HOW TO TRAVEL ALONE – NICE, FRANCE

Hello to anyone reading! I wanted to write today about something that can often seem very daunting – travelling alone. The idea of travelling alone has always attracted me and it was often something that I talked about doing, however the fears surrounding it really put me off for a while. Obviously as a lone female traveller there seems to be many more warnings and things to avoid, and of course these warnings should be taken into consideration, but I realised that this shouldn’t get in the way of going on a great travel adventure! So about a month ago it seemed the right time to take the plunge and book a trip alone – I travelled to the South of France, so not too far from home but still a big step that I’m glad I took!

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WHERE SHOULD I STAY?


Staying in a hostel is my number one tip for travelling alone. I stayed at the wonderful La Maioun Guesthouse, in a mixed gender dorm on this trip, which I was so nervous about at first! However this place was lovely, I felt welcomed and at home and it gave me the opportunity to meet so many new people, many of whom were also travelling alone. I met people from South Korea, Australia, the Netherlands, France and the USA, and made a new close friend called Rebekah, who took some of the photos in this post! Its incredible to meet people from across the globe, and explore a new place alongside them, which is something that is harder to find when staying alone in a hotel. To find the best hostel for me I used reviews from booking.com, Kayak and TripAdvisor and eventually booked with booking.com. I’d avoid booking on ‘hostelworld’ as this can often be overpriced.

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THINGS TO DO


Finding things to do alone when travelling is super easy, and can often be more enjoyable as you can do exactly what you want when you want! I stayed in Nice on my trip to the South of France but also visited Monaco and Cannes as they are a short train/bus ride away. My hostel provided a list of recommended restaurants and attractions which was very useful, but of course the internet is your best friend here and TripAdvisor is especially good for finding the best places to go as a lone traveler. Eating out is a great way to explore the local cuisine and I did this both on my own and with new friends from my accommodation. I would highly recommend visiting La Rossettisserie when in Nice – situated in the old town, this restaurant has a simple menu of roasted meats and a selection of sides (choose the mash potato its amazing!) and everything is local and super tasty. Another recommendation for the low budget traveller is Chez Pipo which serves local food and wine, with the ‘best Socca in Nice’, at very low prices. In Nice you can also explore the local markets in the morning which have great food as well as flowers, gifts and other local specialities.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF FREE TOURS! 

In many European cities, companies offer free city tours in which you tip the tour guide an amount of your choice at the end. These can help you to learn a lot about a city in a few hours, especially if you have limited time on your trip. I only had one full day in Nice therefore this was super useful for me to learn lots of fun history about the city which I otherwise wouldn’t have found out! Make sure to sign up online before your tour so they are aware of the numbers attending.

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EXPLORE OUTSIDE OF THE CITY


Traveling in Europe gives the opportunity to see many different cities and countries in a short space of time, especially when there is good train links available. If you are travelling to Nice, or any of the main cities in the South of France, I would recommend using their train service to explore outside of where you are staying. I went to both Monaco and Cannes and both were in easy reach at a reasonable price. To get to Monaco from Nice, simply take the 500 train from the port at only €1.50! The bus journey provides amazing views as well, so sit on the right hand side when travelling to Monaco for the best sights. If you stay on the bus it will take you right up to the Monte Carlo Casino, which is open for tours during the morning and then for general access in the late afternoon. Monte Carlo and Monaco are both gorgeous and definitely worth visiting – just be aware that these two places seem to be a bit more expensive, so avoid eating out here to save money. Cannes is another beautiful city, famous for it’s world renowned film festival. I’d recommend visiting here on a sunny day as there is a great selection of public and private sand beaches here. There is also a beautiful old monastery from which you can get an incredible view over Cannes.

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STAYING SAFE


Travelling alone is something that everyone should experience at some point, however it’s always good to know the risks too! Make sure you are very aware of your surroundings when travelling to a new city alone, for example knowing exactly where your hostel is and large public spaces such as railway stations, shopping centres etc. Know your emergency numbers and have an ICE number saved on your phone for people to contact, as well as your medical ID saved on your phone (option on iPhones) if you are comfortable with this – this is really useful if you have health conditions or allergies and get yourself into an emergency situation. Know your areas, where is safe to be walking alone and where is not, and use your hostel/hotel staff for local information! It’s all pretty simple and common sense knowledge, however it is important to have that extra awareness when you are alone.

But overall, after doing it myself, travelling alone is an opportunity you should definitely take, even if it is a small trip close to home! You can meet new people, have some valuable thinking time to yourself and explore a new place on your own terms. Thank you to La Maioun Guesthouse for making my trip so wonderful, and to Rebekah and everyone else I met for making some special memories!

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Thank you to anyone who’s still reading! The support for this blog has been incredible, with my viewer number reaching nearly 1,300 which I never expected! I hope you all continue to enjoy my posts, and feel free to email me at elena@elenaswanderland.com, comment down below or follow my Instagram: elenaredmond. 

ELENA 

SUMMER IN THE CITY – GLASGOW

 

City breaks are a great affordable way to see new places in a short amount of time, especially if you work full time but still want to fit in some travel! I spent one night in Glasgow recently, and wanted to share with you how I had a great couple of days on a budget!

 


BOOKING FLIGHTS AND A HOTEL

 

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My first place to go for booking any trip is kayak.com, which allows me to compare sites and prices and find the best deal! You can also compare hotels on the site however I tend to head to booking.com for the best deals, especially as they have a rewards system in place if you create an account. You can use my code: D7375EE1 to get £15 back after your stay.

I chose to stay at The Argyll Hotel in Glasgow, which is near the Exhibition centre. It’s a great location as it’s not too central so you can escape the busy city at night. It’s also near the West End which is a buzzing student area with lots of coffee shops, pubs and restaurants. I was so impressed with my stay at The Argyll Hotel, in a beautiful traditional tartan bedroom. The room cost me around £30 for one night with breakfast included which is one of the best bargains I’ve found, and for this price the service, room and breakfast were all brilliant and I had no problems during my stay. The rooms are fairly small, but for a short stay I think they are perfectly equipped with a nice bathroom, television, information guides and a selection of teas, coffee and biscuits. I would definitely return for another stay here in Glasgow. For travel, the hotel is around a 10min walk to the Exhibition Centre station and then only two stops to Central Station.

 

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EXPLORING THE WEST END

 

My flight got in around 2pm, so I had plenty of time to get back to the hotel and head out and explore! There’s a quick shuttle service from Glasgow airport that takes you into the centre, costing £12 for an open return. As I mentioned, The Argyll Hotel is not too far from Glasgow’s West End, also home to Glasgow University and therefore super lively and fun. It was really sunny the day I went so I decided to visit the Botanical Gardens as these are free. I always like to find some good coffee when I’m in new places, so I stopped off at the ‘Papercup Coffee Company’, a really cool independent cafe serving great drinks and food. Then onto the beautiful Botanical Gardens! As you will see below the array of plants and flowers was so gorgeous, I couldn’t believe it was all free to see. My favourite part was the palm room which has bird and rainfall noises, making you feel like you are in the Amazon. On a sunny day like this it’s also great to relax in Kelingrove park or take a look around the lanes around Byres Road for the best independent stores and cafes.

 

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In the evening I headed to the Hillhead Bookclub Bar, which also does amazing food. This place has a really cool vibe,  it’s in an old cinema building, and it is retro and super fun. This would be the perfect place to hang out with friends, and I can imagine it gets a lot of buisness with the students of Glasgow. The food is reasonably priced, there is a bar and ping pong tables, and most importantly you can get strawberry mojitos for as little as £3!! As I was travelling alone, I found this a great place where I could relax, eat good food and read a book! (It would also be a destination for meeting new people if travelling alone!)

 

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Obviously there is so much more to discover in Glasgow, however I wanted to share what I managed to do in a short amount of time. I think that travelling locally, for example within the UK & Ireland, is something that is often passed up for trips further afield. However I have realised how much there is to see closer to home, and small, cheap trips like this can really open your eyes to a new world around you. By keeping an eye on flights and train prices, you can often find really good deals for a quick trip away – something that I’m going to do more of this summer.

 

 


 

 

Let me know if you enjoyed this post in the comments down below or by emailing elena@elenaswanderland.com. My next trip will be somewhere in Europe, and the first time I’ll be travelling alone outside of the UK & Ireland, so I’m super excited and nervous too. Keep up to date by hitting the subscribe button in the sidebar or down below.

A WEEK IN TOKYO

 

Tokyo is an incredible, crazy and vibrant city that has been at the top of my destination list for so many years! I couldn’t believe that I finally got to visit Tokyo this year, and it lived up to my expectations and more. I wanted to share with you all my favourite parts of our week, and of course some photos. Make sure to also check out my previous posts on this trip which can be found below!

 


EXPLORING CENTRAL TOKYO

 

Most of our time was spent in the city centre exploring and finding the little gems of Tokyo. Shibuya is of course the hub of activity here, with its famous crossing. I’d recommend going up to the Starbucks at Shibuya crossing – it is super busy but gives you the most incredible view! You will notice in the pictures below the amount of brightly coloured signs and posters on each building – Tokyo is completely filled with colour and sound everywhere you go. One of my favourite things I saw was the Mario Kart road race where you get to dress up as the characters and race in real go karts throughout the city centre, something that I can only imagine taking place in Japan! In Shibuya there is a statue dedicated to ‘Hachiko the Faithful Dog’ who is remembered for his remarkable loyalty to his owner, and here sits two beautiful cats who seem to keep the dog company all day long! No one is quite sure who they belong to or where they have come from, but they are so cute as you can see below. As I said there are so many brilliant places to be discovered in Tokyo, just by spending your time walking around, using the public transport and discovering.

 

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Make sure to check out Tokyo’s famous ‘Purikura’ photo booth shops! Here you can do your hair and makeup and head into a photo-booth where you are told how to pose. Then onto an editing room where you can change your eyes and add stickers and effects! This was so fun and seems to be a huge part of teen culture in Japan, with lots of girls coming specially dressed up to take pictures.

 

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POKÉMON CENTER

 

The newly opened Pokémon Center is a must see! We only went to the store, but you can also pre-book to go to the Pokémon themed cafe, which given more time would have been great to visit (click the link for more details). Be prepared to enter one of the craziest rooms in the world. The store is filled with everything Pokémon from face masks to toys. It’s an incredible store with great service, as always in Japan, and brilliant products on sale. However, I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone who is anxious in crowds as It’s extremely busy and loud.

 

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TEMPLES AND SAKURA IN THE CITY

 

We were lucky to see the first few days of Sakura season when we were in Tokyo. The best of these were at the Meiji Jingu Shrine, located in the beautiful Oyogi Park. Seeing shrines and temples in the middle of the city was something I didn’t think was possible – somehow these places seem to retain peace within the madness of Tokyo. We also found some beautiful Sakura at the Imperial Palace, also pictured below. At night I would highly recommend visiting the Sensoji Temple which is one of Tokyo’s oldest temples, founded in 628! This temple is breathtaking day and night, but the night lighting seems to make it even grander.

 

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GREAT BUDDHA

 

We went to see The Great Buddha of Kamakura at Kotokuin Temple, about an hour out of Central Tokyo. Being located on the coast, this bronze statue has been destroyed multiple times by typhoons and a tidal wave and therefore since 1495 it has been standing in the open air. The Great Buddha is truly breathtaking, whether you are religious or not this is an unbelievable sight. There is lots to explore at the temple as well for example there are lots of blessings and gifts for sale and you can also go inside the Buddha to see its construction, which is pretty amazing and also very scary! I would definitely recommend taking the train to Hase Station and seeing the area around it, there are beaches and great views as you can see below. It is important to remember that this area is on the coast and therefore prone to natural disasters so check news and weather updates before going!

 

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I just wanted to mention a few final things that I loved! One was a small gig in Tokyo where we met the most wonderful band called Jebiotto. They were such brilliant performers and it’s always great to see the music scene in different countries. The Japanese arcades are also brilliant and crazy places, perfect for evening times, alongside the Karaoke buildings where you can get your own private Karaoke room and drinks for such good prices! In Tokyo we also visited the Mocha Cat Cafe which was so fun, the cats here are really playful so definitely check it out if you’re an animal lover.

 


 

I want to go back right now! Visiting Tokyo was such an incredible experience that I wish I could  relive. Tokyo is often seen as a very expensive city, however we found that it was still cheaper than London when trying to find food, drink and activities. Also be open to exploring areas that are on the train routes out of the city, for example the Great Buddha and snow monkeys were both out of the city centre. Make sure to check out my other posts on Tokyo, and the rest of my Japan trip, they are all be listed below and in my sidebar! Keep up to date by subscribing on WordPress or via email. You can contact me at elena@elenaswanderland.com

 

ELÉNA. 

NAGASAKI

I’ve had a little break from writing but I’m back to it this evening with a post about the amazing city of Nagasaki! Nagasaki was the second destination of our trip after Kyoto, and we reached this by using both the JR services and the Shinkansen, a journey of around 4/5 hours. As I’ve said in previous posts, I would highly recommend covering Japan by train, its such a brilliant experience and also allows you to see lots of cool scenery in a small amount of time. Nagasaki was a great destination to visit, and somewhere which I really didn’t know much about before I went. Of course, Nagasaki is most well known for the awful events of the atomic bomb, dropped in 1945, however this city is also a place of such beautiful landscape, rich with history which I wanted to share with you in this post.

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NAGASAKI PEACE PARK


The Nagasaki Peace Park commemorates the atomic bombing of the city on the 9th August, 1945 during WWII. This park is beautiful and peaceful, as well as devastating and emotional. The memorials, dedications and statues help us to understand the extent of the harm caused by this bomb, and the legacy of peace that is now in the centre of Nagasaki’s culture. Although very upsetting, this park is also the most beautiful place for a day out in Nagasaki, and is probably the number one must see of the city. It’s also wonderful to see the unity of people wanting peace and you can see this below with the colourful dedications to those who died, and a future of world peace.

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OURA CHURCH AND GLOVER GARDEN


The Oura Church is another historical destination, known as the Church of the 26 Japanese Martyrs. As one of the first western style buildings, this has been declared a national treasure and the oldest church in Nagasaki. Now, I am aware that visiting churches isn’t for everyone, but for a peaceful moment in your day and also an incredible view of the city, this is a lovely place to visit. Beside it is the Glover Garden with Glover Residence being the oldest Western style house surviving in Japan. It’s always good to find nature within a city, and this garden again is a peaceful retreat, and you can get the best view of Nagasaki harbour, as you’ll see in my pictures below. The walk up to the Glover garden and Oura church is also so cute and picturesque, it looks like something out of a Disney film! There’s so many little shops that you can explore here from souvenirs to cake.

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Look how cute this little toy shop was!


THE HARBOUR AND CITY CENTRE


Of course Nagaski’s beautiful harbour is unmissable and a great attraction especially if the sun is shining! The city centre also has lots to offer, and it’s easy to get around to main attractions by tram or by foot. Exploring by tram is a great way to get to places quickly whilst also having a great view of the city and immersing yourself in the culture. The locals we met were kind, welcoming and fun in Nagasaki, and made our stay even more pleasant. One of my favourite destinations within the city centre was actually Chinatown, and the former Chinese settlement. Seeing these historical buildings within a bustling city was so exciting and great to see.

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MOUNT INASA


We decided to visit Mount Inasa at night, something that I would highly recommend doing. Mount Inasa rises to a height of 1,093ft and can be reached by the Nagasaki Ropeway. Prices are affordable and well worth what you get included, for example the ropeway includes a tour guide giving lots of fun and useful information about the city below. This is such a fun evening activity, or something for the day if you would prefer, and the views you get are just incredible. It’s not often that you get the opportunity to see such a great city at night, and this is actually labelled Nagasaki’s ’10 Million Dollar Night View’, which is very true. It was such a pleasure to be able to see this beautiful valley city lit up at night.

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So overall an absolutely wonderful stay in Nagasaki! We managed to do this all in two days, so it’s easy to pack things in with the transport links of the city. We stayed in the wonderful and affordable S Peria Hotel, which had a great room and amenities that I was very impressed with. For lovers of history and culture, Nagasaki is the perfect city for you and here you are also given the opportunity to experience a vibrant environment and see great landscapes!


Keep on following the blog for two more posts on Japan on Hiroshima and Tokyo and then see where my next adventure takes me! You can keep up with me on email, or by following on WordPress, or let me know what you think in the comments or by emailing elena@elenaswanderland.com 


THE RITZ-CARLTON, TOKYO

 

I had the pleasure of exploring The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo which is situated within the city’s tallest building. The reception is found on the 45th floor and from there the stunning hotel rooms offer views across Tokyo, with floor to ceiling windows. Within the hotel can be found seven restaurants, a spa and pool, Club Lounge, and event spaces. Before I share with you all my experience at the hotel, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Maaya Arakawa who offered me this wonderful experience and for her great expertise which helped me write this post!

 

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THE 45TH FLOOR


 

The 45th floor is the main hub of The Ritz-Carlton hotel. Upon arrival you will find yourself in the beautiful reception area with views across Tokyo. A lobby bar and lounge is in the centre with people meeting for business and pleasure, having afternoon tea or some of the cocktails from the bar menu. One of the best things I noticed in this hotel was the high standard of service provided by staff members who were so kind and willing to help with any of your needs.

On the 45th floor you can find a range of restaurants, including La Boutique which showcases contemporary chocolates and pastries, created by French Pastry Chef Jimmy Boulay, Azure 45 a Michelin star restaurant offering exquisite French dining and the Towers restaurant serving wholesome food in a very cool and contemporary setting. However my overall favourite was Hinokizaka which offers Japanese cuisine in four areas for Kaiseki, Teppanyaki, Sushi and Tempura. Pictured below this restaurant offers incredible Japanese food, with meals prepared freshly in front of you, and the rooms are beautifully decorated with traditional Japanese design. You can eat sushi with a view of Tokyo, or eat in the Teppanyaki room where you will choose from a fine meat selection offered by the chef. A private room is also available here with traditional floor seating and a wonderful view of the city. These restaurants are not only for guests but the public too, so are well worth visiting.

 

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The lobby bar is also a fantastic location for a chilled drink after a long day, or a business meeting. As you can see below the Lobby Lounge and Bar serves what must be one of the most expensive cocktails in the world – totally around £13,000! Sadly this was not what I ordered, but the bar here offers a varied range of drinks including a great cocktail selection which is always important – I actually tried a Sakura themed drink! We were lucky to be served by the fabulous Kiver Yong who was a pleasure to meet. He went above and beyond to ensure that all our needs were met, whilst also being super friendly to my family and I. In the bar you can also listen to some live music with a pianist situated above a water feature which is so relaxing to listen to.

 

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THE CLUB LOUNGE – 53RD FLOOR


 

Exclusive to Club Level guests, the 53rd floor offers an array of Club suites and rooms, some of which are considered to be the most luxurious in Asia. When booking, the Ritz-Carlton website provides information of the view you get in each room, which I think is a great feature, whether you would rather see Mount Fuji or the Tokyo Tower is totally up to you. Club guests also have access to extra privileges and the service here is described as the ‘pinnacle of hospitality that will make your stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo unforgettable’. One of these privileges is the Club Lounge, in which Club members have seperate check in to other guests, and access to four areas: reception, garden terrace, dining room and library lounge which overlook Mount Fuji and are each designed for a different atmosphere for morning, day and night. I have some pictures below of this area, but definitely click this link to see the incredible suites and rooms on offer.

 

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Just imagine waking up to this view out of your bedroom window! Absolutely incredible, and I was really impressed with what the bedrooms had to offer here at The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo.

 


SPA AND FITNESS CENTER


 

As soon as you step out of the lift and into the spa you are instantly relaxed. The hotel uses their original Crystal Bamboo scent on this floor and it matches both the beautiful setting to which you enter, and also the calm and friendly staff members that are their to meet you. This day spa, fitness center and pool has the most incredible view of Downtown Tokyo, and also offers spa treatments using the renowned Sodashi and ESPA products. A relaxing day at the Spa can be finished with an evening swim with a view of the bustling city, which is hard to find anywhere else! Being the tallest building in Tokyo, a stay at The Ritz-Carlton is an unbelievable experience and the service you receive here would be hard to beat.

 


 

I am so happy that I got to see into this beautiful hotel, with an unbeatable view of Tokyo. Five star hotels are of course always expected to offer a great service, but the Ritz-Carlton really went above and beyond, and showed why it is easily one of the best hotels in the world. Staying here not only offers a great nights sleep, but it has so many special aspects that ensure you will have an unforgettable experience. I would also recommend visiting the Lounge bar or the incredible restaurants on the 45th floor, even if you’re not a guest at the hotel.  Check out the Ritz-Carlton website for more details, and thank you again to the wonderful Maaya Arakawa for allowing me to explore The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo.

 

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If you enjoyed my post then feel free to like and comment down below! You can contact me at elena@elenaswanderland.com and send me you’re own experiences in Tokyo or the Ritz Carlton. To keep up with my posts follow me on WordPress or email, both are detailed at the bottom of the post and in the sidebar.

 

Eléna x

ST PATRICK’S DAY IN TOKYO

As the weekend comes to a close I wanted to share with you some of the pictures from an amazing St Patrick’s Day weekend, here in Tokyo! This is by far the best St Patrick’s Day parade I’ve been to – it even tops New York.

Firstly on Saturday Tokyo produced a super fun ‘I Love Ireland’ festival with pop up Irish bars, music and dancing. This was free to get in to and such a good day out, you could even get Guinness, Magners and special green cocktails here. Even better than this was today’s St Patrick’s Day Parade! This took place in Shibuya and attracted huge crowds in the Japanese capital. People from all over the world stood and watched the biggest St Patrick’s parade in the whole of Asia. It was so well put together and included pipe bands, ceilidh dancers, traditional Geisha women, and even three Santa’s dressed in green white and gold! It was the ultimate Irish celebration especially with the final group who solely celebrated Niall Horan which was hilarious for us to see. With so much variety in this parade I would definitely rate it above the New York parade which I was able to see in 2011. See below some of the photos I took today!


The opening line of the Parade included St Patrick himself and both Japan and Ireland’s Miss World Contenders. The parade was jam packed and did a loop around this Main Street in Tokyo so everyone had a good view.

Pictured below are some brilliant traditional dancers who had endless energy to perform throughout the parade!

Now we can see some of my favourite representations of Ireland including the U2 supporters, Irish dancers, Dubliners Irish pub and a man running around on a leprechaun.

There was lots of support for both Japanese and Irish culture in the parade including the beautiful Geisha girls.

And the best part of the parade: a team of samba dancers in green feather costumes lit up the parade with both the amazing dancing and drumming that came with it!

Being in Tokyo and seeing the parade end with a Niall Horan supporters group was hilarious. Clearly Niall seems to be one of the most important worldwide aspects of Irish culture and he was celebrated here with a banner, music and his face printed on paper masks!

What an incredible day we have had! Thank you so much to the I Love Ireland group for organising a great celebration of St Patrick’s Day and to all those who took part in the Parade! I hope I get to experience this amazing parade again in the future.

BEIJING AND KYOTO

BEIJING

Starting my tour of Japan with a day stop off in Beijing! So here’s what we managed to do in under 24hours:

First of all we flew with Air China. I was super impressed with the plane and the service on board. Flying economy class, my expectations were low however it was comfy and there was a decent amount of in flight entertainment on offer, although the screen does take a while to get used to. The flight was around 10hours and I had a very positive experience on board.

We landed in Beijing at around midday – be aware that this airport takes a long time to get out of, especially if you are looking to get a 72hr visa, so do prepare for that! I’d also advise against booking quick transits from here as it’s such an enormous airport that I think making another flight quickly would be a struggle.

From here you can get the train straight into the centre of Beijing! This is so cheap – I think it cost around £2.50 for 5 of us to travel, amazing prices especially compared to London. We stayed in a hotel close to airport – the Beijing Aulympic Airport Hotel – and this was great for early morning transfers, especially as there is a complimentary bus service to and from the airport. This was included when we booked with Air China, and I think this is a great option if you’re looking to save money, be close to the airport but also have a night in good quality hotel. I was very impressed by the service here – there’s plenty of freebies in the room, WiFi, tea, TV and comfy beds. Considering it’s close to the airport I didn’t feel disrupted by this at all during the night!

 

With limited time we decided to pick one place to visit and that was the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. Security is strong here so be prepared to queue to get into the square and make sure you have ID on you! Sadly for us we could only see the outside as there was a conference about to commence, however it’s well worth seeing and if you have limited time I suggest this is the best place to pick. Finding food is super easy, we went to the Raffle City shopping mall where there was so many cheap food options. Ramen is probably the best option if you’re looking for a good meal at a low price! It’s so easy to get out an about in Beijing, and with our particular hotel you could get the train back to the airport and take advantage of the free shuttle bus! If you’re on a stop off, a hotel near the airport is a must, especially with the large amounts of traffic on the roads and queuing in the airport.

 

KYOTO

Next stop was Japan! We flew from Beijing to Tokyo, again using Air China. This flight was just under 3 hours but there was still a meal and in flight entertainment included so that was great! We took advantage of the tasty food at Tokyo Haneda airport before heading to Kyoto. You’ll find that prices in Tokyo are higher than in Beijing, however it’s still easy to find a reasonably priced meal which is great quality.

 

 

Then onto Kyoto! On this trip we are using Japan Rail passes (JR PASS) which you can purchase in advance and use on mainline rail – not including the subway. We took the Shinkansen from central Tokyo all the way to Kyoto, a journey of around 3 hours. The Shinkansen is so easy to travel on with loads of room for luggage, and recliner seats to relax after a long day of travel. Staying a few stops out of central Kyoto is a great idea to save money and have a peaceful evening. We were lucky to stay near the Fushimi Inari Shrine which is Kyoto’s most well known destination. This is incredible – there’s something really special and peaceful about being here. You can walk through the 10000 gates, explore the shrine, buy blessings and wishes and taste some amazing street food.

 

 

Our next stop in Kyoto was the Railway Museum. This is also a popular destination and is very busy! It was actually so fun and interesting, a great place to take children if you want them to be entertained all day! Here you can see the history of Japan’s famous trains, with many full size ones to look around. You can have a ride on a steam train as well for around £3 per person. It’s hard to see everything here as it’s so enormous, but the main centre of the museum is enough of you’re looking for a fun day out.

 

 

And our final stop. As we only had one full day here we just picked one more place to visit and that was the Imperial Palace. You can buy tickets to look around the outside of the palace and it’s gardens on your own or with a guided tour. It is so beautiful here and if you like history and beautiful architecture then go and visit! You can get here by subway from Kyoto station and then there’s a short walk under 5mins. Definitely check entry times and prices before going!

 

 

During our time in Kyoto we found the best places to eat at the Porto dining area which you can access from Kyoto station!

 

An amazing start to this trip of a lifetime !! Next stop: Nagasaki. Keep checking for more posts in the next two weeks and sign up via email or WordPress by clicking my sidebar! Let me know what you think by commenting or liking down below x

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