Started the morning with the Stockholm Free walking tour of Galma Stan with Priyanka as my guide. She is originally from India but moved to Stockholm 2 years ago to study Environmental Development & Urban studies and is now studying Swedish and Architecture. It was 13°C and sunny out.
Facts about Sweden & more specifically Stockholm from the tour:
-Sigtuna – 1st settlement. Estonians were the first to attack. Galma Stan – created a fort city to stop the plundering.
-Stock means log; Holm means home – They installed logs into the water so the boats would hit it and go down from invasion.
-Stockholm is the most populated Scandinavian city.
-It is the Venice of the north with 14 islands comprising the main city.
-The knights took their own island beside the main island
-Vasterlanggatan – longest street – Separated the 2 body of water to transporting goods
-Swedish is a straightforward language – especially if you are English speaking – vegetables – green things
-Little mirrors are all over the window facades to pull in natural light into people’s homes and also able to see what was happening in your neighbour’s house – gossip mirrors
-Golden Phoenix emblem over the door. Sweden had the oldest insurance and bank – the houses with this emblem would be the first to be saved in case of a fire.
-Sweden is all about gender equality
-Almost 50% of priests are female
-Sweden is all for Same sex marriage
-The church space is open for many uses besides a place of worship such as Concert venues and orchestra performances.
-Everyone brings in their own faith
-Majority of people are Agnostic or Atheist but still pay to the church for all the stuff above
-You can opt out of paying church tax
-There is German part of Town in Galma because they did so much trading of wood and iron
-The narrowest street (Mårten Trotzigs Gränd} was created by a merchant who wanted his own alley. The Government said this merchant can make it but it has to be discreet and now it’s one of the most famous Photo spots in the city.
-Iron ties on buildings – iron pieces outside of a house to hold the wooden beams
-Swedes pay high taxes but get good benefits such as mat leave, 160 days paid leave for taking care of sick children, free education, free healthcare
-Social benefits – If you work full-time, you get 25-35 days paid vacation and holiday pay is higher than normal pay. They know holidays are more expensive so they raise the rate during that travel period.
-Swedes goto Berlin for the weekend to party because it’s so much cheaper to fly there and purchase alcohol than to party in Sweden.
-Starting 3000 euro month with 22% tax
-They try to keep the low income and high-income brackets closer together. The higher tax bracket end up paying more tax, which can be up to 75% higher.
-Sweden, Denmark & Finland had a trade union but the Danish King was in power so the Swedes kept fighting and so, the St George and the dragon defeating the dragon tells the story of their relationship. The royal Swedish knight is from Denmark and the dragon is Finland and the man that is squished beneath is Norway
-For the most part, Swedes have a friendly rivalry with Danish.
The Ikea owner was dyslexic so he couldn’t remember numbers. He named products after regions and for named products such as carpets and doormats after Danish regions – stepping on Denmark passive aggressively.
-The red blood square – red house left with 93 white rocks to represent the lost lives that day by the Nobel prize museum
-Swedes do a lot of eco friendly progressive things such as many second hand spots and even have a mall specifically for that.
-Cash is NOT key here. In fact, there are very limited places to use it as card and tap are implemented everywhere including public toilets. I asked Isabelle to get me some Swedish krone so I could tip but I had a hard time getting rid of the rest of the krone I had.
Ok, back to my day. After the tour, I was on my way to head underground to explore some of the wonderful metro stations until a group of girls passed by with Skolstrejk för klimatet (school strike for the climate) signs to only realize it was Friday and every Friday especially in Stockholm where Greta Thunberg is from, they have Fridays for future protests (also other places around the world have these gatherings now). I made my way to Mynttorget and was surrounded. Youth came in from all nearby streets chanting and holding handmade signs. There were an array of characters from small children to highschoolers to adults. The actual protest was well-organized and oh so many people.
As the protest march had commenced, I continued on underground and visited a bunch of metro stations that are all differently themed and use the space well. The metro stations in Stockholm are works of art. Roughly 90 out of 100 stations are decorated or painted by different artists going back to 1950. The Stockholm Metro stations have been referred to as the “Longest Art Gallery in the World”. There are definitely many blogs you can read that can help you plan your own adventure underground. There are also tours. This is when getting a day pass for the metro truly comes in handy. There are a few of the blog posts I used to help me identify a few stations I wanted to visit in my limited time.
I had planned my route underground with some fun stops along the way. Coming out of one of the stations, I went to the Stockholm Public Library that features a round room – definitely need to be super quiet in there. And while in Sweden, you have to fika (making time in your day to either catch up with friends or just taking time in your day to have a coffee/tea with a pastry such as a cinnamon bun). I had fika at Cafe Pascual with a nice tea and cardamom bun thanks to my friend Katherine’s recommendation. Isabelle had told me the use of cash to pay for things here is seldom as you can tap for everything including public toilets. Café Pascual follows that formula as no cash transaction is allowed and must be tap.
Around 3-330PM, the stations had gotten busy with people coming off of work, so I made my way over to Fotografiska. It was such a treat especially since the lead exhibit was from a photographer named Jimmy Nelson. He has dedicated the past few decades photographing the last tribes of the world before they to become extinct. There was a certain point in time that I had also applied to become a photographer to join his community and also contribute to this wonderful photographic endeavor but unfortunately I came close but not enough to join his team. Fotografiska has multiple floors with multiple artists on display at all times.
This day in particular was chilly at times and wet at times. I met up with Isabelle after work and we grabbed dinner at Kvarnen. I ordered the Isterband (sausage with potato and beets). It is one of those classic Swedish comfort dishes. Since the night was young, we went a bit of bar hopping from Lilla Hotellbaren to Omnipollos hatt (which also serves amazing stone oven pizza) to Södra Teatern (4 floors in the hotel with different music – when we were leaving, the first floor had a live band including a saxophone). Considering the thickest layers I had was a long sleeve, a hoodie and a rainjacket, the night was a little chilly but still good vibes.
Started our morning in Polhemsgatan neighbourhood having brunch at Newt. Banana pancakes, cinnamon roll, eggs and avocado on toast, turkey sandwich & juices. We checked out City Hall (you can’t miss it – look in the sky for the 3 gold crowns) and hopefully climb up (SEK60) the tower for a view of the city. We were going to climb up but the next scheduled time was 45 minutes from the time we were there and we didn’t want to wait. We decided to walk over to Monteliusvägen and see the opposite view. It is such a cute and quiet spot to hang out.
We walked through Soldermalm which was booming with people as the weather hit 21°C today as oppose to the rain and cold the day prior.
They had this farmers market where people were also doing a garage sale/secondhand thrifting. It’s crazy that there still is no physical money exchanged and they use e-transfers via Swish to purchase fresh produce to a child selling their old toys.
Isabelle’s boyfriend Love joined us and our first stop was for ice cream at A.H. Glassbar – I got the mango passion fruit and it was delicious! We ended up eating and sitting in the sun at the park on the corner in Nytorget where loads of people were also soaking up the sun. This was one of the rare places that still accept cash but you can also pay via Swish (Kindof like Venmo or EMT).
We continued to walk through Soldermalm and made our way over to the ferry terminal to go across to Djurgården. They have their own amusement part called Gröna Lund Tivoli but it was closed for a private event. We went to Skansen (an open air museum, zoo and event venue). We thought the autumn fair was happening that weekend but unfortunately it was the following week. We did see a lot of animals and the old ways of living in Sweden. It kindof reminded me of Centre Island & Black Creek Pioneer Village back in Toronto.
We made it to Kungsträdgården (true city centre) where we took in the last good bit of sun and heat by the water fountain. I also grabbed a Daim (Swedish chocolate bar made from crunchy almond caramel covered in milk chocolate) ice cream.
Love left us and we went on our way to Jakobsberg, the neighbourhood where Isabelle grew up.
We went over to her childhood friend Malin’s place. We were also joined by her sister Anna for taco night. The sisters are super sweet who have the most memorable adventures travelling with one another. Malin also made this chocolate cake which was supposed to be a mud cake but nonetheless delicious all around. We spent a good amount of time on the couch just chatting away. A good way to end the night and my final full day in Stockholm.
Stockholm, Sweden – Copenhagen, Denmark
After a light breakfast, Isabelle brought me to the bus stop where I was catching my bus to the airport and we said our goodbyes. Sad to leave Stockholm but the 2 full days there felt much longer.
Back on a plane I went and this time to Copenhagen. Met back up with Winnie after her short stint in Barcelona and London.
We purchased our Copenhagen cards and off we went. 2 stops from the airport, we stopped at Kastrup Søbad – a public sea bath. The weather was a warm 18°C and sunny when we arrived. We hopped back onto the metro system and made our way to our Airbnb out in Skovlunde. Skovlunde is about 20-30 minutes outside of the city centre but our location was a 5 minute walk from the train station.
We settled in then ran to catch the train into the city. We decided to head over to Freetown Christiania and took a look around. We spotted the spiral tower of Church of our Saviour however we arrived just after 7PM so we were unable to go up.
Christiania is a small part of town that has a grey area in terms of laws. intentional community and commune of about 850 to 1,000 residents. Copenhagen has had issues in the past with the drugs that were being distributed however in Christiania, they are able to sell kush and marijuana to an extent. At least this way, the drugs are being regulated a bit better. You are not allowed to take photos in certain parts of this town and you will definitely be called out or yelled at if you do so in the non-designated area.
We were famished and quickly past through the skatepark of the main area of Christiania. We found one of Thomas Dambo’s recycled wooden sculptures called Green George.
We then found ourselves on the main street where no photos are allowed. There you can find a street filled with merchants selling their fine selections of kush and cannabis freely. They have it all displayed nicely for you to walk up to.
We continued through to find a really cool vegetarian restaurant called Morgenstedet. We shared the baked dish with 3 salads for 110DKK ($21.65CAD).
Winnie had mentioned this restaurant that is suppose to be one of the best in the world called Noma. We walked to it but of course it was dark and closed by the time we made it there. We walked along the waters and it was super calm and quiet but the homes surrounding were definitely stunning. Big windows and you can definitely see into the homes which held beautifully designed and furbished interiors. (sign me up for a home here geeez). We continued walking over to Kobenhavn K through a system of bridges and saw the famous Nyhavn buildings at night and surrounding area. I thought Copenhagen would be similar to Stockholm but they both have such different vibes.
Originally, we had Tivoli – the oldest Amusement part in the world on our itinerary however, we didn’t realize that Tivoli’s summer season official closed that night. We just missed out. They close after the summer season and reopen for Halloween.
6AM wake up call to drive through the fog from Porto to Sintra. The drive from Porto was roughly 3.5-4 hour drive to Quinta da Regaleira. Honestly, I was following the speeds of the other drivers and at certain points I was driving a consistent 160KM/HR on the highway.
Originally planned to visit both Quinta da Regaleira (€8) and Palácio da Pena (there are 2 ticket options – Park & Palace €14 OR just Park ticket €7.50). For those heading to Quinta da Regaleira – Parking – there really isn’t much parking nearby Quinta and if the spots that are close are not empty, it’s only a one way road that takes about 30 minutes to circle back around. We found out the hard way and on the second time around, we found a spot where people had made their own spots on the side of the road about a 15 minute walk past Quinta da Regaleira.
We ended up just going to Quinta da Regaleira. We walked around the site to the infamous Initiation Well and cave system as the main attraction. Continued to the Fountain of Youth and the palace. We decided to nix Palácio da Pena and head to the beach side. We figured out that both myself and Winnie aren’t as big into Castles and Museums as many other travellers tend to be. Also, the weather was lovely and back home in Toronto the weather was starting to get cooler and we wanted to soak in the sun as much as we could.
We drove to Azenhas do Mar to take in the views and that’s where we overheard a guide mention of this beach town Cascais and decided to drive over. We situated ourselves at Praia dos Pescadores but not before getting ourselves some acai bowls. Took a few hours to catch some rays on the sand before heading to our Airbnb in Caxias.
Our Airbnb location was about a 15-minute drive over to Lisbon where we met up with my friend Kat who I originally met through Yuujou and had the opportunity to meet in person in NYC back in July. Timing wise, she literally just moved there the day before but happily met up for dinner with us to show us one of her favourite places.
We had an amazing dinner at Noobai, which is a 3-tiered restaurant that overlooks the city and is a great place for sunsets. The food was amazing as well! I got the codfish loin, Kat got the prawn curry and Winnie got the mango salad. We shared a lovely pitcher of sangria as well.
After dinner, Kat walked us through her old neighbourhood before leaving us for a conference call. We ventured off to continue our quest for tasting pastel de natas. We stopped at 3 spots: Alcoa, Fabrica da Nata and Pastelaria Casa Brasileira. I think for me, the flaky buttery crust of Fabrica won but the custard of Casa Brasileira won for that night.
Portugal is also known for this codfish croquette called Bacalhau but we were so full we did not have the chance to try one for ourselves.
During this adventure, we also walked by Santa Justa Lift (you can pay to get an above roof top level view right in the middle of the city), MUDE and Timeout Lisbon Market. And finally to end the night, went to pink Street where we met back up with Kat at 4 Caravelas and met all her Remote Year friends for drinks. Sam, Victor, Austin and Scott were the ones we chatted with the most.
Lisbon – Porto, Portugal
Sama Sama – same same but different.
After being in Lisbon for less than 48 hours, I can definitely see how Lisbon is the San Francisco of Europe. Incredibly hilly, by the water, impacted by earthquakes and has it’s own version of the Golden gate Bridge (same architect) and has the tram system.
First thing we did that morning was to get up and goto Pastéis de Belém for the OG (if you will) for pastel de nata. To be very honest, it was good but not my favourite. I stand by my choices the night before of the custard of Pastelaria Casa Brasileira and the flaky crust of Fabrica with Manteigueira as a close second overall. Right across the street is Jerónimos Monastery and on the other side of the road that we kept driving past was Belém Tower.
We drove into Lisbon city centre and walked around during the daytime since all the places we saw the previous day was in the evening. Had breakfast at Fauna and Flora where I ordered the Spicy Pumpkin pancakes.
Walked through Alfama area and all the way to the top of Miradouro da Senhora do Monte for the best view of Lisbon. There are steep streets to get up there but well worth it.
A pitstop we needed to goto before leaving Lisbon was for pastel de nata from Fabrica. We ate lunch at Sama Sama. I got the Maggie crepe and the Lemon drop smoothie and we got to eat in their affiliated bar on the corner called Crafty Corner.
We drove 3.5 hours to get back to Porto and returned the car rental by the afternoon. Got to the airport and dropped off our bags in the storage lockers. On our way out of the airport since our flight wasn’t until the morning, we decided to head back into the city however we looked up and saw on tv that they were playing volleyball, albeit a very fuzzy quality screen. We ended up standing there for an extra hour watching before we finally left.
We decided to hop on the metro line and get back into town for one final meal. Walked around a bit trying to find food and ended off at Casinha Baixa Do Porto. We ordered the codfish with creamy potato puree, mini-francesinhas, tripinhas, folded egg with spinach and manchego cheese on bread and finally a smoked salmon salad. We had also looked into this food market type of establishment called Food Corner that housed a different cuisine per floor but we didn’t quite like the options at that time.
The accommodation for the night: Porto airport. One thing we learned about travelling and sleeping in an airport is that if you haven’t checked in yet, you can find the closed cafes and push the chairs together to create a bed. We observed others doing the same and followed suite. We have also slept on floors by power outlets.
Porto, Portugal – London,UK – Stockholm, Sweden
3 airports, 3 countries. Porto – London – Stockholm.
We slept in the airport overnight to catch our 630AM flights. Winnie and myself parted ways (but only for a few days). She wanted to stay in the warmth while I decided to head to the Scandanavian country of Sweden to visit a friend in Stockholm. I landed into Stansted airport in London early in the morning to 14°C but in the sun, felt amazing. Since Stansted is further out of the main city centre and I had another flight to catch in the evening, I stayed put but found a good spot outside of the airport by the bus meeting room by a power outlet. I also found a good spot on the hill in the sun.
I was able to charge up all my devices and catch up on backing up photos. When I travel, I always bring my mogics powerbar so I can share the charging with others. During my charging time, I was able to make friends with a man named Vullant. He is an army chef who lives in London and was coming back from Izmir, Turkey from visiting his mother.
Having plenty of time and the weather cooperating at 22°C, I took back to the hill to catch the rays before I had to go through security.
Ryanair is the cheap budget airline but it can afford to be because it doesn’t fly right into the city centre’s. During my evening flight, luckily I took out my earbuds earlier near the end of the flight as I made friends with the girl beside me – Jamila. She is originally from Holland but lives in London. She was travelling to Stockholm to attend a family wedding.
She was even kind enough to offer me a ride into the city centre however timing wise, her cousin was running late and the bus I originally booked was more feasible. Coming out of the airport, the weather was drastically different from what I had experience so far into the trip at 5°C.
I took the Flygbussarna from Skavsta to the city centre. It took 1.5-2 hours but at least the bus has outlets and USB plugs. I got off the bus around midnight to 2°C but briskly walked to Centralstation and was able to get a glimpse of 2 of the metro stations. I purchased the 72-hour metro card pass for unlimited travel on their transit system.
Through my experience with the travel experiment Yuujou, I was able to connect with what I call the Yuujou 25 family (my digital family from around the world). And in Stockholm, I finally got to meet Isabelle in person finally! (She hosted me during my short stay in Stockholm).
We took a cab to Kyoto station to meet Cassie at Kyoto Station. Such a large station with multiple JR offices to book tickets but we eventually found Cassie. We got there in time to reserve seats for the shinkansen bullet train to Osaka. It literally took 14 minutes for us to get to Osaka from Kyoto. Local JR would take about 30-60 minutes – so insane. It was so fast that the ekiben that I purchased I had to inhale and almost didn’t finish in time to get off the train. We arrived in Osaka rather early to meet our Airbnb host at 1130AM so we put our bags in the lockers and went shopping at Tokyu Hands. Turns out our 20 minute limit turned into an hour. I purchased about 114,000y but what sucks is that at the tax free counter, i only got 633y back because my purchased items didn’t qualify for a tax exemption. By this point of seeing Osaka, everyone had talked ourselves out from leaving for Nagoya the following day to leave a little bit more time in Osaka.
We left Tokyu Hands and walked through Shinsaibashi street to America-mura where we would meet our Airbnb host Yuta and be staying. Cute apartment in a nice building with a coffee shop at the bottom. Yuta let us check in early and leave our stuff but the apartment still needed cleaning. He recommended a place to eat in Shinsaibashi called Daruma(1-6-4 Dotonbori, Chuo-ku, Osaka). Daruma is a kakushikatsu which basically means everything is fried. There was also a train the food would come on after ordering on the ipad/computer and a person would come around and place it on the heated plate for us. There is a sauce we can use to dip our skewers in but only dip once.
If you haven’t joined and booked with Airbnb yet, follow the link and get credits for your first booking. www.airbnb.ca/c/ruu
I had to meet my friend Kayo at a Namba station but my maps brought me to the JR Namba line instead of the local trains so Kayo met me on a corner while my friends were in Loft. Loft is a design store and a dangerous store in terms of wanting to purchase everything there. After Loft, we went to the Daiso store which is also filled with things we don’t need but fun to look at.
When we came out of the Daiso store, Kayo pulled out these little brown bags from her bag – she got us gifts! We opened it up to reveal that she gave us personalized (she personalized it herself) key chains with our names on it from her workplace – Business Leather Factory. So sweet of her! We told her we wanted to see her store so she took us to the Namba station branch of the store as she works at Umeda Station location. Cassie bought a wallet and Mike & Manwai purchased passport cases and Kayo was so sweet to give us 5% friends & family discount + tax free savings. I would’ve bought a new wallet but I am very particular about the things I want from a wallet. On our way to the store, we were eyeing Mister Donut and she stepped out and bought a box for us – she is way too sweet!
We walked from there through Shinsaibashi street to the Glico man sign and we went a little further down the river to find so benches to enjoy the donuts. Along the way, we also stopped and grabbed ourselves Croissant Taiyaki – croiyaki? 1000y for 5. There was azuki red bean, custard and sweet potato filling – the sweet potato was delicious! We hung out on under the bridge and on ate then walked back to our area of America-mura – it is very hip and so many colourful characters especially in clothing style. Very much American influence on clothing style but more so the 90’s wears and hip hop influence. Since they were cleaning the apartment when we dropped off our bags, we went back to the apartment to hang for a bit and saw the sunset from the balcony. There was a giant bowling pin just outside our building and we decided to go bowling at Shinsaibashi Sun Bowl 心斎橋サンボウル. It was 950y/pp for shoe rental and 1 game. Kayo put our names in kanji and off we went. My first bowl was a strike! Kayo was pretty precise in her bowling. In the end, Manwai, Kayo and myself were part of the strike club while Cassie and Mike were in the spare club. We even bowled with the bowling pin costumes at one point. I won!
After bowling, we returned to Shinsaibashi to see the Glico Man sign at night then went to Aburiya Dotonborimidosuji あぶりや 道頓堀御堂筋店 for Yakiniku – all you can eat 4380y with option for all you can drink for 980y. We ate so well in the 2 hour time limit plus we all get 1 dessert included. We of course treated Kayo. It was such a good night. We did stop and get takoyaki beside the large Don Quijote near the Glico man sign while we waited for our reservation for Aburiya.
Off to Kyoto via JR Rail today but first breakfast (included in our fee). We went to our breakfast – Japanese style breakfast which was served buffet style. Very tasty and of course local ingredients for the most part. It was also day 2 of the festival however we were heading out to Kyoto that morning – luckily for us, it looked like it was a little cloudy and might rain the second day. Karen & Chi had left earlier than us (since we couldn’t get seats in the earlier train) so Glenn, John, Manwai, Mike and myself took a train leaving an hour and half later. It stopped in Nagoya before transferring to Kyoto where John and Glenn went towards Yokohama and eventually back up to Tokyo while we went to Kyoto.
We stayed at an Airbnb near Kiyomizu Station and since it was an absolutely gorgeous day of 20C+, we decided to walk 30 minutes from Kyoto station to our place. The Airbnb host had given me photo step by step instructions on how to get into the building however in his original photo, the circles 1 mailbox but we didn’t find the key in there but luckily I noticed that the mailbox beside it was also his and the keys were in there. This airbnb looked bigger in the Airbnb photos but realistically, it was a studio apartment and was a tight fit but we managed.
We put down our things and walked over to through the Higashiyama Ward to realized we hadn’t eaten yet (it was 2PM) so we stopped off for some cold soba noodles at Kisanjina 胡麻豆腐と和カフェ きさんじな before making our way to Hokan-ji Pagoda. I had read that Hokan-ji Pagoda was a rarity in that we could actually climb it but that it closed at a certain time so we rushed through the Higashiyama Ward area really quickly to get there but alas, my information was wrong and there was no indication we could actually access it as everything was blocked off from entering.
We continued walking alongside Kōdai-ji temple and stopped for some matcha ice cream from Gion Tsujiri. I got the matcha green tea drink with matcha ice cream (520y) to top off. We continued north and ventured through one smaller temple before making it to Maruyama Park which then connects to Yasaka Shrine. The view of the city looking out from the mains gates of the Yasaka Shrine is one of my favourites from my last trip and unfortunately it was too crowded and cloudy to serve it justice to my 2012 shots that captured that old Kyoto feel.
According to the KitKat Chocolatory website, the Kyoto Daimaru location exists so we made it there in good time and almost got lost in this food heaven of the Daimaru to find out it doesn’t exist (we asked a lady and she crossed her arms signalling an X). We then walked back to the main area by Yasaka Shrine to have dinner with Karen & Chi as Cassie was getting in later that evening. Along the way back, from the Gion – old Kyoto district street, a pile of people with lanterns paraded through the streets as they were I guess doing a procession to Yasaka Shrine.
Karen had chosen this on restaurant called Izuju(Japan, 〒605-0073 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Higashiyama Ward, 祇園町北側２９２) which was known for their traditional Kyoto style sushi. This consisted of no soy sauce, no wasabi and all the ingredients were cooked – it felt similar to eating korean rolls. Fun fact – Karen doesn’t eat raw fish so this the only time she could fully enjoy sushi. We ordered as a group for sharing and it all came out on this massive plate. Deluxe hako sushi (omelette, shrimp, sea bream, tori gai & roasted fish), awafu roll, saba sushi & sasamaki. We tried to venture through Yasaka Shrine and Maruyama Park as Karen & Chi hadn’t checked it out yet but then the rain started to pour and we were not quite ready for the rain. We hid under a shelter watching people who were sitting in the park eating (little stalls had these well lit areas with small tables and seating areas to eat) try to finish their food quickly and find shelter with their beers in hand while the staff quickly covered and took the furniture to covered areas. There was a giant group of men who were drinking who had a giant tarp that they quickly turned into a shelter for themselves and continued their festivities. We on the other hand, took a cab back ho and called it a night with one more episode of terrace House (only 4 episodes were released in our timeframe in Japan but 4 more than what was released back home).
If you haven’t joined and booked with Airbnb yet, follow the link and get credits for your first booking. www.airbnb.ca/c/ruu
The original plans as to visit Chidori-fa-guchi Park during the day but it was raining so we opted out of it. We met up with Kanako again at Tokyo station by the popular gin no suzu bell (which was actually confusing to find). We had to go reserve tickets for the afternoon but then Mike wanted to drop off their other bag to the lockers which was even more confusing to get to and ate up some time. Got the bag near our main luggage locker and finally off we went to Shimokitazawa.
We aimed to start our day early but we got there really early that nothing was opened and it was pouring rain. Everything in Shimokitazawa seems to open around 11AM. The only good thing about thing being closed is that the gates to some of the stores are nicely decorated or graffitied. We walked out of the station and wandered all the way to the bottom of Shimokitazawa area and then turned back around and stopped by the arcade which was one of the only things somewhat opened.
We did purikura photos to kill time. We then wandered again searching for food – mainly Italian but we couldn’t find a place or it wasn’t opened but Kanako pointed out a conveyor belt sushi place that was opened and also rather cheap 108-110y a plate. We went to Kaisen Misaki ko – 海鮮三崎港.
There was a mini bullet train delivering orders from the iPad but also the normal conveyor belt that goes around where you can pull plates off. Kanako and me ate like beasts. The price of plates is designated by the colour of plate and once you finish eating one, you stack them. When you are done, the person comes around and counts the amount of dishes and their colours. Individually, both of us (Kanako & I) ate more than Mike and ManWai combined but it was good quality and cheap that in the end, it only totalled roughly $15CAD especially since we added them on Line App and you get 1 plate automatically off.
Back into the rain but this time we decided to walk the other side of the station and I was so sad that it was raining so hard and I didn’t bring my umbrella so I couldn’t shoot all the characters in this neighbourhood as its known for its hipsters. We stumbled upon a couple of stores – vintage – second hand etc. Finally stopping at a corner, we spotted a store on the second floor selling only raw Japanese cotton denim goods called Beauty of Life or something like that. Very cute little shop and I picked up 3 denim woven bracelets.
Right beside the store we saw some these neon lights and something about avocados. Since we needed a break from the rain we went in to a drink break. Madosh Cafe where everything on the menu has avocado. Just finishing a large conveyor belt sushi meal, all we could stomach was a drink. Kanako and I ordered the avocado and coconut smoothie 1000y while Mike and Manwai the Avocadoacino (unlimited refills) and a tiramisu. They had a sign in their window reading that if you tag them on social media using their hashtags, they will give you a free avocado. I did it but completely forgot to ask or show the post to receive it.
Our plan of attack was to continue back towards Tokyo station with a stopover at Meguro River which is a well known spot for cherry blossoms that hang over the river and when blossomed, it is truly a sight to be seen. We looked outside and the rain didn’t seem to be letting up so we had to forego those plans and decided check out Recipe Mall nearby that had 2 floors of Uniqlo, Daiso, a fabric store and a grocery store. Once we got warm and a little drier, we took he train back to Tokyo Station where we parted ways with Kanako and grabbed ekibens (meals made especially to be eaten on long train rides at the station) before departing for Kanazawa.
Our arrival into Kanazawa was later in the evening and once we go to the station, we had to go find the local bus that would bring us to our Airbnb. Our Airbnb was located in the basement of an apartment building however it was raised up so we were actually overlooking the riverside and you can see the bridge. We called it an early night and tried to do laundry with their 2-in-1 machine however the drying portion wasn’t quite working that well. The apartment is actually quite large to Japanese standards. It was a 1 bedroom apartment with 1 bed but could easily fit the 3-4 futons they had in the closets. We watched a few episodes of Terrace House before I falling asleep. Going into this trip, a bunch of us got hooked on Terrace House and because we were in Japan, We were able to watch Japan Netflix which has the most recent releases of the show which aren’t offered in North America for a few months.
If you haven’t joined and booked with Airbnb yet, follow the link and get credits for your first booking. www.airbnb.ca/c/ruu
I woke up extremely early and decided to finally go for a morning walk – it was quiet but cold however I wanted to chase that morning light. Once everyone was awake and fully packed, we split up once again with Mike, Manwai & myself dropping off our bags at Tokyo station – East Maouranchi Line. We wanted to go back to Chidori-ga-fuchi however, it was a late start (we left around 830-9AM) we wouldn’t have enough time to go back and also make it out to Mitaka for our Ghibli Museum reservation for noon.
We had to take 2 JR rails to get out to Mitaka, which took around an hour. We decided to walk from the station and it was such a nice walk over. We lined up once we got there and were let in earlier than our 12 reservation. Purchasing the ticket a month prior was one of the most stressful things to do as every 10th at 10am (Japan time) the tickets for the following month are released and they sell out like hotcakes for 1000y (if you use tour agencies – it costs a lot more but guarantees tickets). Our actual ticket was a 3 piece film strip of different clips from different movies under the Studio Ghibli banner – mine was from Howl’s moving Castle. You are however, NOT ALLOWED TO TAKE PHOTOS INSIDE THE MUSEUM. They have a permanent collection which is filled in a room showing the different techniques they had done with the drawing and filming or movies as well as claymation. It was absolutely my favourite room of the museum especially the spinning cylinder with the robot and the birds.
The only place in the building you are allowed to take photos is when you are going to the rooftop where the giant robot statue is after you walk up the spiral staircase. The museum also features a gift shop which is always packed but filled with tempting items exclusive to the museum visit. I ended up purchasing a postcard with one of my favourite scenes from my favourite movie – Whisper of the Heart, a wooden keychain with a bell inside the bunny, a postcard that pops up to become a 3D card of the actual museum in a mario bros gameboy type of style and a mini toy of the entrance of the museum. There is also a cafe below but the line up was long so we opted to cross the street to Lawson and pick up a few items to bring back to the park behind the museum and have a little picnic – be warned – there are no garbage cans. The weather was rather nice but a little on the chillier side.
We took the Studio Ghibli bus back to the Mitaka station however it feels like its taking the long route.
We proceeded to make our way to Shinagawa and got there a little early and decided to find a little cafe called Zakkat Cafe nearby to warm up before Maricar. I ordered the peach and apricot tea (450y).
Perfect little place to warm up before heading over to the Shinagawa location for Maricar. Our guide was Ike and once we got there, we paid upfront (course A at Shinagawa – 5PM (to get sunlight to sunset to night time driving) 6000y with a trip advisor or Facebook review, showed our international drivers license and then proceeded to choose our costume for the ride. There are Mario bros characters and non-Mario cart characters or you can opt to bring your own. I dressed as Usavich ウサビッチ Usabitchi, from Usagi. Make sure to carry your international and normal drivers license with you as your drive around. There is a little pouch on the cart that can fit these licenses and as well as your cellphone and extra batteries. *NOTE* I suggest you bring extra go pro batteries if you can and also don’t start it up right away. Get use to driving the first 10 minutes and save your precious battery for the better sights along the way like the landmarks – Tokyo Tower, Shibuya Crossing, Roppongi etc considering it is about 2-3 hours of driving around.
Cameras are allowed (strap around your neck) but not allowed to shoot when driving as instructed by the guide. You can have a max of 12 per session with a guide in the back and one in the front as you will be driving with normal Tokyo traffic. Be warned now that you will be inhaling exhaust from all the carts for 2-3 hours so be prepared. They give you a quick lesson on how to operate the go kart and off you go. Turn key on, take step on brake (left foot), release handbrake, put car into Forward, press the yellow ignition lever, apply pressure to gas (right foot) and ready to go. The brake needs a little more pressure to stop more accurately. There are hazard lights for when you pull over and signal lights that you need to press the middle to cancel the signal. There is no throwing bananas allowed nor bumper cars.
The lead guide will signal to you when you will be driving in single file and when we will be driving double side-by-side. Anytime you are stopping at a red light, you will go double lines and there will be a few turns where its double turning in the same lane. The carts are rather safe for not having seatbelt or helmets and can average speeds of 60-70KM/HR. If you are doing night driving remember to dress warm. The experience is completely worth the price.
Once we finished our 2 hour adventure around town, we ordered a Uber and went to our next destination which also doubled as our accommodations for the night – Ooedo Onsen Monogatari in Odaiba. Once you arrive, you take off your shoes and place them in a shoe locker before going to the front desk and checking in. You receive a wristlet with your locker number and key and it acts as your credit card during your duration at the onsen. Next step, you go over to the yukata rentals and choose what design you want and your colour sash – you need to know how tall you are in CM to get a proper fitting yukata. Once you have your yukata you proceed to the change rooms and change out of your street clothes but leave on your underwear (for women, bras are optional but keep your panties on underneath). The yukata goes on with left folding under right which is shown in the signs around the locker room. Once you have gotten the yukata on, you wrap once the sash around and make a nice bow in the front then turn it around so the bow is facing the back.
Once that is completed, you can then proceed to the main area where it is somewhat themed to look like the olden days with all the dark wood paneling and lanterns everywhere. There are game stalls, arcades and food options everywhere that you pay for with your wristlet. I ordered a cold soba noodle dish.
The onsen has 2 main areas for those who plan on staying overnight to sleep – the relaxation room not he second floor with reclining couches with televisions – similar to first class seats on airplanes – this is a first come, first serve basis. There is a mixed relaxation room but also a women only one. The other sleeping area is located downstairs where they repurpose a room where they would eat into a laying down sleeping area.
Now onto the onsen itself. Once we digested our food after playing a few games, you get separated by gender and go into the spa. Once in the room, you choose a locker, grab a small and big towel and strip down. You take everything off and place it into the locker and take only the small towel with you. You enter the onsen and rinse off. If you prefer, you can do a full rinse off at the shower stalls before entering. Hair if possible should not be in the water. There are multiple baths all different temperatures. In the far left corner once you enter, there is an area with 4 laying down jets, 3-4 soaking tubs then 3 giant soaking areas. There is a mist and a dry sauna and of course a cold bath. There are also 2 big soaking areas outside and 4 are individual tubs.
My favourite part was actually the slightly colder pools as I saw myself falling asleep in them but also the whole going from hot sauna to cold bath was the best. Once we finished, we went into the shower stalls (2 westernized standing showers near the main door or the sitting stalls with mirrors) shampoo, conditioner and body wash are provided for you. Once you are clean, head back into the main onsen change room and dry off and get dressed. There are also face lotions, hairbands, shower caps, toothbrushes with toothpaste already on them.
Flew out of Toronto with Mike, Manwai & Cassie while Glenn was on another flight (Cassie was with ANA and the rest of us with United). This trip had started off badly for Glenn as his flight leaving for Chicago never left Toronto as there was an unmarked luggage that got aboard the plane from San Paulo.
We arrived in Chicago and Cassie caught her flight about 30-45 minutes before us. The main flight was about 12 hours and we got upgraded to economy plus. We originally booked with ANA but they are partnered with United so not as great as I wish it would be. No outlets but at least a screen to watch limited shows and movies.
We finally arrived at Narita Airport (half hour early) to 20C degree weather. Humid. We went up to the 4th floor towards the restaurants to meet Cassie who arrived earlier. We proceeded to the lower level to the JR pass lineup to activate our pass. It was an hour wait but still very hot. We ended up making new friends from New Jersey – Jennifer & Francis.
Once we activated our pass, we reserved our seats for the train to head to our Airbnb nearby Kawadacho Station in Shinjuku. 110 minutes into town from Narita. We arrived to find John, drop off our things and head to Shinjuku-Nishikichi to make our reservation time for Robot Restaurant. We opted for the show no meal but each ticket comes with 1 free drink ticket. We stopped by BIC Camera and got Cassie a Sim card – 21 days 5GB – $32CAD-ish. Walked over to Robot Restaurant with our reservation and then got another voucher and grabbed food at a nearby little restaurant before finally getting our actual ticket and heading inside. There is a holding area – lounge with a few performances and where we can redeem our drink tickets – oolong tea and alcohol mix – who would’ve known. I saw photos of the washrooms before we went which are ridiculously decorated but single stalls and the line was way too long to use/view them. The show takes place in the basement and I mean basement (it must be massive behind those curtains though to house all those robots). We went down 3 more levels and then got seated in our reserved seats. Sensory overload and I’m still not even sure if it was amazing or not. I mean, It was definitely bright, loud and shiny with high energy for sure with tons of dancing and “fighting”.
We left and grabbed some good old KFC then walked Golden Gai and Piss Alley. Golden Gai is a series of 3-5 streets that are riddled with small establishments that serve drinks and some bar food. The bars can hold 4-8 people at most. We didn’t participate but got to see the nightlife on a Friday night. We walked over to Piss Alley which was more open but we got there a little late in the night that the izakayas were closing. We started to head back to realize that the trains stop around 1230-1AM and had to find an alternate route back to our Airbnb. We ended up taking 2 taxis as they wouldn’t take 5 in one. I didn’t sleep until 230AM but I did get my SIM card to finally work.
If you haven’t joined and booked with Airbnb yet, follow the link and get credits for your first booking. www.airbnb.ca/c/ruu
If you haven’t joined and booked with Airbnb yet, follow the link and get credits for your first booking. www.airbnb.ca/c/ruu
Once we got settled in, we drove over to James Beach (60 N Venice Blvd, Venice, CA 90291) where we intended to have dinner but in the end, we went across the street to Plancha (2024 Pacific Ave, Venice, CA 90291) for tacos. James Beach has many reviews and is known for their fish tacos and made famous from the movie I Love you Man featuring Paul Rudd. At Plancha, I ordered the Tiger bowl ($6.95USD) which consisted of garlic tiger shrimp and the contents of a burrito.
After dinner, we decided to drive over to LACMA (5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036) to see the Urban Lights by artist Chris Burden. His installation is located at the Wilshire Boulevard entrance of the LACMA and consists of lamp posts that at one point in time have lit the streets of Southern California before being restored and installed in that one location. We spent a lot of time here just taking photos and just hanging out. It’s a great atmosphere to be in with friends.
After a late night, we drove over to Hermosa Beach for surf lessons. My friend JP created a website called GOJPGO that makes exploring LA so much more accessible with helpful tips and advice. My group wanted to go for surf lessons and JP had recommended us to go with his friend Kawika at Pier Surf (21 Pier Ave Hermosa beach, CA 90254) and we were not disappointed. 8 of us took part in the 2 hour surf lesson that Kawika along with Ryan another instructor took us to the beach and taught us the basics before hitting the waters. The waves were perfect for beginners and they explained to us that the waves are about 5-10 miles per hour and we want to reach that speed to catch a wave. It was a tiring but a very rewarding experience for sure and we definitely recommend them!
Right beside Pier Surf was Hooked where we ordered Poke bowls. You can customize your own bowl and I decided to go with a large ($12,50USD) with Kelp noodles, spicy tuna, sunomono cucumber & fish roe. If I were to go again, I would change my base to rice as the kelp noodles texture was strange and a little too tasteless for me. Otherwise, the poke was tasty with a little kick of heat to it. We ate and recovered from our surf lesson and just laid out on the beach for a few hours before a few of our friends headed to LAX to head home. I couldn’t leave the beach without getting myself a acai bowl. As the gang napped on the beach, I walked over to Paradise Bowls (1246 Hermosa Ave, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254) and got myself a mini $6.95USD (the small is massive) Guava Pipeline acai bowl (blended acai, banana, mango, guava juice with strawberries, bananas, granola and honey as the topping) delicious.
After a little more time lounging on the beach, we packed up and drove back to our Airbnb area in Venice beach but not before stopping off at Trader Joe’s to pick up some groceries and also my favourite – Unsulfurated Dried Mangoes – sad to say my other favourite – dark chocolate edamame beans have been discontinued!
After everyone showered, we drove over to Little Tokyo for dinner and dessert. Since we arrived late, we went for dessert first at Mikawaya (Japanese Village Plaza, 118 Japanese Village Plaza Mall, Los Angeles, CA 90012) for Ice cream mochi. I fell in love with ice cream mochi 7 years ago from this place. The Ice cream mochi is fresh and comes in multiple flavours that rotate through. They are about $1.30USD ea but well worth it. I had the Pistachio, Guava, Toasted Almond & Raspberry (my favourite). Once we finished devouring these tasty pieces of heaven, we walked across the street from the plaza to the well known yellow awning ramen restaurant – Daikokuya (327 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012). I fell in love with this ramen place 7 years ago and to this day, I still think this place makes the best ramen (and I’ve been to Japan before). It could be an overstatement but the line outside proceeds me and from memory, the broth, the atmosphere, the taste still lingers and just makes it my top notch choice for best ramen I’ve ever eaten. With a group of 9, we walked in to write our name down and waited outside as they slowly went down the list. Trust me, it is worth the wait. I ordered the Combo meal – Daikoku Ramen with beef bowl ($9.95 USD for the regular ramen) and that is more than enough food. The ramen on it’s own is filling enough and you can also customize it with their special broth (Kotteri flavor from the back fat extracts). The soft-boiled egg just adds to it.
With our trip to Trader Joe’s and going across the street to the dollar store, we gathered enough ingredients to make a big family style breakfast that consisted of coconut pancake mix from TJ’s, cookie butter ice cream, cookie butter, eggs, bacon, bananas, grapes, apples, cereal and beer. It was a great bonding experience and also a great use of the outdoor patio we had.
After breakfast, we all went to Venice Beach and of course one of the main attractions ( I could’ve just stayed there all day) was the Venice Beach Skatepark. Not only were the locals out in full force skating, a few did intricate tricks which were great to see front row centre. We also walked over and tested our ability at the free muscle beach which consists of a few bars and rings. You can also pay $10USD/day to use the actual outdoor Muscle Beach gym but looking at the equipment, everything was wrapped in saran wrap and not my cup of tea.
Our main group then said our goodbyes to Susan and Kevin and off we went to drive east of Los Angeles to Joshua Tree. We made a stop at Toys R Us that detoured us south before heading east. Since we didn’t go according to our original plans, we started our drive to Joshua Tree really late and we got stuck in traffic. We made one more stop at In-N-Out (well done fries and a animal style cheeseburger are the way to go). What is so mystifying and entrancing are the wind turbine fields. The drive does get a little windy as you drive through mountains. Once we arrived by the main Joshua Tree visitor centre (which was closed when we arrived) the sun was starting to set. We drove in and stopped off on the side of the road to climb some rocks and take photos of the trees. Our end goal since we didn’t really have a chance to hike especially with the remaining light was Key Views Road which is the highest point in the national park that overlooks the park and the city. We took in the remainder of the sunset and light before laying down on the ground and gazing up into the sky as it darkened and the stars glistened and covered the sky. Incredibly sad that I wasn’t able to spend the day there and hike. I also hear and have been recommended to check out Cholla Cactus Garden.
After taking in all the stars and the vastness that we were surrounded by, we made a run for it back to LA. Koreatown was our end point for dinner at Tangji Gamatang (3470 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90020) for a family style meal with our group before calling it a night.
Grabbed a quick breakfast at Caffe Belmondo by Zuid station and hopped on the train to Schiphol airport – 2,60 euro. Very quick subway ride. Icelandair offers 1 free check-in baggage on arrival; two on the departure flight. After we checked in, we had to walk 20-30 minutes to get to our gate. Along the way, they have little area such the forest park where there are charging stations that you physically bike in order to charge your phone as well as a huge comfy communal sofa seating area and an outdoor terrace. The weather was perfect the day we left Amsterdam which sucked but at least we missed the flash floods happening in Italy.
I used the bank machine when we arrived at the airport and got 20000kr which is equivalent to $186CAD. Our Airbnb host’s brother picked us up and brought us to our accommodations. 8000kr each way for all 4. We are renting their Lexus for $55CAD/day. Our Airbnb was about 10-15 minute drive outside of Reykjavik. Ricky is our driver this trip. For dinner we went to Snaps (horsgata 1 | Odinstorg, Reykjavik 101) for dinner. I got Kir Royal 1200kr and Baccala Provincial which is salted cod with tomato sauce and fingerling potatoes 4100kr. We then ventured to a nearby grocery store – Hagkaup to grab food for breakfast. The hotdog stand unfortunately was closed by the time we arrived. There aren’t any traffic lights but roundabouts instead.
Netto, Bonus and Hagkaup are the cheap grocery stores, a few stay opened late. Gas is expensive with the lowest being 95 octane at 227.9. No need to tip but if service is good then you can leave a tip of 5-10%. There aren’t many trees here as it’s very windy. The water is so good here that you can drink from the tap BUT if you use hot water, it will smell of sulphur. The staple vegetable here is the potato. After the collapse in 2009 when importing was too expensive and difficult to get, they had to live off the land and cultivate what naturally is provided such of lamb and potatoes which makes for great tasting dairy and lamb (all grass fed).
-To see the aurora borealis – You need it to be really cold and a crisp night where there are no clouds to catch the northern lights.
-When opening a car door; hold the door as the winds will pull it open
-DO NOT SPEED IN ICELAND – IF CAUGHT; WORLD’S MOST EXPENSIVE SPEEDING TICKET
The train ride went smoothly but alas it was also raining in Amsterdam upon arrival. The office for tourism was closed so we couldn’t pick up a iamsterdam card for our next two days. We did get a 1 hour ticket for 2,80 euro and hopped on the 13 and got off at the end of the line. About a 20-30 minute tram ride. The tickets are magnetic striped and you need to tap it to get on and off. We are staying at an Airbnb that is pretty big but a little far from everything. We were all starving so we went to the local grocery store Albert Heijn to grab things for breakfast and then saw that there was one restaurant still open. We had Turkish food at Hunkar restaurant (Lambertus Zijlplein, Amsterdam) where the waiter didn’t really understand English so we got the hunkar special plus a Turkish pizza.
Got back and we planned the next day and did laundry. I was about to shower after Ricky who said the shower took a while to drain. I hopped in and turned on the shower to see the drain was backed up and brown and black clumps came up from the drain. The neighbor Victor from below came up to complain about the leaking in his apartment coming from our unit as its the fourth time this week. Good thing about Airbnb is that you can contact the host whenever you need them. Our host was very responsive.
We made sunny side up eggs with bacon and hagelslag which is a Dutch breakfast staple of a slice bread with butter and chocolate sprinkles or flakes. We took the tram back to central to pick up the iamsterdam 48hr city cards which grants us 48 hours unlimited travel as well as admission to certain places and discounts for others. The first thing we did since it wasn’t raining was the canal cruise that took an hour. From there we wandered a bit before hopping onto a tram to Stedelijk Museum which is similar to MOMA.
We caught a late lunch/early dinner at Pompa (Willemsparkweg 6 1071 HD Amsterdam) where I had the fish and chips (14 euro) and a cassis juice (2 euro). The fish was so fresh and the chips were tasty too however took forever to get the table. We went down the street to the iamsterdam sign then hopped back on the tram and venturing the streets and into the red light district. When we originally walked through the red light district it was too early for the prostitutes to be working the windows. We settled for Chipsy King and grabbed a large frites with Belgian mayonnaise. Around 10PM, we went back to the red light and the prostitutes were in full swing working their windows. Prostitution is legal here. For a transaction to go through, the person chooses which woman they want and then open their door. They come to an agreement on what they want and from there pay and finish the transaction. Originally, Aaron wanted Vlaamse Frites but we couldn’t find it until later on and we obviously had to try it.
When we got back to the apartment, Victor the downstairs neighbour had updated us on the status of the apartment and the leaking. There must be a pipe underneath the flooring that had burst because when you step, you can feel how squishy it was and it was the whole apartment. I thought it was the design but each the wood floor paneling has dark marks the edges which is actually water damage. The host whose apartment we rented gave us a full refund as we need to find a new accommodation.
We booked Citizen M for the following night.
We had bought groceries for all three morning so we ended up eating two days worth 14 eggs, bacon and sausage. Then off we went.
Switched over to Citizen M hotel (Prinses Irenestraat 30, 1077 WX Amsterdam) where it’s similar to a capsule hotel but washroom ensuite. It’s tight quarters and no privacy if you are sharing. There is a curtain and cylinder doors to use the toilet or the waterfall shower. We took the 51 train from Guid station and headed over to central and walked to the Library where it has a panoramic view over the harbour. On our way over, the street in front of Central Station was closed off for their Santa Claus parade. Their culture features a blackfaced character. We stopped by the restaurant on the main floor of the Library called Vapiano (Oosterdokskade 145, 1011 DL) where you get a card in the beginning and goto whichever station and tap it. Amsterdam is very tap oriented technology as our bus pass and room key are also tap technology.
After lunch we went across the bridge and went Science Center Nemo. Very kid oriented but interesting to say the least. I prefer Exploratorium in San Francisco much better. It was raining and cold outside so we went back to Citizen M. Mimi and myself watched two movies in the room while the boys took naps. We took the 5 tram back to Chinatown where we ate at A Fusion (Zeedijk 130, 1012 BC ) run by Cantonese/Dutch/English speaking people. Pineapple fried rice, lamb in black pepper sauce, seafood curry and bubble tea in total around 92 euros.