All posts filed under: Weekend Unexplored

3 “Days” of Gluttony in Osaka, Japan

Osaka has been a YouTube sensation over the past few years due to its reputation as a street food haven. The city has been overshadowed by Tokyo and Kyoto for the last decade and is now finally coming into its own. On my recent trip to Japan, I made it a point to include this foodie destination on my itinerary and the city did not disappoint. I had limited time since it was only three full days, so my trip was packed with eating and some sight-seeing. This is my foodie adventure in the kitchen of Japan. Day 1: Dotonbori I had underestimated how long it would take for me to travel from Bangkok, so by the time I arrived at my hotel, it was already 7pm. Since I only had three full “days” in Osaka, every minute counted. I quickly made my way to Dotonbori, the heart of Osaka’s entertainment district, which reminded me of New York’s Times Square with its bright neon signs and throngs of tourists. I quickly searched for Mizuno, the …

2 Day Temple Stay in Koyasan, Japan – the Birthplace of Shingon Buddhism

In order to take a break from modern Osaka, I ventured to a secluded village up in the holiest mount an of Japan for a spiritual rejuvenation. Mount Koya (or Koyasan) is the birthplace of Esoteric Shingon Buddhism in Japan that was founded by Kobo Daishi* over 1,200 years ago. Today, the UNESCO-designated World Heritage site has 52 shukubo open to visitors. Shukubo are temples that historically offered overnight lodgings to pilgrims, with the majority of them welcoming tourists today. The shukubo experience includes sleeping on a tatami mat floor in a 1,000-year-old temple, eating a vegan feast cooked by the resident monks and participating in certain Buddhist rituals. A trip to Koyasan is an authentic spiritual trip that refreshes the soul. For my recent trip to Osaka, I carved out two days to make my way up the mountain. Normally, this trip would take 90 minutes on an express train from Namba station on the Nankai Koya Line. Unfortunately, two weeks before I arrived in Japan, a typhoon disabled the cable car service between …

Weekend Unexplored: Gluttonous Adventures in Houston, Texas

I had a chance to visit Houston over a long weekend and took the opportunity to check out the city’s vibrant dining scene. For this trip, I focused on a combination of stalwarts and new additions to Houston’s downtown and surrounding area. Which establishments lived up to its hype and which restaurants failed to summit? Saturday After checking into the Hilton Americas in downtown the previous night, my friends and I were ready to start with brunch at Backstreet Café. This is a popular establishment in Houston and of course, we had to check it out. The exterior reminded me of a fancy French country home with a gorgeous patio beckoning us to waste the morning there; however, we could not compete with Houston’s heat and humidity. We were wimpy New Yorkers so we opted for an indoor table overlooking the brick patio. The menu at Backstreet Café focused on American dining. We ordered a few dishes such as Tuna Poke, Housemade Fresh Burrata, Skirt Steak and Eggs, Lamb with Pesto and Gulf Coast Beignets. …

Weekend Unexplored: Escape from Manhattan with Getaway (Catskills, New York)

Like many overworked and overstimulated New Yorkers, I was searching for a place to escape from the concrete jungle for a weekend. I stumbled onto Getaway, a glamping company, as I was researching tiny homes for the blog. Getaway was started by graduate students, John Staff and Pete Davis, in conjunction with Harvard Innovation Lab in 2015 with a mission to help millennials disconnect from city life. The company rents tiny stylish mobile homes, approximately 160 to 200 sqf., that are equipped with a comfortable queen bed, two-burner kitchen stove, mini-fridge, full size sink, hot running shower and an electric toilet for approximate $129-$149 a night. There are 12 tiny houses spread across a 20-acre site nestled in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York. Renters are notified of the location of their cabin within a week and the cabin name and door code within 24 hours of their arrival. This concept prevents renters from stressing out about the trip. The cabins are located within a two-hour drive from Boston or New York. So, how …

Weekend Unexplored: 2 Days in Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen was the last stop on our week long Nordic trip. My group purposely scheduled Copenhagen at the end of our Iceland adventure as we wanted a balance from our rustic Icelandic adventures. We did not have anything planned out for Copenhagen besides our dining options, so the weekend was more spontaneous. Copenhagen also has a burgeoning food scene that rivals NYC in quality and innovation with two restaurants currently listed in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. I was in charge of booking the restaurants and I took on the challenge with glee. Day 1 We had an early flight from Reykavik to Copenhagen on Iceland Airlines. After an uneventful flight, we easily found a taxi and headed to Hotel Nyhaven located at the end of the picturesque Nyhaven Harbor. When we arrived around 1:00 pm, our rooms were not yet available so we left our luggage with the front desk staff. At this point, we were starving as we had been up since 6 am for our flight. My original plan was to eat …

Weekend Unexplored: Boca Raton, Florida

When the temperature drops, northeast snowbirds flock to southern Florida to take in the warm temperature and sun. Boca Raton is a small city located in southern Florida filled with famed architecture of nouveau-riche architect Addison Mizne from the 1920’s. The city has a history as a playground for the affluent, but we found the city to be cozy on our recent workcation. In this post, we will showcase a few places that surprised us in a good way. Stay and Play: Resort: We had an opportunity to stay at the historic Waldorf Astoria’s Boca Resort and Beach Club. The hotel started in 1926 as the Ritz-Carlton Cloister Inn designed by Addison Mizne in orange and pink with Mediterranean and Spanish influences. The resort is situated on 356 gorgeously landscaped acres and includes the Cloister, Beach Club, Tower, Yacht Club, Boca Bungalows and Golf Club. We had the Cloister Estate 2 Doubles that has updated classic luxury interiors. The rooms range from small to spacious at the resort. We had a small double room on …

Weekend Unexplored: Catskill, NY

Catskill Mountains are located in the southeastern part of New York State. This area includes the ski area at Hunter Mountain and Bellayre Mountain. There are many outdoor activities in the region for any season. I had the opportunity to join some friends for a weekend getaway to see the fall foliage in the middle of October. This is my weekend unexplored in the Catskills. There are plenty of options for lodging in the Catskills as it is a popular weekend getaway for NYC dwellers. I decided to book an AirBnB for this trip and was able to find one near Phoenicia, NY.  As with most house rentals, the actual rental can be a hit or miss. Luckily our rental was more of a hit than a miss with only the stove giving us a lot of trouble. My friend and I headed out on a beautiful Friday morning and arrived at the Phoenicia Diner just in time for lunch. There are few good food options in this particular area. The Phoenicia Diner is a “farm …