Sonobe

In Sonobe, a tiny town 50 minutes from Kyoto by train. Staying with Fiona and Pia in their little (though large by Japanese standards) comfy apartment, worrying that I could crash through a wall at any moment – classic gaijin smash. Being blown away by the richly coloured autumn foliage, and again when we awoke one day to a blanket of white covering the town. I’m so pleased I had this place as a base to explore Kyoto and other cities from, and with such super hospitality. Thanks, friends!

 



Tokyo – Brown Rice Cafe

Brown Rice Cafe is my number one food-related recommendation for Tokyo. I visited twice, and each time it was a struggle to find, but more than worth the trouble. The first time, with Kim, we each enjoyed an assortment of vegetables, pickles and mystery vegan treats with brown rice and miso, while sitting outside with charming blankets draped over our knees.

The second time was the day I caught the train on my own from Sonobe to Kyoto to Osaka to Tokyo to Harajuku (yep), from where I walked down to Shimokitazawa and became lost.  All faintingly hungry and rain-drenched, when I eventually found it again I was rewarded for my efforts with a fantastic vege burger with wasabi and lotus root. I love my memory of sitting eating alone in a foreign land after navigating hours of solo train travel. Considering that from there I went on to meet my husband at the airport, miss the last train back to Kyoto by 3 minutes and get stranded in Tokyo overnight, this meal was a wonderful moment of calm during one of my craziest days.

Tokyo – Nui Hostel


It can be fairly difficult to find a cute and affordable place to stay in Tokyo. But aren’t you lucky, I’ve found one for you! Well, tbh I didnt find it. My pal Mika was in Japan a few weeks before I was, and when she started posting instagrams of her hostel Kim and I immediately cancelled our original booking somewhere blandly affordable to stay at the same place, which wound up being even cheaper!

As you can see, Nui Hostel is really, really nice.

The lobby is a cafe by day and popular bar by night, the rooms are simple, clean and not nearly as small as I’d expected. Kim and I shared a bunk room, and Jason and I later stayed in a river-view double. There are also dorm rooms and the unisex bathrooms are really good and not at all intimidating to share. There is a very sweet kitchen, dining and library area on the top floor. The wifi was super. It seemed like an equal mix of Japanese people and foreigners, which I certainly took for a positive. The staff were exceptionally friendly, and we had no difficulties whatsoever.

Unfortunately we found the location to be really inconvenient. With it being Kim’s first visit to Tokyo and with my terrible navigation skills, it would have been wise for us to stay somewhere more central. I hadn’t realised this as my first time in Tokyo I’d stayed near the Yamanote line, which made it deceptively easy to get around.

I certainly don’t regret staying at Nui, it was an excellent experience and as a place to stay I couldn’t recommend it enough. I’d just say to be aware of how many extra connections you’ll need to make if you do decide to stay there, and perhaps consider booking elsewhere if it’s your first visit and you’re not so confident with navigation.

oh, the places I’ll go

TOKYO

Photo by twenty-seven names

 

KYOTO

Photo by Oh, Sarah-Rose

 

PARIS

Photo by Claire Oldman of Lola is Beauty

 

BERLIN

Photo by Bonjour Johanna

 

KRAKOW

Photo by gravedespair

 

BUDAPEST

Photo by On Dressing Up

 

ATHENS

Photo by On Dressing Up

 

ROME

Photo by Jessica Stanley

 

In just two weeks (!!) I’ll be flying to Japan with my flatmate/sister-wife/COMPANION Kim, visiting dear friends who’ve recently moved there. In about six weeks I’ll be in Paris for Christmas with my husband, heading to Berlin over New Years, then spending the rest of January in Krakow, Budapest, Athens and Rome. There’ll also be day trips to Osaka and Bratislava, and a night or two in Hiroshima and Vienna. Do I sound like I’m bragging? Because I TOTALLY AM. I haven’t been to Europe before and now it is finally my time to shine. So excited and nervous, I feel completely out of practice at traveling. I haven’t been to a non-english-speaking country in four years! Can’t wait for the buildings and the walking and the people watching and museums and history and tiny apartments in foreign lands. Tips are welcome!

Thanks to wonderful bloggers and photographers for the permission to use their pictures in their post, you should check them out.