Advice For A First Time Tourist of Japan

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Image By Jason Goh

If you’re planning on visiting Japan, it’s likely that you already know that it’s one of the best parts of Asia, with its elegant architecture and amazing technological feats. However, without proper knowledge of the country, you are at risk of getting stuck in a situation you don’t know how to get out of, or completely over spending when it’s simply not necessary. To avoid this, here’s some of the best advice I can give for traveling to Japan for the first time.

  1. Eat At Fast Food Restaurants

Most people associate the phrase “fast food” with a grease filled burger or some variation of fried chicken, but in Japanese fast food restaurants that simply isn’t the case. Here you can order miso soup, dumplings, bowls of rice, and many other typical Japanese foods, often at a price cheaper than the processed junk from back home.

  1. Bring Cash

A lot of places in Japan don’t accept bank cards, and many ATMs don’t accept foreign cards even in Tokyo, so money really will be your friend on your trip. Because of this, you will have to make sure you either have enough cash or know of an ATM that will accept your card.

  1. Carry Hand Sanitizer

Strangely, most public bathrooms in Japan don’t have any dispensable hand soap, so if you want more than a simple rinse of warm water, you should probably carry sanitizing hand gel.

  1. Learn Japanese

You don’t necessarily need to learn Japanese fluently, as many people in Japan do speak English quite well. However, it’s always best to have a few key Japanese phrases memorized, in case you get stuck in a situation where there isn’t anyone that can speak English. It’s also polite, and many Japanese people would probably appreciate being asked if they can speak English in their language.

  1. Print Out Hotel Address In Japanese

Much like above, if you get stuck in a situation where you can’t find anyone that speaks English, it’s always best to have your hotel address written down in Japanese, to give to a cab driver to help you get back. This tip is useful in any foreign country you visit.

  1. Rent A “Pocket Wi-Fi”

A “Pocket Wi-Fi” is a wireless internet router that allows several different gadgets to connect to it and use its unlimited internet. They are available to rent at most airports in Japan, at a fraction of the cost of data roaming charges.

  1. Find Your Nearest Konbini

A Konbini is a Japanese convenience store that often sells anything you could possibly require, from hot meals, to gadget chargers, to socks. They also often have ATMs that do accept foreign bank cards, so it really is a refuge, if you get into a pickle.

  1. Get A Japanese Rail Pass

If you plan on visiting several different cities during your trip, a JR Pass could save you a lot of money, especially if you plan on going to another one of the four main islands.

Japan is a beautiful and elegant country, but it can get confusing if you don’t know the language and customs. Hopefully, this advice will help you navigate the country with a bit more ease, and allow you to have a completely stress free, and memorable getaway.

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The Quick Paris Travel Guide

Paris is a great city, which has a little bit of everything. There is shopping aplenty, much history, culture, and it has a fine cuisine all throughout. It can be enjoyed through all times of year, though the Spring and Summer are the best times to visit as it can get quite cold during the winter months. You can visit it as quick weekend getaway or travel for a more permanent visit to ensure you can take in everything and see what you need to see. This guide can give you a quick overview so that you can check up on what the city has to offer, though further research is required for deeper knowledge basis and indeed recommended it you wanted to find out about the specifics of wider France. Enjoy your trip!

You can get to Paris in all manner of ways. Charles De Gaulle airport receives flights from the majority of countries in the world and the Paris train station and metro offer another great option. Driving can get a little chaotis, especially around rush hour, car parking in Paris can be easily done too, just so long as you book ahead in some way to ensure you get the places you want.

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The city is great for romance, with the eiffel tower the main attraction. Walks up it can be quite daunting, but there are many restaurants around so you can enjoy the sweet ambiance the tower provides.

For culture buffs, there is more than enough. Places of history and importance such as Notre Dame give a vivid look back into the history or Paris where places like the Louvre leave you stunned by the pictures and paintings of some of the best painters in the world. There are other museums too of course, yet the Louvre takes precedence due to its wonderful construction and glass facade.

There other points of interest, the arc de triomphe a harken back to days of Napoleon and French greatness. If you fancy some shopping then the champs-Elysees is a great place to take your partner to pick up a souvenir or two. There is something for everyone here, the Les Invalides offers another great museum for you to check out. There is also the mighty Paris St Germain football team, which you can go and watch at the parc des princes for a thrilling night or even day out. The are blotches of culture all throughout. The latin quarter is full of bistros, interesting stores and stalls with beautiful carved architecture dating back hundreds of years.

The place is great for youngsters too, as Disneyland Paris is a short ride away. The park is full of rides and entertainment, including shows and parades which will leave you happy and full of excitement. There are wonderful places to eat as well as constant entertainment for the little ones. There are all manner of rides too, so whether you like the super fast roller coasters or the slower rides it can be the great.

 

Canada: A Historical Treasure Trove That Rewards The Traveler

Traveling the world is often tiring but always rewarding. This planet we inhabit is full of variety, and each country has its own ways. What separates France from Germany from Holland, and Europe from Asia, among others, is those differences. In no small part, those differences have come from the identity that history has forged. For example, visiting London gives you the chance to see its landmarks, testament to its history of monarchy and democracy.

Seeing a country in all its glory comes down to two major markers. History, as mentioned above, and geography. While the latter gives each country its shape and its contours, history gives countries their character. This is why Canada, for example, is very different from its neighbor, the USA. They may be similar in climate and terrain, in large part, but their histories, though overlapping, are different.

Historical Locations of Canada: What To See

Montreal and Quebec City

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Flickr

Quebec as a province is simultaneously Canadian and French. Montreal is the largest French-speaking city outside of Paris, and the French influence is clear here. You could never, however, mistake it for France. It is Quebec, and has its own identity.

See Montreal City Hall, where then French President Charles de Gaulle gave a speech in 1967. During that speech, he made a statement advocating independence from Canada for Quebec. See also Quebec City, which has historical tours tracing the French influence in Quebec through centuries.

Toronto

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Wikipedia

Although Canada’s largest city, and most modern from an architectural point of view, Toronto is also a historic city. As a front of the Anglo-American war of 1812, Fort York is a location worth seeing. Visit in summer, and you can watch re-enactments of the battles that took place here. Dotted around the city are museums for the city’s – and country’s – political and cultural history.

Ottawa

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Wikipedia

Worth the Canadian via application all on its own, Canada’s capital city is often ignored for the quirks of Montreal or the lights of Toronto. The Museum of Canadian history and Canadian War Museum are both reason enough to visit. The historic town of Ottawa is best represented by the preserved Byward Market. Shops and restaurants offer the chance to drink in the charm of old Ottawa while enjoying the sophistication of the new.

Vancouver

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Flickr

One thing that bestows history upon a city is its significance as a port for travelers. Hence why London is so important in the UK, Calais to the French, and so forth. As Vancouver provided a landing point for the early visitors to Canada, it developed a strong multicultural identity. That is still in place today, along with museums such as the Museum of Anthropology. A particular attraction for those with an interest in First Nations, it will inspire and educate in equal measure.

With all of the influences that have been felt in Canada, there is never going to be a shortage of historical locations. One of the most beguiling things about the cities of this nation is that they may be looking to the future, but they showcase the past perfectly.

Get On The Road – Road-Tripping From Oregon To San Francisco

Road-trips are some of the best holidays to go on with your friends or family. You get the feeling of driving out to meet whatever life throws at you and a sense of exploration. There’s plenty of potential for great shared experiences to just pop up naturally on the road. That and you get to see all the best of several places instead of just one. One road trip that everyone should try to make is the trip from Oregon to San Francisco. From beginning to end, here are some tips that might help you do just that.

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Link to Wikimedia

 

Set off with a picnic

Start your vacation trip surrounded by natural beauty and with a lovely homemade bite to eat. Picnics are always a great, lazy way to start the day and it certainly beats starting the holiday with a mad dash to the car. Let stress go by having a picnic right in the middle of the scenic Silver Falls State Park before you hit the road.

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Link to Flickr

 

Calculate everything

It’s not bad to have a certain spontaneity to your road trip. That is, if everything’s going smoothly. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare as much as you can. Ensure that everyone has all the clothes and supplies they need and plan your route out all the way there. You can even do a bit of research to find some of the best feeding places to stop so you don’t make any stops you end up regretting after.

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Link to Flickr

 

What to see on the way

Of course, the whole point of the road trip, besides a sense of camaraderie, is what you can see on the way from one point to the other. There is lots to see on this particular trip, too. Start by stopping in at somewhere you might not know about. The Freakybuttrue Peculiarium might sound like something from Harry Potter. It’s actually much better. It’s full of curiosities, strange art and things like Portland’s largest kaleidoscope. On the other end of the trip, there are things like the Shine Drive-Thru Tree. It’s exactly what it sounds like, a giant redwood you can drive through.

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Link to Wikimedia

 

Where to stay

San Francisco is a haven for tourists, with some great places to stay. If you’re just looking for a place to crash, there are cheap bed and breakfasts just a hop, skip and a jump from the beaches. There are also those famous San Francisco vacation rentals for those who want to see the coast from the comfort of their own quality pad.

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Link to Wikimedia

What to see when you get there

Choosing San Francisco is a great idea because there’s just so much to see there. It’s a weird and wonderful town that’s full of some of the most colourful characters you’ll ever meet. Not quite unlike Portland. But then you have some of the most impressive structures you’ll ever lay your eyes on, like the towering San Francisco Bay Bridge. It’s a great place to catch the whole city’s skyline in a single view. Bring your cameras.

Vancouver, British Columbia and Its Surroundings

VANCOUVER, B.C.: Vancouver is considered as one of the top destinations in Canada for its variations of activities for its guests, climate, food, shopping, culture, and thriving city life. While Vancouver Downtown has a vibrant and energetic vibe, its green spaces and big parks within the city are place to enjoy quiet city view from afar. Only couple hours from downtown, you can enjoy snow-capped mountains, ocean sides, and some outdoor adventurous destinations. This is where local Canadians go to play and enjoy during the winter months.

TIME of TRAVEL: It was our second time in Vancouver. This time we were there with another family during the Memorial Day weekend in May, 2015. Though it was closer to summer, we had sweaters and jackets for our trips to mountains. It gets very cold and windy up there, therefore, always wise to be prepare with coats and boots, especially for the kids.

EATING and SHOPPING: Vancouver is known to be very diverse when it comes to food. Downtown Vancouver and its surroundings are packed with tons of international and local cuisines. We had Middle Eastern, Indian, Bangladeshi, and fast food (Nandos) during our visit. You may find one whole street is known for one type of food and the next block has another type of restaurants. For shopping, downtown Vancouver is an ultimate paradise with lots of brand name stores and local boutique shops.

PLACES WE’VE VISITED: We had 2 full days to enjoy Vancouver. We started early and stayed out late. Especially, if you are planning to go to the mountains, plan ahead and start driving before the traffic starts or wait until late morning.

1) GROUSE MOUNTAIN: We visited Grouse Mountain and Stanley Park on our first day in Vancouver. Also known as the Peak of Vancouver, Grouse Mountain is a perfect getaway from the chaos of city life. Grouse Mountain gives a beautiful view of whole Vancouver, Stanley Park, and English Bay.

 

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On top of Grouse Mountain on a foggy day near Vancouver, Canada

It was very foggy the day we were there which made it even more exciting. We saw the Lumberjack Show, Birds in Motion, and electric chair ride that took us 1100 meter high to Peak Chalet. Some other activities visitors can do up in the Grouse Mountain are Skyride, Mountain Disc Golf, Mountain Ziplines, Helicopter Tours, Theater in the Sky, Grizzly Bear Cave, and lots more. Usually the shows go on for the whole day with multiple show times but check the time table for each show to manage your time wisely here.

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“Birds in Motion” show on top of Grouse Mountain near Vancouver, Canada

We took a family package called, “Peak Experience” for 2 adults and 2 kids for $122 but there were other bundles to choose from depending on which mood you are in. “Peak Experience” included Alpine Experience and Peak Chair ride. You can find snack bars and restaurants up in the Grouse Mountain.

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Skyride on top of Grouse Mountain near Vancouver, Canada

2) STANLEY PARK: By the time we came back to city and drove to Stanley Park, it was already dark. Stanley Park is another getaway within the city. Lush gardens, beautiful English Bay, strolling paths, and green meadows are here to welcome anyone year round. We stopped at a place where we could get a view of the famous Lion Gate Bridge, beautifully lit at night. Lastly, stopped by one side English Bay from where you can see the dazzling lights of the Vancouver on the other side of the water.

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View of Lion Gate Bridge from Stanley Park in Vancouver, Canada

Stanley Bay has an aquarium, few restaurants, old totem poles here and there. You can easily spend half a day or more in this park.

 

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Vancouver skyline on the other side of English Bay as seen from Stanley Park in Vancouver, Canada

3) WHISTLER VILLAGE CENTER: Our second day started by another mountain area of Vancouver. Whistler Village Center reminded me of Chamonix in Mont Blanc, France. This is a very European style pedestrian only village center with shops, live music, pubs, galleries, gelato bars, and outdoor/indoor restaurants surrounded by mountains. Many tourists come here for winter sports or summer hiking in nearby mountains.

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Whistler Village Center near Vancouver, Canada…loved this place for its European touch and look

Village Square and the Mountain Square are some of the pretty places to stop by. Mountain Square is where you can get cable car to go to top. Again, beautiful and artistic buildings here gave me the feeling of Europe. Town Plaza is another fantastic place to shop for winter gears or just to chill.

4) RAINBOW PARK: From the Whistler Village Center, we drove about 45 minutes or an hour to come to this park. There is a beautiful big lake and small mountain/hill on the other side of the lake. With some public facilities, this is a pretty family-oriented park for strolling, jogging, picnic, or just chilling.

 

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Rainbow Park near Whistler Village Center in Vancouver, Canada

5) QUEEN ELIZABETH PARK: This was our last spot in Vancouver during this trip and we made it to this park on the 3rd day, before our drive towards Portland. This looked more like a beautifully decorated garden to me. Many different species of trees and flowers adorn this place. Visit the Japanese Garden and Rose Garden while here. It is a big park and very nicely maintained. We spent couple hours here but you would probably need half a day to explore every corner of this garden.

 

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Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver, Canada

It is free to enter the park and has a parking lot near the entrance. Bloede Conservatory inside the park requires a ticket to enter. The conservatory houses a typical rainforest, tropical birds, and plants inside a big white dome.

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