Bus tour to scenic Lake Kawaguchi, Japan.

A bus tour with VIP Japan and booked through Viator.com was the perfect way for me to get to see the fabulous view of Mt Fuji from Chureito Pagoda.  I had wanted to see this view in person since first our first to Japan in 2017, so when I saw this tour would take me there, I jumped at the chance. Of course, Mt Fuji has a reputation of being elusive and hiding in the clouds if the weather is not just right.  But this tour had a cancellation policy up to 24 hours beforehand. This gave me the opportunity […]

Brussels Chocolate Tasting Tour – Belgium

Belgium is world famous for it’s chocolate, so while visiting the capitol city, Brussels, we knew that a chocolate tasting tour had to be part of our agenda.    We went online, and the company, Get Your Guide, had a guided 2 hour Brussels Chocolate Tasting Tour available for about $26.  It had good reviews, so we went ahead and booked it. We had booked the afternoon tour, so met our guide and the rest of our group (about 15 or so), at 2 pm in Le Grand Place in the centre of Brussels.  It was an easy walk for […]

Mayuko’s Little Kitchen Cooking Class, Tokyo, Japan.

My husband and I both enjoy Japanese Ramen and Gyoza dumplings, so I decided while in Tokyo it would be good fun to learn how to make them in a cooking class, and Mayuko’s Little Kitchen looked like the perfect place. I had booked the Cooking class directly on Mayuko’s Little Kitchen website, which was very easy and there are a number of cooking classes you can choose from.  They last approximately 3 hours. With my confirmation, came the directions of where to meet, a small train station close to Mayuko’s apartment in the Shibuya area of Tokyo which was […]

A day with Tuscany Vespa Tours, Tuscany, Italy.

While staying in Tuscany, we decided that a tour with Tuscany Vespa Tours would be a fun way to see more of the beautiful Tuscan countryside, including a wine tasting and delicious lunch. We booked the tour online in advance.  The tour originated in Florence, but we were staying south of there in San Gimignano, so because we had a car, we were able to arrange to meet them at the real start point, Castello di Poppiano. Castello di Poppiano is a lovely winery and also makes their own olive oil. Soon after we arrived at the Castello, the tour […]

Wine tasting and lunch at Tenuta Cocci Grifoni Winery, Italy. 1

I really wanted to do a wine tasting and lunch experience, and after a bit of research, I arranged such a tasting for a group of us at Tenuta Cocci Grifoni Winery, in the Marche region of Italy. We were in the area for a friends wedding in the picturesque town of Petritoli at Palazzo Mannocchi.  Tenuta Cocci Grifoni Winery was only about 35 minutes drive away. I had been e-mailing with Marilena, the General Director, and she had kindly set up the lunch and wine tasting for us. She was especially wonderful and gracious, because in the last 24 […]

Free Tours by Foot, New Orleans, Louisiana.

With Free Tours by Foot, you just tip the guide at the end however much you think the tour is worth. Or in the case of the Food Tour, you buy just the foods that you wish to try and then tip the guide at the end.  This sounded like a good economical way for me to try out walking tours in New Orleans. Garden District Tour with Lafayette Cemetery. The first tour we tried with them was the Garden District Tour with Lafayette Cemetery.  They have a great website with good information on the meeting points, which in this […]

Comparing Beignets in New Orleans, Louisiana.

I had heard conflicting reports on who served the better Beignets in New Orleans, Café Beignet, or the more famous Café Du Monde.  So I decided that the only way for me to really know for myself was to compare Beignets – not a hardship for a sweet tooth! For those who are unsure, Beignets are squares of fried dough, eaten hot and served sprinkled with lots of confectioners sugar.  They were brought to New Orleans in the 18th Century by the French Colonists, and these days are apparently the official State doughnut of Louisiana! I saw the sign in […]

Forest of Lamps

Mori Building Digital Art Museum, Borderless – Tokyo, Japan.

The Mori Building Digital Art Museum, Teamlab Borderless in Odaiba, Tokyo was a place I just knew we had to visit after seeing very cool videos and photos of it on the internet. It looked like a fun and visually stimulating place to visit. It is located in Odaiba, and to get there we took the subway, connected to the Monorail and that took us over the Rainbow Bridge, with great views of the skyline of Tokyo, to the Odaiba area.  It is very popular, so we had purchased our tickets online in advance (3,200 Yen).   But even so, […]

A morning of museums in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

On my last morning in Amsterdam I decided to go to two museums that I had read about and very much wanted to visit, the Museum Willet-Holthuysen and the Rembrandt House Museum.  I had already visited the Anne Frank House and you can read about that in my blog post, A visit to the Anne Frank House. The Museum Willet-Holthuysen is located in the Southern Canal belt, at Herengracht 605.  It is a double front canal home once owned by Abraham Willet and Louisa Willet-Holthuysen, an affluent Amsterdam couple in the mid to late 1800’s. Louisa outlived her husband and […]

Staircase statues


Delicious Foods in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Before I went, I read about all the delicious foods to try in Amsterdam, Fries with mayonnaise, Stroopwafel, Apple Pie, Bitterballen, etc. so of course you know I had to hunt down these delicacies to try them for myself! I got straight to work on my first afternoon in Amsterdam and was on the lookout for Stroopwafel, especially as I’m such a sweet tooth! I had been exploring the Bloemenmarkt, so from there it was a short walk to Van Wonderen Stroopwafels at Kalverstraat 190.  The shop window showed the three sizes you could choose from and examples of the […]

A visit to the Anne Frank House and meeting new friends, Amsterdam, Netherlands

It was my first full day in Amsterdam and I had a time slot booked to visit the Anne Frank House Museum at 4.15 pm, and an arrangement to meet a facebook friend at the Concertgebouw late morning to catch the free lunchtime concert.  This left plenty of time to fill exploring Amsterdam, so I decided to make an early start and walk to the I Amsterdam sign by the Rijksmuseum to get there before there were too many people as it seems to be a hotspot for photo opportunities! Update, this sign has now been moved, and is touring […]

Rainy morning at the sign

Blossom at the Tidal Basin

Arlington Cemetery, Cherry blossom and sight seeing in Washington D.C. 2

I was in the Washington D.C. area visiting my friend Naomi who had moved to the area because her husband is in the military, and we decided to take a day to go into the City to enjoy the Cherry blossom and do some sight seeing. We started by driving to Arlington and first stopping at Sugar Shack Donuts and Coffee for a naughty breakfast!  I chose the Maple Bacon, and the Cherry Cheesecake doughnuts and a Café Latte to wash them down. 2 doughnuts was probably a bit much, but I couldn’t decide and I knew we would be […]

Girls day out in Brighton, the Lanes, and the Royal Pavilion, Sussex, England. 1

When back in England visiting family I like to arrange something fun for the girls of the family to do together. So on this occasion as it fell between Christmas and New Year, I thought it would be fun to go to Brighton to wander the Lanes, have lunch, have some retail therapy and lastly visit the Royal Pavilion. We arrived by train, which is on the mainline from London, so makes it easy to get to from the city if you wish for a daytrip.  Brighton is quite a historical seaside town and dates back to Anglo Saxon times […]

Pavilion Ice Rink

View as I entered the Temple

Beautiful Jing’an Buddhist Temple, Shanghai, China.

With it’s beautiful golden roof, Jing’an is a truly stunning Buddhist Temple surrounded by the modern high rise buildings in the heart of Shanghai. The temple has been on this site since 1216, but the current temple was built in the Qing Dynasty and during the Cultural Revolution was converted into a Plastics Factory.  In 1983 it was returned to it’s original purpose and renovated. To get there, I rode the metro line 2 to Jing’an Temple station and used exit 1 to get to the Temple it’s self. When we had taken a guided tour of Shanghai on our […]

Exploring Tianzifang alleyways and the French Concession area, Shanghai, China.

Having read a bit about the quaintness of the shopping alleyways of Tianzifang I was really interested to see them, so I headed out on the metro, using Line 9 to get to Dapuqiao station in the old French Concession area of Shanghai.  It you use exit 1 at the station, you come out on Taikang Road right across the road from Tianzifang. On the map, you can see Taikang road at the bottom, and the three entrances to the Tianzifang alleyways. I decided it made most sense to me, to start by going down the left hand entrance. I […]

Umbrella was needed part of the time

Boating along the canal

Half day tour to Zhujiajiao Water Village, Shanghai, China.

I decided to book a half day tour to Zhujiajiao Water Village through Viator.com, as I was on my own and despite having a great guided tour of Shanghai the day before, I was still nervous about the public transportation and making my way that far on my own. I had read about it’s ancient history and that it was very well preserved so really wanted to get there. It turned out that I was the only person signed up for the tour on that day, so what should have been a group tour turned into a private tour.  The […]

Soup dumplings, food markets and so much more in Shanghai, China.

I enjoy sampling local foods when I travel and Soup dumplings kept coming up again and again when I was researching food and places in Shanghai, so I knew this was top of my list of foods to try while visiting. We watched both large and small Soup dumplings being made in Yuyuan Bazaar on our first day, and I got to see that that the filling is set with gelatin so that it can be made, but turns liquid after it is heated.  We were hungry to try them, so our guide took us to a restaurant called Shanghai […]

Soup dumplings and Beef in pepper sauce

Admiring the view of Pudong

Shanghai, China. Our private full-day guided tour.

We decided to book, through Viator.com, a guided full day tour of Shanghai as my husband had business to conduct so only had one day to really see some sights. It would also ward off jetlag, give us a good overview of the city and the guide could teach me how to use the metro for later exploring on my own. Our guide (Lily) from Sunny Tours Shanghai arrived promptly at our hotel to meet us and we briefly discussed what we would like to see, and I explained to her that I would be exploring on my own in […]

Some good food in Vancouver, B.C. Canada.

While visiting Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in September I spent a few days exploring the city and so enjoyed some good food at various places over that time.  Here are some of those good eats. Food Trucks. Vancouver has a good number of food trucks covering all sorts or cuisine, most of them in downtown Vancouver.  I noticed the cluster of Food trucks near the Art Gallery and so decided to stop at Mom’s Grilled Cheese Truck, serving up soup and gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, for my lunch.  The truck is usually to be found at Howe St and Robson […]

Sausage rolls and Pasties

The Sunken Garden

Daytrip to Victoria and Butchart Gardens with Landsea Tours, Vancouver, Canada.

I had long wanted to visit the famous Butchart Gardens on Victoria Island, so while in Vancouver, B.C. I had booked myself of a full day tour with Landsea Tours which would take me on an escorted trip over to Victoria and the gardens. I was picked up promptly at 8.40 am from my downtown Vancouver hotel and after stopping at a couple more hotels we drove south to Tsawwassen where the Ferry Port is located. Our guide and driver for the day was called Lauren, and she was great.  Outgoing, bubbly and fun, but also full of information too. […]

Visiting the Jane Austen House Museum in Chawton village, England.

I’m a long time fan of Jane Austen so when I had a free day while visiting family in England, I ventured off on a daytrip to visit the Jane Austen House Museum in Chawton, near Alton, Hampshire, where she spent the last 8 years of her life and where she wrote or revised most of her novels. When I arrived mid morning the small car park was already full, so I parked in the Greyfriar Pub car park instead and to justify this told myself that I would have lunch at the Pub later.  Then it occurred to me […]

Jane's writing desk

Wiener and fries

Waterton town and some good food, Waterton Lakes National Park, Canada.

After the steep hike up to Bear’s Hump to see the amazing view in Waterton Lakes National Park it was getting on for dinner time.  So we drove the short distance from the Prince of Wales Hotel to the small town of Waterton right on the edge of the lake, to look for some food as we were pretty hungry.  Before we parked, we stopped briefly to take a look at pretty Cameron Falls that are right on the edge of Waterton. We then drove into the middle of town, parked the car and started walking to look for Wieners […]

Prince of Wales Hotel and hike to Bear’s Hump, Waterton Lakes National Park, Canada.

We were staying overnight in the historic Prince of Wales Hotel in Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada. I had read about the Bear’s Hump hike and the wonderful views it provided, so once we were settled in the Hotel, I planned to drag my husband and Brother with me to tackle the short but sharp hike. The iconic Prince of Wales Hotel was built in 1926/27 by the Great Northern Railway of the US to try to lure tourists during the Prohibition era.  Though named for the Prince of Wales, he never actually did stay at the hotel and […]

View of Waterton from Bear's Hump

Early morning at Lake Louise

Lake Louise and the hike to Lake Agnes Teahouse, Canada.

While in Alberta, Canada we had planned a visit to Lake Louise and I managed to talk the family and friends we were with to join me on the hike up to Lake Agnes Teahouse.  We were staying in Banff and knew how busy it gets at Lake Louise, so started early and after the 45 minute drive arrived at Lake Louise at about 7.45 am, plenty early enough to be able to park right by the lake and Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise Hotel. The clouds were still clinging to the tops of the mountains this early but it was […]

24 hours in Glacier National Park, Montana.

We arrived in St Mary’s at the East entrance of Glacier National Park, Montana, at around 4 pm in the afternoon, this drive was part of a road trip we were taking to Canada. It was a gorgeous day, so we decided to quickly check into our hotel, St Mary Lodge and Resort, and then go straight on into the Park. We had booked the hotel through the National Park website and it was literally right outside the East entrance to the Park, so very convenient.  Like many National Park Lodges it was quite pricey for what it was, which […]

Wild Goose Island lookout

Breakfast at Cowboy Coffee

An overnight stop and dining in Jackson, Wyoming.

Jackson in Wyoming is a great little resort town that never really has an off season, during the winter it has 3 ski resorts, and the rest of the year it is a popular kick off point for exploring Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks which are just to the north. As part of our road trip to Canada, we stopped overnight in Jackson, as we were indeed using it as a great starting point for the next day and exploring the National Parks.  We arrived in the late afternoon and checked into our hotel, The Antler Inn, which turned […]

Portland, Oregon – Donuts and Gardens.

I was in Portland to visit friends, and knew that were a few things that I wanted to do on this visit that I hadn’t been able to do on previous visits, and that was eat good Donuts (or as we spell it in England, Doughnuts) and go to the Japanese Gardens and the International Rose Test Gardens. Now, when is comes to Donuts in Portland, I think most people immediately think of Voodoo Donuts, and on a previous trip we had tried to visit one of the two Voodoo locations, but the line had been so long that we […]

Maple Bacon Donut

Stone bridge at Nijubashi.

Tokyo, Japan. Imperial Palace Gardens and Takeshita Street.

It was my last full day in Tokyo and I still hadn’t been able to visit two places I wanted; the Imperial Palace and Takeshita Street,  so I decided it was time to venture out and see if I could put my new knowledge of the trains and subway to good use and find my way there. I used my PASMO card that I had purchased a few days earlier when I had spent the day with a guide from Tokyo Free Guide, you can read about that in my post about the fun day.  From Shibuya Station I took the JR […]

Tokyo, Japan. My visit to the Meiji Jingu Shrine and Garden.

There are many Buddhist Temples and Shinto Shrines in Tokyo and I was looking forward to visiting some of them including the Meiji Jingu Shrine.  I wasn’t clear on this initially, but Buddhism and Shinto are separate “religions” (not really a “religion” like how people practice Christianity, Islam, etc.) in Japan but they are combined so people can practice both of them.  Shinto is not an organized religion, it is just a collection of all traditional Japanese beliefs. Often a Buddhist temple is right next door to a Shinto Shrine. On my first full day to explore in Tokyo, I realized that […]

Wedding No. 1

The Great Buddha

Japan. Day tour to Kamakura from Tokyo to see the Great Buddha.

From the moment I had seen a picture of the Great Buddha of Kamakura I knew I had to go and see it in person if I could, so I booked a Tour through Viator.com (actually run by JTB Sunrise Tours) that went to Kamakura and visited a number of Temples including Kotoku-in Temple where the Great Buddha is located. The tour included hotel pick-up, then took us to a central bus terminal where we were sorted into our tour groups then re-boarded buses and set out on the approximately 90 minute drive south west to Kamakura.  The guide we had, who was named […]