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: 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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Japan: Fushimi Sake District (Kyoto)

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Fushimi Sake District

Japan Guide describes it best: The Fushimi Sake District is a charming, traditional sake brewing district along the willow-lined Horikawa River in southern Kyoto. Revered for the clean, soft water that flows in abundance from the river’s underground springs, the district is home to nearly 40 sake breweries.

Walking through Fushimi, you can’t help but notice the beautiful traditional appearance of the buildings with wood and white-plaster walls. We didn’t have a lot of time in Fushimi (everything closes at 4:30PM!) but we made it a point to visit the Go-kawa River, the Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum, and the Fushimi Yume Hyakushu Café for a sake tasting.

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Brouwerij De Koninck

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With the famous De Koninck Bolleke bottle

 

With Christina and Rafaël in Antwerp, Koen and I booked a tour of the newly renovated De Koninck Brewery. Of course if you’re in Belgium you need to taste the local cuisine which includes the famous Belgian beers. De Koninck is the biggest brewery in Antwerp – most known for the “Bolleke”, an amber beer named for the goblet shaped glass it’s served in, Triple d’Anvers, an Antwerp style Belgian triple, and Wild Jo, the brewery’s newest beer made with wild yeast.

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