The Textures of Cape Point

Has it really been almost a year since I last posted on Confetti Rodeo?

I would like to lie and say that I’ve been working on some grand project during these past ten months, but I’ve been pleasantly distracted with life and perhaps a teeny bit lazy when it comes to blogging. Well, actually, extraordinarily lazy.

Forgive me. And welcome me. I’ve decided to jump back in with some photos I took this past April in one of the most beautiful places in all the Earth, Cape Point just outside of Cape Town, South Africa.

This fine morning, I woke up before six, found some coffee in route in Simon’s Town and entered the park before the buses of tourists arrived to take pictures by the “Cape of Good Hope: the Most South-Western Point on the African Continent” sign. I stuck to the Eastern shore beaches where no one goes except for that lone male ostrich and some wandering baboons and then walked down the long flight of wooden stairs to Dias Beach where I savored the solitude and artsy seaweed.

Nature presents the most beautiful still lifes and compositions along the sand and rocks–almost too perfect to believe the tide and sun were solely responsible.

 

 

 

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Vienna and my first Slovakian Wedding

With my new haircut in tow, I left the comfort of the Northern Italian mountains and bused it East to Milan where I had nine hours to kill while awkwardly totting around a stuffed duffel and backpack. What does one do with a long layover while dealing with a couple of heavy, pesky bags? Eat of course! Since I couldn’t wander endlessly with all that added weight, I had to make strategic food/drink stops to kill some time and give my tired arms a break. Picture a Cookie Monster tour around the city. Ok, it wasn’t that bad and there weren’t that many crumbs flying out of my mouth, but I did eat a piadina, a melon/prosciutto salad, three coffees, a giant pizza with bresaola and more arugula, a craft beer and one stracciatella gelato. Time tastily flew by.

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After pacifying my seemingly endless hunger and coming to terms with the fact that I couldn’t live in Italy without gaining 100+ pounds, I reluctantly made my way to the station for my overnight bus to Vienna. When you’re in your thirties, taking a 12 hour bus overnight is no longer very appealing, as if it ever were. For reasons I prefer not to dive into on this blog, I pick driving over flying into new countries whenever possible.

And, no, I’m not running from the law.

It was a sweaty, long-ass 12 hours. But then again, maybe I’m being spoiled. I sort of enjoyed waking up to a pile of drool on my puffy jacket, pressed up against the greasy window, seeing quaint country houses dotting the Austrian hills. I liked being the only American on the bus and one of the only non-smokers at the toilet breaks in random highway rest-stops. I had that much more time to throw cold water on my face in the restroom and look at 4 am snack options as the smokers puffed with fervor while keeping a watchful eye on the driver, hopeful to pull in one last drag before the engine started gently humming again.

Arriving in Vienna was anti-climactic, and as I walked the outskirts of the city past rather dismal and uniformly lackluster post WWII buildings, I thought maybe my vision of Wien as a classical composers’ paradise with gold-adorned, fanciful buildings was a bit off from its most recent history. Silly me, I just hadn’t discovered the center of town yet. My spacious Airbnb apartment slowed down my city exploration― I found myself in one of those nesting moods. My mornings were slow and lazy with cup after cup of milky rooibos tea while reading an actual book.

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Vienna actually turned out to be quite beautiful and is full of apparently wonderful museums that I didn’t get around to visiting. I adore Gustav Klimt, a Vienna native, but I didn’t catch his paintings this time, and I suppose that’s ok.  Maybe this is rather embarrassing to admit, but my favorite part of my 3-day visit was this chain bakery, Anker, that had these amazing vegan sandwiches on seeded, whole-grainy, salty bagels with hummus and lots of crunchy fresh veggies. I ate five or six of these puppies in four days, but who’s counting.

Heading into Slovakia, also by bus with my trusty Anker sandwich in hand, felt exciting and somehow new, as I’d never traveled further East in Europe.  The Bratislava bus station became my home for three hours as I waited for two of my friends to pick me up in their VW bus in route from Croatia via Slovenia. While sitting on my bags, and eating a seeded bagel, I soaked up this new world of Slovakia, or at least one sliver of it – a woman with a Santa Monica Days, Los Angeles Nights T-shirt, tons of passionate smokers posted near garbage cans with XL bud receptacles on top (I felt like it was the last day on Earth to smoke), tall blond Slovakian women in very high heels and tight skirts coming and going, a dairy dispensing vending machine with yogurt and cheese, a fresh berry saleswoman, a whole line of taxi drivers idly waiting for customers (and smoking) in acid-washed, tight jeans, and teenagers with overstuffed backpacks heading to/from the woods. My friends felt bad about arriving late, but I loved having a reason to wait in one spot and people watch. Plus, I was starting to get a feel for the place.

What a divine sandwich!

What a divine sandwich!

My view from my post at the bus station in Bratislava.

My view from my post at the bus station in Bratislava.

By the way, the whole purpose of this trip, the haircut and all the bus travel through these random places was to attend the wedding of my dear friend Zuzuna and her husband-to-be Dave. I couldn’t miss this wedding for the life of me, and I can’t tell you how pleased I was to be part of such a splendid celebration and the joining of a small-town, but very worldly, Slovak lady and her Southern California husband.

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The wedding day, night and late night was one of the merriest celebrations I’ve ever attended. This fête was supposed to last until ‘Sunrice,’ a typo on the one English program available. I liked to imagine celebrating the return of the warm sun alongside the bride and groom with my favorite grain and soy sauce, exhausted from so much dancing. Sadly, I didn’t make it that long. I spun more to the jovial beats of the gypsy band than most amusement park rides do all season. I savored the three dinners spread out throughout the evening and middle of the night, my favorite being the giant barbecue with salty, grilled pork, chicken and sausages. I got good at politely accepting shots of the potent Slivovica (plum liquor) and tossing them over my shoulder while my toasting buddy had his head cocked back in passionate consumption. Although I was in bed my 3:30 am, I think I put in a valiant effort, sunrice or not.

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I felt extraordinarily blessed to have a community of incredible international friends around me and cherished the opportunity to connect with my local hosts even with the language barrier. The wedding was the perfect escape from my guiding and a return to the things I’ve been missing most lately while on the road: friends, family and community.

A couple more shots from Slovakia…

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Potato pancakes with fresh cheese, a cucumber, dill and sour cream salad and a cold bear. And all of this after a big bike ride. What could be better?

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I'm a little bit obsessed with stacked wood piles. I loved how many different shapes and sizes were in this one.

I’m a little bit obsessed with stacked wood piles. I loved how many different shapes and sizes were in this one.

My First Italian Taglio (Haircut)

When I started living aboard, simple daily tasks became infinity more complicated in a befuddling language with new cultural norms. I clearly remember my first Spanish phone conversation during a university study abroad program in Mexico, when I kept mixing up the ever-so-simple pronouns of “I” and “you,” thoroughly confusing the poor man on the other end of the line and resulting in a giggling fit on my end when our nonsensical conversation’s absurdity struck my funny bone. It took me almost a month to figure out that I needed to go in person to the bank in Viña del Mar, Chile to pay the stupid electric bill. Although the process took most of the day to complete, I felt like I had summited K2 when I finally guaranteed my housemates another month of light and heat. In France, I’ve gotten on the wrong train and the wrong half of the train (when they magically split in some random town), more times than I would like to count or admit. I’ve even missed getting off the train at my stop because I didn’t know how to get the doors open. Yes, it’s true, an overpriced, four-year degree at a prestigious university helped me achieve such stupefying brainpower.

And then there are haircuts. The idea of letting foreign scissors destroy my rather ordinary hair terrified me. Haircuts in 8 different countries so far is no small feat, people!  I’ve coped with long, thready Argentine layers, a mullet-of-sorts in Chile, a bowl cut in Mexico and actually some really stellar cuts in Thailand, South Africa and France. The worst part of venturing into a salon abroad is trying to convey in words or gestures exactly what you want, and since most of the time I have no idea what I want anyway, the results are often startling.

Well, folks, a couple of days ago I got the haircut urge, which, for me, is equivalent to a ferocious morning bathroom calling after a giant cup of coffee (sorry I’m so graphic, but I write the truth). Actually, I think my hair was looking quite good before the cut, but sometimes the desire to chop my hair becomes so all-consuming that I just have to pay attention or risk the voices in my head singing an endless cacophony of “Cut your damn hair!” at all hours of the day. Am I crazy, or is this a woman thing? It just so happened that in the small Northern-Italian town of Aosta, I stumbled upon a sparkling salon, filled with stunning, long-haired, well-tanned, stylist goddesses, into which I courageously ventured with my bright, orange tennis shoes, my deflated hair and my broken Italian. It would make you proud to know that not only did I tell the pretty woman what I wanted, but we managed to have one of those superficial stylist/customer conversations about I-don’t-know-what in Italian! This lovely lady more or less gave me the style that I was seeking but with much more Italian flair than previously thought possible.

Hands down, the blow-dry was the highlight! She asked if I wanted my locks curly or straight, and apathetically, I said curly and sat back with wide eyes as the magic unfolded. With each compulsory smiley glance in the mirror (I was careful not to express the dread in my heart with my eyes or mouth) and each subsequent addition of more mousse, my hair gained the volume and height of circus cotton candy― imagine a perfect combination of a really good winter nest for a family of squirrels and Richard Simon’s hair on a humid day in Florida. The dryer stopped. She administered one final coat of hairspray shellac to keep all coiled hairs well in place, and I paid. Then smiled. Out into the street I ventured with my new do, careful not to hit the awnings, feeling nostalgic of my old, less-voluminous hair a mere hour before, but actually quite satisfied with the overall experience! Let’s not forget the pre-cut head massage.

I did it. Add Italy to the haircut list. Check!

I would have taken a picture of my coiffe immediately after the incident,  but I’m afraid there wasn’t a selfie-stick made long enough to capture the height and expanse in one frame, so I’ll leave that to your imagination.

Moreover, and perhaps rather stupidly, I decided to semi-permanently dye my blondish hair dark brown (sorry Mom and Dad, I know you like me blond). Sometimes you just want a change, and sometimes you want to feel different. I’m on a blissful two-week vacation stretch, and I’m reevaluating how I can incorporate more healthy practices into my hectic guiding lifestyle, including a six-week, self-proclaimed betterment stretch. I figure the dark hair, which is also supposed to last six weeks, will serve as a daily reminder to take better care of myself, instead of focusing all my energy on my constantly changing stream of clients.

This morning, I was YouTubing ways to get semi-permanent color to fade more quickly, and I think I’ll spend some of the afternoon washing my hair with Head and Shoulders (according to all the young ladies with bright red hair online, this works well). If only there were lots of men asking me on dates this afternoon, I’d have a legitimate excuse to stay at home and be lazy.

I’m actually in Vienna now, and I’m in good company. This city seems to be the land of older women with poorly dyed hair, so maybe I’ll just roll with it and leave the washing for another day. There are museums to visit, and Austrian beer to drink with salty pretzels.

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Post cut, after a serious amount of deflating.

I think I made a mistake. Too dark, right?

I think I made a mistake. Too dark, right?

Basque Beauty

We launched a new hiking trip this spring in the Basque Country, and despite an exhausting work load to get the trip guest-ready without any noticeable major hiccups, I still found time to fall in love with the countryside. What’s not to like with all the lush, green rolling hills, the happy, free-roaming horses, sheep and cows and the spectacular Atlantic coastline. The New York Times recently published an article about the The French Side of Basque Country and equates it to ‘a little sister who didn’t get invited to the dance.’ It’s true, the Spanish side is much more well known and has some beloved wine to boot, but so much of what makes this rural part of France so alluring is that it’s not overrun with tourists and not overly touristy. Unlike Provence or Paris, it’s not high on the must-see list for a lot of foreigners, and I’m grateful for that.

The Basque people’s charm and sincere hospitality only add to the mystique of the area, and of course the food and wine, like so many places in France and Spain, is outstanding. And did I mention the delicious Gateau Basque à la Cerise? I think I must have eaten three of these buttery, dense cakes filled with ripe cherries one day on the trails. Yum. Of course, French fat-laden pastries work significantly better for endurance (and pleasure) than watery old Gatorade.

After many weeks in a row of working, I had some time off to hike on my own and enjoy the beach, and these are a few of the images I captured.  Plan your trip to this region in the spring or fall when the salt-water-seeking crowds aren’t overwhelming and make sure to bring your rain gear. All those hills don’t stay so green and lush without a significant and steady amount of rain, as much as some parts of Ireland, or so they say.

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Mom & Dad in the Old Country

Ma maman and mon papa came for a highly anticipated visit to Southern France this spring.  To date, my domestic and abroad worlds haven’t mixed nearly as much as I would have hoped when I committed to my life abroad.  For me, it really was a gift to have my parents get a glimpse into my life here in Europe, and for them to feel the comfort and relief of knowing I’m in a really spectacular place that I adore.

Our journey began with a quick and dirty tour of Paris, followed by four days in my father’s family’s homeland of Croatia, catching up with our Croatian and Italian family members over long dinners, homemade lunches, and a hell of a lot of hugs. I can’t believe how lucky we are to still have family in the old country! These amazing people treated us like visiting royalty and nearly broke my heart with all their kindness, hospitality, and ‘love made edible’ in the form of handmade gnocchi followed by crusty apple strudel.

After our heartfelt Croatian visit, we returned to Provence to my familiar stomping grounds. In true tour-guide style, I thoroughly wore out my along-for-the-ride parents showing them all that Provence has to offer with a super jam-packed schedule—quintessential hilltops towns, weekly markets, wineries, perfect seasonal produce, aperitifs in the sunshine, and my favorite small-town eateries and preferred bakeries.

I truly love it here in Europe, and I think my parents totally get it now, even though I know they would still love to have me living in the Chicago suburbs, just down the street, but not before a real French bakery opens up in the heartland. Impossible.

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Zadar, Croatia

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Zadar, Croatia

Enjoying their first Croatian beer in Croatia!

Enjoying their first Croatian beer in Croatia!

A delicious rendition of Baccalà!!

A delicious rendition of Baccalà!!

Opatija

Opatija, Croatia

Dad's Birthday in Opatija

Dad’s Birthday in Opatija

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Family Graves in Vranja, Croatia.

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Back in France...

Back in France…

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Carrières de Lumières in Les Baux de Provence. It's one of my absolute favorite places in Provence.

Carrières de Lumières in Les Baux de Provence. It’s one of my absolute favorite places in Provence.

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South Africa- A lot for words, so here’s some snaps.

Terror struck me as I picked up my rental car from the Cape Town airport. Whoever’s dumb idea it was to put the turn signal on the opposite side of the steering wheel meant that I had one really clean windshield as I quickly locked my doors, hugged the left side of the road, and prayed I wouldn’t be robed blind at the first stoplight I came to in this foreign land. Africa was unknown territory to me, and all the books I read and the horror stories people were feeding me worked me up. Evidently, I needed a couple of days to relax into Cape Town.

I’m still processing my month-long experience at the bottom of the African continent and hoping for a quick return to dive into the country again soon (hopefully this November), but until then, I won’t pretend to have any profound statements on the state of a nation recovering from a recent and brutal history of Apartheid. In many ways, I know South African history isn’t all that far off from our own segregated past (present) here in the US, but there was a penetrating inequality there and at times I didn’t know how to navigate around it except with my naïve, go-to modus operandi of kindness and smiles.

I spent 10 days with my guests in some of the finest, first-class properties imaginable while enjoying/guiding incredibly privileged activities—hiking/road biking on the jaw-dropping coast, mountain biking alongside giraffes, gazing at lion cubs and staring into the eyes of elephants from the safety of the Land Rover and drinking ‘sun-downer’ G&T’s as the light faded on the savannah. At the end of my work stretch, I rented a car for a week, kidnapped my South African, dive master friend, Kyle, and took a road trip through wine country and along the Garden Route coast.  Looking back now, and revisiting my pictures and memories, it was probably the most powerful months of travel in the life, all the while being one of the most confusing and distressing.

I thought South Africa would eat me alive, but really it just strengthened my love of humanity as cheesy as that may sound. Mark Twain articulately sums it up:

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

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G&T's in our plunge pool while looking out for elephants and hippos. Really? Is this life?

G&T’s in our plunge pool while looking out for elephants and hippos. Really? Is this life?

My co-worker and good friend, Travis Steffens, is an extremely talented photographer and the following are a couple of his amazing images from our trip together. Travis recently started a non-profit, Planet Madagascar, conserving the remarkable biodiversity in Madagascar while focusing on development projects with local communities and working super hard to protect the endangered and oh-so-huggable Lemur. They’re in the midst of a fund-raising campaign, and I encourage you to donate to this very worthy cause if you find some extra change rattling around in your pocket.

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Catching up for Lost Time & Thailand: Sex, Spice and Sand.

Time moves quickly. This I know. Almost nine months have passed since I last posted on my blog, which makes me question my blog’s existence at all. Maybe all of you, my baker’s-dozen-or-so-odd-readers, have forgotten about me, and that would be ok considering my cyber disappearance.

I would like to lie and tell you I got lost in Japan without an internet connection (highly unlikely in such an advanced technological world), but really life just moved by so damn quickly. This is my attempt to bring you up to speed. Buckle up, my friends.

Thailand: Sex, Spice and Sand.

Before you start creating fanciful stories in your brain about my wild and crazy times in Asia, let me start by telling you it was painful to leave Japan. After all that amazing sushi, blissful ramen, and enough green tea lattés to slightly tint my hair green from the inside out, I sort of lost my traveling mojo. Had it not been for a very random blind-date with an ever-so-handsome, American high-mountain guide who also just happened to be passing through Bangkok (you can ask me how it went later; needless to say, there’s no ring on my finger), I wouldn’t have been very motivated to keep moving. Thailand shocked me with its stifling heat, its widespread sex industry, its high-rise, super air-conditioned malls and tourist laden beaches. Maybe I just wasn’t prepared for all the ex-pats, and gorgeous, slender Thai women draped over the shoulders of awkward looking Western men, but traveling got old and fatiguing.

Sure, it was fun to meet lots of enthusiastic and friendly international travelers in small beach towns and have some new, superficial friends to pound back a couple of Chang beers and watch fire shows together.

And yes, I loved getting massages almost every day in legit parlors and on the street during weekly markets while watching shoppers stroll past. [When I type this statement, I feel like a spoiled-rotten, overly privileged white traveler, which is another reason I struggle with Thailand.]

Who can forget all those hilarious moments when the street food vendors made my papaya salad too spicy with all those damn power-packed chilies? I begged for another Thai iced tea while sweating profusely and pulling off an incredible impersonation of a beet, and all of this, mind you, while laughing heartily.

On the other hand, I remember waking up over Chiang Mai one hazy morning, watching endless waves of motorbikes whiz past my window and wondering why in the hell I was traveling solo around Thailand when my friends and family were so far away. Traveling is like that. Highs and lows. Tears of spice and tears of loneliness. But I still love it, and despite the fact that Thailand won’t be high on my list for future travels, it won’t stop me from checking airfare to other far-flung destinations when maybe all I really need is to stay put for a while.

After Japan, I put my camera away. These are a few of the images I managed to capture.

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Tokyo: The Metro Maze, Persimmons and A Couple of Quaint Neighborhoods.

After an impressive four cups of tea at Jonathan’s this morning (I’m developing a pretty severe addiction to green tea flavored drinks), I felt ampted and ready to navigate the subway system. And with the help of a newly acquired, prepaid Suica card, I could just swipe away and easily go wherever I desired within Tokyo via train or bus. It’s only my second full day, but already the subway map, which looks a bit like a Candyland game-board on acid or a Pride postcard, is beginning to make a lot of sense.

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I got off at the Shubuya station to witness and participate in the famous pedestrian crossing, but I wasn’t particularly impressed and didn’t like the big crowds. Then on to neighboring Harajuku known for its youngsters dressed in unique fashion depicting anime characters, Goth girlies and anything bright and extravagant. I forgot these teenagers have to go to school, so the street was eerily quiet and disappointingly ordinary. I looked for Gwen Stefani too and her girl gang, but she wasn’t around either, so I was left with little choice but to eat some sushi!

I decided that I had to partake in conveyor belt sushi at least once in this fine city, but I think I made a bad decision in a rather touristy and chichi section of town on the gingko-lined Omotesando boulevard. The little containers of powdered green teas and personal hot water spigot at the bar impressed me the most, and I did enjoy watching all the colorful little plates roll by enticing and flirting with hungry diners.

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After lunch, I decided to ditch the guidebook and wander by foot. Turns out I discovered lots of great little neighborhoods and non-touristy sections of town.

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Some of the architecture was extraordinary.

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And I loved the mix of old and new, small and big, country and city in some of these smaller less-trodden blocks.

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Persimmon season is my absolute favorite. Turns out I also love orange.

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These hanging hachiya persimmons reminded me of similar drying endeavors by my pals Trilby and Zack, although I’ve never seen it done outside like this.

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These lily pads for sale outside a small hardware store made me smile.

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You can take the elevator up to the 39th floor in the Yebisu Tower in Ebisu for a great view of the city, especially at sunset.

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Doggy beauty parlors are big in Tokyo, and that little black poodle was about as cute as ever, and significantly less furry based on the floor coverings!

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My evening ended with a stroll around the hipster Nakemeguro neighborhood with loads of adorable specialty shops, cafes and restaurants.

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Tokyo: Sleeping While Present in Multicolor.

I came to Tokyo thinking I would be lost in a sea of people, stuffed into bulging subway cars only to be groped by wandering hands, a nameless gaijin crossing the street with thousands of other pedestrians. With close to 13.3 million people in the world’s largest capital city, Tokyo is surprisingly quiet. At least that was my first impression from the airport to my hotel the evening of my arrival. Compared to Oakland, this city is on mute.

This quiet theme played out my first morning in Tokyo, when I was certain I stumbled into one of those prank TV shows with undercover cameras. My hotel provides breakfast at the adjoining diner, Jonathan’s, (imagine Denny’s only with green tea and bowing servers), and all the patrons were asleep. Well, almost all of them. A couple of the other confused hotel guests were milling about half-dead with jet-lag trying to decipher the 100+ beverage options at the highly mechanized drink bar, but sleeping teenagers and middle-aged business men sporting untucked button-down shirts with crumpled suit jackets occupied the rest of the booths. It’s common for the Japanese to sleep in public. There’s even a word for it, inemuri, which roughly translates to ‘sleeping while present,’ which is both culturally acceptable, necessary for an over-worked population and perfectly safe in such a crime-free society. As I was gulping down my green-tea latte and watching the drooling diners around me, I was liking this city more with each gentle snore.

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For those diners awake enough to appreciate it and/or chew, breakfast was a tasty and perfectly un-American combo of pork soup, rice, pickled radish, seaweed and Natto, an ooey-gooey mess of fermented soybeans coated in their own slime. Natto is best described as somewhat rotten tasting soy-beans rolled in uber sticky snot. Forgive me for not painting a very pretty picture, but really, it’s quite dericious and nutritious. Really.

Since I wasn’t in the mood to deal with more forms of transportation, exploring the city on foot seemed like a good first day plan, and according to my guidebook, there were all sorts of notable things to do in my neighborhood. A quick ten minute stroll from my abode, and I was in the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden where I admired some grandiose gingko trees and enjoyed a chrysanthemum exhibit.

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Just in case you were curious about what types of ferocious insects and bugs live in the parks in Tokyo...

Just in case you were curious about what types of ferocious insects and bugs live in the parks in Tokyo…

I traveled from the tranquil park to the bustling shopping district near Shinjuku station, then through the sleepy, neighboring red-light district and on to Korea-town where I sampled the most divine stuffed grilled pastries with sweetened red beans, walnuts and other yummy things I couldn’t decipher.

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I know, I know. I flew all the way to Japan to eat Japanese food, but since I was in Korea-town during lunchtime, I decided on a make-your-own-Bibimbap-bar for lunch, primarily because the place was packed with people and they had bright-colored chairs outside. I even got a token piece of classy looking gum when I paid my bill!

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I don’t consider myself a rookie traveler, but I made the mistake of taking a nap in the afternoon because the voices in my head were strongly persuading me to close my eyes. The natto slime from breakfast must have had something to do with my eyes being glued shut, because I couldn’t get them open. Finally by belly won over the drowsy war, and I realized I had bigger, better things to do in Tokyo.

Like eat.

A tiny ramen shop on a deserted side street was home for dinner. I tried my darndest to duplicate the slurping sounds of the pudgy diner to my left, but gave up after splattering my shirt with too much flying broth. Table manners in Japan encourage zealous slurping as a sign of true enjoyment.

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What’s struck me most about Japan in these first 24 hours are all the colors and incredible design. Here are a couple more favorite images from the day.

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These clever machines serve hot drinks if you see a red line underneath, blue lines mean cold.

These clever machines serve hot drinks if you see a red line underneath, blue lines mean cold.

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I’ll catch y’all tomorrow over a cup of green tea.

Les Alpes, Le Apli

Having grown up in the Midwest, my exposure to mountains was minimal-to-none as a kid and young adult. I was convinced that the hill up the street from my house, the one my sister and I used to ride down zealously on our pink scooters with pom-pom tassles, wind in our hair, was about as high as it got!

It’s been a couple of years now since I have been leading trips in the French & Italian Alps, and I’ve taken to these mountains like bees to nectar. I love it here in the mountain air. I’ll be leaving tomorrow to head back to Provence (by no means a compromise), and I would like to share a couple more pics with you from the season.

They’re all taken from the Italian side with the exception of the last flowery one.

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I really do miss them already.