Tiny Pleasures #10

tinypleasures

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

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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

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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

wandering about

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

wandering about

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

wandering about

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

wandering about

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!

I finally arrived @ Seoul!

And it only took me approximately 28 hours between the time I left my house to the moment I stepped outside Seoul Airport. What’s 28 hours, right? 😀

My journey on itself wasn’t that large, but given that my first flight would leave at 6.45 a.m., I had no way to get to the airport except to arrive before midnight and stay there throughout the night. The only other option involved paying about 60€ for a cab at 3.30 a.m., and that’s just a no!

So I got there at 11.45p.m (wednesday night), I finished Cinder, I wrote Cinder‘s review (will pop up later today), I squeezed some work and analysed some DNA sequences. Then my batteries started to die and Barcelona airport doesn’t have nearly enough power sockets as it should have, so it took me about 20 minutes of combing through the airport until I found the right place… then I finally got a start on my Queen of Shadows review. 4a.m. meant that Check in opened, so there was that, security and so on, and then McDonalds!

I go to McDonalds very rarely, in fact, the McDonald’s at Barcelona airport is the one I visit more often, because I usually have it before boarding my plane. Now, before you scoff about me eating McDonald’s at 5a.m., please note that I hasn’t slept at all, so it was more of a second diner than breakfast.

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T-1h #southkoreabound

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Time came to board, I started my second book, Rikki, and read about 25% before take off, and then my head was throbbing so hard that I had to close my eyes for the almost 2 hours of the flight.

And then, Paris! I had forgotten how amazing Charles de Gaulle airport really is! I found a starbucks – it was high priority! Had my favorite drink + my favorite muffin, charged my phone, because it was about to die for the 4th time of the day, changed money, took some pics, and the hours flew by.

Suddenly was I was first in line to board to Seoul, then we were taking off, I was finishing Rikki, got some sleep because my head was giving me all kinds of warning signs that I needed to shut down, listened to some KPOP, because I figured that I should acclimate myself with it, saw a Korean comedy (that I laughed much more than the firm warranted – that was my brain shutting down). Had breakfast, saw a couple of episodes of Friends, started my third book and then TOUCHDOWN!

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Incheon airport, Seoul, South Korea

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Getting out took a while, passport control and all, but I had wifi right away, so everything was cool. I had my car waiting for me, and damn it, that this was confortable like hell. Read some more – the airport is hells away from Seoul city centre – and the finally arrived at the hotel! Halleluia right? Well, no! I got in at 9 a.m., the hotel is fully booked and my room won’t be available until at least 1p.m… Happy me! So, here I am, in a coffee shop next to the hotel, with WIFI (thank the heavens), writing blogs posts and reading some more, while my head is protesting so hard from lack of sleep that I have the clear impression that I’m floating instead of sitting down.

I’ve been wearing the same clothes for more than 30 hours, I slept a grand total of 7 hours in the last 48 hours, and I would kill for a bath and a bed… but I still have a couple more hours of wait ahead of me…

Tomorrow I’ll starting posting pics of the city 😀

A to Z Travel Meme

AtoZ

Hello! I was tagged by Tricia @itistrish to this this travel tag, and given that I’m traveling starting today, what better time to post it, right?

The A to Z Travel Meme was created by Julie Fox.  You can find the original post here.

If you decide to answer these A to Z of Travel questions, all you need to do is:

  • copy the questions into a new post, either on your own blog or on this one
  • write up your answers
  • maybe add a few photos to pretty things up
  • include a link back to this post so others can find all the information
  • tag a fellow travellers (or two, or three) to do the A to Z of Travel
  • paste a link to your A to Z of Travel in the comments of this post 
  • post an excerpt so we can share your A to Z

A: Age you started travelling?

I started traveling regularly when I was 10 (11?), and my first real trip was to France.

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Me and my dad @ Disneyland Paris in 1994 or 95

B: Best beer you’ve had and where?

Dublin, Ireland. I’m saying this because Guinness is my absolute favorite beer and I went to the factory store!

my mom doesn’t like it! 😀 but I do!

C: Cuisine (favourite)

Greek! I know my dad wasn’t a big fan when we went there, but I love greek cuisine. I have to admit that it’s one big reason why I want to go back.

D: Destinations, favourite, least favourite and why

Favorite will always be London, because it’s my favorite city. Least favorite was probably Tunisia.

E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”

Broadway and Las Vegas always make me go WOW!

OMG, I was so young!!!

OMG, I was so young!!!

F: Favourite mode of transportation

I love the underground, but I travel the most with my mom, and she’s all about staying above ground and hailing for a cab.

G: Greatest feeling while travelling

Landing. When that plane lands, it’s always the greatest feeling. That, and finally visiting something I’ve been itching to see.

H: Hottest place

Luanda, Angola. I don’t know if it was the absolute hottest, but it’s the one I remember more vividly… because we didn’t have air conditioning for 2 days and I couldn’t sleep! Oh, yeah, the Sahara Desert in Tunisia was pretty damn hot as well, but not humid.

view from Miradouro da Lua, Angola

I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where

Philippines. I think Asia is particular good with incredible services.

J: Journey that took the longest

My journey from Lisbon to Manila, in 2009. Lisbon > Madrid > Bangkok > Manila ! The way back was even worse: Boracay > Manila > Bangkok > Madrid > Lisbon !

K: Keepsake from your travels

I love to buy postcards with sketches or B&W pics of the cities.

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a bit of Paris and Prague in my bedroom @ home

 

L: Let-down sight, why and where

Can I say the Mona Lisa? At the Louvre, Paris? Well, it’s so goddamn small…

Louvre by night

M: Moment where you fell in love with travel

The first time I went to London, when I was 13. I knew that I wanted it (to travel and to live there!).

London in 1996. Feeling old…

N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in

Sofitel Manila, Philippines. It was so so amazing! Also, the best food ever!

O: Obsession—what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while travelling?

I love the city views. Or the Ocean, Mountains… anything, really, as long as it doesn’t have people in it.

P: Passport stamps, how many and from where?

Right now, I think I have a couple from the USA and one from Brazil. We don’t stamp within Europe!

Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where

The Museum of Sexual Machines in Prague, Czech Republic. The quirkiest thing about it was how I visited it with my mom, grandmom and my mom friend. It was weird and we couldn’t stop laughing.

maybe our faces were because we went to that museum… it was definitely in the same day

R: Recommended sight, event or experience

Boracay. I’ve talked about how that’s paradise for me, I’ll repeat it. It’s freaking amazing. And the Parthenon in Athens.

Boracay is gorgeous

S: Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while travelling

University sweaters. Is this weird? I love them!

T: Touristy thing you’ve done

Carriage ride in Central Park, NYC.

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Cold day in April 2012

U: Unforgettable travel memory

Traveling in one of those very small planes with helices, you know? Between Varadero and Cayo Coco (I think) in Cuba.

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it was worth it though…

V: Visas, how many and for where?

None! We Portuguese people hardly need visas to travel! I remember having one in my old old passport from when I went to Angola.

W: Wine, best glass of wine while travelling and where?

I have no idea! Usually I tend to drink more beer than wine. But I’m going to say Miami a few years ago, because I went to a wine tasting thing.

X: eXcellent view and from where?

Top of the Empire State Building, Manhattan NYC.

NYC

Y: Years spent travelling?

So far, 20! OMG!

Z: Zealous sports fans and where?

Germany, FIFA World Cup 2006! 😀

I loved every minute of this trip!


I won’t tag anyone, because I’m not really sure of many of you are travelers, but please, do this one if you want to!

I’ll see in South Korea!