilica and wow! what an incredible sight to see. It was the darkest work I’ve ever seen and to me it looked like a mixture of baroque and gothic architecture. ¬†As we entered you could hear a song of worship choir echoing throughout the entire basilica. It felt peaceful, calm and sacred just standing in there.

As we walked closer to the middle of the Basilica, we saw lots of natural sunlight shining through the colorful stained glass windows in all 4 directions. My favorite contrast was when we faced the alter and looked at the East & West walls. The East walls shot colors of green & blue with the West walls shining brightly with shades of yellow, red and orange.


West walls of the basilica


East walls of the basilica

We took a seat near the back of the altar where chairs were set out for guests. We continued to listen to our audio guide which explained the history of the basilica and the significance of the stained class colors. We spent some time people watching and seeing others reactions to seeing the basilica as they entered.


Photo from our seats facing the altar

One of my favorite details of Sagarada Familia was when we looked up at the ceilings of the cathedral and noticed this intricate design with sharp edges. As the sun hit the basilica the ceiling was shimmering gold and was just striking. Even to this day, I can picture exactly what the ceilings looked like. It was truly breathtaking.


Sagrada Familia ceiling


South wall of the basilica

After exploring inside the basilica, we went outside for a quick 15 min snack and bathroom break. Not wanting to waste too much time we headed straight for the museum. There we learned more about Antoni Gaudi’s childhood and how and why he used his childhood and nature as his main influences for his work. As we went deeper inside the museum we were able to see Antoni Gaudi’s tomb. Inside the museum we were also able to see replicas of original designs of Sagrada Familia by Gaudi. Some of the actual designs and structures for Sagrada Familia were destroyed by a fire.


Looking down at Antoni Gaudi’s tomb

We got in line about 5 minutes before our 11:00am reservation for the Tower on the Nativity Facade. We got into the elevator that took us up and then we walked the rest of the flights of stairs to see the view. This was the first time I saw the Mediterranean Sea and though there was only a speck of blue from where we were standing we couldn’t stop smiling from excitement. From the tower we also got a beautiful view of Barcelona on a sunny day.


View of the city & sea as you climb up the last flight of stairs to the Nativity Facade


“Artsy Fartsy” view of city & sea as you go deeper into the Nativity Facade

On the way down from the Tower of the Nativity Facade, my husband was going fast like he had been working out for years. I, on the other hand, was going slowly and carefully as I realized during this trip that I have just a minor (only minor!) fear of heights. He stopped to take pictures and when he took a picture of the stairway looking down, we realized the shape of the stairs was that of a snail. Another Antoni Gaudi reference to nature! I didn’t appreciate it until after I got down to the ground level when I felt safe & secure but it was still cool to see.


Stairway view looking down


Stairway view looking up

We returned our audio guides and headed toward the street to catch a taxi to Park Guell. When we arrived at Park Guell we looked around and it felt like we were in a completely different country. Barcelona already felt foreign compared to the last few countries we had visited but the architecture and material of the homes in the Park Guell area were unique and different. This district was called Gracia. 


Street view of where we got dropped off

We took another snack break at a cafe just a block from the park and snacked on chips (fried goodness!) and churros con chocolat (churros dipped in chocolate). It was a delicious snack. The churros were hot & crispy and the chocolat so decadent, thick and not too sweet. It was just perfect! We literally ate churros everyday….You’ll hear more about our obsession in the next few Barcelona posts hehe.

Park Guell is a public park¬†designed by Antoni Gaudi and is also another Unesco World Heritage Site. Antoni Gaudi experimented with many different shapes and colors which can be found in nature. Originally the site was designed as a housing site for the wealthy but after Eusebi Guell’s original plan was unsuccessful, Gaudi was hired to create the urban public park.


Stairway leading up to one of the entrances to Park Guell

We spent a good 3 hours at the park checking out all of the view points. As we followed the path that went up the hill, there were several areas to stop and take photos. Upon entering we saw an array of palm trees and a large courtyard area for visitors to sit, people watch and have a picnic. We continued to walk up and at the 1st viewpoint we saw an open view of Barcelona shining in the background.


Anthony next to a palm tree in the courtyard area


Us at the 1st viewpoint which overlooks city & sea!


One of many arch designs throughout Park Guell

To the left was Antoni Gaudi’s pink little house¬†which we had a 2:00pm reservations for. It was interesting seeing where he lived while working on the park. Park Guell is so massive but grand in a simplistic kind of way. Gaudi’s house was small and fairly minimal in terms of decor and furniture. It was quite the contrast.


Antoni Gaudi’s cute pink house


Antoni Gaudi’s bed & partial shot of his bedroom

After taking some shortcuts and climbing up dirt piles, we made it to what seemed like a “secret” area with few tourists. Here we saw the mediterranean even more up close. It was completely blue in the horizon and looked as though we were in a dream. It .was. absolutely. beautiful.


“Hiking” up the dirt piles¬†off the beaten path


Gorgeous view of the sea & city from the secret area

Feeling hungry by now, we decided to trek back to our hotel by foot instead of taking a cab. We walked past a restaurant called El Petit Rebost and decided to give it a try. The restaurant was a local mom & pop place with no more than 7 tables and a simple pre-fixe menu.


El Petit Rebost located just 2 blocks down the hill from Park Guell


We ordered 4-color pasta and seafood paella for our 1st courses and pork cheeks with roasted potatoes and grilled chicken in homemade mustard for our 2nd courses.¬†¬†I’ll spare the details but the seafood paella was TO DIE FOR. WOW. The rice was chewy, the sauce was creamy, the seafood fresh and had the perfect touch of sweet from the spices and saltiness from the seafood.¬†


Seafood paella from El Petit Rebost. BOMB DOT COM.

They did an excellent job and it is no wonder almost everyone had a plate of paella on their tables. It was that good! Everything we had was delicious. The seafood paella being the most memorable. The service was top notch and we left with huge smiles because we were so satisfied. We ended our meal with an espresso which was sweet and had the perfect amount of coffee creme. 


Grilled chicken with mustard sauce & roasted potatoes


Pork cheeks & roasted potatoes 


4-color pasta



The walk back to our hotel from Park Guell was LONG. We hadn’t realized it would be that long but it was a nice walk since at this point we had no more reservations. It felt so nice taking our time and walking as fast or slow we wanted. Of course we took our time stopping by little boutiques and even passed by an open air market. The area we walked through was quiet with very little tourists around and mostly only locals out and about still at work.

Cute car that passed by during our stroll back to La Rambla

Cute car that passed by during our stroll back to La Rambla

We ducked into cafe Buenas Migas in the Eixample district when our feet got tired for some delicious hot chocolate and a greek yogurt with granola. The greek yogurt was super sour and thick so we didn’t finish it but the hot chocolate, man oh man. All I can say is I wish we had hot chocolate as rich over there as we did here in Seattle! I’d have it everyday and risk gaining weight for it. Oh and same goes for the Paella ;).


Cute metro sign outside cafe Buenas Migas


Hot chocolate with whip


Greek yogurt cup

We finally made it to Placa de Catalunya which meant that our hotel was less than 10 minutes away by foot. We did some shopping inside a department store called El Corte Ingles which is similar to Nordstrom. Aside from clothes, accessories, perfume & shoes they also have other departments like electronics, toys, furniture, etc.  El Corte Ingles carried name brands like Tumi, Chanel, Dior, Longchamp, etc but also more affordable local Spanish brands like Piedmont.

I picked up a small card wallet made of real leather for only $23! What dealz! The department store was awesome in that the women could shop while the men have the opportunity to explore different departments. One of the cologne brands had a racing simulator in the middle of the floor for the guys to entertain themselves. Of course my husband heard racing sounds from across the store and followed the sounds. When he discovered the racing simulator he was all over that. He was racing while I was shopping. Why can’t we have that here in Seattle? haha!¬†


Anthony racing..inside a department store… with onlookers….

We dropped off all of our stuff at the hotel, rested for about an hour and headed out to dinner at Bodega Biarritz which has been around since 1881. I found this place on tripadvisor and it was highly rated & reviewed so we gave it a try. The place was packed but we got lucky again and grabbed the last available table!

The ordering system at this restaurant was really unique. They had us go up to the bar and point at whatever dishes we wanted. We sat down, they took our drink order and then brought out the dishes we had pointed to earlier. At the end they tally up each plate and sausage order and give us our bill. The decor was really casual and country. Our table was made out of a barrel and our seats wood stumps. It felt like something I’d find in Texas.¬†


Exterior view of the restaurant


The chef and waitress hard at work

For drinks we shared a glass of sangria which was dangerously good. It didn’t taste like there was much wine in it because it was like drinking 100% juice. It wasn’t until afterward that we both felt a little woozy and had pink cheeks. hehe. For dinner we tried grilled local sausage, spicy potatoes in their house sauce (patatas bravas), meatballs, zucchini with minced fish & meat and croquettes on skewers. Everything was delicious! I’d say the only con was that the house special sauce was on a lot of the dishes so there wasn’t much variety in taste but it was still yummy.


Sangria happy ūüôā


Local sausage, zucchini with minced fish & meat and a grilled chicken skewer


Croquette balls and the dangerous sangria


Meatballs, patatas bravas in house special spicy sauce and another sausage

After dinner we wobbled around the area both still feeling “happy.” We decided to walk down to the pier and take a look at the many sailboats being docked there. Anthony also wanted to experiment with some of his camera lens taking pictures of speeding cars. We finally made it back to our hotel around midnight.


Sailboat docked at the Barcelona pier


Night shots with Ant’s Sigma lens


Night shots with Ant’s Sigma lens


Us at the Barcelona pier

That evening¬†we got a good night’s rest after such a long but perfect day. Did I forget to mention the sangria was dangerously good? ūüôā

Barcelona, Spain | Day 2


In front of the main entrance for La Boqueria Market


We slept in until around 9:30am before heading out to have breakfast at La Boqueria. Still full from last night’s big meal (we had paella as well as a few other tapas that I didn’t mention in my last blog post) we decided to have some fried snacks instead of a full sit-down meal.



Deep fried squid and crab claws


There is an abundance of fried goodies at the market so you can’t go wrong with any vendor you choose. We ended up ordering calamari and crab claws from a lady who was just getting ready to open up her booth. She brought out the calamari fresh from the deep fryer and she re-fried our crab claw order. Sounds so healthy right? When on vacation, we throw calories and any diet out the door! ;). Fat kid status 4 life.

After our “breaksnack” we left through the main entrance of the market and took a right on¬†La Rambla.¬†It was a sunny day blue skies and no clouds so it was the perfect day to explore the pier and take pictures of the columbus monument. We saw it the night before so we were excited to see it during the day. It was equally pretty as in the evening but because there isn’t much to do along the pier (but more to do by the beach) we snapped a few photos before trekking to the Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter).


Columbus statue next to the docks



Street lined with palm trees facing West of the Columbus statue

We stumbled upon the Barcelona Cathedral (AGAIN!) but this time had the opportunity to go in. The nice thing about [most] churches in European countries that we’ve visited over the years is that admission is almost always free. All of the cathedrals I’ve seen have all had a unique charm to them. I’ve seen my fair share of churches and although I wasn’t too impressed with the inside of the Barcelona Cathedral, the exterior of the gothic church was beautiful.

The the Barri Gotic quarter where the church was located near is absolutely stunning. The historic architecture, narrow streets and brick made this area the most charming.


Geese in the cloister



One of the tombs located outside of the church near the Atrium



Taking pictures of Anthony taking pictures ūüôā


After walking outside the church, we came across this beautiful gothic bridge. The narrow street was covered in shade which brought out the darkness from the stone walls and brown bricks that truly brought us back in time. It was a quarter til noon¬†and we were getting hungry again. We decided we hadn’t had enough of La Boqueria yet and walked toward the direction of the market. We made a pit stop before lunch at the official FC¬†Barcelona¬†store to pick up a jacket for my brother’s xmas gift and a rain jacket for Anthony.


Gothic bridge


For lunch we opted for grilled seafood by a restaurant that¬†looked to specialize in it.¬†The majority of their menu options consisted of seafood and on display they had plates of padron peppers and mixed mushrooms (which were in season). Yum! We knew we couldn’t go wrong here as almost all of the patrons already dining had a seafood plate.¬†We raised our fingers for 2 people and were quickly seated by the chef/server.


We ordered the spaghetti frutti di mare & calamarcitos-squids. The spaghetti came out al dente with a generous helping of clams, squid, mussels & shrimp. Although the pasta was a little bland, we shyly asked the chef for some salt and it ended up being absolutely delicious with the extra touch. The seafood was fresh, pasta perfectly chewy with a very nice seafood and wine sauce.


Frutti di Mare

The squid plate came after the pasta and it was grilled to perfection. Served on a bed of potato fries (not the crunchy kind) and drizzled with generous amounts of olive oil and a parsley pesto it was DIVINE. The squid wasn’t too chewy but had the perfect tenderness to it where it was almost soft & moist. It was the best I’ve ever had.¬†My husband is picky with his seafood but he love love loved our meal here. Unfortunately I don’t remember the name of the vendor but they are located right inside La Boqueria. I HIGHLY recommend this place. I will be coming back should I return to Barcelona in the future.



Grilled calamarcitos-squid on a bed of soft potatoes

After lunch we took out the map provided in my Rick Steves’ copy of the Pocket Barcelona book to decide what area we wanted to explore. Prior to the trip, I did more research on Paris than Barcelona. I wanted to end the trip with more of a “go with the flow” type vibe so I left our Barcelona itinerary open ended.


Before our trip we had talked to some of our regulars about Barcelona and a lot of them mentioned an architect named Antoni Gaudi. They said his works were must sees. We decided to check out the Eixample area which is where one of Gaudi’s famous works was located, Casa Batllo.

We took our time and made stops along the way to check out some more boutiques and shops located near Placa de Catalunya. At one point we stopped to take a seat by the fountain steps to enjoy the sunshine and people watch. I remember sitting in the square and talking to Anthony about how we lucked out on the weather. It seems every year we go somewhere, I always worry about the weather not cooperating. I don’t mind rain one bit but rain everyday from the beginning to end of a vacay would not be favorable…. In the last 3 int’l trips we’ve gone on together and I’m talking 35-40 days worth, the only “bad” weather days I recall =

Florence: ~10 degrees. FREEZING & windy but try. We were absolutely unprepared and both had free run tennis shoes on which was the worst mistake possible.

Sporting our "ninja look" & newly matching hats to keep warm

Sporting our “ninja look” & newly matching hats in Florence to keep warm

Brussels: ~50 degrees. Pouring & gray. Brussels was beautiful in the rain although it would have been nice to enjoy our belgian frites outside.

Amsterdam: ~50 degrees. Severe wind & cold when we got right out of the train station and then a drizzle on & off.

Anyway, I just felt so blessed and lucky to have good weather. Paris was sunny and was on the chillier side. Barcelona was warm enough for Anthony to wear t-shirts¬†(it seemed as if he was the only one in the entire city….) and for me to roam around with a thin jacket on. I couldn’t have asked for¬†better. I suppose I just had a “moment” at those steps.

Our break felt nice and after both of our faces started to turn pink, we continued on toward Casa Batllo. We passed by a Mcdonald’s and of course we stopped in for another “snack.” Anthony has this thing where he likes to try McD’s in different countries. He also loves Mcd’s in general so it’s really his excuse to stop by.

We ordered a happy meal and got a boys toy for him. I can report that it tasted just like what you’d get here in the US. The McD’s fries in Paris had this funky after taste to them and wouldn’t recommend anyone to order it. Just sayin….


Our Mcd’s Happy meal



Anthony’s toy

Around 3:30pm we FINALLY made it to Casa Batllo.¬†Upon looking at the “House of Batllo” from the exterior it had some unique characteristics. Up close the house looked like it had a layer of colorful fish scales attached to the walls not inclusive of the windows and balconies. From afar it looked like it was made of hundreds of bones and the lines of the house were wavy and non-symmetrical.


View of Casa Batllo across the street



Casa Batllo up close

Upon entering, as we walked up the “skeleton” or “spinal cord” steps, we learned that Antoni Gaudi compiled his inspiration from nature/animals/oceans and even his childhood for his works. Looking on the ceiling we saw what looked like reptile skins, some of his¬†chandeliers¬†looked like jelly fish and a fireplace like a mushroom cutout. He had little details all around the house from the stairway, to the stained glass windows, the many light fixtures and even pillars. I will spare the details as most of what I saw in the house and what you will see if you go is subjective. It was the most creative work I’ve ever seen and it was fun imagining what things were.



“spinal cord” stairway entrance



One of many chandelier designs inside Casa Batllo



Examining one of the windows in the many rooms



View of the stained glass windows of the Noble Floor- the main room of the entire house


One of my favorite things in the house was what we saw as we took the many flights of stairs leading to the rooftop. ¬†As you look up while walking the many flights of stairs you see different shades of blue representing a body of water. If you look closely you can see ripples through the entire “corridor”. The light shining through the different shades¬†from the stained glass and walls gave¬†it the waves effect.¬†Words cannot describe the beauty, splendor & creativity of this place. It was spectacular and hard to believe one man could envision all of this.


After a mind boggling and FUN afternoon exploring Casa Batllo we stopped by the huge Carrefour market along La Rambla near the hotel to pick up some things for a light dinner since we weren’t too hungry. We picked up some wine, chips, jambon iberico and some other goodies.



Barcelona, Spain | Day 1


For our honeymoon in November, we spent the first half of our time (Nov 4 – 11) in Paris, France with a full day in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and the second half (Nov 11-17) in Barcelona, Spain.

Since we started our trip with a city we were familiar with (we went to Paris last year), we were really excited to explore a new city & country. Luckily we chose our 2nd destination well because we had a wonderful time in Barcelona. With a full week we were able to do everything on our must see/do list without rushing. We had times where we were on the go and many times where we relaxed and took our time.

We split our time between the Mediterranean Sea and city adventures. Barcelona had a vast array of activities suitable for many tastes and interests. It was the absolute perfect way to end our European honeymoon.

We took an early am flight at the crack of dawn from Charles de Gaulle to Barcelona-El Prat airport on the 11th. Before boarding the plane, we picked up some macarons from Laduree since we decided not to stop by any of their patisseries during our time in Paris. We were hoping they would taste better the 2nd time around but we came to the conclusion that we are both not fans of Laduree. It is too sweet and crumbly for my taste and most definitely overhyped. Of course it’s a must try when in Paris for the 1st time. In this case we were hoping when we tried it last year, it was just an off day. We had a quick breakfast of coffee and a pastry on our Air France flight and arrived in Barcelona in less than 2 hours.

La Rambla sign

La Rambla sign

After picking up our luggage (free checked baggage via Air France- Holla!) at the baggage terminal, we headed straight for the taxi stand. Our trip from the airport to our hotel located along the Ramblas took around 20 minutes and cost us around 30euros which fyi isn’t bad taxi fare compared to the rest of Europe. Score!

We dropped off our luggage at the hotel since check-in wasn’t until 3pm and we had arrived at 10am. Our first stop was La Boqueria Market and to our surprise, it was literally around the corner from the hotel. We walked 30 seconds down the street and found ourselves at one of the many entrances to the market! Talk about the perfect location….

One of the entrances to the market

One of the entrances to the market


Fried food galore at La Boqueria


DELICIOUS fruit smoothies for 1 – 1.5 euros each


Cured meat cones for sale all over La Boqueria


Color fruits from La Boqueria

Fresh seafood at the market

Fresh seafood at the market

We walked around drooling over all the colorful local & imported fruits, seafood, fresh fruit juices & smoothies (for only 1-1.5 euros each!) different cuts of charcuterie, fresh baked breads, cheeses, olives, fried foods and dried goods. Since we were up around 5am and had only eaten a macaron & small croissant on the plane, we were ready for some real grub. After walking by at least 4 or 5 food vendors, we decided to try El Quim de la Boqueria. Their menu offered fresh seafood, meats, potatoes all things of which we both enjoy.


English menu at El Quim


Our breakfast from El Quim

We took a seat at the bar and were quickly given an english menu and pencil to fill in the items we wanted. Next up came a basket of bread and 2 bottles of water to enjoy with our meal. We ended up ordering a round of mussels, patatas bravas (potatoes in spicy sauce) and ham & cheese croquettes all items which are apparently very popular in Catalan cuisine. Everything was delicious and we were ready to start the day!


cappuccino from a local cafe


churros dipped in warm chocolate

Prior to our am flight, I took a motion sickness pill and that was most certainly the absolute worst idea ever. Feeling like I was drunk and extremely drowsy I was so tired that I didn’t enjoy the rest of our walk inside the market. After walking along La Ramblas, we ended up getting a cappuccino and an order of churros con chocolat (I’m never too tired for dessert….) at a nearby cafe so I could wake up from my terrible trance but I ended up falling asleep for a bit (oops hehe) while Anthony used the wifi. We headed back to the hotel to check-in early. We freshened up a bit, took a shower and ended up taking a nap until around 6 or 7pm.

Feeling hungry again we set out to find a place for dinner. We went on an evening stroll and got lost in the many alleys of the Barri Gotic for about 2 hours. We admired the architecture and old style buildings, stopping to go inside small boutiques and then finally turned to a side street where we spotted a restaurant called Sensi. By this time it was 9pm and way past our dinnertime so we were ready to chow down. The menu looked good, restaurant had nice ambiance and was packed so we gave it a go.


@ Sensi enjoying our first dinner in Barca

The tables were all filled up so we opted for the bar where we were able to snag the last 2 seats. We were greeted by our bartender who spoke perfect English with only a slight accent. We later learned he was from Mexico but liked to travel around and even had a best friend living in Seattle! What a small world. Prior to Barcelona, all I wanted to eat was paella for dayz because you can’t really get it in Seattle. I have yet to find good paella here…. We tried paella for the 1st time here and it was delicious and presented beautifully. The rice was chewy with just the right amount of spice and a generous portion of seafood. For dessert our bartender recommended the caramel cheesecake which was the perfect blend of sweet & creamy. Before bringing our check, he gave us 2 shots to end our meal and to “clear our palates.” I already had a glass of sangria with our meal so I only took a sip of the liquor. ūüôā


seafood paella

Afternoon dinner drinks

Afternoon dinner drinks

After dinner we wandered along to the waterfront pier to take pictures and admire all of the beautiful lights reflecting off of the water. Finally ready to head back to our hotel we got lost on our way back. We stumbled upon the Church of Barcelona which was quite a sight until we kept running into it 3 or 4 more times within 10-15 min….We then tossed the same bridge a couple of times, walking through alleys some open and some dead end roads until FINALLY we made the right turn along the Ramblas toward the hotel. By this time we realized the best way to find our way back was to use the huge apple billboard as our reference which indicated that we would turn on that road. Easy peasy — live & learn! We made it to bed a little past midnight.

Mr & Mrs.


Anthony & I are officially married! I can’t believe it has been just a little over a month now since we had our wedding. We just got our wedding photos from our photog yesterday and she took over 2000 pictures! With that, it is going to take awhile to sort them out. I’ll save my favorite ones for the blog post!

On another exciting note,¬†we leave in¬†1.5 weeks for our honeymoon!¬†We are looking forward to our annual trip. This year’s will be extra special since we are celebrating us ;). Life is good.