Guest Bloggers

A Tiny Taste of Tokyo

Tokyo is a highly populated, dense metropolis of approximately 845 square miles that I had the pleasure to briefly explore in May.  When traveling to Tokyo, it is best to do the following ahead of time:

  1. Download the Google Translate app to help you with menus, directions and outdoor vending machines, and learn some basic Japanese phrases such as “Please”, “Thank you”, “Excuse me” and “I don’t understand”. Very few people speak English, especially off the beaten path.
  2. Plan to spend a LOT of ¥en as many places (including taxis, train station kiosks, and local restaurants) do not take credit cards!
  3. Your best bet is to get Yen ahead of time through your bank or via Travelex super convenient as 45 minute wait times at the airport are likely. Travelex will even buy back your yen with a pre-paid return envelope upon returning home.  Keep in mind banks and Travelex do not buy back coins (only bills) so use up your coins – a ¥500 coin is equivalent to a $5 U.S. bill!  ¥en is so absolutely lovely you almost don’t want to spend it!  But… you will. 32946187_10216374642988310_1634453691438202880_n-1.jpg
  4. Wifi is spotty and not available in many locations. Here’s a brill concept… have a pocket wifi delivered to your hotel!  Once fully charged it will run up to 12 hours and you have wifi everywhere you go in the city – they will deliver to most hotels (mine was there upon check-in) and give you a prepaid return envelope to give to the hotel concierge upon checkout.  Stick the small device in your purse or pocket for continuous wifi.  Super duper convenient!
  5. Bring printed copies of the addresses of your hotel and places you plan to or think you might visit along with printed photos. These will be helpful when asking for directions!
  6. Work on your pantomiming skills.  Many Japanese will humor you by watching and attempting to figure out what you need/are trying to convey and others will flat out ignore your antics.  Either way, you’ll get a slight workout.
  7. Plan to use public transportation from the Narita airport (Skyliner train) and around the city as taxis are very expensive, drivers speak little or no English, and they don’t accept credit cards. Skyliner will run from Narita to Nippori where you can then buy a transfer (with yen only) to get you nearest to your hotel.  Friendly airport transportation information folks will help you find the best route to get to your hotel.
  8. Have a plan in place before you arrive as Tokyo is one very expansive and expensive city!

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Guest Bloggers

Yes, Rain Dances Do Exist and They Do Work!

The Chavason 3 take a quick trip into their family’s past, which is also a piece of American history.  Sandía Feast is in the Sandía mountain range, East of Albuquerque NM.  Sandía means Watermelon in Spanish. As we watched the sunset over the Sandía mountain range on day one of our trip, we realized this mountain range was named correctly.  The sky and sunset on the opposite side of the mountain turned into colors of pink and red, while the mountains turned into deep greens, and yup, it looked like huge pieces of watermelon placed right on top of the earth! As the sun went down the temperature dropped too and we were so struck by how cold it became.  We needed to put on our Sandía casino sweatshirts. That’s right, not only we were invited to watch “our” culture in action, we also got the privilege to stay at the Pueblo tribe’s Sandía casino.

Like any casino in Las Vegas, this casino resort had every modern amenity and my twins took advantage of 24-hour pizza, grilled cheese, all you can eat self-serve ice cream, 24-hour buffets with sushi, French fries, and a river of orange Fanta as far as their 8-year-old eye could see.

Casino Fun
Enjoying the Delights of the Sandía Resort.

I tried my hand at golf and maybe threw some coins in the slots. 😉  We swam till we had fins and dined with one movie star (yup we had dinner with ET, a story for another blog post). Back to our adventure….

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