Happy New Year’s to Everyone

Toasting to 2017

We are wrapping up 2016 in Bangkok, one of our all-time favorite cities to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s. We are wishing all of our family and friends a happy new year, and we hope we have inspired you with some of our travels.

In 2016, we made it to eleven countries on four continents traveling through Germany, Italy, Portugal, the U.S., Spain, Morocco, Gibraltar, the Czech Republic, Japan, Taiwan, and Thailand. While 2015 was all about nature and wildlife, 2016 was all about cities and food. Yes, South America left us a bit starved for nourishment. Continue…

Merry Tri-National Christmas

Christmas in Central World, Bangkok

If you are one of those people who complains about how early the Christmas decorations go up each year, Asia is not for you. Starting the day after Halloween (there’s no Thanksgiving here), the Christmas trees started popping up around us in Osaka. The tinsel and the carols followed us to Kyoto. We explored the temples and fall foliage to a sound track of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and Jingle Bells. From Japan, we made our way to Taiwan where we discovered crowded German-style Christmas markets filled with bratwurst, gluhwein, pretzels and Chinese dumplings.

Yes, we swayed to Stille Nacht (Silent Night in German) as we stared up at Taipei 101, Asia’s most stunning skyscraper, and basked in the light of fake log fires and a sea of twinkly Christmas lights. From Taiwan, we Continue…

Krampus at the Christmas Market in Munich

Ah, it’s December in Bavaria and the Christmas markets are in full swing. The Alps are shrouded in cool mist and half-timbered houses are decked out in twinkly lights and boughs of mistletoe. Locals are huddled ’round their fires drinking hot glühwein as holiday tunes float through the air.

Suddenly, the sound of synchronized cracking whips break the silence. Groups of Krampus and Perchten, Christmas devils and fur-clad Alpine monsters armed with bundles of twigs, rush into the crowded streets. The fiendish Christmas beasts dance through the crowds chasing rotten children and whipping them with stinging bundles of twigs. Adults laugh and stuff themselves with gingerbread as children run screaming in all directions. Yeah, Christmas in Germany has a bit of an edge. Continue…

Tokyo Food Tours

Tokyo Food Tours

Japan had been on our bucket list for a while, but the actual decision to come here was made in the spur of a moment. “I want to go to Japan and eat,” Tony said one afternoon after an uninspired meal. No sooner did he utter these words than I booked us a flight to Tokyo, sushi wonderland and foodie capital for many travelers. After having spent five years in Asia, we considered ourselves relative experts on Asian cuisine. Obviously, all we had to do was walk the capital’s busy streets and fill our bellies with exotic delicacies. Or so we thought.

It turns out that Japan is a whole different kettle of fish. With a population of over 13 million, metropolitan Tokyo seems to have almost as many restaurants, food stalls and izakayas as it has people. Yes, there is such a thing as too many options. What should you have for lunch? A Michelin-starred bento plate or green tea soba noodles? How about yamaimo or fugu? Oh, that’s right – one can make you sick, the other can potentially kill you. Add to that language difficulties and chokingly high prices, and you find yourself Continue…

Crazy Tokyo Experiences

Cat bonnet anyone?

Evolving post – more to come!

We came to Japan for the specific goal of diving into the country’s legendary craziness. We had visions of pouty Lolitas posing in front of multi-story video screens, robots performing the Nutcracker, warehouse-scale electronic sushi emporiums, and Gozilla peeking over a skyscraper down upon the city’s legendary street culture. Did we find it? Absolutely, it’s everything we ever dreamt of and more.

In coming days, we will be building the ultimate list of quirky, crazy, weird, wild and wonderful activities, a sort of must-do menu of kitschy Tokyo delights. Hai, dozo! Continue…

The Rockabillies of Yoyogi Park

Yoyogi Park Rockabillies

The Rockabillies of Yoyogi Park are, perhaps, the best example of what makes Tokyo so Tokyo. This city is all about awesome subcultures, retro tongue-in-cheek chic, music, and serious love for everything fun.

For more than 30 years, these Tokyo icons have been gathering on Sundays at the southeastern corner of Yoyogi Park to dazzle visitors with their dance moves, humor and extreme vertical hair. They don’t do it for money; they don’t ask for a thing. They just Continue…

The Red Spider Lilies of Kinchakuda

japan-spider-lilies-2

No, we didn’t come to Japan during the cherry blossom season. 🙁 But it turns out that Japan has a whole lot of surprises up is floral kimono sleeves. We just randomly stumbled upon this little known (outside Japan) event, the blooming of the red spider lilies of Kinchakuda (巾着田).

Located a mere hour outside Tokyo in Saitama Prefecture, Kinchakuda Park lies on a forested bend along the shores of the Koma River. For about 8-10 days each year, a spectacular red carpet of lilies forms beneath the trees creating a fairy tale scene unlike anything we have ever encountered before Continue…

Rockin’ Room with a Space-Age View

View from our apartment in Nishi Shinjuku

We came to Japan with one major goal in mind, to experience the awesomeness, the craziness, the cuteness, the unexpectedness, the weirdness and the wonderfulness of the Japanese people. In other words, the Japaneseness.

When we told friends that we would be spending half of our time in the country just in Tokyo, they seemed a bit surprised by our decision. Why so focused on the capital? Why? Because Tokyo is prime hunting ground for everything that makes Japan so Japanese. We want skyscrapers decorated in giant video screens, anime madness, hustle and bustle, Harajuku girls, streets aflow with humanity, and food, food, food. First reaction to Tokyo… fabulous shock! It’s overwhelming in the most positive sense of the word. Continue…

The Ultimate Guide to Hiking Torres del Paine – UPDATED

September marks the start of the trekking season in Torres del Paine. A lot has changed in the short time since we visited in 2015, so we are updating our guide. Full-circuit trekkers can now only hike counterclockwise and reservations are necessary for the free CONAF campsites starting October 15, 2016. Read on for details and complications.

After several months of indulging in amazing luxury experiences in Peru and Argentina, Tony and I were craving a good challenge and decided to hike the full circuit around the Torres del Paine Massif. It had been way too long since we did a multi-day hike on our own. It was time to hit the trails and test our physical limits. This time, no organized lodges, no guides or porters, no prepared meals. We wanted a real adventure to rediscover our sense of independence. Just a tent, food, and enough time to explore 130 km of wilderness.

Torres del Paine National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, is a household name among serious trekkers. Even if you have never heard the name, you’ve certainly seen the world-famous park in advertisements. Its epic landscapes represent everything that makes Continue…