London: City of Westminster

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Carnaby Street in Soho

While in London, I did a lot of exploring in the City of Westminster. What is the City of Westminster? It’s an inner-city London borough, but also holds city status. Confused? Me, too. Almost any London site you can think of is in City of Westminster.

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London: King’s Cross

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St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel London

The last few times I’ve been in London have been for work, not really for sight-seeing. But this time Koen needed to go London for work, so I tagged along and was able to do some exploring – including the neighborhood where we stayed – King’s Cross, while Koen was in meetings and conferences.

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Japan: Odaiba & Roppongi Hills (Tokyo)

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Life-size Gundam Statue

For our second to last day, Koen and I explored Odaiba, an artificial island in southern Tokyo. We had beautiful weather and enjoyed walking along the water. Turns out there was a dance competition while we were there, so we bought some street food and watched the show!

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Japan: Harajuku (Tokyo)

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Daily morning coffee in Harajuku at The Roastery by Nozy Coffee

We were in Japan for 3 weeks, the first week in Tokyo, a week of travel, then the last week again in Tokyo. The first week we stayed in east Tokyo in the neighborhood of Ginza, so we wanted to have a different experience for our last week – Harajuku in west Tokyo!

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Japan: Ghibli Museum (Tokyo)

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On our way to the Studio Ghibli Museum

Visiting the Ghibli Museum was one of our tops things we wanted to do while in Tokyo! We didn’t realize how difficult it is to secure tickets (you should purchase them many months ahead of time and you can’t buy them on site). Luckily, after some online searching, we were able to secure two tickets – even though we paid 5x the normal price. But worth it!

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Japan: Ueno (Tokyo)

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Ueno Station at night

Ueno is a neighborhood in northern Tokyo, part of the Taito Ward, and home to many of Tokyo’s museums. Compared to other neighborhoods, Ueno is part of the Shitamachi, or literally the “low city”, a working class area. Koen and I really enjoyed coming to Ueno one evening to walk around and have a drink and sample Japanese bar food.

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Japan: Osaka Castle

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In front of Osaka Castle

The Osaka Castle is one of the most famous landmarks of Japan. If you now quickle image search “Japan” you’ll see many images of the castle in the results. Even though there’s not so much to do at and around Osaka Castle, I wanted to visit to see it for myself.

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Japan: The Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum (Osaka)

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The Instant Ramen Museum

I first heard about the Instant Ramen Museum from our friends Chris and Hannah. They went to Japan for their honeymoon and visited the museum. After I saw photos of them making their own instant ramen from scratch, I knew we needed to go too!

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Japan: Koyasan

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Delicious dinner at our temple on Mount Koya

Koyasan is a Buddhist community located on top of Mount Koya in the Wakayama Prefecture (just south of Kyoto and Osaka). We decided early on in our planning to make the trek up the sacred mountain and spend the night at Kongo Sanmaiin, one of the Buddhist temples.

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