When we got to Nara we went straight to the deer park to play with the deer, which roam freely around the park doing whatever they please. We brought some deer cookies and immediately they all turn and come towards you because they can smell the food. They are very cute and well behaved. They even bow to you before you give them the cookie.
Our Airbnb in Osaka didn’t have a shower so we got unlimited free tickets to the local Onsen and went every day. Our first night in Osaka we stumbled upon the best Okonomiyaki ever…there are no photos to prove it because it was in our stomachs before we could even think of taking a photo. Second day we came across a tasty cafe that has a special for each day and that’s all they serve at lunchtime. It was the most massive mind blowing salad I have ever seen and tasted. Then we spent the rest of the day naked with other naked strangers… for the people who don’t know what I am talking about: we went to Onsen. It’s a public bath (please refer back to my first blog post “when in Toyko” for best description of Onsen). This particular one we went to is massive. It’s called “Spa World” I had two favourite baths one was outside and it was pink and the second one was inside the Japanese themed room and it was freezing cold (it’s summer in Japan so cold baths are a dream). We went to dinner at a place near our Airbnb called “The Lock Up”. It’s a scary themed restaurant. There is a little walk through bit at the start that’s like a haunted house, then you enter the restaurant and a girl handcuffs you and takes you to your cell where you eat. All the food items look scary but are totally normal and tasty. We ordered, ate and had a good time. When we were done, we rang the buzzer and no one came. We jail-broke out of our cell and still could not find anyone so went back to our cell to wait. Then the lights went crazy and the music turned up really loud and for 20mins there was scary masked people scaring us and it was amazing! Totally scary and insane… just so random and such a fun experience.
We went back to Northshore for some delicious breakfast because yesterday blew our mind. Then spent most of our time at the aquarium looking at interesting creatures, like Chris’ favourite the Common Clione, and patted a slimy Honeycomb Stingray. We decided to discover our neighbourhood we were staying in, called Tennoji, and found a cute place for dinner run by a very nice lady who who speaks English very well and has never left Japan because she is afraid of flying. She said she is self-taught… we were impressed. We ordered Okonomiyaki for the millionth time, plus a tofu salad, and we liked it. Then went to see the oldest temple in Japan, Shitennō-ji.
We tried a coffee shop that was the best coffee we have had here in Osaka. Chris even reckons it was high by Australian standards… haha. In the hottest part of the day we decided to walk up a hill to a castle, so we brought a black sesame ice cream to cool us down. In Japan there are these super cool roller-slides you can find on playgrounds, instead of just sitting on a slide that’s still you actually sit of loads of mini rollers all the way down which makes you go faster than a normal slide. We went to Spa World for the last time to relax before going back to reality.
Our airbnb had two free bikes so we rode into Gion which is old town Kyoto. It’s where all the cool shrines and temples are. We stopped first to get coffee to help us get up all the hills. We walked all over the hilly streets buying everything that looked tasty. There were so many people, mostly girls dressed in kimonos they all looked amazing. The sun was turning us into grilled fish, so we had to go back for a nap… Chris was sunburnt. We googled “best Okonomiyaki” (Japanese pancake) for dinner and went there…we waited 1 hour, they cooked our food on our table In front of us and it was so delicious. We just got back to our accommodation in time before a big storm rolled through and we lay in bed listening to the thunder.
The next day we brought sunscreen straight away, then wandered through the cute back streets leading us to a lovely cafe… most café’s seem to do drip coffee rather than espresso. We went to Toei Kyoto studio theme park because we wanted to have fun but hide from the sun. It was a great choice. The theme park was all about samurais and ninjas, and the park is used to film a lot of movies set in that time period. We went through a haunted house attraction and it was scary… even Chris got scared, usually it’s just me. It was a creepy shinto graveyard during the Edo period with actors chasing you or jumping out at you during the walk through…it was a lot of fun. We also did some ninja training which was all in Japanese and with a group of small school kids. There was three rooms of different training techniques, it was interesting as we couldn’t understand any of it so we were just watching and following. Then we were sent off alone through a maze and had to find our way out but it wasn’t easy, as the way out of every room was hidden and it was up to us to find it… lucky we had our ninja training first.
We walked up Fushimi Inari Taisha. It’s a big walk up a mountain covered in thousands of vermilion-coloured Torii (shrine gates). It was beautiful. I didn’t really know what I was in for. I was wearing a dress with a flower headband, not dressed appropriately at all for the hike I unknowingly was committed to… other girls were the same, at least I had runners on. Halfway up there was a nice place with a view so we got the best ice cream flavour in the world. It’s called soy bean flour ice cream. On our way back down we couldn’t resist buying another. In the evening we rode down the long street to sushi and ate till we were full then rode back in the sunset and stopped by a supermarket to buy some snacks for the road tomorrow.
For the first time we really had the Australian experience, you know, the one all the tourists want. We went to Bec and Wall’s wedding in Donnelly River, WA. It was a beautiful small village in the Australian outback we were really in amongst it. Groups of emus just chilling around. An uncountable amount of friendly kangaroos wanting a pat. It was actually my first incounter up close and personal with a kangaroo. On the first night one kept coming toward me and I thought it would hurt me. It wasn’t until daylight that I saw other people patting them, so I gave it a go. Being away from Australia I have really gotten used to the idea that not everything wants to kill you, but as soon as I landed back in Australia everything looked like a snake.
Coffee in Australia is better then any place we have ever been in the world. Taking that first sip was so refreshing! Australians are total legends with coffee.
Cairns is sourrounded by tall mountains and costal beaches. No matter where you live you are a short drive from a freshwater creek, good hike and coffee. We stayed in the valley which feels like a tucked-away hidden place from the rest of Cairns, with great swimming places, natural swings made out of vines, lots of sticks to make a fire and lots of flat, round, smooth rocks to skim in the water. The outdoor entertainment is very relaxing and refreshing and on everyone’s doorstep.
We love travelling! We have been so lucky to be able to explore this world we live in! It’s a beautiful place and I highly recommend to anyone who is curious to get out and explore it. But there is something so special about coming home and seeing friends and family. Those familiar faces, those relationships. Even with all the distance in between us, it’s still like getting dealt the best hand of cards and winning the game! Our hearts feel really full from all the wonderful friendships we have individually with each of you. We still call Australia home.
I love flying long distance, because when you get to your seat you are always welcomed by gifts. I immediately put on the complimentary red socks and blanket. Thanks Virgin.
Hong Kong is warm and foggy. The city is layered on the mountain slopes like a complex web of jungle trees and brutalist architecture. As you raise your eyes, instead of sky, you see more trees, more roads, and more towers. The air smells rich and sweet and exciting.
Our hotel was dripping in fake glitz. Gold mirrored tiles covered every surface and there were chandeliers on every ceiling, including above our bed. We were up on the 26th floor looking over the water. It’s very foggy here so everything feels mysterious as you wander the tiny streets. We met up with our friend Laura who is a local and showed us around. She took us to amazing food and dessert places that were very local Hong Kong foods. Everything here is Mango flavour. It’s the local’s favourite, we have been told. They actually have amazing Mango, unlike London! We caught a ferry over to the mainland to get a sick view of the island we were on.
It was hot the next morning as we did some last minute exploring. We walked up a steep hill to Third Street, which is a cool up-and-coming area and grabbed a cold brew, then rode the escalators the rest of the way up the hill… that’s what you need in all hot cities! It’s so hot here you need a constant cold drink in your hand. We stopped at a juicery for our second drink. There were cute cats in the local food shops just chilling with the food.
We walked, we sweated, we talked, we ate, we drank and we looked. We enjoyed Hong Kong.
We set off into the sunset, leaving London behind, with Edinburgh in mind, stopping in Leeds for the night. We passed millions of canola farms and fields with wind turbines both of which look very beautiful. We got to our Leeds airbnb late, made friends with a cat named Mitsy, and went to bed.
We rose early to get a good start on our journey. Leaving Mitsy was hard but we had to say our goodbyes and move on. We made an important stop to eat bad road-trip food… The service stops here in the UK are massive and very good, this country was made for road trips. We thought we spotted the Harry Potter train bridge, so we detoured for it. It was amazing but it definitely wasn’t the right one. When we got to Edinburgh, we hit up Mother India for a feast, chilled out at a jazz bar and almost got kicked out by a stern woman because we were high-fiving and had Australian accents. Edinburgh is known for ghost tours so we made sure to fit that in. We did the 18+ Auld Reekie tour and it was pretty impressive! We went into vaults that were 4 stories underground. It’s pitch black except for a few candles and the guide’s small torch. The guide told us all about the many people who had lived and died there, and still haunted the halls. He showed us the old instruments of torture with delightful names like The Jaw Breaker, The Tongue Twister, The Thumb Crusher and the Ball Smasher.
In Einburgh there is a sweet coffee scene and the best seven joined together to become the “Disloyal 7”. They have a loyalty card that has one stamp space for each one, and if you visit all seven you get a free coffee. Such a cool idea. We visited two of them today, Baba Budan and Lowdown Coffee. We then went on a whisky tour at Glenkinchie Distillery and it was good and Chris liked it, but I still think whisky tastes like poison… I tried.
We climbed Arthur’s Seat and it was amazing! Great exercise, views and pretty flowers. Then we went home to Netflix and eat all the chocolate in the world we wanted (to stick to tradition for Easter). Ready for our long road trip home. Catch ya Scotland.
This trip was brought to you by….
Jumped on a train and 3 hours later we were in Paris. We went straight to Notre Dame, had a good look at the outside and then bailed because the line was seriously long and we were seriously hungry. We hit up a cute, delicious cafe called Coutume. We wandered the Parisian streets full of pastry smells and stunning buildings with cute windows and ended up at the Eiffel Tower, where again the line was even bigger than the first one. We looked at it and walked under it. It was beautiful and just so cool to see. We then caught a bus to the Louvre where there was no line so we went straight in. People under the age of 26 living in the EU get in for free which is amazing. We searched high and low until we found the Mona Lisa. Did it in under 20 minutes… Nailing life! We found a random place for dinner where we ordered some interesting foods, like raw mince patties. We had dessert at a delicious ice cream place across the road. All their ice cream was hidden, which apparently means it’s the good stuff. They encouraged us to try everything before we brought some. Lastly, we hit up a restaurant/bar called Andy Wahloo and brought more tasty things. The underground metro trains in Paris are weird. You can open the doors and get off while it’s still slowly moving. Also the trains have tires… Strange.
We woke up in the morning and started the day with a bit of cafe hopping! Coffee at Folks and Sparrows. Banana bread at Boot Cafe. Cinnamon swirl and the best soup at Loustic. We were very ready for the day so we went out of Paris city and hit up Versailles and looked at the Castle and the gardens where we ate cheese and baguette. Before dinner we went to La Triomphe and walked up a million stairs to the top and had a sweet view of Paris. While in one of the café’s earlier on we had found a magazine that had amazing restaurant suggestions for Paris so we decided to hit up Hero for dinner and then street crepes for dessert.
We went shopping for jam and then got brunch at Cafe Marlette for some French vibes. We got a breakfast deal which included coffee, orange juice, pastry and granola… It was good. The street was full of other amazing café’s and food smells. We walked up the steep street which led us to the Sacré-Cœur with views of the city. We headed back through the quaint streets of Paris leading us back home.
The sunrise flight from London to Luxembourg was the shortest international flight we have ever taken. We walked down the frosty street from the airport to our accommodation, trying not to slip. We took a stroll through Luxembourg city, got coffee and ate at the Christmas markets. Luxembourg city has a deep ravine running through it. Part of the city is at the bottom, the rest at the top. Continue reading “European road trip #1”