The final trip I took in Japan was to Kyoto with my aunt and uncle. We decided to pay for a tour bus (which normally is not my thing) since we only had one full day to explore the city. It was really hot in Kyoto, so I was glad we took the bus. Having to walk all of these places would not have been pleasant.
My aunt and uncle live just outside of Tokyo, so we had to take the shinkansen, or bullet train, to get to Kyoto. It only took a few hours. I loved the shinkansen. Much more convenient and comfortable than flying.
The first place we visited on the tour was Nijo castle:
Despite the tour being in English, I don’t remember a lot about this castle, except that it had nightingale floors. These are floors that are specifically designed to creak so that you can hear intruders trying to sneak up on you.
The next place we went was Kinkakuji, or the Golden Pavillion.
The interesting thing about the Golden Pavillion is that it’s golden because it’s covered in real gold leaf, which was overlayed on the original lacquer, to protect the lacquer. The gold was cheaper than the lacquer it covers. Crazy.
We also visited Kiyomizudera, which is a famous temple. There is an old myth that says that if one were to survive a jump from the Kiyomizudera veranda (pictured below) to the ground 13m below, one would be granted a wish. In the Edo period, 34 jumps were recorded, and about 85% of these people survived. However, the practice is now prohibited.
Kiyomizudera is also home to three streams of water, said to confer wisdom, health and longevity to those who drink from them. However, you are not told which is which, and it is said to be unlucky to drink from all three.
The final place we visited, was the Phoenix Pavillion, or Hoodoo. This place is featured on the Japanese 10 Yen coin. It’s a beautiful building, decorated in phoenixes.
When the announcement was first made that fall term was going to be online, I started talking to friends and looking for places to live. We were debating locations around the country: California, Florida, New York, etc.. there were plenty of options. Then it suddenly hit me, what is stopping us from going to Hawaii, covid numbers were better and a two week quarentine would ensure that numbers stayed down… I proposed this to my friend and we agreed it would be an amazing experience, but we didn’t want to get out hopes up. A month or so later we still haven’t decided where to live, Hawaii seemed too far and too difficult to plan. But we couldn’t get the idea out of our heads. We spent some time looking into plane tickets, places to stay, etc… and it actually didn’t seem so impossible after all. A couple weeks later and we were arriving here on the big island!
I visited Amsterdam for a brief two and a half days during my vacation. There were a few landmarks and neighborhoods I wanted to checkout, but did not plan the visit in detail. As such, when it came down to destinations with ticketed entries, I had to skip most of them, since they did not have day-of tickets left for sale. Fortunately, I was able to walk around most of the city and it was generally a good time.