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.

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HAVANA, CUBA

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 My family and I visited the most beautiful, inspiring and memorable city we have ever been to – Havana, Cuba. It exceeded our expectations by such a great amount and I never stop thinking about returning. Not only was the scenery amazing but the people had such a great impact on me, people who have close to nothing gave so much love to all of our family.

I haven’t had a chance to properly share my photos before and these are so special to me so I hope you enjoy them! I’ve included some tips and things that we did on our trip. All destinations are linked with their tripadvisor page for more info. My top 5 tips are listed at the end of the post so keep reading for those!

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So I had no idea that there is a forest in Havana! We were taken here as part of a car tour we did with two brilliant guides. This place is beautiful and you forget you’re in a city. However it is also a place of magic and spirit where many take voodoo dolls or perform sacrifices. Although this sounds scary, you’re unlikely to see any of this taking place, however I would highly recommend going with a guide, who will explain the history and beliefs around the forest! I took some of my favourite pictures here.

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This incredible building can be seen in the Plaza de la Revolucion. Famous for being the destination of Fidel Castro’s rallies, this square is an must see destination. The Jose Marti Memorial is a huge tower which dominates the square and from which you can get an amazing view of the government buildings – one of which is pictured above.

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The above photo is taken outside the Hotel Nacional de Cuba. This is probably the most famous hotel in Havana as it is often used by celebrities and political figures on their visits including a recent visit from Obama! You can come here even if you’re not booked in and look at their room with celebrity photos or sit outside and have a cocktail! The outdoor bar overlooks the Malecon, the perfect spot for a drink at sunset – which is made even better by the live band willing to serenade you if you wish!

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The amazing Malecon pictured above. A popular walkway with an amazing view, one side of the city and the other of the sea!

My number one recommendation is go out and meet the locals! Don’t be afraid to go into the backstreets of Old Havana – everyone we met was so friendly and that is what made the trip so special to us. The above photo is of a lovely couple we met whilst walking around who insisted on taking us to see an original member of the Buenavista Social Club perform in a bar, something so special that we wouldn’t have found on our own! Old Havana is beautiful and fascinating and is where we spent a lot of our time. You’ll find markets, churches, restaurants and local people who want to talk to you and make you feel at home.

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If you’re looking for a good beach there’s beautiful ones about 30mins – 1hr out of the city. For us, we didn’t find it necessary to hire a car in the city as taxis are so cheap and you can hail them pretty much anywhere. We actually found a wonderful driver at our hotel – El Presidente – who was called Gustavo and so we used him for the rest of our trip! He is pictured below and is one of the best people we have ever met so thank you to Gustavo for making our trip so special.

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Go and watch the baseball! The Estadio Latinamericano is home to the Industriales and watching this was one of our best experiences of the trip: the stadium was packed and it was an amazing game with such an excited crowd. They actually have a seating area for tourists, as tourists pay more for tickets, and there is a great view from there. However, we decided to sit with the local people of Havana and this is something I’d recommend doing if you want to get the full experience of a Havana baseball match.

Finally my 5 top tips:

1. Pack all your toiletries and necessities before you go. Unlike other countries, you will not be able to buy these easily in Havana so you must bring them with you, especially things like sun cream and after-sun.

2. Immerse yourself in the city! In my opinion it’s essential to get out and meet the real people of Havana. By doing this it made Havana our most special and unforgettable trip to date!

3. Bring extra toiletries. We left extras for the cleaner of our room who we had befriended over our trip. She was so appreciative and she didn’t have access to our products over there, so it’s a nice gesture if you can pack some extras!

4. Don’t be afraid to use local taxis. All the local taxis in Havana are old traditional cars which you can usually see in pictures online. Although these cars have an overwhelming smell of petrol, it’s really fun to ride around in them, support the locals and meet some really lovely drivers!

5. Go and see some more of Cuba. We stayed in Havana for the duration of our trip but were still able to drive out to beaches, or get the train to smaller towns which were beautiful. If you have lots of time explore the rest of the country!

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Eléna Continue reading “HAVANA, CUBA”