Norway with Noakai, August 2018   Leave a comment

Presenting the latest episode of

“Hawaiians in Norway”

Starring: Lari & Noakai

August 20 to 31, 2018

Each of my 5 grandchildren will get a special trip with Grandma Lari. I took Jensen to Japan 5 years ago, and this trip was for Noakai to Norway on a Gate1 tour. Madi and I have to find a date for our special trip together sometime next year-she is so busy!

Every time I go to Europe, I have an opportunity to stop and visit Yvette, Erik, Noakai and Marlowe before and after hopping over the Atlantic. I had fun with the family before and after Norway. I took Noey to sushi dinner and the play, “Getting the Band Together”-it was very funny! The Sunday before coming home, the family was busy, so I went to see Waitress, hoping to see Katherine McPhee, but she was no longer playing the lead… but it was a fun show. We enjoyed the Color Factory, an interactive colorful art experience fun for adults and kids!

Noey and I flew to Oslo via LHR on British Airlines. We had a welcome dinner and met our tour guide, Stephanie and the other 14 members of our tour group.

We had a city tour of Oslo on the first day. All of the people in our tour group were very nice, friendly and fun. We had lovely cool and sunny weather the entire trip except for one day in rainy Bergen.

 

The hotels we had before and after the cruise had gorgeous views!

We had a two-day bus tour from Oslo, overnight in Flam and to Bergen where we  boarded our Hurtigruten cruise ship.

Before the cruise, visited a very old Stave Church and went through the longest (25Km) tunnel in the world that has amazing technologies for physical and mental/emotional well-being for all drivers. The tunnel is divided into 4 sections with 3 blue zones between each section to give relief and mental awareness for drivers. The air is filtered and oxygen is pumped into the tunnel.

We visited a farm where we could enjoy the horses and sheep and a homemade lunch.

Stephanie Johannssen, our tour guide, taught us many things about Norway. Norway gets the warm gulfstream from Mexico so their waters never freeze in the winter. This enables Norwegians to farm more crops that would not survive in Sweden and Finland where the waters freeze. Norway, Denmark and Sweden are Scandinavian countries, and Finland and Iceland are Nordic countries with a totally different language. Denmark has a small landmass with 5 million people, and Norway is huge with 5.3 million people. Thus, Norway is uncrowded, quiet, with no traffic jams. Norway is a very wealthy country, with black gold-oil and fish from the sea. Yet, they are an honest and frugal people. They have high taxes on tobacco, alcohol and gas so they are very costly. The government gives incentives for people to purchase electric vehicles, so you see many Teslas and other EVs. Norwegians are also very close to nature to keep healthy.  People like to camp and spend time in the forests because all the forests including those on private property are open to public use. Trolls live in the forests and they guard the forest. Mountain trolls are giants that live in caves. Trolls would disappear in sunlight, so they only come out at night.

Stephanie told us the story of a little town called Fla in bear country where we had a pit stop. Fla was dying with decreasing population, until a billionaire named Olav Thon, #198 on Forbes list, took an interest in it. Thon decided to build a Bear Park to attract visitors. But there was no place to eat or sleep, so he tried to get McDonalds to open there, but they refused, so he built a McDonalds building. Then he built a Thon hotel and shopping center there. Now Fla is thriving with jobs and tourists.

We rode the Flam Railway up the mountain to Myrdal and back down to Flam, stopping twice at the Waterfall Kjosfossen where the Huldra, a singing forest temptress would lure men away.

In Bergen we boarded our Hurtigruten cruise ship, Nordlys, which means northern lights for our 6-day cruise up the coast of Norway to the Arctic Circle.

We sailed through so many awesome fjords with waterfalls, villages, and tiny farms clinging to the cliffs of the fjords. Our cabin was tiny and so was our bathroom, especially the shower! So I told Noey, whenever we have free time, we won’t stay in our cabin, but hang out in the lounges on different decks. Noey loved to sit and read in the Orion Lounge, which was on the top deck 7, with glass windows facing the front and sides to enjoy the views of the fjords. Most times friends from our tour group were there to hang out with.

 

 

You may wonder, why would anyone live high up in the cliffs above the fjords in the middle of nowhere? Well, they could be running away from the law or from diseases or taxes. Also, because the weather is temperate, from the Gulf Stream, they could farm crops.

Stephanie told us a marvelous story about one such family that lived on a tiny farm way up high on the cliff of a fjord. Stephanie was so intrigued by the story that she went up to the house of Lady Bloomberg herself. She said it took 48 switchbacks to walk up the cliff to the Bloomberg farmhouse, where she met descendants of Lady Bloomberg who were not hospitable. Lady Bloomberg’s husband died and she raised 10 children by herself, farming the little farm high up the cliff. It was a hard life, but she lived a long time. Such stories give you a flavor of the people of Norway.

Cruising the fjords, we made many stops at small villages and some small cities. When we stopped for the day, the cruise ship offered many tours. The first tour I did with Noakai was to go on a forest hike in Trondheim.

Noey went on 2 more hiking tours with Sharon and Wenshing Lee, while I stayed back to walk around the different towns.

 

 

We crossed the Arctic Circle at 7:18:12 am. We went to the ceremony for crossing the arctic circle, where they christen you by putting ice cubes down your back. Noey ran away when they asked us to participate, so one night at dinner, one of the crew snuck up behind him and put ice down his back.

We took a tour to the North Cape, and got to visit a Sami native with his reindeer. The Sami people are nomads that follow the reindeer herds across northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. The term Laplanders is considered derogatory. The North Cape (Nordkapp) is where the road from Europe ends.

For our last dinner on the ship, they had a buffet with lots of fresh seafood, like crab claws, shrimp, king crab legs, and reindeer stew. They even had salmon sashimi, which Noey devoured! He was so happy to have sushi! The next morning we disembarked in Kirkenes and boarded a plane for Oslo. We stayed in a lovely old hotel up near the ski jump with gorgeous views of the Oslo fjord. We enjoyed a farewell dinner and sang a Peanut Butter song and cheered for Stephanie, before hugging our goodbyes to our tour group members. We had all bonded on this trip, so it was sad to say goodbye to everyone. Early the next morning, we transferred to the airport for our flight home to JFK via Helsinki, Finland.

Noakai’s Top 10:

10) The Bloomberg farm. Learning about the Bloomberg farm is so interesting, that I think I’ll remember it for probably my life. I love that Stephanie was able too share this with us.

9) The tunnels. Especially the longest road tunnel in the world with the cool Leigh caves, but also the tons of other tunnels. I also really liked the tunnel with the roundabout intersection inside of it.

8) The reindeer. I have never seen a reindeer before Norway, and they are very beautiful and very small, I thought they were really cool.

7) The completely real trolls. I liked the way Stephanie explained them to us, and, even though Yvette doesn’t like them, I do, and think it’s funny that they are so deeply embedded in Norwegian culture.

6) The ski museum. Although the stair hike was tedious, the museum itself was probably my favorite museum of all. I liked the simulator, and the museum itself was both interesting and fun.

5) The one that you’ve been waiting for: the food! The food in Norway was amazing and I loved it especially because there isn’t a lot of Norwegian food in America. It was second only to Japanese food. (Sorry, you can’t beat Japanese food, at least for me)

4) The fjords. The beautiful fjords, which also prevented the boat from rocking and making me seasick, made the trip both longer and more enjoyable.

3) The hiking. I loved the hiking in Norway because, for not as much work as you do in America, you get a better view. Also, I liked the exercise and fresh air.

2) The Orion lounge, for obvious reasons

1) The people. Everyone in our group, including Stephanie was awesome and funny, and also the Norwegians themselves, little though they were, were nice, welcoming, funny and very trusting.

Lari’s Top 10:

(On previous trips, I had already done/seen Vigeland Park, Flam Railway ride, Bergen and Sognefjord. So these are not on this list although they are wonderful.)

10) The cool, sunny weather

9) The story of Fla village, saved by Olav Thon

8) The story of Lady Bloomberg living on a small farm high up on the cliff of a fjord

7) Crossing the Arctic Circle and visiting North Cape

6) The Laerdal tunnel with all its high tech amenities

5) Farm visit with horses, sheep and delicious lunch with raspberry drink

4) The friendly and fun tour group members

3) Stephanie Johannssen, our tour guide extraordinaire! Her knowledge, her efficient organization of our group, and her interesting stories, made this a rewarding and educational trip

2) The many gorgeous views of Norway’s fjords, mountains, and waterfalls

1) Spending quality time with Noakai, forming life-long happy memories with him

Posted September 7, 2018 by lariyasui in Europe

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2018 Barcelona & Bilbao Spain   1 comment

Presenting the latest episode of
“Hawaiians in Spain”
Starring: Lari & Mary Kadooka
April 23 to May 8, 2018

Mary asked me if I could go with her to Barcelona and Bilbao. Although I had been to Barcelona twice before, I always wanted to go to Bilbao, so I said yes. I booked Haw Air to NY and United from Newark to Barcelona. Mary booked our hotels and tours for our trip. It turned out that almost everything we did in Barcelona, was new to me, so it was thoroughly enjoyable. In New York, I spent time with Yvette and Marlowe and visited her preschool to tell the kids a story. Then I took the subway to Williamsburg, Brooklyn to check out my old stomping grounds from 2004 when Yvette, Erik and Noakai lived there. It has totally become upscale and pricey! First I visited Grandma Gina then walked up Bedford Ave and saw a new Apple Store and a new Whole Foods along with new restaurants.
When I arrived at Barcelona airport, I had to wait a bit for Mary’s flight to arrive. Then we both took a cab to our hotel close to the La Sagrada Familia, so we could walk there for our tour. We went up to the top of one of the towers and really enjoyed the architectural genius of Antoni Gaudi.

La Sagrada Familia by Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona

Coming down from the top of the tower in Sagrada Familia

Gaudi created blue stained glass from the east and yellow orange from the west

I captured the western sunset light coming through the stained glass inside Sagrada

The next day, we toured another Gaudi marvel, the wavy condo building called Casa Mila. His architectural design was amazing and wonderful, and people still live in Cas Mila. We took a bus to Park Guell and enjoyed all the beauty there and returned to Casa Mila for our night show tour on the roof top.

Casa Mila has owners that live there in unique design by Gaudi. All spaces have natural light.

Beauty on the rooftop of Casa Mila.

Gaudi’s Park Guell

On Sunday, we took the metro to Placa Catalunya and walked the Ramblas. We had lunch and were disappointed that the Boqueria Market was closed on Sundays. Then we walked to the end of the Ramblas where we found that we could go up to the top of the Monument Colom of Christopher Columbus. We enjoyed the views of the city and the waterfront from up there. That evening, we enjoyed the Los Tarantos flamenco show and paella for dinner.

Monument Colom of Christopher Columbus at the bottom of the Ramblas

View of the Ramblas from the top of Colom of Christopher Columbus

Flamenco dancers

The next day, we took a tour to Monteserrat, a bunch of jagged mountains outside of Barcelona with a cathedral nestled in the mountain. After the short visit to the Cathedral, which housed the Black Madonna, we took a funicular up the mountain and hiked back down. After returning to the city, we decided to check out the Boqueria Market, then we had a tapas dinner.

Monteserrat

Monteserrat

View of the Cathedral at Monteserrat from funicular

Hiking down Monteserrat

Boqueria Market just off the Ramblas

We checked out of our hotel and took a cab to the airport for our flight to Bilbao. In Bilbao, our rental apartment was right across the street from the famous Guggenheim Museum. Right in front of the Guggenheim, we saw ‘Puppy’ a dog 12 metres high, made of flowers. We enjoyed the view of the Guggenheim at sunset w/some wine on the terrace of our apartment building.

Puppy, made of flowers at the Guggenheim in Bilbao

Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim at sunset from our terrace

We took a bus to the town of Bakio and had to walk 4 miles to reach the parking lot for San Juan Guztelulgatxe, [ɡas̻teluɡatʃe] comes from the Basque gaztelu = “castle”, “fort” and gaitz = “difficult”. It is an islet on the coast of Biscay and is connected to the mainland by a man-made bridge. On top of the island stands a hermitage dedicated to John the Baptist that dates from the 10th century. After walking 4 miles, we had to walk 2 more miles downhill to get to the foot of the islet. Then up 241 steps to reach the hermitage on the top. Walking back up those 2 miles to the parking lot was a killer! I almost died! At the parking lot, we caught a ride back to the bus stop so we didn’t have to walk the 4 miles back. We rewarded ourselves by having a wonderful seafood dinner right next door to our apartment at Mazarredo.

San Juan Guztelulgatxe

Mary walking up 241 steps up to the top of San Juan Guztelulgatxe

From the top, we look back at the long 2-mile walk down on the mainland side and 241 steps up on the island.

Thursday we went to the Guggenheim Museum and enjoyed seeing Frank Gehry’s architecture from the inside and all the modern art displayed there. We took the tram to Ribera Market in Old Town where we had a tapas lunch.

Fabulous architecture by Frank Gehry inside the Guggenheim.

Outside the Guggenheim in front of one of many outdoor sculptures

Friday morning, we got up early to catch the metro to San Sebastian, a seaside resort. We caught the bus to the other side of Kantxa Bay and rode the funicular up Mount Igueldo for gorgeous views. We enjoyed tapas in Old Town. The tapas bars were amazing!

The view of the San Sebastian bay from the funicular

Painted walkway tunnel in San Sebastian

Fun at a tapas bar… look at all the choices we had! Delicious!

On Saturday, we took the metro to Getxo just north of Bilbao by the sea and walked along the marina and enjoyed the lovely mansions along the promenade. Then up the famous Transporter Bridge, where we took the elevator up one side, walked across the bridge and down the elevator on the other side of the river to Portugalete. Another way to cross the river is by gondola, which can carry 6 cars and dozens of people.

Bizkaia Bridge

The gondola goes back and forth across the river, suspended from the bridge

Mary and I crossing the Bizkaia Bridge

The next day we flew back to the US, me to NY and Mary to DC. Back in NY, I did some shopping and watched Noakai play ping pong at his school. We celebrated my 75th birthday at Wagamama for dinner. I flew back home the next morning.

Celebrating my birthday at Wagamama in NYC with Yvette, Noakai, Marlowe and Erik

Mary’s Top Six:

6. Monserrat – hike and view

5. San Juan de Guztelugatxe – exhausting, yet exhilirating view of stairs and scenery

4. Casa Milo and Park Guell – more amazingly creative stuff

3. La Sagrada Familia – inspiring connection to nature

2. Guggenheim Museum – architecture and even the modern art exhibits

1. Pintxo’s (tapas) at San Sebastian bus depot and all the Basque food

Lari’s Top Six:
6. Going up to the top of Colom of Christopher Columbus
5. Tapas meals, seafood and paella
4. Transporter Bridge in Getxo
3. La Sagrada Familia
2. Guggenheim Museum inside and outside
1. Casa Mila Tour by day and by night

2018 Springtime in Japan   Leave a comment

Presenting the latest episode of
“Hawaiians in Japan”
Starring: Lari, Yumi, Yvette, Erik, Noakai, & Marlowe
March 21 to April 8, 2018

It was Yvette’s family’s turn to get treated to Japan by Mom. Last year, I treated Ryan’s family. This trip, I went ahead of Yvette’s family and stayed a couple days after they left. I flew into Osaka and took the shinkansen to Iwakuni. Yumi (my friend from Tokyo) rented a car and met me at the train station. We drove to the famous Kintai bridge and took the ropeway up the mountain to the Iwakuni Castle.

Famous Kintai Bridge in Iwakuni

Iwakuni Castle

Then we drove to Oshima Island crossing over the green bridge. First, we visited the Hawaii Emigration Museum where they have records of all the families who left Oshima island to settled in Hawaii. We met my relative, Hitoshi Okabatake, who took us to see the plot of land where, our grandpa Kimura lived before emigrating to Hawaii and also to see the grave where the Kimura ancestors are buried. It is amazing how he learned where the Kimura grave is located on the island, from when Kazu visited in 2016, but that’s another story. We enjoyed a fabulous dinner with the entire Okabatake family, Grandpa and Grandma, Hitoshi and Mariko, and their son Kota and Yumiko with their 3 children.

Green Bridge to Oshima Island

Hitoshi Okabatake showed me where my grandpa and his family lived, but now it’s an empty lot.

Kimura gravestone on Oshima Island

Okabatake Family

The next morning, Yumi drove us along the coast with lovely views of sea and mountain. Yumi makes me laugh because she drives so slowly that cars piled up behind us. Every so often she pulled over to let them pass! We went back to the Okabatake home and Mariko took us to pick oranges from their orange grove and Grandma took us to pick shiitake from her shiitake posts.

Grandpa supervises picking oranges.

Grandma shows Lari how to pick fresh shiitake

Home made lunch, so delicious!

We took the ferry to Matsuyama on Shikoku Island. Yumi’s friend picked us up from the ferry station and took us to Matsuyama Castle where we enjoyed the sakura-cherry blossoms blooming. Matsuyama is the largest city on Shikoku and the capital of Ehime Prefecture. The next day, we took the tram to Dogo Onsen, which is 3000 years old. After Yumi left to catch her flight home to Tokyo, I went to a ryokan, Hotel Okudogo, outside of the city. This ryokan has several outdoor pools.

Matsuyama Castle with Yumi and her friends

After checking out from the ryokan, I took a 3-hour train ride to Takamatsu. It is a city on the northern coast of Shikoku island. I visited the Takamatsu Castle ruins and the lovely Ritsurin Garden. Then I went to Busshozan Onsen. The next day I took the Mariner 1-hour express train to Okayama. I walked around Okayama city before catching a train to Itami Station to stay with Ibaramoto grandma. We used google translate to communicate with each other. She made a wonderful dinner for me.

Ritsurin Garden in Takamatsu

Mrs. Ibaramoto in Itami City, Osaka is Yumi’s mother in law

On Thursday, I went to Kansai Airport to meet Yvette, Erik, Noakai and Marlowe. They were so happy to see me as soon as they came out of customs. We took the train to Namba Station in Osaka and had difficulty finding our AirBnB apartment. It turned out to be very cramped and unsuitable for children so we moved to a hotel with a large family room that Yumi found for us. We took the subway to Osaka Castle and it was glorious with all the sakura in bloom.

Osaka Castle

Picnics under the sakura at Osaka Castle

On Saturday we took a train to Minoo Station and walked up to Minoo Park. It was a lovely, leisurely, nature walk along the Minoo stream. We stopped at the Insect Musuem and did not go all the way to the Minoo Falls. Instead we turned back and went to Ooedo Onsen Monogatari Minoo, which was a wonderful family facility with restaurants, game rooms, resting rooms, toddler areas, ping pong room, massage rooms and more. We stayed all afternoon into the evening enjoying all the amenities.

Among the rocks in Minoo Stream

We visited a temple along the Minoo Stream

Marlowe and Noakai by Minoo Stream

On Sunday we traveled to Nara to visit Todaiji Temple with the deer park. The kids went through the hole in the pole. The next morning, we went to Koriyama Castle Festival. On Tuesday we took the train to Kyoto.

At one of our train or subway stations.

Before going into a temple we cleanse ourselves.

Todaiji Temple in Nara with a very large Buddha inside.

Wednesday we took the old-fashioned open air Romantic Train along the Hozugawa River with sakura blooming everywhere! Then we rode down the Hozugawa river in a flat-bottomed wooden boat all the way to Arashiyama. It was fun going over some small rapids in the river. In Arashiyama, we hired two rickshaws to take us to the Bamboo Forest. After lunch, we took a small local train to Toei Kyoto Studio and enjoyed the Trick Art museum there.

Old-fashioned Romantic train ride up along the Hozugawa River

Hozugawa boat ride was so much fun!

View of the open-air romantic train from our boat on the river

Rickshaw ride into the bamboo forest in Arashiyama

Samurai actors at Toei Movie Studio Park

Trick Art Museum at Toei Movie Studio Park

Trick Art Museum at Toei Movie Studio Park

On their last day, we went to Fushimi Inari Shrine with 1000 red torii. That night, they took a bullet train to Osaka to stay at a hotel near the airport for their flight back to New York City.

Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto

Noakai and Marlowe walking up through the 1000 torii at Fushimi Inari Shrine

I spent the next couple days in Nagoya, staying with Naoto and Yuko and their son Taisei. We all went to an onsen up in the mountains nearby, shopping and to Shiratori Teien Garden. Then I returned to Osaka to catch my flight home.

In Nagoya, Kats, Kazuyo, Naoto and Taisei took me to lunch.

Yuko and I are enjoying a cold one at the onsen.

 

Noey’s Top Five:
More favorites: deer, trick art museum, giant Buddha
5. Hozugawa River boat ride
4 train stations are really clean and modern and huge
3: the sakura in bloom
2: the onsens
1: the food is amazing and high quality

Yvette’s Top Four:
4. My birthday brunch buffet at a fancy hotel
3. Onsens
2. Hiking in the forests-Minoo, bamboo, Fushimi Inari
1. Going around with Lari

Marlowe’s Top Five:
5. Bullet train ride
4. The toy with the bento
3. Slurpy noodles
2. Cherry blossoms
1. Hozugawa boat ride

Eric’s Top Five:
5. Japanese toilets (came home and ordered a toto)
4. Koirala Bento Lunch-sakura special only $8
3. Giant Buddha temple at Todaiji in Nara
2. Hozugawa Boat ride
1. Onsens and massage

Posted August 1, 2018 by lariyasui in Asia

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2018 Winter in Tuscany with Leanda   Leave a comment

Presenting the latest episode of

“Hawaiians in Italy”

Starring: Lari & Leanda Santos

January 28 to February 8, 2018

Last fall I called Leanda and asked her if she knows how to drive stick, and she said yes. So I asked if she wanted to go with me to Tuscany on a 1-week Air, Hotel, Car deal for $600 pp. And she said yes, because she had never been to Italy and that she would drive. It was an unescorted package from Gate1 Travel-what a deal! So we flew to New York and stayed with Yvette. Noakai let us sleep in his bed and he slept on the floor. We visited Marlowe’s pre school. Leanda had never been to NY, so I showed her places like the Oculus, 9-11 Memorial, riding the Staten Island Ferry to see Lady Liberty, walking the High Line to from Meatpacking to Chelsea Market. We had lunch at Serafina’s Meatpacking, where my friend, Miko works. I met him years ago in Florence.

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Lady Liberty from Staten Island Ferry

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The Bull on Wall St.

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Grandma Lari visits Yellow Room at Marlowe’s pre school

Miko served us lunch at Serafina Meatpacking. In 2007 he was Lari’s waiter in Florence and he and Lari are still friends!

We flew on a red eye on Emirates Airline to Milan. They have HUGE planes: 88 rows of 10 seats per row. There were so few passengers that everyone could lie flat in  empty rows. In Milan, we got our rental car and drove to Tuscany and found our hotel in Montecatini, a small village in Tuscany. It was cold and rainy almost every day there, but we made the best of it. We walked around the village and went to a hot spring pool to relax. We enjoyed delicious Italian dinners.

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Our hotel in Montecatini

We drove to Pisa where we went inside the cathedral and climbed up to the top of the leaning tower. Then we drove to Lucca, a lovely walled village. We walked partially around the city wall, then into the city for lunch. Leanda loved all the beautiful doors, so we took a collection of photos with Leanda and her doors.

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The iconic Leaning Tower in Pisa

The bell tower at the top of the Leaning Tower in Pisa.

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The Cathedral at Pisa

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Love this tower with the tree on top in Lucca

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One of many Lucca doors Leanda loves

We took the train to Florence, because parking would be a problem there. We walked all over the city, first to Mercato Centrale then to Duomo and Piazza Signoria to see David, then to Ponte Vecchio. We had lunch at Gatto La Volpe where I met Miko several years ago, and back to Central market to shop for omiyage. Back to train station for gelato before boarding train back home.

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Mercato Centrale in Florence

Rainy shopping at Mercato Centrale in Florence

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David in Florence

We had lunch here in Florence, where Lari met Miko in 2007.

It’s the law: Gelato every day in Italy

On the one sunny day, we took the train to Viareggio for Carnivale. It’s mardi gras in Italy! They had a parade and people are dressed in costumes. It was so much fun!

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Carnivale in Viareggio

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Carnivale in Viareggio

On our last day, we checked out and drove to Cinque Terre. We got all-day train tickets to the 5 villages. Cinque Terre means “Five Lands” in English and is composed of five crazily constructed small fishing villages located on rocks along the cliff in a spectacular landscape. First stop Riomaggiore, next Manarola, then Vernazza, (we skipped Corniglia), finally Monterosso. Leanda drove all the way to our hotel near Milano airport.  We stayed overnight and the next day flew back to NY on Emirates.

Riomaggiore

Manarola

We had lunch here.

Our last night at Milano airport hotel

Back in NY, we stayed with Yvette’s family again. We did more touring of the city, first to Times Square, Luke’s Lobster, Rockefeller Center, St Patrick’s Cathedral, Mood, Flatiron, Eataly, Union Square and Trader Joe’s. At Mood, the fabric store on Project Runway, we met Swatch the mascot at Mood. He is super cute!

We had fun with Swatch at Mood

It was a wonderful trip with a good fun friend, Leanda! We had a blast!

 

 

 

Posted July 30, 2018 by lariyasui in Europe

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2017 August San Diego and LA   1 comment

2017 August San Diego and Los Angeles

Mary and I decided to attend the Semi Annual Taiko Conference, this year located at University of San Diego campus. On my flight over to SD, I sat next to Christine Noble and we chatted almost the entire flight and became friends! We stayed at the Country Inn & Suites in La Jolla and rented a car. Since we got there a day before registration, we drove to Alpine to visit my friend Carmen Shagham. She showed us around her estate and all the work she has done in her yard. Then we went to lunch at Montana Grill Café.

Carmen and I are in her back yard.

After a lovely visit with Carmen, we drove to the UCSD campus to register for the Taiko Conference. Elsie was waiting for us, then Lorin and Lovelle came to join us for the Welcome Reception.

Elsie, Mary, Lorin, myself and Lovelle at Taiko Welcome reception.

Taiko Kanikapila-people just jump in and play!

On Friday we had opening session and breakout workshops all day and in the evening we enjoyed a Taiko Concert. We repeated the same thing on Saturday.

North America Taiko Conference with Tomie

I was honored to meet Kristy Oshiro, awesome drummer!

Sunday morning was the closing session. After the closing, I drove down to Coronado Island to meet Mel and Karen Tanaka for lunch and to visit their lovely home on the island. Then I drove to Temecula to stay with Ali Nash. Her hubby is a firefighter in Long Beach so he was gone. We had a nice dinner downtown at Public House.

Mel grew up in Ewa Beach: his family owned Tanaka Store. He and Karin live on Coronado Island.

I stayed in Temecula with Ali Nash. Her sister Heather Bown played volleyball at UH and the US Olympic team.

The next morning, Ali had made me a bracelet with the beach glass that I gave her. Then I drove off to Anza to visit cousin Paola, her hubby Phil and daughter Beca, who was working at a campground on a lake. We hung out by the lake enjoying the sun before heading to the village for Italian dinner at Ferro.

Phil, myself, Paola and their daughter Rebecca at the lake where Beca works for the summer.

On Tuesday, I drove to Los Angeles to stay w/Tom and Margie Hernandez, Kazu’s Dad and Mom. Margie made Nopales-cactus. She cooked chicken, beef, beans, salad and Tom’s sister Rosemarie brought 2 peach pies. We had a feast! The kids all came for dinner and Tom’s brother Angel brought Grandma Hortense. Renae brought her baby, Quetzal, so it was a wonderful family reunion!

I stayed with Tom and Margie Hernandez in Los Angeles. Tom is Kazu’s dad!

Wednesday morning I had to say goodbye and drove to LAX to catch my flight home.

Posted June 25, 2018 by lariyasui in USA

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2017 New York, London, VA & MD   1 comment

2017 October
NY, London, VA-MD

I found a good deal on Gate1 for air and hotel to London. So I asked Debi if she wanted to go with me, and she said yes, because she’d never been to London. I have been there twice before, but never went to the museums, and so I planned to go to some London Museums. I flew non-stop on Hawaiian Airlines and stayed with Yvette for a few days. I visited Marlowe’s pre-school and spent time with Yvette and Marlowe during the weekdays. On weekends, we hung out with the whole family. I usually try to give Yvette and Erik a date night, and stay home with the kids while they do their own thing. So this time, I took Marlowe to the movie theater to see My Little Pony and then dinner at Hudson Eats while Noey was with his friends. On Sunday, I went with the 2 kids on PATH to NJ for brunch at Sapthagiri, their favorite Indian $10 brunch buffet. I like to stop at the threading shop to have my eyebrows threaded for only $6. We met Miko and Donna for late lunch with Donna’s parents. I had a date night with Noey, and we had tons of food and fun doing the “East Village Crawl”-we ate at 3 different restaurants to try different kinds of food!

 

The 3 of us walked down to Battery Park and rode the carousel.

Sunday brunch at our favorite Indian buffet in Jersey.

We had a late lunch with Miko and Donna and her parents.

East Village Crawl with Noakai.

Monday, Marlowe, Yvette and I took a car up to 6th Ave Michael’s store, shopping at Trader Joes and Old Navy, then lunch at NY Burger. That evening, I went with Erik and Marlowe to watch Noey’s soccer game then home for dinner. The next day, I read a story to Marlowe’s pre-school class and sang a song.

Marlowe has 3 teachers: Miss Janet, Miss Gyro and Miss Mildred.

On Wednesday, Yvette and Marlowe flew to Germany to visit Tara and I relaxed, packed and took the subway to JFK and met Debi at our gate for our red-eye flight to London. We arrived at Heathrow on Thursday, Oct 19 and took a city transfer to our hotel. They gave us a room right away so we could shower and rest then we walked around to eat Fish n Chips for our dinner at Hobsons. On Friday, we at breakfast in the hotel and caught the tube (London’s subway) to Leicester Square to buy discount tickets at the TKTS booth for The Mousetrap, a long-running mystery by Agatha Christie. We walked to the British Museum and had lunch there. Then we spent the afternoon riding on the HOHO (hop-on, hop-off) bus. We sat upstairs and enjoyed a relaxing tour of London. Then we went to see The Mousetrap play, after having some difficulty finding the theater. Afterwards, we saw Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant, so we had dinner there and took the tube back to our hotel.

At the British Museum

 

We had a delicious dinner at Jamie Oliver’s.

Victoria & Albert Museum

On Saturday, we went back to Leicester Square to buy discount tickets to see An American in Paris at 2 pm and tickets for Lion King at 7:30 pm. After getting our show tickets, we went to the Victoria and Albert Museum, where we spent 2 hours enjoying the exhibits. Then to our matinee by the tube, a light supper, then to our evening show at Lyceum Theater for Lion King.

We loved Lion King!

On Sunday, we got up early and took the tube to the Coach Station for our bus tour to Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath. Our guide was Lucy and she was very charming and our bus driver was Ricardo. First stop was Windsor Castle, where we saw the Queen Mary Doll House and the State Apartments. Then a bus ride to Stonehenge then to Lacock village for lunch at The George Inn, oldest Pub in Lacock. Then a bus ride to Bath-by then we were tired so we just shopped.

Windsor Castle

Stonehenge

London phone booth

After breakfast on Wednesday, we checked out, stored our luggage and went to Camden Market and then to lunch at Taste of India. We caught a cab to Heathrow, flew back to NY, arriving close to midnight, and said goodbye there. Debi stayed overnight near JFK and I took a cab to a hotel in Chelsea.
Tuesday morning, I caught the GoBus to Vienna, VA for only $18. It was a large and new bus that arrived at 2 pm at the Metro stop in Vienna and Janne Hudner picked me up. We cooked dinner and watched Dancing with the Stars. The next day, Janne and I went to the movie Marshall after breakfast, and it was wonderful! After lunch, I borrowed Hudner’s car and drove to Laurel to cousin Gary and Sally’s home. We chatted and relaxed until dinner of Salmon, peas and rice noodles. Their Siamese cat, Tubs had passed away, and I played with the other Siamese, Crocket before bedtime. Thursday after breakfast we relaxed and drove to Ellicott City. We walked down Main St, checking out the many shops and had lunch at Trolley Stop. Then we shopped at Trader Joes and Savage Mill closer to home. We prepared dinner and Kat, Billy and Lily came and Matt and Audrey followed soon after. We all enjoyed the baked chicken dinner and of course, 14-month-old, Lily was the center of attention.

When I was there, they had just recovered from a huge flood, and now this June 2018, there was another flood in Ellicott City.

Kat, Billy and Lily-the golden child!

Front: Matt, Audrey and me Back: Sally, Gary w/Lily and Kat

On Friday, we relaxed all morning until we went to Mission BBQ for Navy Day lunch with some friends. Back home we rested and worked on organizing old photos from Aunty Carol, Gary’s mom who passed away. After lunch, I drove to Severn to stay with Sharmaine, David, Collin and Addison. After dinner, we went to watch Addie play soccer and she is dynamite! Even the ref came over afterwards to say she was his favorite player of the game! The next day, Collin left for a boy scout camping trip. We had quiche for breakfast. I helped them clean closets and went to help sell Girl Scout cookies. We went to Casa Dela Nonna for Italian dinner.

David, Addison and Sharmaine live in Severn, MD

On Sunday, we had breakfast burritos and went to help sell GS cookies, but it was too rainy so we closed up shop after half an hour and Addie’s soccer game was cancelled. After cleaning Addie’s room, we had lunch and I left Severn to drive back to Vienna, VA to return Hudner’s car. We had cannelloni for dinner with Dennis’ Mom, who comes every Sunday for dinner.
Monday morning, I had to leave for the airport, so Dennis dropped me off and I got home after a layover in San Francisco.

Posted June 25, 2018 by lariyasui in Europe, USA

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2017 Thanksgiving in Northern Cal   Leave a comment

2017 November San Jose
I fly to San Jose whenever Hawaiian Airlines has a sale. I rent a car and drive from one house to another to visit friends/relatives in the vicinity. This time, I stayed with Paul and Sigi in Point Richmond overnight, then to Santa Rosa to stay with Scott and Taylor. Tay showed me the devastation from recent fires in the newer and upscale hills area that all got burned. After a little shopping, we hung out and Tay cooked salmon for dinner.

2 of Sigi and Paul’s 4 doggies!

Taylor in their back yard! Scott is MIA-came home late from work.

The next morning, I drove east to Alamo to stay with cousin Carolyn. Her daughter, Jessica and family were there from LA for Thanksgiving week. On Wednesday, we celebrated Jose’s birthday with dungeness crab for lunch and crab pasta for dinner. On Thanksgiving day, I helped with dinner preparations and neighbors joined us.

In Alamo for Thanksgiving, my cousin Carolyn, Justin, Jordan, Jessica and Jose.

Friday after Thanksgiving, we shopped and had left-overs for lunch! After lunch, I drove to Lafayette to stay with Lovelle, my taiko friend. Lorin and Lovelle live near each other, and I met them 2 years ago at Taiko conference in Las Vegas. Three of us went to a Peruvian restaurant, Barranco for a delicious dinner. The next day, we spent the morning at Sausalito, walking and window-shopping. We had a delicious lunch at Scomas. Then to the city to shop at Muji and home to attend Taiko class.

Peruvian dinner at Barranco with Lovelle and Lorin.

Delicious lunch in Sausalito with Lorin and Lovelle.

Lovely Sausalito

On Sunday, I drove to the city to stay with Susan, Yvette’s high school classmate. We went to SFMoMa for lunch and enjoyed the art in the museum. My favorites were the spider sculptures by Louise Bourgeois and Walker Evans, prolific photographer of signs, faces, people on the street, and more, from all over the US. We went to tapas dinner at Contigo and had a very nice dinner with a bottle of red wine for me n Tom.
On Monday, Susan and Tom went to work, so I was on my own. I drove to the Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park then walked to the Japanese Garden. I drove to Ocean Beach, past Cliff House to Lands End for a walk in the woods and along the coast. What amazing scenery! After Susan and Tom came home from work, we went to B-Star, a Burmese restaurant-Yumm!

Art!

Giant spiders by Louise Bourgeois

Loved the Academy of Sciences

Japanese Garden in Golden Gate Park

Forest at Lands End

Next morning I left at 5:30 am to drive to San Jose for my morning flight home.

Posted June 25, 2018 by lariyasui in USA

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