YOSEMITE

YOSEMITE

June 18 - 20, 2018

After getting our VW van finished, we took a maiden trip to Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite to test it out. With Tuolumne Meadows opening early, we were easily able to get a campsite.

Previously, our friend Wallace and I had done an two night backpacking trip to Young Lakes so I decided to bring Allie and Cody on a day hike to an open meadow high in the backcountry that had incredible views. This definitely was not a short easy hike with a baby, but was well worth the effort.

TOKYO

TOKYO

April 6 - 10, 2018

Next, we flew back to Japan. We were lucky enough to overlap our time in Tokyo with some of our close friends from LA, Lindsey and Clement. Jonathan’s parents volunteered to take care of Cody for one night while we went out with our friends for dinner and drinks. A great break fro parenthood for one night.

Cody wasn’t on solid foods yet, but that didn’t stop us from tempting him with some good eats in Tokyo.

TAIPEI

TAIPEI

March 31, 2018

From Osaka, we flew to Taipei for a short visit focused only on food. We decided to skip all the sights and just eat our way around Taipei. Immediately after arriving and checking in at our AirBNB we headed out to the night food markets for some snacks. Sorry, we didn’t take many photos in Taipei because we were too focused on eating. Here are a couple shots that we did take.

NARA

NARA

March 25, 2018

With the cherry blossoms in bloom, we went in search of hanami to enjoy some chill time underneath the sakura. We took the train for the day to Nara. We had not been before, but Nara is known for the local friendly deer that visitors love to feed and take photos with. We found that most of the deer were pretty dirty in appearance and we chose to distance ourselves, quite the opposite from the other tourists. We were lucky enough to find an area with blooming sakura where we had a small picnic and took a break.

OSAKA

OSAKA

March 22, 2018

We joined the rest of our group by flying into Osaka. They had already been in Tokyo for a few days prior to our arrival. After a delayed flight and arriving at the AirBNB very late, we woke up early the following morning in an effort to claim tickets for a sumo match at the Edion Arena in Osaka. There are always a certain number of tickets available first come first served for these sumo matches so we arrived early and waited patiently in line and luckily were admitted. After purchasing our tickets we went to have breakfast and bought some food to take into the arena with us. This was our first time watching an actual sumo tournament inside of an arena. Previously, we had seen a ceremonial tournament in Tokyo, but seeing it in an arena was a different experience that I would say is definitely worthwhile if you get the chance. I think its easy to think of sumo wrestlers as just big fat men, but in reality their agility, strength and flexibility is extremely impressive.

YOUNG LAKES AND MT. CONNESS

YOUNG LAKES AND MT. CONNESS

August 21 - 23, 2017

This weekend was the perfect alignment of a new moon at night, perfect for taking photos of the night sky and also the solar eclipse. Young Lakes is the one set of lakes you can hike to from Tuolumne Meadows that Wallace had not hiked to, so we opted for a new location with the goal of doing two nights at upper Young Lake and to do a day hike to Mount Conness. Unfortunately, Young Lakes is higher than 10,000 feet in elevation, so no campfires are allowed, making for a cold few nights. Below are some of the highlights from our first day/night.

ESSAOUIRA

ESSAOUIRA

October 3, 2017

Sad to say that we didn't really take any photos in Essaouira. We did meet some incredible people who hosted us at Ryad Watier. Essaouira is a small beach side city that has a feel unlike any of the other cities in Morocco that we visited. We found it much more relaxing and less vendors in your face and people trying to sell you things. Upon arrival we met Jean-Gabriel and Hayat who run the riad. JG is a very talkative guy from France and extremely friendly. From the moment we met him we felt like we had known him for quite some time. Hayat basically runs the riad and she was also very helpful and friendly. We shared stories throughout our stay with both of them and definitely wished our stay was longer.

KSAR AIT BEN HADDOU

KSAR AIT BEN HADDOU

September 30, 2017

To split up the next drive, we stopped in Ouarzazate and stayed at Le Berbere Palace and splurged a little for a relaxing night in a modern hotel. The following day we hopped in another car for the long trek to Marrakech by way of Ksar Aït Ben Haddou. A ksar is defined as a group of earthen buildings surrounded by high walls, which is a traditional Saharan city. Aït Ben Haddou is located in the southern foothills of the Atlas mountains and is a Unesco World Heritage site that represents the architecture of southern Morocco. Much of the ksar is authentic to its original form except for a set of towers along the river that were constructed for the filming of the movie Lawrence of Arabia.

FES

FES

September 25, 2017

In Chefchaoen we met two Americans who happened to also be traveling to Fes the following day so we split a private car to save some money. Coincidentally we also ended up having reservations at the same riad, Dar Bensouda. Located fairly deep inside the medina, we were quite thankful that the riad sent someone to meet our car and walk us to the front door. Fes is said to have one of the most complex medinas in Morocco and I can tell you first hand that this is definitely the case. We decided to try to wander around ourselves at first which only led to us feeling quite lost. We were told that this is actually the purpose of the medinas so that if foreigners were to invade that they would become lost in the labyrinth of the medina.

CHEFCHAOUEN

CHEFCHAOUEN

September 24, 2017

Our second stop in Morocco was the blue city of Chefchaoen. A small city located up on a hill, wandering thru the medina surrounded by so many shades of blue was quite a different experience from Tangier. We stayed at Casa Perleta, a small bed and breakfast recommended by our friend. It was perfectly located within the upper hill area of the medina. The blue hues of the walls of Chefchaoen are believed to have originated when the Jews came while escaping Hilter in the 1930s. The blue is said to serve as a reminder to lead a spiritual life while symbolizing the sky and heaven.

TANGIER

TANGIER

September 22, 2017

After an incredible wedding in Santorini, Greece, we stopped over in Paris and caught a flight to Morocco. Over the next two weeks we would travel by car across much of the country. First stop, Tangier. We chose Morocco b/c it was different from any other country we have visited thus far. A friend of a friend used to live in Morocco and provided us with an awesome itinerary for us to follow even including restaurants and accommodations. Tangier was a nice introduction to Morocco allowing us to ease ourselves into the country. 

ICELAND - CHASING THE AURORA BOREALIS

ICELAND - CHASING THE AURORA BOREALIS

September 11 - 15, 2017

Enroute to our close friends' wedding in Greece we found a cheap flight to Paris via Reykjavik, Iceland and decided to take advantage and do a little stopover in an effort to (fingers crossed) see the northern lights. We decided to restrict our few days to just the southern highlights along the coast. The first thing we noticed was that even though it was supposedly shoulder/low season in Iceland there were significantly more people than when we came the year before in August.

TAKINOUE, YUBETSU, ENGARU, AND KATAMI

TAKINOUE, YUBETSU, ENGARU, AND KATAMI

May 26, 2017

Over the next few days we drove around the northern island of Hokkaido in search of shibazakura. The shibazakura may have been past full bloom in the Mt. Fuji area, but in Hokkaido they were at their peak! And the flower parks were absolutely incredible fields of pink and purple flowers. And of course, they had flower flavored soft serve.

BIEI AND FURANO

BIEI AND FURANO

May 23, 2017

Today we took the long train ride from Tokyo to Sapporo. After arriving in Sapporo we rented a car and made our way to the small city of Asahikawa. Over the next two days we drove around to check out the sites around nearby Biei and Furano. Unfortunately we were a little too early (by at least a month) for the lavender season and hillsides full of blooming multicolored flowers. Google Biei and you'll see what I'm talking about. We did, however, still get to catch some flowers in bloom and eat some flower flavored soft serve. Let's just say we took in some beautiful flowers and ate a lot. In fact, some of the best ramen we had on this trip was in Asahikawa.

HITATCHINAKA

HITATCHINAKA

May 22, 2017

From Tokyo, we took about a 2.5 hour train ride to check out the flowers at the Hitachi Seaside Park. When we first arrived, we were a little confused where we were since the entrance seemed kind of drab or like we were entering an airport base or something. Once we entered the park, we found a large amusement park that also had large spaces of grass to hang out and areas dedicated to different types of flowers.