Tiny Pleasures #10

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OOOOHHHH, it has been one month and a half since the last time I did one of these *hides in the corner in shame* – I’m so sorry! I had promised I would do this once a month, and this month just started to get away from me… But I’m here now, so I’m gonna go ahead and list some Tiny Moments of Pleasure that happened in my life since I last posted this, ok? The Weekly Small Pleasures is a weekly feature created by A New Life Wandering.

1. South Korea and Japan!

I don’t think I can start this post any other way. If you’ve been following me for at least one month, you know that at the end of October I went to South Korea and Japan for about 2 weeks. You’ll know this, because I could talk of nothing else for a long while. I loved it so so much. Japan is one of those places where I felt whole, and I think that’s such a unique feeling.

2. Japanese Food

Along with being in Japan, came the amazing food. AMAZING! However, since I’ve been back, I’ve been to Japanese restaurants at least once a week, it’s not the same, but it calms my japanese needs somehow.

3. Matcha (I’m still riding the Japanese train here)

This list almost seems like an ode to Japan… Yes, I got highly addicted to anything Matcha: matcha, matcha iced latte, matcha kit kat, matcha cakes, …, you name it!

4. Autumn is here…

Autumn is my favorite time of the year! The cold, the orange all around, being able to wear sweaters… it’s just so good. Though the fall here is taking a while to settle… yesterday it was around 21ºC and that is still to hot! But it’s cold in the morning and I’m wearing scarves at least 😀 .

Goodmorning #morning #uab

A photo posted by Cristina Afonso (@tinyobsess) on

5. Some Bonding

If you’ve been paying attention, you know by now that I don’t make friends easily, like, not at all. Before I came back from my trip, I had hardly shared 10 words with my roommates. But then I got back and realized I had a new roommate, much to my horror, it’s an older man, and when I say older, it’s a lot older than any of us… that’s just incredible weird! Luckily, a couple days later, another roommate arrived, a girl who shares my love of traveling, and me, her and the other guy (not the older man), ended up bonding over the awkwardness that is having him here, and we now talk almost daily and share food and stuff… it’s nice.

6. Some baking!

I had missed baking, so much! Although, this can hardly be considered real baking, but I’ll take what I can get! I bought a cake mix yesterday because I was in need of a cake! So, apple cake it was 😀 .

My Apple cake is ready! #baking #applecake

A photo posted by Cristina Afonso (@tinyobsess) on

7. Books, books and some more books

I’ve read a total of 17 books since my last Tiny Pleasures post. That’s a lot! 😀 I’ve been neglecting my TV shows, but my books have been worth it.

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8. Twitter

I think I might love twitter… I’m hardly on facebook anymore, and the only reason things even get published there is because I have all my social media linked… But twitter… oh man!! Between group DMs and constant chats with some users, I spend a lot of time there.

9. Presents from Vienna

I was so happy when I got a package from Kat @Life and Other Disasters! She sent me a Doctor Who postcard and a Downton Abbey Christmas Stocking, that unfortunately I can’t show you guys, because it’s all in Portugal and I only saw it though Skype :D. But it made my day! Thanks so much Kat!

10. Finally up to date with some shows

As I said above, I’ve been neglecting most of my TV Shows. I’ve managed to get some up to date, so I’m happy about those. The Daily Show, The Big Bang Theory, Last Week Tonight, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Criminal Minds, iZombie and Sleepy Hollow  😀 😀 . I even managed to start on Law & Order SVU, and oh boy, I’d missed it so much.

Goodbye South Korea and Japan… I’m back!

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Yes, it’s a sad day for me… I’m back home. I usually don’t get this sad when a trip ends – sure, I would love to have more vacations and stay abroad longer, but usually by the time it’s time to come back, I’m ok with it. Not this time though. I’m super sad to be back, I needed at least one more week in Japan…

I love Seoul (South Korea), but I’m in love with Japan. Tokyo became one of my top 3 cities to live in, and is pretty much tied with New York in second place (yeah yeah, London in very much still 1st).

Things I loved in South Korea/Seoul:

  • Clean city, so so clean.
  • I never felt more secure in my life. Seriously, it’s the kind of place when you can leave your cell phone, purse and laptop at a table on a cafe and go to the bathroom, and nobody will touch your things.
  • Beautiful city and so much green.
  • People are nice (not some vendors, but I could live with that)
  • The coffee culture – you could find a nice Cafe and bakery in literally every corner. And the cakes, sweets and drinks were so freaking good!!!
  • Free Wi-Fi EVERYWHERE

 


Things I loved in Japan:

  • It’s GORGEOUS!
  • People are so polite and nice – seriously, I came back with a pain in my neck from so much bowing, because if someone bows to you, what do you do, right? And I got bowed to… a lot!!!! – I repeat: THEY ARE SUPER SUPER POLITE AND NICE! I never felt like smiling so much to people as I did in Japan.
  • They don’t speak much english, but they will try their best to understand you, and they will succeed. This is especially warming to me, because I always felt that people in some European countries (say, Spain, France,…) don’t exactly feel the need to try hard and you sometimes give up because the effort is not worth it. That didn’t happen once in Japan… each time I was faced with a vendor or taxi driver who didn’t speak the language, we still managed to communicate quite well and get what we needed.
  • Clean city – I didn’t encounter one dirty bathroom – and that’s saying a lot.
  • The toilets, I mean, you never really have to encounter a cold seat…

  • The sense of security, really, as much as in South Korea.
  • The culture. I will admit that the little I knew of Japan came from a lot of Sailor Moon and Rurouni Kenshin, but still, seeing the temples and understanding a bit of what everything comes from… I loved it.
  • The simplicity. Something has to be said about those temples, castles, palaces. While in Europe during the same period was all about ostenticity, Japanese palaces are nothing more than mostly empty rooms with gorgeous (and meaningful) panels on their walls.
  • I could live in Tokyo. I mean it, I could and it will seriously be on my mind once I’m done with my PhD. I like feeling accepted in a city, and I felt that in Tokyo. I liked that the geek culture (otaku) has a place on the city. I liked that restaurants and cafes have individual tables. I liked that there’s a lot of people but no one is on your way. These are the things that make me love London and New York too…
  • The freaking food!!!! Have you been following my Instagram or my previous posts? If you have, you know how much I’m in love with everything to eat in Japan…

So, I’m quite sad to be home already… I wish that I was still in Tokyo, exploring that amazing city. I was super happy that my blog didn’t suffer a bit from my absence, and I was able to post everyday (sometimes twice a day!) – hurray for scheduled posts!!!! The only downside was not being able to keep up with your posts, but I’ll make my way to them, don’t worry 😉 .

In the meantime, I did publish a few posts about my trip, if you want to check them out…

I FINALLY ARRIVED @ SEOUL!

WANDERING ABOUT: SEOUL 2015!

WANDERING ABOUT: KYOTO 2015

WANDERING ABOUT: OSAKA 2015

WANDERING ABOUT: KYOTO TO TOKYO 2015

WANDERING ABOUT: TOKYO (DAY 1) 2015

WANDERING ABOUT: TOKYO (DAY 2) 2015

 

Wandering About: Tokyo (day 2) 2015

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Day 2 in Tokyo was also my last day in Tokyo, and now, that I finished packing and have everything ready to go into my 18 hours journey home – in which I will be, by the time you read this – I already miss it.

Tokyo was the biggest surprise I had on my trip. I loved Seoul, I loved Kyoto and Osaka, but Tokyo… oh wow, here I COULD LIVE!

Unfortunately, the day wasn’t as productive as I’d wished, but we did go to Akihabara and Harajuku, and I loved both places. I wanted to spend the whole day in Akihabara, exploring the shops, looking for anime and manga stuff that I wanted, but my mom was a bit tired and sick of shops that she thought were all the same – they weren’t, mom!

I love love love my Haruka & Michiru chibi figurines, I love them (they’re OTP), and I was so glad that I (finally) found them…

By the time you read this, I’ll be inside an airplane heading for Paris (probably), so I hope you enjoy my (few) geeky photos 😉 . I loved Tokyo, so much so that I’ll be starting to save money so I can come back here…

Wandering About: Tokyo (day 1) 2015

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Today was our first day walking around Tokyo, and we had a day-tour planned. It was pretty cool and even though I haven’t seen much of the city yet, I can now tell you that I’m in LOVE with Tokyo and I could totally see myself living here. Somehow, I had imagined super crowded and confusing streets, a lot of tall buildings and not enough space, and so far I have been mistaken.

So, here’s what I saw today (I’ll just dump a few pics 😉 …):

Meiji Shrine:

Meiji Shrine, located in Shibuya, Tokyo, is the Shinto shrine that is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken.

Outer Garden of the Imperial Palace:

Sensō-ji Temple

Sensō-ji is an ancient Buddhist temple located in Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan. It is Tokyo’s oldest temple, and one of its most significant. Formerly associated with the Tendai sect of Buddhism, it became independent after World War II.

Lunch with view to the Hamarikyu Gardens and Tokyo Bay

Cruise through Tokyo Bay

Odaiba

Other Stuff

I’ll be honest here, I have no idea what these are called, but mine was the green tea with white beans one and it was the best thing I’ve ever eaten. I swear, I could live in Japan just for their sweets…

 

Wandering About: Kyoto to Tokyo 2015

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Quick post today people… Hello!!! I’ve arrived at Tokyo. But before we got on the train, we went to Fushimi Inari Shrine in the morning. You all know the shrine, it’s the one featured in Memoirs of a Geisha, it’s the one with all the toriis.

There are a lot of toriis in this shrine, I read that it’s about 4km and 2 hours to go through them all… and up up they go! I managed about 1/3 – 1/2 of the way up, by then I was sweating profusely and I realized that jeans are not ideal to climb that. Be warned people, no jeans! I also knew that my mom was at the base waiting for me and I had been gone a long time, so I had to go back. It is beautiful though, and if I EVER return, I’ll be climbing all the way up.

Also, a lot of Hello Kitty’s all around the Shrine! And Rice Cakes with Red Bean filling? Delicious!!! Then it was time to catch the shinkansen to Tokyo. Tokyo seems so gorgeous so far, so different from Kyoto though. I’ll post pictures of it tomorrow.

Wandering About: Osaka 2015

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Today was time to head to Osaka! Osaka is crazy!!!! Beautiful and crazy! We went just for the day, mostly to just look around – time was of the essence here. We ended up just going to Osaka Castle and Dōtonbori, so I’ll just dump a few pics here 😉 .

I loved it!!! And I bought a couple of weirdly great things… and I saw a lot a lot of manga.

Tomorrow we’ll stay in Kyoto half the day and then we’ll make our way to Tokyo. I want to see a shrine in the morning and take a walk around the city 🙂 .

Wandering About: Kyoto 2015

wandering about

I’m in Japan!!! Wow, yesterday was crazy!!! we traveled from Seoul to Tokyo and then we got on the train to central Tokyo, so we could then catch a train to Kyoto. Everything would have gone smoothly it it wasn’t for the heavy luggage we were lagging with us. But it all worked out quite well, and we arrived at Kyoto around 10 p.m.. Needless to say that we were totally beat!

Today we had an early morning, and at 7 a.m. we were already waiting for the breakfast to open. Speaking of which, wow, amazing! Starting the day with Miso Soup and beef stew was something that I didn’t even consider until today.

We had a day tour booked, so it started with a trip to Nijō Castle. The tours are controlled to the minute… This castle is amazing, the interior panels are so gorgeous, unfortunately, we couldn’t take pictures on the inside.

Then, Kinkaku-ji, officially named Rokuon-ji, which is a Zen Buddhist temple, and home to the Golden Pavilion. This is so gorgeous.

Before lunch, we went to the Kyoto Imperial Palace, but no photos allowed 😉 .

And then we ate, and oh my… it was so freaking amazing! I don’t even know exactly what it was, but it was divine.

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Temples were in the afternoon route. Heian Jingu Shrine, a Shinto Shrine; Sanjūsangen-dō is a Buddhist temple,known as “Rengeō-in” or Hall of the Lotus King; and Kiyomizu-dera, officially Otowa-san Kiyomizu-dera, an independent Buddhist temple.

This was my first day, tomorrow we’ll be heading to Osaka for the day 🙂 and I can’t wait.

Wandering About: Seoul 2015!

wandering about

HELLLOOOO!!!! From Seoul! Yes, I’m still in Seoul, though not for much longer – I’m leaving tomorrow to Kyoto, Japan. But I though that while I’m here, and I had a couple of hours (or I made sure I had them), that I would share with you some pictures and some thoughts about my trip.

On my first day out on town with friends, we wandered to the TrickEye Museum in Seoul, then to the Ice Museum – it was freaking cold – and to the Hello Kitty Cafe!

The TrickEye Museum… so damn fun!

I love the city. I wasn’t really expecting anything, but Seoul surprised me. The city is gorgeous, clean, super organized and the people are super super nice and so polite! The only small problem we had was that most people do not understand a word of English, so getting a cab or getting lunch was always a huge endeavor.

Let’s talk about the food people… I have such mixed feelings about it! My first experience was a bit weird, I had a business dinner with my mom and her group, and I ended up sitting in front of 3 of the hosts, and the dinner had like 30 different dishes, and they kept putting food on my plate that I couldn’t NOT EAT! So I ate it all, and while some stuff was good, other was OK, and eating Jellyfish was not ever in my life plan. But I did. And a lot of other stuff that I can’t even tell you what it was. In the end, I came to a huge conclusion: Korean food is super spicy and Soju is very ok.

But after that, I managed very well with all the Korean food, though Kimchi is still very hot for my taste. Other than the main dishes, I’m a bit in love with everything green tea related, especially green tea ice latte. And the cakes and desserts… Oh My God!!! Rice cakes with fruit? Ohhhh, heaven!

Insadong @Seoul

Gangnam @Seoul

On to some cultural stuff…

Gyeongbokgung Palace @Seoul

Cheonggyecheon Stream @Seoul

N Seoul Tower (Namsan Tower) @Seoul

And finally, some random photos of me and Seoul by night.

Oh my… so many photos! I hope you enjoy 😉 , next post will be from Japan!

August Book Haul

How has August came to an end already?! o_O This month went by way too fast… WOW! So, once again, welcome back to my August Book Haul.

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This month I bought very few books. I was amazed at myself really! But I ended up hauling a lot of them, mostly e-books, given that this was my first month in NetGalley and Edelweiss… So, without further ado, I present the physical books I got this month.

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Funny haul, ah? I bought 3 traveling books for my upcoming trip to Seoul and Japan in October. The first two are for my mom’s collection – we always buy these and in truth, we just open them on the plane… Then I got A Geek in Japan, because I so fell in love with the concept of this book, and I’m a geek and I’ll be in Japan!

Then I got the amazing The Wrath and The Dawn by Renée Ahdieh and after reading Shatter Me, I couldn’t resist and bought the novellas, Unite Me by Tahereh Mafi, and I already read Destroy Me.

I also got the amazing audiobook of You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day.


Now the longer part… eBooks! I got my kindle on the first week of August, but I bought a few books even before I got it. The firsts (and so far only) books that I bought for my Kindle were: The Outlander Series 7-Book Bundle – Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, Drums of Autumn, The Fiery Cross, A Breath of Snow and Ashes and An Echo in the Bone. I want to get to this series eventually, but honestly I bought it because the price was too good to pass up… a little over 2$ for 7 HUGE books! It was a true steal, and I’m super happy about this buy.

Then I accumulated a few books from NetGalley, Blogging for Books and Edelweiss:

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And that’s it for my August Book Haul! I’ll be doing my wrap-up tomorrow (probably) and my September TBR on Tuesday 😉 .

Tiny Pleasures #7

Geeezzz, I haven’t done one of these in over a month! o_O I’ll just do a little recap of the really small things that happened this last month that made me happy, ok? The Weekly Small Pleasures is a weekly feature created by A New Life Wandering.

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1. Vacation with the nephews and my mom! It was a nice few days with the kids and my mother in Serra da Estrela, Portugal. Obvious there were some problems, some kids get more jealous than others, but in the end, it was very cool. The hotel was super nice, the pools were amazing and heated… and there were days of doing mostly nothing except putting on the swimming suit and the bath robe.

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2. I tried a Gin for the first time and loved it. What the hell took me so long to have one, I can’t even understand why… while on the hotel above described, with both girls at a night walk with the entertainment people, and my nephew sulking in the bedroom, I decided I could have some alchool… lol… I tried a portuguese Gin, with apple and cinnamon, and it was amazing.

3. I cut my hair (a while ago). I now have it quite short as you can see in the picture. My hair was already shoulder length, so it was a big cut, the girls at the salon were a bit worried about my request, “but are you sure?” “that’s a lot of hair!”… yeah, I know, that’s why I wanted it off.

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The why is quite funny, so I’m gonna lay it out here. I always had my hair short, or kind of short, but I’m lazy as hell, so I go cut it once or twice a year (and that’s the amount of times I enter a hair salon!). When it gets longer, it falls a lot – i have a lot of hair – and I have 0 patience for it. One day I was working, and a friend of mine came to talk to me on facebook “Hi, I was thinking, you should cut your hair!”. I laughed. Why? Because of everyone she knows, I’m the one most likely to cut it, because I don’t care! She has known me with short hair on and off forever. But she went on “yeah, but shorter this time”. So I said, “ok, do you want it today? You got it!”. Three hours later my hair was short, which is perfect for this weather. No regrets!

4. I immersed myself in book blogging. And I’m loving every minute of it. The book blogging community is awesome, and it has kept me entertained and quite happy for the last few weeks.

5. I decided to buy a Kindle! (Thank you mom and grandmom for agreeing to give this to me as an anniversary present) This is a huge deal for me. I never read on an e-reader, but given the amount of books I’ve gobbling down lately, I thought it was best if I maybe tried some e-books and try netgalley and stuff like that (and maybe save some money…). Then I only have to buy the books that I really love 😀 !!! It will be here sometime this week and I can’t wait!

6. I bought my ticket to go to South Korea and Japan in the fall!!! This is a huge deal! For a while I didn’t know if I would be able to join my mom in her yearly trip, because I wasn’t sure if I had to go to Canada for 3 months, but that fell through (unfortunately), so I took the opportunity to do something else I really wanted to instead. I always wanted to go to Japan, and it’s those things where you have a once in a life chance to go (if you’re from Europe and have no connections what-so-ever to the country). So I’m super excited about this :D!

7. Green Tea Ice-cream. Have you ever tried it? I have two flavours of ice-cream which are absolutely my favorites: green tea ice-cream and black bean ice-cream. both of which I tried at different Japanese restaurants. Last friday, with everyone leaving early to go on vacation – while I will stay working the whole month – I decided to treat myself to Japanese food (still on high because of the point above). So Gyozas and Ramen, followed by green tea ice-cream… perfect!

(yeah, mom, there more to japanese food than just sushi!)