food

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Before the National Museum of African American History and Culture opened, the National Museum of American Indian used to be the museum in Washington DC that was rated with the best food. It is also the only reason why I’d ever been to the museum. For the food. Try the fry bread! Yummm.

But over the weekend last week, Andrew and I found ourselves in the city with some time to kill. Luckily, I’ve started to get into this habit where I’ll bring my camera wherever I go. I used to leave it home and only take it out whenever I knew I was shooting. Lately, I’ll take it out whenever I know I’ll be out of the house for a while. You never know when a photo opportunity will hit! So I had my camera in hand and we headed over to the National Mall. By luck would have it, the parking spot we found was closest to the National Museum of American Indian, so we decided to go in.

Man, was I really missing out by heading straight to the cafeteria and not looking around. The architecture inside and out is beautiful and the exhibits were interesting. We didn’t get to see it all but enough so that I’d want to come back and spend more time here. I feel like a majority of the time, I was just looking up. I was excited to go to the top floor and check out what the ceiling looked like from every level. Is that weird? It sort of reminds me so much of the New York City Oculus.

Anyways, if this was brand new to me, I’m sure there are many more interiors that I’m missing out on in DC. Looking forward to checking out more. If you have any recommendations, let me know!

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I went out to Meadowlark Botanical Gardens earlier this week to check out the blossoms there. It’s one of my favorite places to go outside of the city to see some beautiful flowers. Unfortunately, I was too early. It hardly looked like anything was blossoming yet including the cherry blossoms. So I took the opportunity to just walk around an enjoy the afternoon sun.

In the center of the park is a large pond with a gazebo. It’s one of the first things you see when you walk through the park. I love walking on the bridge leading to the gazebo because there are always these large koi fish that come to greet you. I’m not sure how they know you’re there but they definietly know. If you just stand there for 2 minutes, you’ll see at least 10 of them come swimming towards you. There have been many times in my life where I wish I had a piece of bread with me. This was another one of those times. I would of loved to feed the fish, unfortunately I didn’t have anything with me but my camera.

I’m not giving up hope on Meadowlark yet though. I plan on being back there when the cherry blossoms in DC are over. I think that’d be the perfect time to go.

For this image, I shot it at f5.6 1/800th of a second ISO 250 with my 28-70mm lens. My overall vision for this image was to capture the motion of the fish. Not with a long exposure, but with the curvature in their bodies. I love watching them move so smoothly through the water, I felt like the twists and turns that they make would really capture motion. Plus I love that little splash the tail is creating from the fish on top of the image.

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When visiting a new country, I always try to learn as much as I can about the food, people and language. It’s the best way to totally immerse yourself into your new surroundings. In Iceland, it was a little difficult to learn the language. First off, everyone speaks english. Really good english too! So being able to listen to the Icelandic language was really limited to just locals in a restaurant or people talking quietly amongst themselves. But I did manage to learn a few words. “Foss” means waterfall. So if you notice all the waterfalls in Iceland end with the term “Foss”. This image was taken at Skógafoss which is in a small town called Skógar. You add foss to the end of it, you have the Skógafoss! Pretty cool huh? Another important word to know is “Kaka” which means cake! Who doesn’t love cake right? So if you wanted to say chocolate cake, you would say “súkkulaðikaka”.

Now that we’re talking about food, the food was great. Expensive but the overall delicious. I don’t think we had one bad meal. I ate a lot of smoked salmon, at least once a day. There aren’t very many vegetable dishes. It’s all very meat/seafood oriented and to our surprise, a lot of pizza. I’m not sure if that was just a tourist thing but almost every restaurant we went to had a lot of pizza options. We noted one day that the pepperoni pizza was cheaper than the vegetarian pizza.

The people are very nice as well. Super helpful when you have a million and one questions about travel. Even when they knew you were a tourist, they didn’t look at you funny or treat you differently which was much appreciated. However, I did notice that a lot of them weren’t originally from Iceland. Many were from different parts of Europe that just fell in love with the country. I can totally see why minus all the cold temperatures.

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I was fortunate enough to have spent 7 full days in Tokyo. To some it may seem like a lot, but each day was a new adventure to me. There’s so much to do in this city. It can be a little overwhelming to figure out what’s what, so I thought it’d be helpful to create a guide for those who have never been and highlight some of my favorite things to do in this huge city.

So here’s a guide to maximize your 3 days in Tokyo.

Day 1: Shinjuku

You could spend a whole day in just this ward. Tons of shopping, eating and sight seeing all in one place. This is the best place to just wonder without a map and enjoy the sights and sounds of this great neighborhood. Here are my favorites…

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
The best time to visit this garden is definietly cherry blossom season but it’s super hard to plan for. But even if it’s not spring, this garden is BEAUTIFUL all on it’s on. Everything is so well manicured and clean. It’s a great to grab a picnic basket, your best friend and spend a lovely afternoon in the garden.

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just a couple of girlfriends chit chatting

Food
Especially if you’re jet lagged, this Ichiran is the perfect ramen spot because its open 24 hours. You even sit in these little divided tables (think DMV type testing seats). Once you’ve been served, they’ll close the curtain in front of you so you have total privacy and can enjoy the full flavor of your noodle soup.

Din Tai Feng for some serious yums. A taiwanese restaurant transplanted in Tokyo known for their soup dumplings. Theres usually a wait, but its totally worth it. Located on one of the top floors of Takashimaya Times Square, which is cool all on it’s own. Each floor is dedicated to a certain department (women, men, homeware, kimonos, etc.) so work your way though times square and then have Din Tai Feng as a reward.

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For dinner or some evening entertainment, you gotta check out the Robot Restaurant.  It’s kind of hard to describe. Imagine a super trippy drug experience summarized in song, dance, color and lights.

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Day 2: Tokyo Skytree, Akihabara, Night Photography Tour

Located in Sumida, it’s a bit of a hike to make it to Tokyo Skytree but it brings an interesting perspective to Tokyo that makes it worth it. I’d try to go early as possible to avoid lines or evening time to see the city light up.

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Taken in the middle of the day, Tokyo skytree created a cool shadow over the city.

On your way back to the hotel, stop by the Akihabara ward. Known for all things electronic, anime and manga, it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen. The heart of the city has tall buildings all covered by anime and manga posters. Pretty cool to see in a city. My favorite part was the electronic store, Yodabashi. For example, the first floor was everything cell phone related, the second floor was all computers, etc, etc, etc. If you’re like me, you’ll want to head to the fifth floor for the camera equipment. It’s like photo heaven.

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This is just the escalators to get in between the floors. Yea, it’s pretty awesome.

Our absolute favorite dessert in Tokyo were these mini cheese tarts from Pablo. They’re sooooo good and the ones from Akihabara were baked fresh on the premises so they’re warm when we ate them. They came in three different flavors and in order of my favorite to least is cheese, green tea, chocolate.  I can’t emphasize enough how good they were. I wish I had one now.

Pablo, mini cheese tart, dessert, food, japan, tokyo, pablo,

And if you’re not too tired, check out EYExplore Tokyo photo tours. I highly, highly recommend the veritgo tour but they also offer some cool night time tours in Shinjuku and Shibuya. This is a totally unique experience and its super fun to bring home images you’d be proud of at the end of your whole Tokyo experience.

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One of the cool views you could see on the Vertigo Tour Photo Tour from EYExplore Tokyo

Day 3: Harajuku and Shibuya

Before leaving on the trip, I knew I wanted to go to Harajuku. I heard so much about the girls, fashion and street style that it seemed like a super hip place. It definietly did not disappoint. A great place to go to pick up some unique gifts for friends and family but also people watch.

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It can get pretty crowded, so be prepared for that.

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Last but not least, Shibuya is a place that should not be missed. Home to the busiest crosswalk ever, it’s a sight to see! You’ll be amazed. This short video clip was taken at 11p at night. Can you imagine what it’s like during rush hour? My head still can’t wrap around how many people there are in this tiny space.


Video taken from the the walkway between the Keio Station (Inokashira Line).

But Shibuya has plenty of restaurants and stores to walk around and see. Our favorite place to eat was Joto Curry. It was so good we ate there twice. My favorite part was watching the food being prepared. My mouth is watering just thinking about it again.

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So there it is! 3 days in Tokyo! My favorite things to do and eat. Hope you enjoyed. If you feel like I missed something, please let me know in the comments. Or if you’ve been to any of these places, let me know too so we can reminisce on how fun everything is 🙂

Safe travels!!

* All food images taken with my iphone 6.