Tag Archives: travel

I <3 NY

30 Sep

All cities are palimpsest. All cities are noisy, chaotic minglings of human bodies and human voices and the creatures who live off our filth. All cities are layers of history pressed close between aching fingers. New York is just much more in-your-face with all that. And how typical.

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Within seconds, Manhattan streets change from rather ramshackle collections of dollar stores and fast food joints to vast mansions and big brands. People who look like they wandered out of 1945 cross the street side by side with kids in sports leggings. South American immigrants sweep puddles into the storm drain so guys in suits and trench coats can cross safely on their way to Wall Street.

I love it. Love the deep, grimy brashness of the city. The energy that hums 24/7, for, as they rightly say, this is the city that never sleeps. It is a creature that huffs exhaust fumes and the weird, steel-scented gas that comes from subway vents, veins constantly fizzing with traffic. Lucky enough to visit twice this year, I find myself nodding at the ad campaign. Yes, I heart NY. More so on my return.

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The Girl and the City

11 May

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On the one hand: there are as many beautiful places in the world as grains of sand on a beach. One could spend a thousand lifetimes exploring, and never see enough.

On the other: to return to a place over time, to learn its quirks and foibles, to become its intimate – this is more than a pleasure. You grow in your knowledge of the city; you grow in yourself.

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The first time I came to Athens, I was sixteen years old, just recovering from several months of illness that had changed my body and mind quite profoundly. I had also lost pretty much all of my friends for various reasons. The trip was something of a watershed.

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Two Weeks in Japan – Part Three

14 Aug

In Part One, I covered our itinerary plus first visit to Tokyo and Takayama

In Part Two, I covered our time in Kyoto

Leaving Guesthouse Soi was hard, but it was now onto the last leg of our railpass week: Hiroshima. I have always been wary of morbid tourism, not least because it feels disrespectful to the dead and those who suffered. However, after hearing from friends what an amazing city Hiroshima is now, I felt I needed to visit for myself.

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It was an emotional time to be in the city, as it was only a few days after the 70th anniversary of the first atomic bombing. The Peace Park was full of memorials and tributes, including thousands of paper cranes folded in memory of Sadako Sasaki.

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Two Weeks in Japan – Part Two

14 Aug

In Part One, I described our itinerary and how I came up with a schedule for our trip. I also described our first few days in Tokyo and Takayama.

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An afternoon and morning in Takayama were enough to see most of the old town, visit an Edo-style palace (Takayama Jinya) and start a walk into the mountains…until we saw the signs warning of bears and I chickened out of going any further. It was soon time to get back on the train and make our way down to Kyoto for the next leg of our holiday.

Kyoto

Kyoto was the place I most wanted to visit. My interest in Japan had been sparked by Memoirs of a Geisha, after all, and I went on to read a few books set in the city, including Liza Dalby’s non-fictional account of becoming a Geisha of Gion. Kyoto definitely lived up to my expectations.

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Two Weeks in Japan – Part One

14 Aug

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This post is late. Very late. In fact, it’s a year to the day since our two week holiday in Japan ended and I’ve only recently got round to uploading all my photos. However, a few people have recently asked me for tips and advice about travelling to Japan, so I thought I’d sling together a post to relive my adventures and help anyone else who is thinking about it. And if you’re thinking about it, you MUST do it. Japan was a wonderful destination, and the culmination of a long-term dream for me.

Planning

We knew we wanted to go for two weeks, so I began to research itineraries to allow us to see more than just Tokyo. Japan is a long-haul flight, after all, so it made sense to combine several parts of the country.

There were two main restrictions. Firstly, we didn’t want to spend all our time travelling between places. For my boyfriend Dave, whose holiday allowance was significantly smaller than mine, I knew it would be important to build in some rest time. Secondly, budget. Japan is known as one of those more expensive destinations (although I don’t think that’s entirely true – more on that later) and we didn’t want to break the bank.

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