San Francisco had been a fantastic city in which to start our family RV holiday, but now I was excited to start our road trip travelling in the Western United States. For most of the 20th and 21st centuries, the automobile has been the dominant form of transportation in the United States. Equally, travelling on a road to the West has for a long time been synonymous for many with the American Dream: freedom; adventure; and diverse, enticing and grand landscapes. Therefore, the road and the car both hold a revered place in the American consciousness. It was our first time in the Western United States, and we looked forward to travelling across a variety of Western cities and landscapes.
Our RV trip didn’t start that well. In the first minute of the trip, plates fell from a cupboard and shattered on the floor. But that was soon forgotten after we left San Francisco and ventured further south. Continue reading
- (Ueno Park; lovetoexplore.blogspot.com)
In the autumn of 2009, a fresh-faced, 16 year old version of me equipped with a phrase book and an embarrassingly large backpack set of on the greatest adventure of her life to date – a 3 week tour of Japan. Travelling as part of a school group forming a link with a partner school in Oita, we travelled around the largest of the islands; Honshu, visiting a variety of cities including Hiroshima, Kyoto and of course, Tokyo. Japan is a fascinating mix of the futuristic and the ancient, a place where you can leave an 8 storey arcade, turn a corner and find yourself in an ancient Buddhist temple, a place where vending machines dispense boiling hot noodles, a place where people will stop you on the street to stroke your hair because they’ve never seen a natural red-head. A place that was, through my wide-eyed perspective, like nothing I had ever seen or experienced before.
We flew into Tokyo and after dropping our baggage at the very reasonable Sakura Hotel in Ikebukero, spent the afternoon exploring the city. My personal highlights of this city include Asakusa for traditional Japanese architecture and the electronic dazzle of Akihabara, both perfect examples of the stark contrast between tradition and development. Make sure to explore the bizarre fashion district, Harijuku, and for a break from the bustle; the tranquil Ueno Park. A real moment for me was experiencing the epic Shibuya crossing, a 3 way junction that is constantly crammed with thousands of commuters and tourists alike. The sheer volume of people amidst the screen-clad skyscrapers makes you feel both tiny and important simultaneously.