Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sado Island, Japan

During our two-week stay in Japan, we spent three days on Sado Island in Niigata Prefecture, which is about a two-hour train and one-hour ferry ride north of Tokyo. We didn't know too much about Sado Island before we went, except that the area was known for its beautiful landscapes and world-renowned sake (Niigata is home to some of Japan's best rice and sake). While we appreciated Tokyo's skyscrapers and crowds of people, we hoped to see a rural area that was less affected by modernity.

Sado Island ended up being so beautiful and one of the great surprises of our trip. The island had rocky cliffs, rice paddies, big ocean waves, and zigzag mountain roads. We ordered a tiny rental car and drove up and down the coast, stopping along different scenic landmarks (Futatsugame and Ohnogame were some of our favorite rock formations along the northern coast). 

Other highlights from Sado Island:
- Staying in a traditional ryokan and sleeping on tatami mats
- Eating a feast of different kinds of seafood every night
- Visiting the toki sanctuary. Sado Island is one of the few places in the world to nurture the toki (Japanese crested ibis) population
- Walking through the Sado gold mine
- Visiting several different award-winning sake breweries and taking some bottles home
- Driving to enjoy the Osado Skyline scenery 

Friday, November 27, 2015


Earlier in October, Jeremiah and I spent two weeks in Japan -- five days in Tokyo, three days on Sado Island, and five days back in Tokyo. Japan was one of those lifetime trips where we had always said we wanted to go, and finally this year we got the momentum (and enough travel points) to take our dream trip!

For the first and last legs of our trip in Tokyo, we stayed in the Shinjuku area -- the largest neighborhood in the city that is focused on business and nightlife. We were able to stay at the Park Hyatt hotel (featured in "Lost in Translation") which had incredible views of the city and was really close to everything we wanted to see in Shinjuku.

Some highlights of visiting Tokyo:

- Seeing the Meiji Shrine and walking through Yoyogi Park
- Visiting all of the random department stores surrounding the train station (apparently that's a thing, most train stations have at least five mega-department stores around them)
- Having a tour guide show us around the Asakusa and Oeno neighborhoods, including many of the shrines, temples, and museums
- Eating/drinking in Omoide Yokocho (Piss Alley), and making friends with a salaryman who gave us travel tips and generously paid for our tab
- Having a reliable Google Translate app (imperative for us, as our Japanese is non-existent except for about five phrases)
- Going to the Studio Ghibli Museum and feeling like a wistful kid again (especially while riding the catbus to get there)
- Visiting Shibuya to see the crossing and Shibuya 109
- Shopping and people-watching in Harajuku
- People-watching and wandering into all of the electronic/anime stores in Akihabara
- ALL of the food options (ramen ticket machines, okonomiyaki, udon, kaitensushi, sashimi, tempura, tsukemono, soba, yakitori, takoyaki, and lots more)
- Staying at the Park Hyatt and feeling like a movie star

Hoping to visit again in a couple years and do the other things we weren't able to do (Tsukiji Fish Market, especially)

Reading material that was helpful for planning our trip:
- Japan Guide
- /r/japantravel
- Japan Talk
- Pretty Good Number One by Matthew Amster-Burton

Sunday, June 28, 2015


Just like that, it's almost July. Summer got itself here in a big hurry.

Clockwise from top left: Standing on my street in an & Other Stories dress and Madewell top; Flowers on 53rd Street; Somewhere in Flatiron; reflecting at Lincoln Center.

Clockwise from top left: A beautiful school door in Chelsea; My sister and I in Central Park during her Memorial Day weekend visit; Don Draper's office at the Museum of the Moving Image; watching Ex Machina with Jeremiah; visiting company headquarters in Atlanta during my sister's graduation.

Clockwise from top left: True Detective street art on 9th Avenue; Top of Grand Central Station; St, Patrick's Cathedral; Drinks on the Upper East Side; Empire State, by reflection.
Clockwise from top left: Crif Dogs sign in East Village; Matcha obanyaki at Mocu Mocu in Hell's Kitchen; Totto Ramen in Hell's Kitchen; Anniversary hot dogs at Crif Dogs; Waffles and Dinges in Flatiron. 

This is my third summer of living in the city (and fourth if you count the one year I did an internship up here). I finally feel like I've hit my comfort zone, both at work and living in my neighborhood. I'm incredibly grateful to live close enough to my work that I can walk anywhere and everywhere on my own two feet, and not rely on the subway for my daily routines.

Ways that I could (possibly, potentially) one day dare call myself a New Yorker?:
- Learning to really appreciate and love bagels, even the onion ones
- Getting the thousand-yard stare down pat to avoid hawkers and gawkers around Times Square
- Having a closet with more neutrals than colors (I'm not sure if this is a good thing yet)
- Being able to recommend a restaurant for almost every type of international cuisine (without leaving my neighborhood)
- Jaywalking all the time
- Associating summer with the smell of "hot garbage"
- Finding little dogs in clothes and shoes really adorable
- Being terrified of the day I'll have to start driving a car again

Ways I will never be a New Yorker:
- Always being slightly unsure of my directions-giving if it isn't a numbered street or avenue
-  Still looking up at good architecture like I am a tourist
- Not really understanding the appeal of brunch (it's breakfast food and watered-down mimosas) 

Anyways, how is your summer going?

Things I'm looking forward to:
- Fourth of July rooftops and hanging out with friends
- Watching more Alfred Hitchcock Presents on Netflix
- Planning for trips later this year (Tokyo and London!)

Sunday, May 3, 2015

High Line-ing

It's finally spring in New York! This winter feels like it's lasted forever and I'm just glad to not wear tights and a peacoat anymore. Bring on the vintage dresses, beer gardens, strolls through the park and other adventures!

Jeremiah and I took a walk a couple Saturdays ago on the High Line while the weather's been nice. I love the views from the High Line, but it can get super-touristy and crowded so we usually only go once or twice a season. This day was particularly beautiful, and I'm excited to eventually check out the new Whitney Museum that just opened.

I bought this vintage dress a couple months ago and have been waiting for the temperatures to rise for me to wear it. My poor vintage cotton dresses just linger in my closet for months while winter goes on. I really need to switch to a more "northern" style of dressing, but it's hard for me to part with some of my older vintage styles I've collected over the years.

What else is going on and what's on the horizon:
- Watching: On Netflix, currnetly watching Black Mirror and Daredevil (set in our neighborhood!). For movies, just watched Ex Machina (loved), Avengers (meh for me), Age of Adaline (kind of a disappointment but the costume design was eye candy).
- Doing: Decluttered our apartment with konMari methods. 
- Eating: Lots of beets and blackberries this spring. Very obsessed with Totto Ramen right now. And just tried Le Bernardin for the first time -- what a mind-blowing seafood experience.
- Reading: Lunch Poems by Frank O'Hara and Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit. 
- Going: Planning upcoming trip to California and Japan.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Postcards from Hamburg

In October, Jeremiah and I spent  10 days in Berlin and Hamburg. I have been dreaming about visiting Germany for years, so it was so great to see it in the peak of autumn. My favorite part of the trip was visiting Hamburg - a  riverfront town that has beautiful architecture, canals, and unique food. 

Some facts about Hamburg:

- Was a part of the Hanseatic League
- It is situated on the Elbe River
- The second largest city in Germany
- The Beatles launched their careers here by playing in the city

Some highlights for us:

- Miniatur Wunderland: Have to thank past Yelp reviews for this unexpected, quirky find. This is a model train attraction that is one of the largest in the world. But it's more than trains - it's entire civilizations rendered in miniature form. We spent a couple hours wandering through the exhibits. If you ever visit, be sure to watch the small airplanes departing at the miniature airport, and also look out for the easter eggs of tiny model citizens partaking in nefarious activities. While there, we saw a skinnydippers, and a 'whodunnit' murder scene (complete with an underwater car).

-St.Michael's Church: The largest church in the city, with an incredible view at the top. Baroque-style, it has seen its share of notable citizens over the years (Johannes Brahams was baptized here), and more than 2,000 of them were interred in the crypt in the basement. Climb to the top, and stay for the Evensong service and crypt tour.

-Desserts: Franzbrötchen (a croissant-like pastry often stuffed with cinnamon and chocolate) should be a thing that people in NYC line up for. And I pretty much had my own religious experience after trying rote grutze (red currant fruit dessert served with cream).

-Vier Jahreszeiten: They have really big rooms that are bigger than most NYC apartments, cool toiletries I could never afford on my own and an old-school elevator (like in Grand Budapest Hotel). They also serve amazing rote grutze.

- Fischmarkt: On Sunday mornings around 4am, just after last call, many locals and tourists head over to the fish market to get some post-partying grub near the harbor. The fish is fresh, the music is still going, and there are even some fish auctions going on for those ambitious to start their grocery shopping early. The sunrise is really beautiful with a fish sandwich in one hand and a beer in the other.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

COS Spring 2015

One of the brands I discovered/fell in love with while visiting London and Berlin was COS,the higher-end sister brand of H&M. The brand is a departure from my normal style of tapered waist vintage dresses,  but I'm really drawn to the clean lines, minimal colors and sculptural jewelry. I own a couple dresses from COS so far, and hope to get more mileage out of them when the weather is warmer. And if I hadn't already blown my spring allowance on a couple sweaters, I'd totally nab up that watercolor silk blazer.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Postcards from Germany

I can't believe it's been almost half a year since Jeremiah and I went on this trip to Berlin and Hamburg. Jeremiah and I have been talking for years to visit Germany, ever since high school when he studied German. So we finally made it happen! We were lucky enough that our trip coincided with Berlin's annual Festival of Lights, in which famous landmarks are covered in graphic light shows for citizens and tourists to enjoy. It's a beautiful festival and it felt like all of Berlin was outside to experience. Above and below are a few buildings' displays. My favorite is the Berliner Dom (above), which is already an extraordinary cathedral to begin with -- and it's a shock to the senses to see it lit up in graphic modern illustrations.

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