~ Japan 2017 Planning Pt.1 ~

on
Sunday, February 26, 2017

I feel that my past few posts have mostly been about me reminiscing about my past travels. There's a lot more to life than appreciating the past so I've decided to journal about my next trip as well. Coming this April it will be my fourth visit back to Japan. My prior visits have been relatively short, 8 days at the most and only consisting of Tokyo. 

This time my visit will be two weeks long (how I wish it could be more!) and I will be visiting four cities. So far the itinerary goes like this:

Osaka (3 days) --> Kyoto (3 days) --> Takayama (2 days) --> Tokyo (5 days)



Flights


I had a bit of a rough time finding good flights. The good flight prices fluctuated instantly. I saw some flights that I liked and decided to wait a few hours to discuss it with my travel buddy before purchasing, in about 3 hours time it had jumped up 800$! This actually happened to me twice. On the third time I decided not to risk it and called my friend at 1am, woke them up, and we bought the flights.

I used Momondo to search for flights and bought them from FlightNetwork. It's my second time using Momondo and it is super easy to use, I actually searched for my flights from their app more than their actual website. The only thing is that you have to be a little careful buying from third party sites. Anyone living in Vancouver should also checked out YVR deals since they post flash sales, deals, and have extensive posts included suggested dates of travel for the best flight prices.


These are the perfect flights! Good airline, practically straight flights with good departure and arrival times too. We have a short layover when we get into Japan because we arrive in Tokyo then have to take a domestic flight to Osaka.

Accommodations

Since we're going during Cherry Blossom season finding affordable good accommodations was a bit tricky. I had the hardest time with Kyoto and Takayama. The latter being because I had to decide if I wanted to stay in a ryokan or not. In the end I decided not to and out accommodations list looks like this:

Osaka- Red Roof Plus + Inn Osaka Namba (Hotels.com)
Kyoto- Airbnb
Takayama- Spa Hotel Alpina Hida Takayama  (Booking.com)
Tokyo- Airbnb


If you're using any cashback websites (Ebates etc.), this is a good time to use them since the cashback percentage is quite high. I looked around at various websites to compare prices on Hotels.com, Booking.com, and Agoda.com. I really liked how Hotels.com has the "Collect 10 nights and get one free" deal but during the time that I booked they had a special going on and I decided to save the money now instead of collecting points for a free stay.

I've used Booking.com many times and am most familiar with their system. I love how they display the price of the entire stay with taxes included, so I know exactly what I will be charged for. Make sure you read about the cancellation policies carefully on whichever site you book from. Personally I've only booked at hotels that allow cancellations up to a few days before my arrival. This way you can shop around for better prices or if you have to cancel your trip you money back.

I've noticed that some hotels/ryokans etc. require you to pay when you're there and may only accept cash so make sure you're ready for that. If a hotel you really like is sold out on one website make sure you check around. Often times I've seen a hotel sold out on one website but available on another. I will hopefully remember to comment on my Airbnb experience after I get back.


I think I'll end the post here and write an update when I have more things settled such as transport etc. I'm going to finish off with a photo of the Tokyo Tower from my first Tokyo trip back in 2009 (when I didn't take as many photos as I do now).







~ iPhone Photos- January 2017 ~

on
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
I remember I used to do these monthly iPhone photos posts but eventually stopped. I'm going to pick it up again as motivation to blog more and yes, I still use an iPhone :)

I just checked and saw that the last time I posted one of these was March 2016 and that one actually spanned a few months. Time just flies! I also noticed that I take fewer photos now which may or may not result in fewer posts but we'll just to see where it goes from here.


I finally bought a new laptop to replace my 10 year old Toshiba. I'm still adjusting to the new keyboard but am enjoying how speedy and new it is. I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss my old laptop but she was no longer running as smooth as she once did. We had some good times though.


It's the time for the Hot Chocolate Festival again! I was disappointed to see the list of participating vendors shrinking and I hope there will still be a festival for it next year! These two were from Chez Christophe. The one on the right is inspired by French Toast and the one on the left is a tropical dark hot chocolate. I wasn't able to finish mines because it became too sweet at the end.


Having brunch at Ask for Luigi's! I usually only go here for lunch and I love their rigatoni bolognese. For brunch I actually just got pappardelle in the same bolognese sauce that I like so much! However the winner of this meal was the AMAZING banana bread! It was warm, crispy, and served with a light fluffy cinnamon ricotta.



Caught a lovely blue sky while Pokemon hunting.


I finally tried the afternoon tea service at Laudree. I've had similar food and service from their shops in New York and Paris and I must say the food is on par with those. From memory the sandwiches were quite basic, the cakes were rose and lemon respectively and did not lack in flavor. We got to choose our own macarons from a list of what they had available.

Instead of tea I got coffee this time and after I finished my first cup I asked for another since I was under the assumption it was bottomless and if not then I would be informed about it. When the bill came I was charged for the second cup, I told the waitress I wasn't aware that the coffee was per cup and she spoke with her manger who waived the fee of the second cup. The service was very good and although the tearoom is very small there is only one or two servers at a time so service can be on the slower side.