Posts

Hello965 Friends: Tokyo طوكيو

Tokyo by @Almallaks

 

Why we chose this city: I think this one is self-explanatory really. It’s TOKYO! This city is HUGE. Seriously enormous. The best way to describe it is that it’s a city made up of a smaller cities. There’s so much to see and do in each area, it’s ridiculous.

 

Duration: We stayed 4 nights at the start of the trip plus another 4 nights at the end of the trip. Totally worth it and would say that’s a good time to stay in Tokyo.

 

Where we stayed VS. where we think you should stay:We ended up staying at the E Hotel Higashi Shinjuku in the area of “Shinjuku.” More details on the area later. The hotel wasn’t that bad, but it was very small. What was nice was that there was a café downstairs (International) where we could have breakfast and coffee before heading out for the day. It was a 15min walk to the main area of Shinjuku which wasn’t bad but you can get hotels much closer to the “action.”

We recommend that you stay in the area of “Shibuya” though. We just loved that area. It’s very nice and has many hotels, plus loads of shopping, activities and cafes. From what we saw, there were a few hotel options close to the main Japan Rail Station, including: Cerulean Tower Hotel, Shibuya Excel Hotel, and Shibuya Tokyu Inn.(PS. We used booking.com for all our hotel bookings).

Let’s start with the details of each area in TOKYO:

Shibuya

  • Things to do/see in Shibuya:
    • Shibuya Crossing: This is a 6-way traffic light crossing. Yes. 6 ways and it’s the busiest you’ll ever see. It. Is. Amazing.
      IMG_0398
    • Tsutaya: This is a shopping complex across from the main Japan Rail Station. There is a Starbucks there. Grab a coffee and go to the first floor. You’ll get an amazing outsider view of the crossing. So crazy to watch from above.
      20140319_132438
    • Hachiko Dog Statue:right in front of the Japan Rail Station; smaller than you’d imagine, but the story is very cute: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hachikō
    • If you like cats, there’s a cat café, yes seriously. We went. So quiet you get to play with the cats for 30 mins and they give you cookies and a cup of coffee. So if you like cats, it’s a nice place for a coffee break! http://wandertokyo.com/cat-cafe-hapineko/

       

    • Go check out the Pachinko slot area, crazy. We walked in and out. It was so loud and everyone was so into it. Like a casino.
      20140319_154804
  • Shopping in Shibuya:
    • PARCO1: Japanese brands
    • Maraque 109: Japanese’s highstreet styles – top floor has a café with recommended bubble jasmine tea. If you like bubble tea, go try it.
    • Don Quixotos: There are lots of branches of this place around Tokyo, it’s kind of a cheap, fun gifts place. Girls, they sell black liquid eye liner there, so amazing. I got two of them with me and wish I got more.
    • Tokyu Hands: Best stationary and house stuff etc. It’s like the Japanese Ikea. There are branches in almost all areas, ask your hotel. You can and may want to spend a lot of time there.
  • Food in Shibuya:
    • Food was really a bit difficult for us in general while in Japan. We always tried to go to places with an English menu because we don’t eat a lot of seafood. Always ask your hotel for recommendations if you are the same. If you are more adventurous, then you have nothing to worry about!
    • For the adventurous: a place recommended to us(but we didn’t end up going) was a typical Japanese seafood place: http://www.uoshins.com/i/shibuya.html Ask for the chef mix.

Daikonyama

  • Things to see/do in Daikonyama:
    • This is a great residential area walking distance from Shibuya, it was one of our favorite places. So quiet and so so pretty.
    • Crossfitters: The only Crossfit box in Tokyo is in this area! We actually went for a few sessions there.

       

      20140319_151218-1

  • Shopping in Daikonyama:
    • The area is filled with stores on every street and every corner. Really nice boutiques with cool stuff. Ladies will definitely enjoy.
  • Food in Daikonyama:
    • Hacienda: If you need a change from Japanese food, this is a great Mexican restaurant with a killer view.

Harajuku

  • Things to see/do in Harajuku:
    • This is the place where you’ll see the crazy anime dressed people. So fun. Don’t be shy to ask them for pictures, they don’t mind at all!
    • Meiji Jingu Shrine is a must.
    • Yoyogi Park: Beautiful park. We watched the cherry blossoms there. It was sublime. One of the best experiences of our lives. If you go around the same time and get lucky, this is where you should go to spend an afternoon. You get your food and drinks and there are plastics mats already set up on the floor. People go there and spend the day just hanging out.IMG_0615
      20140404_133632
  • Shopping in Harajuku:
    • The area has many nice shops. The busiest street in Harajuku is called takeshita-doriand it is lined with cafes and stores and is VERY busy. There is a store that we liked called “Monki” and it is a Japanese version of Breshka/H&M.
    • They have a Nike store and a Hello Kitty store. Ask for directions.
    • Recommended to us (but we didn’t go): Condomania, Kiddieland, Laforet and the main walking street are all shopping musts.20140322_112011
  • Food in Harajuku:
    • Recommended to us: Uoshin.web for Okonomiyaki (savoury pancakes!) for the adventurous and the not so adventurous eaters because you can choose what your toppings are J We didn’t try this place in particular, but we tried these pancakes in Osaka. Really special and highly recommended!

Shinjuku

  • Things to see/do in Shinjuku:
    • You’ll really enjoy this place at night. It’s kind of like Times Square with the lights and action on the streets.

       

    • Kareoke! They have many karaoke places, ask your hotel for a good one and book a session. They take it very seriously over there.
  • Shopping in Shinjuku:
    • There are random stores as well as department stores. Walk around and explore. Especially the area in and around the Japan Rail Station. (Yes the JR Station has shopping too! More than one floor even.)
  • Food in Shinjuku:
    • Robot Restaurant: ask your hotel to make a reservation. SO MUCH FUN. This is a must! DO NOT GOOGLE THIS. Just book, go and be surprised!
    • Rokassen: All you can eat for 90 minutes! You grill your own food, very fun and delicious. http://www.rokkasen.co.jp/map.html tel: 0120-666-528 Building name: O-Gard building. Ask for directions.
       

       

    • Check out the stuff they have at their 7-Elevens. Very interesting. We liked the Sakura flavored Hagen Daz ice cream and Kit Kat. Their Green Tea Kit Kat is famous as well!
      20140318_195516
      20140318_195706
    •  

       

 Asakusa

  • Things to see/do in Shinjuku:
    • This is just for a quick trip so you can see the Asakusa Shrine.
      20140320_120959
  • Shopping in Asakusa:
    • Make sure to ask your hotel if the market around the shrine is open. And only go when the market is open. It is super! BUY ALL YOUR SOUVENIRS AND GIFTS THERE!
      20140320_121127

Next stop: OSAKA. [JR Train:  (Tokyo to Osaka) – 3h 14m – 1 transfer]

Coming up, stay tuned 😉

@Almallaks

20140404_120659

Japan 101

by @Almallaks

IMG_0385

@Almallaks

We started planning our trip way in advance because we wanted to get the most out of it. We decided to go for 3 weeks and cover as many cities as possible. How did we decide on the cities? After loads and loads, and LOADS of research. There are so many beautiful places in Japan and so many things to see and experience. It is impossible to cover it all, unfortunately. So, it all comes down to preference and what you want to see and do.

Our route:

Tokyo -> Osaka -> Nara -> Kyoto -> Kanazawa -> Matsumoto ->Yamanouchi ->Tokyo

Japan Route

When to go: You can choose to go in any time of year, there are cities for every season: beaches and mountain climbing for summer, ski resorts for winter, and the spring for none other than the beautiful cherry blossoms. That was our choice – the cherry blossoms. So, we chose to go Mid-March to beginning April. But even with meticulous planning, the cherry blossoms bloom according to the weather that year, so it’s risky.  We kept our fingers crossed.

What to do before you go:

  1. If you’re planning on being in Japan for a while and traveling to different cities, the easiest and most economical way to travel is by train. Taking a cab everywhere will get very expensive, very quickly.
  2. We recommend purchasing the Japan Rail Pass, which gives you unlimited access to the Japan Rail (JR) Lines. We took the train everywhere even within the cities whenever we could. You can purchase one of their packages on their website: jrpass.com Here’s the thing, you can only purchase this pass BEFORE you go to Japan and once you land at the airport you activate it.

20140115_103034

Another thing you should look into is getting a MIFI: mobile wireless internet. That way, you can use your phone while you’re there without actually having to get a Japanese line. Cheap and easy. They actually can have it delivered to your hotel and then before you leave Japan, just place it in the cardboard envelope they provide and drop into any mailbox close by and  you’re done.  We got ours from japan-wireless.com

  1. ASK– anyone and everyone that you know who has been to Japan. Everyone has a different experience when they go– the more things you know, the more choices you’ll have on what to do when you get there. And even then, you’ll end up doing only a fraction of that stuff and find your own activities that you happened to come across. It’s just that kind of place.

picsart_1395004951561(1)

Packing:

If you’re planning on doing what we did (3 weeks, multiple cities via train), we highly recommend taking MINIMAL luggage. You will need to be mobile. Their trains run like clockwork, by the minute, literally. There will be a train at 5:17 pm and it will leave exactly at 5:17 pm – no joke. And there will be lots of walking (and getting lost) and stairs.  So, we only took a total of 4 pieces: two carry-ons (small, compact, 4 wheels for easy maneuvering) and two backpacks. And that’s it.

No, we are not kidding. You have to pack extremely well. Things you can layer, things you can re-wear and match with ease. Do not take anything you don’t really “need.”

20140318_111553

OK, Although it’s been a while since we went, we will try to be as thorough as possible. We want to give this beautiful place justice. Stay tuned and read the details of our experience in future posts on hello965.com!!

@Almallaks

Almallaks is all about family health and fitness. Saad and Noor – fitness enthusiasts at heart – with their little girl, Faye, post about their daily life, workouts, food and parenthood in hopes that they can grow as a family, stay active, have fun, and inspire others to do the same.
Instagram: @almallaks – Snapchat: almallaks

Female Solo Travelers

Lately I’ve noticed many female solo travelers, which is amazing!! Personally, I choose not to travel sola (solo) cause i’m more of an ex·tro·vert and that’s all, but I know many friends as passionate and as crazy as me about travel, doing it frequently!

“Women underestimate their own abilities. We grow up in a world where powerful, independent, and ambitious women are frowned upon. Does anyone else find that incredibly sad?” – Yup. Don’t be scared to travel alone!

Aside from that, I encourage each and every girl to travel alone at some point in their lives.

Female Traveler

Here are some tips for you, female solo travelers:

  • Do your research.
  • Always give someone your itinerary – your mom, your friend. No matter where you go, let someone know where you’re at.
  • Consider buying a phone card that allows you to make calls from abroad.
  • Value experiences: re-prioritize to be able to see as much as possible and get the most out of it.
  • Adhere to local dress codes.
  • Always carry your important documents with you.
  • Never trust a taxi driver.

solo-travelers

  • Pack LIGHT.
    • Pack a book
    • 2 pair of jeans
    • Leave high heels at home
    • Take enough sanity supply with you
  • Have a plan! it is good to know your basic itinerary in advance.
  • Be active.

female traveler

  • Join a local tour.
  • We all feel shy at times. However, travel is the time to come out of your shell.
  • Don’t compare, just enjoy!
  • Life is too short, make what makes you happy.

solo-travelers

  • It’s ok to get lonely sometimes but don’t let it hold you down.
  • Try to always stick to bottled water – take care of your health.
  • Talk to people you don’t know – Meet new people!

Meet-New-People

  • Prepare and carry with you, a list of emergency contacts.
  • Avoid nightlife.
  • Always know how to get in touch with the nearest embassy or consulate.

And finally, Stay safe 🙂

solo-travelers

Through the blonde abroad travel blog, I am re sharing her list of top 10 safest destinations for solo female travelers:

  1. Iceland
  2. Scandinavia
  3. New Zealand
  4. Thailand
  5. Canada
  6. Costa Rica
  7. Ireland
  8. Bali
  9. Amsterdam
  10. A cruise

 

In many parts of the world the role of women is to stay at home. I advise you to get out of your comfort zone, and see the world.

solo-travelers

Hello965

Scratch Off World Map

One of my newly purchased items is the Scratch Off World Map.

Basically, it’s a classic world map where the continents are topped with a scratch-off foil surface so you can show off the places you’ve visited (or keep track of where the treasure’s hidden).

An awesome gift to your jetsetter friends and travel addicts!!

Porto, Portugal Travel Guide

How to get to Porto (Also called Oporto)?
Airport Name: Francisco Sa Carneiro Airport is located on the north outskirts of Porto
Roadtrip

via Plane

  • Via Lufthansa+ TAP with one stop in Germany – Frankfurt (Be careful while planning with TAP, I heard there are many cancelled flights so try to get an early flight in case its cancelled you could get on the next one) There are also many low cost flights such as: Luxair, Ryanair, Air Berlin, Air Transat and Aigle Azu
  • Other than Germany as a stop/connection:  Lisbon, Brussels, Toronto, Montreal, Milan, Paris, Madrid, Bordeaux and London
Roadtrip

Via car

  • Arrive in Lisbon & drive to Porto: the city enjoys excellent road connections with the entire Portugal. Thus, for instance, A 1 links Porto to Lisbon, A 4 provides the connection to Tras-os-Montes, whereas A 3 reaches all the way to Minho. Braga, Aveiro, Viana do Castelo are also connected by motorways to Porto, so, depending on the chosen destination, tourists must opt for either A 29 or A 28 in order to get to where they want to reach. Either by bus or by car (private vehicle or rented car), Porto can be reached from virtually all corners of the country.
 Hello965
Sleep.
IMG_5605
Lunch in Porto
Food.
– Reitoria ( Steakhouse, Bistro, Wine Bar)
– LSD (Coffee & tea, Snacks, Restaurants)
– Rota do Cha (Cafe)
– Taberna das Galerias (Portuguese)
– Casa de Pasto da Palmeira (Portuguese)
– Bar Tolo (Portuguese)
– Portarossa (Pizzeria)
– Gull (Sushi)
Porto2012

 

IMG_5607
Things to do.
Fundação (foundation) Serralves – awesome palace with amazing gardens and and enormous collection of art
– Must see Ponte de Dom Luís I
– If the weather is good go Praia (means beach) da Maceda
– Checkout Praça da Ribeira (Square/Plaza)
– Surf lessons/Surfing
– Hop on Hop off Bus to see Porto
– There are also guided tours to see the city at night
– Nightlife: Rua (Street) das Galerias
– Museu de Arte Contemporânea (Museum)
Happy travels!!!
Always remember, you could contact us to plan your trip for you, or give you travel consultation either via contact us form on our website or info@hello965.com
 Porto
Hello965 team