Browsing Tag:

Travel Guide

Trip Report: Tokyo

Konichiwa! We recently returned from Tokyo, Japan where my husband and I celebrated 10 years together. Tokyo has been on my husband’s bucket list for a long time, and visiting all the Disney parks is #1 on my bucket list! So off we went, 11 hours from LAX on Delta Airlines arriving at NRT the following afternoon.

Day 1: Welcome!

After getting through security, it was time for us to locate the Klook desk to retrieve our Friendly Limousine Bus vouchers. Klook is a discount travel website, perfect for traveling in Japan and the Limousine Bus is airport transpiration into the city. While doing this, we were approached to do a T.V. Interview where they asked us questions about our relationship. After looking into it, I found this was for the popular show “Why Did You Come To Japan?”. So keep an eye out for billboards and merch coming soon like Homer Simpsons, Mr. Sparkles.

After taking the hour journey into the city, we arrived at the Conrad Tokyo to check-in. Hands down the most luxurious hotel we’ve ever stay at, and the most wonderful service. Now, if you haven’t realized I like to plan and be prepared, so when I couldn’t book my Disneyland tickets online it made me panic a bit.  So after checking in we scurried over to the Disney Store Shibuya to purchase our tickets. Arriving at the cutest Disney store we quickly got to the 3rd floor where the ticket counter is located. Tickets were extremely easy to purchase and the Cast Members were very friendly. With the tickets in hand we explored a bit of Shibuya before heading back to our hotel to rest after a long day.

Day 2: Tokyo Disneyland

We woke up at 4:45 am due to a combination of jet lag and excitement. After getting ready we jumped on the train and headed to Maihama Station and walked over to Disneyland, arriving an hour before opening. To no surprise there was already a short line to get in and only grew longer as the hour passed by.

Being very aware of how long the queues get, we raced over to Pooh’s Hunny Hunt once the gates opened. It’s a very cute trackless ride that differs from the one in the states. Next, we needed to get a fastpass for Monsters, Inc. Ride & Go Seek so we could come back later in the day to bypass the normal queue. After running around we made our way to the front of the park to take our time going in a clockwise direction to visit each land. We made sure to fuel up at the Sweetheart Cafe with the goodies below.

Jungle Cruise was a highlight in Adventureland and I especially loved the little food area by China Voyager, it felt like a small market. Unlike Disneyland Anaheim, the train at Tokyo Disneyland only goes around 2 lands but still worth a ride with great photo ops. We also made sure to catch a showing of Country Bear Theater since it’s no longer at the Anaheim park. When we needed a short break we stopped off at Camp Woodchuck Kitchen in Westernland which has balcony seating that over looks the river. There’s not much to do in Critter Country besides Splash Mountain but I definitely suggest taking a peak or dining at Grandma Sara’s Kitchen.

Next we made our way to Fantasyland which is a cute area, similar to the other parks. We were able to ride Haunted Mansion, Peter Pan’s Flight and Pooh’s Hunny Hunt from earlier. Probably the cutest dining in the park is located in this land and is all Alice in Wonderland themed, Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall. You’ll notice a lot of the restaurants and carts can quickly get lines, especially if they released new seasonal offerings. Our favorite cart in Toon Town is Mickey’s Trailer which offers different Spring Rolls, including a Pizza Roll!

After we grabbed a few Spring Rolls we made our way to Tomorrowland to use our fastpass for Monster’s, which is similar to Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters just without the points. After exploring Monstropolis we grabbed a bite to eat at Plazma Ray’s Diner and Pan Galactic Pizza Port which has a awesome little show above the ordering window.

After a long and exciting day we headed back to the hotel and ordered room service while watching crazy fun Japanese game shows.

Day 3: Tokyo Disney Sea

We woke up again pretty early to make sure we got to the park to line up before opening. While in line we got pretty hungry so I went to find something to hold us over. There are a few drink vending machines near the lockers and for food the closest place is near Maihama Station, so come prepared. Once the park opened we raced towards Mysterious Island to ride Journey to the Center of the Earth which quickly became our favorite ride. After our thrilling journey we made way to obtain our first fastpass of the day, Tower of Terror.

In search of some food we took the Disneysea Electric Railway from American Waterfront to Port Discovery and walked over to Lost River Delta. We were able to skip the line on Indiana Jones with the single rider option, which a lot of people don’t utilize. For Joey we found some chicken and a fruit soda drink at the Lost River Cookhouse. For myself I got a Chandu chicken curry steam bun at Sultan’s Oasis in the Arabian Coast. They say you’re supposed to wait 30 minutes before going in the water after eating but that wasn’t going to stop us from going under the sea at Mermaid Lagoon.

Tower of Terror is awesomely themed with my favorite Imagineer, Joe Rohde playing a roll as the main character, Harrison Hightower. The Cast Members were extremely nice and gave us a history sheet in English. While in the area we made sure to get the Alien Mochi and flavored popcorn to continue our snaking quest. The theater shows in the park are very popular and either have longs lines or have a lottery system to view them so we skipped over those. Instead we took our time strolling through shops and taking in the amazing atmosphere to end our day.

Day 4: Both Parks!

This was our chance to sleep in and take the parks at a slow leisurely pace. We stopped off at Starbucks to get the morning started and to my dismay I forgot to purchase a “You are Here” mug to add to our collection. We got to Disneyland right at opening and saw how LONG the lines can get if you don’t show up early. Not to worry, the lines move rather quickly to get in although become a little jumbled with “merging”. After walking around Disneyland took the adorable monorail to Disney Sea.

We stopped off at The Teddy Roosevelt Lounge to enjoy some drinks and light food. TRL is a very well themed bar with dark woods and sophisticated decor. Since we felt so fancy we strolled over to the Venetian Gondolas for a gondola ride in the Mediterranean Harbor as the sun was setting. We spent the rest of the day filming on the GoPro and exploring the Ports before calling it a night.

Day 5: Asakusa & Shibuya

We spent the day exploring Asakusa and the temples which really gave us a feel of traditional Japan. Certain places were very calming with people paying respect or taking in the beauty of the surroundings. It’s not uncommon to see people dressed in kimonos around the temple, and most are excepting of photos being taken. The shops in the area pull a huge tourist crowd and there’s a lot of souvenirs to choose from.

While trekking all across Tokyo my boots failed me and I needed to find a new pair of shoes. What better place to go shopping than Shibuya? Even late at night this place has such an electric energy, with it’s beaming lights and music blaring from shops. We watched as hundreds of people crossed the famous Shibuya Crossing from the 2nd floor of Starbucks, where I also didn’t think to get my mug 🙁

Day 6: Akihabara

I bet you’re wondering how we started our day, right? I hope you guessed WITH OWLS!!! Tokyo has a lot of animal cafes and going into one I wanted to make sure the animals were treated right and cared for properly so I did A LOT of research. This is how I found my best friend, HoneyBee who I now send owl posts to weekly. I could have spent all day with these beautiful creatures but there was a lot more for us to explore.

What is one to do after spending time with owls? Explore Akihabara of course! Most of the buildings we wandered into have 8 stories give or take a few, truly a geek’s paradise. The arcades are so incredibly loud and colorful, it’s very exciting to witness. The crane games are especially fun to watch or play but also addicting so watch out or you’ll end up broke. What’s great is you see people of all ages playing and having a fun time.

To top the day off, which was definitely hard to do, we dressed up in costume. Not just for any reason, oh no, we dressed up as Mario and Luigi to go-kart around Tokyo! Driving through the streets of Tokyo with the Sky Tree in the distance and a pack of go-karts following a guide was so exhilarating. People would wave at us as we zoomed pass or take videos at stop lights which made the experience so much more memorable.

Ending the night was difficult to do as there was so much racing (haha) through our minds. When we got back to our new hotel they had special treats set out for us celebrating our anniversary and we viewed the Disneyland Castle Fireworks from our bed. Mirroring a Cinderella moment but with my Prince by my side.

Day 7: Harajuku & Shinjuku

Woke up wondering if we were going to relive day 6 like the movie Groundhogs day. Nope! There’s still a lot of exciting things to see and do. We took the train to Harajuku to check out the famous Takeshita Street. Not a street for those who like to avoid crowds as this is another huge tourist spot. Bright pastel colors are found in the stores, people and even the food.

A walk through a neighborhood and we found our way to Yoyogi Park, Shinjuku and Golden Gai. Although we only walked around that day in these areas we could have easily spent multiple days taking in this bustling area.

Day 8: Sayōnara

With only a few hours to spare before being whisked away to the airport, we decided to visit Disneyland one more time. Even with 8 days we didn’t have enough time to see everything that we had planned but that’s the beauty so we can start planning the next visit. The people and city have so much to offer and was so welcoming. Thank you Tokyo, you will hold a special place in my heart.

Have you been to Japan? What are your favorite things to explore or what would you look forward to most?

3 Days in Paris


Paris is a beautiful city that you can probably wander around for a lot longer than 3 days, but when you’re limited on time 3 days in Paris is magical.

Day 1: Welcome to Paris!

Check into your accommodations and freshen up before heading out to explore the city.
We stayed at a lovely Airbnb apartment in Montmartre, right about the quaint shops.

Hop on the Big Bus Tour to get a glimpse of the city. Yes, this is super touristy but it’s one of the best ways to see all the famous landmarks around the city without killing your feet. Because of the great experience I had on the Big Bus Tours I look for them in any major city I go to.

Take in the beauty of the Eiffel Tower, you have the option to go up and view the city but might I suggest going up the Arc de Triomphe instead? They say the view from the Eiffel Tower is beautiful but it’s missing one thing…the Eiffel Tower in the background.

Grab a sandwich or savory crepe from Happy Caffe and walk through the Jardin des Tuileries Garden until you find the Louvre Museum, you won’t have time to explore all the art but you can look into the eyes of Mona Lisa. If you have an extra day to spare you should lend it to the Louvre so you can appreciate the beauty it has to share.

Next walk along The Seine River and the Bouquinistes, which are the green boxes were you’ll find merchants selling books, art and souvenirs. Take a stroll along one of the bridges to Notre Dame Cathedral and take a moment to appreciate the Gothic architecture. After exploring the area make your way to Shakespeare and Company and purchase a book or two.

You are now in the Latin Quarter, wonder the streets until you find the perfect location for dinner.

End your night with a good view of the Eiffel Tower on the hour to watch the lights dance around fill you with childlike wonder.

Day 2: Paris explorer!

Spend the morning walking around Montmartre and up the steps up to the Sacré-Coeur Basilica. Follow in Amélie’s foot steps to Cafe Des 2 Moulins to take a few photos before heading to lunch at La boite aux lettres.

After lunch it’s time to explore the famous Paris Catacombs, spend a couple of hours walking through tunnels lined with human bones.

Now it’s time to walk like royalty through the immense grounds that is The Palace of Versailles. Or if walking is now a bore to you with your royal mindset you can rent a bike and ride through the gardens.

If you have a kitchen in your accommodation pick up some items to have a home cooked meal. You can get fresh cheese, baguettes, meats, pasta and sauce to make a hopefully memorable meal.

Day 3: Disneyland Paris!

Get up! We’re going to Disneyland Paris!

A bit out of the city but easy to get to, you’ll want to arrive and line up before the park opens. I suggest starting at Walt Disney Studios to knock out the big rides before heading over to Disneyland where you’ll probably spend most of your time.

Spend the day being a big kid, run around with happiness. Find your way to Disney Village (Downtown Disney) for shopping, food and entertainment.

Disney Tip: Everyone runs to Crush’s Coaster when the gates open.

Paris Tip: Don’t let anyone hand you anything, put anything around your wrist or ask if you speak English as they try to have you sign something. It’s all a scam! They will try to make you pay, pick pocket you, or get you to put your bags down while someone comes around and takes off with it. Unfortunately theft is a big thing in Paris so make sure your possessions are protected and brush up on the latest scams with a simple google search. With all that being said, don’t be afraid to explore and see new things.

Well there you have it, you just spent three days in Paris and boy are my arms tired…huh?

 

 

A Geek’s Guide To Comic Con

Let’s talk comic con! Better yet, let’s create a geek’s guide to comic con and rejoice in all of the geeky bliss.

Pick Your Convention

Choose your own adventure! Look up the cons in your area or cons you’re willing to travel to. The major comic conventions out there include; San Diego Comic Con International, New York Comic Con, WonderCon, and Emerald City Comic Con to name a few. A lot of cities have been hosting their own conventions or expos on a smaller scale but still just as fun and typically easier to get tickets to.

Buy tickets (passes, autograph/photo ops) in advance and as close to release date if possible as comic conventions are growing in popularity. Take San Diego for example, they are one of the hardest cons to ever get into unless you already bought the next years passes at the previous con or wait in a virtual queue which can take hours or potentially crash. Follow the cons social media for announcements and release dates.

Make a Plan

With a limited amount of days, multiple panels, autograph/photo ops, meet ups and vendor shopping, there’s a lot to see and miss. Best way to manage your time and hit all your must-dos is to make a list. Check out the comic conventions website, look for a program schedule and vendor/show floor map. Figure out which panels you want to attend and be sure to give yourself some time before the panel start to get a seat. Some panels depending on the convention you’re at will line up hours before the panel start time. Check your favorite artist’s social media to see if they will have a booth at the con you’re attending and what area they’ll be located in. 

What to Wear

Do you plan on cosplaying? if so, have a plan and do some research. Does your cosplay adhere to the cons policy? Will you be comfortable all day walking around and in crowded areas? Do you plan on changing throughout the day? Will you be able to easily use the restroom or do you need a friends assistance?

Don’t feel like cosplaying? That’s ok! Wear something you’re comfortable in. My favorite go to is a t-shirt with my favorite fandom on it and some jeans. If you’re still unsure you can always search hashtags from previous cons, you’ll see plenty of show floor pictures and what people decided to wear.

Food

Although food choices at convention halls have gotten better over the years they are still pricey and limited. Bring a few snacks in your backpack or bag along with a water bottle you can refill at the drinking fountains. You can always search the food vendors the convention hall has before hand on their website. Depending on the conventions you go to, food trucks can also be an option and typically within walking distance outside of the convention center.

What to Bring

  • Portable charger – don’t want to miss taking pictures of all the awesomeness
  • Art tube – don’t want the precious prints you buy to get destroyed
  • Pen & Paper – always a good idea
  • Expect to collect business cards so have a place to store them
  • Snacks – as mentioned above
  • Cash – most vendors will accept card but wifi connection in convention centers are typically horrible and can slow the card process way down

Convention Day!

Woo hoo! I’m so excited for you and this is just the planning phase. I hope you’re excited too! Comic Con is so much fun, you’ll never want to leave.

Nerd Wood Design – click on the picture to check out my friends art. He’s constantly coming up with awesome new pieces.

Le Petit Elefant – aka Genevieve Santos is one of my favorite artists. Click on the picture to view her talents.

Besides the panels there’s the exhibitors and artist alley to explore. My plan of action is to always do a loop of the floor and make a note of things I liked and want to buy, this helps me stick to a budget and not go crazy or broke on the first day. If you see something you plan on buying, but are waiting until the last day or end of the day, don’t! Far too often I see people say they’ll come back later only to find that item is sold out. Check with the vendor, that if you purchase the item if you can come back for it later, or if they have extra stock of it, if you decide to wait on purchasing the item.

Don’t expect huge discounts by waiting on the last day to buy things. Some huge vendors may give discounts because they don’t want to haul a huge supply back but for most the product they have is how they make a living. If you find something you really like but don’t have the funds to get it then crab a business card and see if you can purchase the item later and have it shipped to you.

Most important aspect of the day is to have fun! You’re surrounded by a bunch of geeks who love fandoms just as much as you do. Strike up conversations while waiting in lines for panels or special guest opportunities, you may make some new friends. So let’s talk about it, what are you favorite things you look forward to at comic con? comment below!

 

A Geek’s Guide To Vancouver BC

A Geek’s Guide to Vancouver BC

So you want to explore Vancouver British Columbia, and why wouldn’t you? It’s clean, vibrant, and you get the best of both world, nature and city all in one location. You can spend a weekend here or a lifetime and always see something new.


Planning Your Visit

Maps

Vancouver Metro Map

Vancouver Map

I always recommend looking up the official tourism site for the destination you’re visiting. The travel bureau wants you to see the best stuff its city has to offer to make sure you spread the word and keep coming back.

Official Visitors Guide via Vancouver Tourism

Accommodations
Where do you want to stay? Hotel over looking the city or vacation rental to live like a local in a residential neighborhood?

During our latest visit we stayed at the lovely Hampton Inn & Suites Downtown Vancouver. This was the ideal hotel for us for location and budget. The hotel staff is friendly and knowledgeable about the city and surrounding area. They also have a fun Instagram page to give you more insight on their favorite locations. There are many hotels in the city that are budget friendly or pamper you with luxury. 

Next thing to plan is how do you want to get there?

  • Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is less than 8 miles from Downtown Vancouver
  • Drive the distance. Make sure to have a vehicle that will tell you kilometers per hours and expect to pay everywhere you go for parking.
  • Train choo choo. Amtrak gives you a chance to see all the beauty the Pacific Northwest has to offer

What To Do

Stanley Park

This park is huge! Being one of the cities largest attractions you should plan at least a half day to explore. The seawall is a nice walk or bike ride to work off all that poutine you ate. Check with your hotel or vacation rental as many will supply bikes to ride for a few hours. There are also plenty of bike rental shops near the park entrance or Citi bike once in the park.

Granville Island

Take one of the little boats across False Creek to enjoy the Public Market and shops on Granville Island. Expect to spend a few hours here exploring and trying the food including Granville Island Brewing Co.

From there continue the little ferry ride to Maritime Museum Dock where you can get beautiful views of the English Bay.

Kitsilano Beach Park

Kits Beach is the perfect place to soak up the sun and spend a summer day relaxing or playing beach sports.

Gastown


Gastown is a small charming neighborhood with a famous resident, the Steam Clock. There’s only 7 working steam clocks in the world and Vancouver is home to one of them. It’s fun to take a few moments watching the gears turn or hearing the whistle blow. There’s also a few souvenir shops near the clock if you’re looking to take some goodies home.

A short walk away you’ll find Canada Place.

Canada Place

An iconic landmark, Canada Place is a great place to feel welcomed. It’s the Convention Center, major cruise terminal, and so much more. Also in the area you’ll find the 2010 Olympic Torch and the digital Orca statue art.

Movie/TV tour

image via vancouversun.com

Commonly referred to as “Hollywood North”. With some big studios in there area, there’s filming going on most times of the year. You can look up some of your favorite films and hits the streets kid, live like the stars.

Whale Watching

image via insidevancouver.ca

During migration you may have a chance to see these majestic creatures. Best months for spotting a whale will be March to October and there’s many different tour companies to choose from.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

image via vancouverchinesegarden.com

Fans of Nat Geo should recognize this gem as they named it the World’s Top City Garden.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

image via capbridge.com

A stunning place to take in the beauty nature has to offer and take instagram worthy photos.

Vancouver Aquarium

image via vanaqua.org

No need to go to P Sherman 42 Wallaby Way when you can visit all your favorite fish here.

Grouse Mountain

image via grousemountain.com

Only 15 minutes from downtown with spectacular views of the city.

Science World

image via scienceworld.ca

Weird Science! Be a kid and get creative with science.

VanDusen Botanical Garden

image via tourismvancouver.com

Sip some tea, take in this wonderland and day dream under a tree like Alice.


Food

Vancouver is on the list for being a “Foodie City” and for great reason, they have food trucks, well respected chefs and amazing cuisine. Where will your taste buds take you?

Blue Water Cafe

image via tourismvancouver.com

Best known for their seafood and outstanding wait service, you can either have an elegant dining experience or wallet friendly happy hour experience.

Earnest Ice Cream

image via earnesticecream.com

We all deserve a sweet treat. Especially after deciding what flavor you want from the mouthwatering list.

Cactus Club Cafe – English Bay

Food with a view! Great place to laugh with friends and loved ones over a great menu.

Vij’s Restaurant

image via vancouversun.com

A local favorite and recommended as a must do

Cafe Medina

image via medinacafe.com

Vancouver locals are huge on brunch and this is the spot to do it at. Lines can form so get here early.

Storm Crow Tavern

Truly one of my favorite geek restaurants! The whole atmosphere pulls you in, you can meet there with friends and family and play board games all afternoon.

EXP Restaurant + Bar

Video game restaurant/bar with great food. They live stream League of Legends, Overwatch,  Starcraft competitions and more, so it’s a really chill place to hang out, just pick the right side; Horde or Alliance?

a few other recommendation

  • Tacofino – TACOS! need I say more?
  • Fanny Bay Oyster Bar – Happy Hour!
  • Meat & Bread – grab a sandwich and head to a park
  • Nicli Antica Pizzeria – pizza and drinks, yes please!

Tips

  • If you’re driving expect to pay for parking everywhere
  • There’s free “neighborhood” wifi in Yaletown
  • The currency is Canadian dollar (CAD). Paper bills include $5, $10, $20, $50 & $100. $1 coin known as a loonie and a $2 coin known as a toonie

What are your favorite places to see and do in Vancouver?