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Trip to Japan – Day 4

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We woke up early to head to the train station to Fushimi Inari Taisha. We bought food first, which my favorite thing was to got to 7-11 and buys sandwiches! They are super delicious and super cheap. We also went to a waffle cart. The train was packed of people off to work and school. It was only two stops from Kyoto station, and right off train. We hiked up the entire path! The whole thing is lined with torii gates – we were so enamored the moment we arrived we took most our pictures at the front of the trail. It is number one for Trip Advisor Kyoto! The hike was a bit strenuous at times and we realized the main lookout point was in the middle and not the top… So back down we went. The best was at the lookout the boys wanted to do a jumping picture. The first time they jumped a group of Japanese women burst out laughing. Definite highlight. On the way back down Stu went on his own path so we lounged around until we finally met up. The entire trip we had two mifi devices to have wifi whenever we needed which was great for directions, restaurant reviews and Instagram! But not useful if the group that takes off forgets to take one… Leslie found this amazing ramen shop for lunch called Chuka Soba Umiya. It was small and it had terrific food. They did not speak any English, which most restaurants there was usually someone that did. Makes me feel like it was more authentic. We had tons of food and drinks for about $10 a person.

Next we took the local train to Nara, which was a slower but beautiful country side ride. When we arrived we went to the visitor center at the station and the woman was super helpful. We started out by walking through center of town, by shops, temples and big pagoda. We went to the deer park, which the city is famous for. The deer are pretty domesticated, but will headbutt you if you aren’t feeding them fast enough! Thomas worked on his deer selfie for awhile. We then went to the Isuien Garden, which is traditional and gorgeous. We also hit up the other Nara highlight, the big Buddha temple Todai-Ji. It is the world’s largest wooden building and the giant Buddha inside was so impressive. The Buddha’s hand is bigger than I am! We walked back to station and wait for the rapid train back, which took 45 minutes.

We headed home after a long day and went back to the train station for a grill restaurant where I had a delicious steak. We got a nightcap at the Irish bar, where a kid from New Zealand chatted up the boys, while Leslie and I snuck home to do some laundry and go to bed early. The rest of the guys came home after midnight. A very long and adventurous day!

 

Trip to Japan – Day 3

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I woke up again around 6:30am. We ate breakfast at our place. I love our Airbnb. It is a three story house, with a bedroom and large bathroom on the first level, living space and kitchen on the second, and two bedrooms on the top floor. First thing in the morning, we went to Kiyomizu Dera, also known as the Temple on Stilts. It is famous for drinking from the Otowa Waterfall. The whole temple was beautifully tucked into the side of the hill surrounded by trees.

Our next stop was a visit to the Yamakazi distillery for tour and tasting. We almost didn’t get to go on the tour because it was scheduled for 10 and we thought it was for 10:30. But they were amazing and we got on the 11 am tour. While whiskey isn’t my thing, the tour ended with a tasting…and it wasn’t terrible! We had lunch nearby at a tempura restaurant, again in a private room. It was one little old lady, and everything was super delicious. We took a train back to city and then bus to Silver Pavilion, Ginkaku-ji. All the temples are so different. This one had really pretty dry and wet gardens surrounding the buildings.

From there we walked the Philosopher’s Path back towards the middle of the city. On the way there were various smaller temples, an artist selling water colors, and loads of cats! We walked all the way to the Heian shrine, and down the middle of the city past the museums. At one point we saw a parade of sorts. Men were dressed up, and carrying an old fashioned carriage, jumping up and down and chanting. They stopped traffic all around for it!

We continued onto the Yasaka Shrine just as the lanterns were turning on. We wandered through Gion and onto Pontocho street. It was Leslie’s birthday so we had to stop in a few of the tiny bars overlooking the river for a champagne! We ate dinner at an amazing gyoza restaurant. It was tiny, and people started lining up at 7:30 – precisely when we arrived. As this is the area for going out, that is considered early. The gyoza was so delicious, and all so cheap! We walked back down Pontocho to Hello Dolly Whiskey Bar. Another tiny place, for a drink called the Pink Lady. From there we walked to bus and headed home to fall fast asleep.

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Trip to Japan – Day 2

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We woke up around 6:30 am – our time change is 13 hours from DC! We went to breakfast at a cafe down the street. I had hot chocolate and an egg sandwich. It was raining all morning, but took the hotel’s umbrellas with us to walk around. We then went back to the hotel to pack up for the next leg of the trip.
We took the JR line to Tokyo station and used our JR pass to Kyoto. We had some time so we walked around Tokyo Station – which is a vacation in itself! Our first top was at a shop with a beer and wine counter. And of course the first question asked by the boys was…”You can drink beer on the train?” and they were answer with a big smile and a yes! The trains here are so efficient. They are exactly on time always. On our train ride we had me, Leslie and Thomas in one row and Anthony and Stu behind. I had heard about the train bento boxes and Leslie asked where we can buy food on the train. The ticket man said, a cart…please wait. He was probably thinking, Fat Impatient Americans! Actually no he probably only thought nice thoughts as everyone was incredibly nice! We finally got the boxes but we were in the last car so only had a couple options. Leslie and I split one, which was pretty good. The boys got a weird Oyster one, which prompted the guy next to them to move immediately.
We arrived in Kyoto and tried to find a locker in the train station, but they were all taken. So we went to the Airbnb instead. Train was 10:33 am-1:11 am. So we had a whole half day to explore. Our place was not a bad walk to the Airbnb where we left our bags and met our host. She helped us figured out bus to Golden Pavilion, Kinkakuji. All the pavilions and big shrines outline the edge of the city. The Golden Pavilion was all the way northwest. It took about 40 mins on the bus to get there. The bus was also fun to figure out! I really have never felt like such a foreigner in my life. As we were about to board I remembered something I read in the book about getting on the bus in the back, then you exit the front and pay as you leave. Pretty trusting! It was a zoo there, as it is one of the most visited sites in Kyoto. But wow was it beautiful!
From there took bus to JR line to Arashiamya to walk through the bamboo forest. We walked all over the neighborhood, and along the river. It was beautiful, and had boats you could have private dinners on! Something for next time. It became dark, and it was time to figure out food. We wanted to go get food in Pontcho neighborhood, but headed home first. Stu couldn’t go out after a long day of walking, so we went to the mall nearby. Which the malls and the train stations are actually where a lot of the good restaurants are. We ate at a shabu shabu restaurant, which we had to sneak peeks at our neighbors to see if we were doing it right. From there we went to grocery store for items for the house. Then we walked back home and fell sound asleep!
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Great photo from Thomas!
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Trip to Japan – Day 1

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I took notes on my phone while in Japan – here they are!

 

We woke up at 3 am in Crofton, as it was closer to BWI. Had the worst bagel ever in the airport. Flew to SFO, which is the best airport with the bets food. Got a delicious deli sandwich. Met up with Leslie, Stu and Thomas in the terminal – so ready to start our big adventure! We sat on the plane with me in the window and Anthony next to me, with the other three behind us. On the plane we chatted and watching movies (Ant Man, Inside Out). It was one of the those planes where the TV was in the aisle. I slept on and off. We got a lot of food on the plane. For a snack we had cheese and crackers. Our lunch was Korean chicken and rice. Then as we got closer to Japan we had a breakfast of eggs and potato. All these meals were always served with a roll and butter. There was also a lot of drink services – included free wine and beer. Finally we arrived in Tokyo! It took forever to get to our hotel. From customs, to getting our bags, to the JR line station to get our passes, to the train, to the metro and finally a short walk to the hotel. We stood outside the station and had no idea how to get to our hotel. Thomas and Anthony checked out the first vending machine, a Boss one! When I turned around a Japanese man was helping Stu with the map and he walked us with bike to our hotel. Our savior! Overall there was a general confusion on how to get places, with no signs in English – which makes sense. There were lots of people walking around, coming home from work. Our hotel room was nice, pretty small as expected. I stayed with Leslie in one room and the boys in another. It had two twin beds, and the boys the same but one slept on a tiny pull out couch. We all got ready for our first meal in Tokyo. We took the metro to dinner, at the Ninja restaurant. It was really crazy, but also amazing. It was a show the whole time, where you entered through a secret passage way, and at one point a foot bridge came out of a wall you had to cross, and the waiters were all dressed up like Ninjas. We had our own room where you sit on the floor but there is a cut out under the table for your legs. We had a tasting menu, which was delicious. At the end there was a Ninja magic show, which Anthony was amazed at! Afterwards we took the metro home and went to sleep! A great first day in Japan.
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Summer summer summertime!

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I’m hating all the back to school commercials, and the thought that the fall is just around the corner. I love summer, and this one has been incredible!

I’ve been to outdoor movies, happy hours outside, and the pool. I celebrated 4th of July weekend eating crabs and dancing on rooftops with Steph in town. I’ve been to wineries and twilight polo. I’ve eaten a lot of cheese on picnic blankets.  I’ve watched baseball games and soccer matches.

I’ve spent a weekend in Charlotesville with some of my favorite people having the best time ever, and a weekend in NYC with Steph doing whatever we felt like doing. I’ve also eaten a lot of meals in Annapolis, a perfect summer day trip. I’ve been to Leesburg on a girls trip in search furniture and brunch.

For work I’ve toured the Hirshhorn, the Uzbekistan embassy, held receptions at the galleries and watched an amazing Asia After Dark night unfold.

I celebrated my first year anniversary! We ate at the Red Hen and on another night laughed along at the Book of Mormon.

I’ve also been planning a trip to Japan! While I’m jealous of everyone and their August vacations to far flung locations, I remind myself that I too will be traveling! I think about October and what an amazing new experience I will have with great friends.

Now to savor the rest of summer, while it lasts. We’ll fire up the BBQ, run outside, and visit a few more local spots we haven’t seen (I love living in a city with unlimited activities).

The possibilities are endless while the sun is still shining!

and then I turned 30

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Written on June 23…

It has only been a few days, but it still feels weird that I am 30! I certainly don’t feel 30, though I don’t know what you are supposed to feel like. I still feel young(ish), and feel like I have a lot to accomplish. Though I have been thinking back on my twenties and everything that I have done. I graduated college and went through the whole process of graduate school in my twenties. I lived in DC, San Francisco, Florence and in London in my twenties. I met the most amazing guy and got married in my twenties. I accomplished my goal of working in a museum, and more than that, a Smithsonian museum in my twenties. I’ve kept up with my closest friends from my childhood and adolescences, as well as made more life long friends in my twenties. It has been a good decade, but I am wondering what could be next! I want to continue to travel, to develop my career and really hold onto those relationships that are meaningful and rewarding! I’m not sure where I thought I would be at 30, 10 years ago. I think I thought I would have it all figured out and I would feel so adult. Some days I do, but most days I don’t. All I can say for sure, is that I am happy.

Whirlwind of April and May

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Since our return from Alaska, life has been non stop! Here are a few highlights

April 15 – SRS artist Studio Tour with Helen Zughaib. Look up her art, it is amazing.
April 16 – Nats Game
April 18 – Earth Day Concert, Shakespeare Theater tour and Man of La Mancha!
April 19 – Brunch at Central with the girls, and friend chicken and waffles
April 22 – SRS Gala After-Party…Pre-Party. That was a fun one to say over and over again.
April 23 – Day trip to Philly with the F|S Friends group – viewing of the Philly Museum of Art, lunch at the Stephen Starr restaurant and a venture off on my own to the Rodin Museum
April 26-29 – Atlanta for AAM conference. World of Coke, Georgia Aquarium, MLK Historic Sites, party at the Fox Theater, party at the High Museum, Swann House, Margaret Mitchell House plus the tasting menu at Hugh Acheson’s Empire State South, all the food at the Varsity, and Richard Blais’ Flip Burger! And of course, learning a lot about museums!
April 30 – Wombats at the 9:30 Club

May 2 – Dinner at Stanton and Greene and drinks at Hanks for Lindsey and Michael’s b-day!
May 3 – Spa Day at Red Door Spa courtesy of Anthony, dinner in Crofton to see Amanda and Rhett!
May 5 – Back out to Crofton to see the Walker’s new house, dinner at our favorite pasta restaurant
May 6 – SRS tour of the Japanese Embassy and Ippakutei tea house, drinks at Ping Pong Dim Sum
May 7 – Ben Folds at Lincoln Theater with Court, Anthony, other friends including a childhood friend who moved to DC!
May 8 – Day in Richmond VA, lunch at Perly’s Deli, walk around downtown, the capitol, the executive mansion, the confederate White House and other historic buildings. Rehearsal dinner at the Norfolk Tides baseball game that went about 14 innings!
May 9 – Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, VA – Ed and Katie’s Wedding at the Hermitage Museum and Gardens
May 10 – Mother’s Day, Lunch at Taste in Norfolk, long drive back to DC!
May 13 – SRS at the NMAH Food After Hours event on sushi!
May 15 – F|S Gala and SRS After-party! So much fun, so happy that Anthony, Courtney, Lindsey and Nikki came to support me. Dessert, drinks, dancing, Museums, Art…what could be better?
May 16 – F|S Panel discussion on Art and Money, Opera in the Outfield at Nat’s Park, Pitch Perfect 2!
May 17 – Hyattsville Historic House Tour, Mount Vernon Wine Festival
May 18 – I did not get the memo that everyone shows up late the weekend after the gala, so I was let out early. I spent my few blissful first free hours in over a month…cleaning! But at least I can go home now and relax!

I have managed to still work out every day with this schedule. It has involved using a lot of hotel gyms and waking up early. Which isn’t as terrible as I thought it would be.

The rest of the month will hopefully be part relaxing while still busy!

May 21 – F|S Third Thursdays, keeping the museum open late for lots of fun and activities!
May 22-27 – Home to California! This will include a Mexican food night in Downey, my cousin’s wedding, Islands, In N Out, a hair cut, the beach, Charlie’s Chili, the Violent Gentleman Store and watching the DUCKS!
May 28 – F|S Friends Opening of Filthy Lucre
May 30 – SRS and Friends board meeting at a donor’s very own backyard Japanese tea house
May 31 – Tea at the Jefferson Hotel

I can’t wait for it all.