5 luxury escapes near Cape Town

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2018/01/31/5-luxury-escapes-near-cape-town/

Although the Mother City has a dazzling array of luxury accommodation offerings, and continues to collect a string of international awards, the coastal towns, winelands and mountains that surround her also have some wondrous hidden gems. Here are my top five luxe stays, all within a 90-minute drive of the city. 1. The Marine Hotel […]

The post 5 luxury escapes near Cape Town appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2018/01/31/5-luxury-escapes-near-cape-town/

Although the Mother City has a dazzling array of luxury accommodation offerings, and continues to collect a string of international awards, the coastal towns, winelands and mountains that surround her also have some wondrous hidden gems. Here are my top five luxe stays, all within a 90-minute drive of the city. 1. The Marine Hotel […]

The post 5 luxury escapes near Cape Town appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

Top 7 Winter sun destinations for 2018

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2018/01/26/top-7-winter-sun-destinations-for-2018/

Swap the cold, wintry nights for sun-kissed coves and a spot of sightseeing in the sunshine with these seven Winter sun destinations. Explore the underwater worlds below in the Maldives, capture breathtaking viewpoints in Southeast Asia and discover a rich cultural heritage in Malta. The Maldives Picture a coastal paradise of turquoise water and deserted […]

The post Top 7 Winter sun destinations for 2018 appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2018/01/26/top-7-winter-sun-destinations-for-2018/

Swap the cold, wintry nights for sun-kissed coves and a spot of sightseeing in the sunshine with these seven Winter sun destinations. Explore the underwater worlds below in the Maldives, capture breathtaking viewpoints in Southeast Asia and discover a rich cultural heritage in Malta. The Maldives Picture a coastal paradise of turquoise water and deserted […]

The post Top 7 Winter sun destinations for 2018 appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

37 Places to Eat in Tokyo

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/where-to-eat-in-tokyo/

people sharing plates of sushi
On a whim, I went to Tokyo for a week. My friends and I had been talking about a food-themed trip to the city for years, and after convincing them that now was the time to cash in all our miles, we found ourselves at the airport on a cold November day with one goal: to eat as much as humanly possible.

Like me, they’d been to Tokyo before and each had a list of places to eat at. Along with our combined lists, I had received suggestions from friends, readers, and one of my favorite foodies, Mark Weins of Migrationology.

Even eating four to six meals a day, I was barely able to scratch the surface of the list of recommendations. Nevertheless, I wanted to share the combined suggestions of the community and my own investigations with you. (Those I ate at are denoted by a star.)

Afuri Yebisu (1 Chome-1-7 Ebisu, 117 Bldg. 1F, Shibuya 150-0013, +81 3-5795-0750, afuri.com) – Tom (@tjdj311 on Instagram) recommended this for yuzu-flavored ramen.

*Bifteck Kawamura Ginza (6 Chome-5-1 Ginza, Ginza MST Bldg. 8F, Chuo, 104-0061, +81 3-6252-5011, bifteck.co.jp) – At the suggestion of our hotel’s concierge, we went there in our quest for Wagyu beef. The steak basically melted in my mouth and exploded with flavor. However, I don’t think I’d go back, as I found it a bit too high-end and overpriced for me. The décor is incredible, the service over the top, and the wine list world-class — but all that is more than I needed. That said, if you want to spend money on delicious steak with out-of-this-world service, you can’t go wrong here.

BrewDog Roppongi (5 Chome-3-2 Roppongi, Minato, 106-0032, +81 3-6447-4160, brewdogbar.jp) – Recommended by Matt Chandler (@mchandler07 on Twitter), this bar has 20 craft beers on tap, 10 of which are brewed on site. So if you’re tired of sake and want some fancy beer, you probably can’t go wrong here!

CoCo Ichibanya (1 Chome-2-12 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku, 160-0023, +81 3-3345-0775) – Recommended by Char (@charmatcha on Twitter), this ramen restaurant is supposed to offer hearty and filling ramen as well as good chicken and pork curry in a fast service environment. I haven’t been here, but I’ve been to similar places in the past.

*Genki Sushi (24-8 Udagawacho, Shibuya, 150-0042, +81 3-3461-1281, genkisushi.co.jp) – Yummy sushi, recommended by Jeremiah Cooper (@jeremiahcooperphotography on Instagram). There wasn’t anything fancy about the place — it just had solid, satisfying sushi. Very attentive service too!

Ginza Kagari (4 Chome-1-2 Ginza, Chuo, 104-0061, +81 3-3561-0717) – Bethany (@bjbitler on Instagram) suggests coming here for incredible chicken broth ramen.

Japanese ramen dish

*Ginza Sushi-Dokoro Shin (7 Chome-12-4 Ginza, Way Fair Bldg. 1F, Chuo, 104-0061, +03-3543-9339) – A spectacular sushi spot in Ginza. It was one of the best I ate at. The portions are huge. Go for lunch, when you get more bang for your buck. And definitely get the uni — yummy! (Suggested by Mark Weins)

*Ichiran Shibuya (1 Chome-22-7 Jinnan, Shibuya, 150-0041, +81 3-3463-3667, en.ichiran.com/index.php) – Recommended by many people, this ramen spot served one of the best meals I had my entire trip. The thick, flavorful broth is to die for. I also like how you eat in your own little private booth. Funky. Expect a wait during peak lunch and dinner times.

*Isakaya Juban (2 Chome-1-2 Azabujuban, Minato, 106-0045, +81 3-3451-6873, izakayajuban.com) – A little hole-in-the-wall izakaya restaurant (think Japanese tapas) with locals getting drunk on sake and eating tasty small plates. I was big fan of their salmon and grilled squid. They have a small English menu, but judging how my friend ordered for me, I think it doesn’t list everything, so if you see something, point at it and get it!

JBS Bar (Jazz, Blues, Soul) (1 Chome-17-10 Dogenzaka, Shibuya, 150-0043, +81 3-3461-7788) – A cool bar (recommended by Anna Klebine on Facebook) that is basically a one-man shop filled with records, whiskey, and smoke. It’s tucked away on the second level of an office/shopping plaza.

*Kakimaru (6 Chome-1-6 Roppongi, Minato, 106-0032, +81-3-5413-3689) – While catching up with my friend, we found this awesome place. There was an older couple next to us and a wedding party getting drunk across from us. As the night went on, the couple helped us pick food (try the speciality crab dish, it’s served in the shell and to die for), and the wedding party kept asking how we loved Japan and refilling our sake glasses, sang songs, and talked baseball. It was an amazing experience. The food is also outstanding. Be sure to get the oysters. Note: While Google Maps will list the restaurant as Kakimaru, when you go there the restaurant will be called Uohama.

Kanda Matsuya (1 Chome-13 Kanda Sudacho, Chiyoda, 101-0041, +81 3-3251-1556, kanda-matsuya.jp) – Bethany (@bjbitler on Instagram) also recommended this for authentic soba noodle dishes.

fresh sushi

*Kyubey (8 Chome-7-6 Ginza, Chuo, 104-0061, +81 3-3571-6523) – Suggested by my friends, this restaurant (which has a couple of locations) offered the fanciest sushi I had in Tokyo. You sit at the bar and are served whatever the chef decides to bring (this is called omakase). It was expensive (at $150 USD) but worth every penny. Check out this video where the shrimp they served me is still moving.

Masaru (1 Chome-32-2 Asakusa, Taito, 111-0032, +81 3-3841-8356) – Daina (@headedanywhere on Instagram) recommended this as an excellent option for tempura dishes.

*Memory Lane (Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku, +81 3-3342-1589, shinjuku-omoide.com) – On this tiny alley of yakitori joints, some require an entrance fee, but they are all worth it. I ate at about three of them, but I don’t remember any of the specific restaurant names.

Mutekiya (1 Chome-17-1, Minami Ikebukuro, 1F Sakimoto Bldg., Toshima 171-0022, +81 3-3982-7656, mutekiya.com) – Carly Sabo (@carly_sabo on Instagram) recommended this spot for its amazing ramen. Honmarumen is its most popular dish.

Narisawa (2 Chome-6-15 Minami Aoyama, Minato, 107-0062, +81 3-5785-0799, narisawa-yoshihiro.com) – One of the highest rated sushi restaurants in Tokyo. This was suggested to me by many people and, very sadly, I did not make it here but you probably should! I doubt it is cheap though!

*Ostrea Oyster Bar and Restaurant (8 Chome-9-15 Ginza, 8F Jewelboxginza, Chuo, 104-0061, +81 3-3573-0711, ostrea.jp) – I found this while wandering Ginza, and being an oyster lover, went in for some giant oysters. Japanese oysters are big and meaty, and the ones here were no different. They also lacked a very briny, oceany taste to them (I prefer my oysters to be more sweet than salty). The restaurant doesn’t get too busy, so you won’t have a wait.

chopsticks and a bowl of noodles

Robot Restaurant (1 Chrome-7-1 Kabukicho B2f, Shinjuku, 160-0021, +81 3-3200-5500, shinjuku-robot.com) – There are a lot of weird restaurants in Tokyo, and I was sad I didn’t get to this one. Dinner comes with a show featuring robots, lasers, monsters, and dancers. It was recommended by just about everyone.

Rokurinsha (1 Chome-9-1 Marunouchi, Tokyo Station Ichibangai B1F, Chiyoda, 100-0005, +81 3-3286-0166, rokurinsha.com) – Located on Tokyo Station’s “ramen road,” this tasty ramen restaurant is easily to spot: it has the longest line. I didn’t eat here as I didn’t want to wait; I went to one further down the “road” and it wasn’t super good. I mean it wasn’t bad, but it made me wish I had waited here!

Shin Udon (2 Chome-20-16 Yoyogi, 1F Soma Bldg., Shibuya, 151-0053, +81 3-6276-7816, udonshin.com) – Recommended by Macaera (@macaera on Twitter), this is supposed to be great for tasty udon noodles at an affordable price.

Sometaro Okonomiyaki (2 Chome-2-2 Nishiasakusa, Taito, 111-0035, +81 3-3844-9502) – Housed inside an antique building, it is well known for its okonomiyaki (a Japanese savory pancake). Recommended by Mark Wiens.

*Standing Sushi Bar (1 Chome-12-12 Nishishinjuku, Kasai Bldg. 1F, Shinjuku, 160-0023, +81 3-3349-1739, uogashi-nihonichi.com) – Recommended by my other food guru Jodi, this standing sushi location is one of many in town. It’s great for a quick bite: you stand, eat sushi, and get out. It has a robust menu, so you can get anything you want, and a meal here will only set you back around 1,000 yen ($9 USD).

Sushi Yuu (1 Chome-4-15 Nishiazabu, Minato, 106-0031, +81 3-3403-6467, sushiyuu.com) – Lauren Michelle Stow (@lstoweaway on Instagram) raved, “Sushi Yuu was possibly the best culinary experience I’ve ever had. Expensive, but worth it. Make a reservation and ask to sit at the bar. Shimazaki-san makes the meal extremely personal and answers all your fish-related questions.”

fancy sushi

*Sushi Zanmai (11 Chome-9-4 Tsukiji, Chuo, 104-0045, +03-3541-1117) – This sushi restaurant has locations over the city. I ended up eating at the one in the fish market on one of my last days there. The fish was fresh, the servings were large, and the staff was attentive. I can’t speak for the other locations, but this one gets very crowded around lunchtime (expect a 30-minute wait).

*Tenmatsu Tempura (1 Chome-8-2 Nihonbashimuromachi, Chuo, 103-0022, +81 3-3241-5840, tenmatsu.com/english.html) – The tempura here is well known for its lightness. It’s a small establishment with set tempura menus. The staff doesn’t speak great English (the clientele was mostly Japanese businessmen), but they were super friendly and accommodating, and the food is outstanding.

Tonkatsu Maisen Aoyama Honten (4 Chome-8-5 Jingumae, Shibuya, 150-0001, +81 120-428-485, mai-sen.com/restaurant) – A legendary tonkatsu place. Allyson (@wanderwithheart on Instagram) recommended this one.

Tonkatsu Tonki (1 Chome-1-2 Shimomeguro, Meguro, 153-0064, +81 3-3491-9928) – Recommended by Kimberly Ann (@kimberly_ann113 on Instagram), this restaurant specializes in pork tonkatsu.

Tonkatsu Wako (1 Chome-9-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda, 100-0005, +81 3-3214-6987, wako-group.co.jp/shop/detail/3147) – This restaurant reputedly makes the best tonkatsu in town. Megan (@megameg71 on Instagram) suggested it; put her recommendation to the test.

busy merchants at the Tokyo fish market

*Tsukiji Fish Market (5 Chome-2-1 Tsukiji, Chuo, 104-0045, +81 3-3542-1111, tsukiji-market.or.jp) – This world-famous fish market, whose auction powers much of the world’s sushi supply, is truly breathtaking. You can’t get in before 10am these days, and when you do, most of the vendors are already breaking down, but it’s beautiful to walk through. All around you are fish with colors and shapes you didn’t know existed. I have never had seen more seafood I couldn’t identify. Most of the restaurants nearby source their food right from the market. Some must-eats in and around the market:

  • *Nakaya (5 Chome-2-1 Tsukiji, Tsukiji Ichiba Jonai 8, Chuo 104-0045, +81 3-3541-0211, tsukijigourmet.or.jp/46_nakaya/index.htm) – Located in the Fish Market itself, it’s a great place to go for a sashimi rice bowl breakfast. I loved the uni salmon bowl. (Another Migrationology suggestion)
  • Sushi Dai (5 Chome-2-1 Tsukiji, Tsukiji Fish Market 6th Bldg., Chuo, 104-0045, +81 3-3547-6797, tsukiji-sushidai.com/shop/honkan.html) – As it is the most famous sushi spot in the market, people line up at 4am for when it opens, and wait times can last up to three hours. I hear it’s good, but frankly, in a city with so much good fish, I wouldn’t wait three hours for a meal.
  • *Sushi restaurant with no English name – One of the best value meals I had the whole trip, it included a delicious 15-piece sushi lunch (1,200 yen, or $10.76 USD), with huge cuts of fish and a tasty miso soup. The restaurant is small, so try to avoid peak eating times. There’s no real good signage, but it’s the only restaurant-looking place on the street. (Another Migrationology suggestion)
  • *Tsjukiki Dontaku (5 Chome-2-1 Tsukiji, Bldg. No. 6, Chuo, 104-0045, +81 3-3541-9408) – A few doors down from Sushi Dai, this restaurant has a great omakase (though slightly expensive at 2,500 yen ($22.40 USD)), but the service and fish were impeccable — the uni and mackerel were some of the best I had all week. And there’s hardly a wait.

Tsuta Japanese Soba Noodles (1 Chome-14-1 Sugamo, Toshima, 170-0002, +81 3-3943-1007, ameblo.jp/yuki-onishi) – Another recommendation from Tom (@tjdj311 on Instagram); it has a Michelin star so the noodles are probably pretty out of this world. They also use truffle-infused ramen oil.

Yakitori Ton Ton (2 Chome-1-10 Yurakucho, Chiyoda, 100-0006, +81 3-3508-9454) – This tiny stall near the railroad in Yurakucho specializes in skewered pork and chicken. Suggested by Mark Wiens.

***While I can’t vouch for every suggestion on this list, I never ate a terrible meal in Tokyo (although there were some “meh” restaurants that didn’t make the list). I suspect that it’s hard to eat a bad meal in Tokyo, where even the worst thing is ten times better than what you find back home!

So the next time you find yourself in Tokyo, you won’t be short of food options! Half the fun of travel is trying something new. (If it’s someplace I didn’t make it to, let me know how it is!)

?

Thanks to everyone who gave me recommendations. And special thanks to Mark for being my Tokyo food ninja. You can check his blog for more posts on Tokyo and food in general.

The post 37 Places to Eat in Tokyo appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/where-to-eat-in-tokyo/

people sharing plates of sushi
On a whim, I went to Tokyo for a week. My friends and I had been talking about a food-themed trip to the city for years, and after convincing them that now was the time to cash in all our miles, we found ourselves at the airport on a cold November day with one goal: to eat as much as humanly possible.

Like me, they’d been to Tokyo before and each had a list of places to eat at. Along with our combined lists, I had received suggestions from friends, readers, and one of my favorite foodies, Mark Weins of Migrationology.

Even eating four to six meals a day, I was barely able to scratch the surface of the list of recommendations. Nevertheless, I wanted to share the combined suggestions of the community and my own investigations with you. (Those I ate at are denoted by a star.)

Afuri Yebisu (1 Chome-1-7 Ebisu, 117 Bldg. 1F, Shibuya 150-0013, +81 3-5795-0750, afuri.com) – Tom (@tjdj311 on Instagram) recommended this for yuzu-flavored ramen.

*Bifteck Kawamura Ginza (6 Chome-5-1 Ginza, Ginza MST Bldg. 8F, Chuo, 104-0061, +81 3-6252-5011, bifteck.co.jp) – At the suggestion of our hotel’s concierge, we went there in our quest for Wagyu beef. The steak basically melted in my mouth and exploded with flavor. However, I don’t think I’d go back, as I found it a bit too high-end and overpriced for me. The décor is incredible, the service over the top, and the wine list world-class — but all that is more than I needed. That said, if you want to spend money on delicious steak with out-of-this-world service, you can’t go wrong here.

BrewDog Roppongi (5 Chome-3-2 Roppongi, Minato, 106-0032, +81 3-6447-4160, brewdogbar.jp) – Recommended by Matt Chandler (@mchandler07 on Twitter), this bar has 20 craft beers on tap, 10 of which are brewed on site. So if you’re tired of sake and want some fancy beer, you probably can’t go wrong here!

CoCo Ichibanya (1 Chome-2-12 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku, 160-0023, +81 3-3345-0775) – Recommended by Char (@charmatcha on Twitter), this ramen restaurant is supposed to offer hearty and filling ramen as well as good chicken and pork curry in a fast service environment. I haven’t been here, but I’ve been to similar places in the past.

*Genki Sushi (24-8 Udagawacho, Shibuya, 150-0042, +81 3-3461-1281, genkisushi.co.jp) – Yummy sushi, recommended by Jeremiah Cooper (@jeremiahcooperphotography on Instagram). There wasn’t anything fancy about the place — it just had solid, satisfying sushi. Very attentive service too!

Ginza Kagari (4 Chome-1-2 Ginza, Chuo, 104-0061, +81 3-3561-0717) – Bethany (@bjbitler on Instagram) suggests coming here for incredible chicken broth ramen.

Japanese ramen dish

*Ginza Sushi-Dokoro Shin (7 Chome-12-4 Ginza, Way Fair Bldg. 1F, Chuo, 104-0061, +03-3543-9339) – A spectacular sushi spot in Ginza. It was one of the best I ate at. The portions are huge. Go for lunch, when you get more bang for your buck. And definitely get the uni — yummy! (Suggested by Mark Weins)

*Ichiran Shibuya (1 Chome-22-7 Jinnan, Shibuya, 150-0041, +81 3-3463-3667, en.ichiran.com/index.php) – Recommended by many people, this ramen spot served one of the best meals I had my entire trip. The thick, flavorful broth is to die for. I also like how you eat in your own little private booth. Funky. Expect a wait during peak lunch and dinner times.

*Isakaya Juban (2 Chome-1-2 Azabujuban, Minato, 106-0045, +81 3-3451-6873, izakayajuban.com) – A little hole-in-the-wall izakaya restaurant (think Japanese tapas) with locals getting drunk on sake and eating tasty small plates. I was big fan of their salmon and grilled squid. They have a small English menu, but judging how my friend ordered for me, I think it doesn’t list everything, so if you see something, point at it and get it!

JBS Bar (Jazz, Blues, Soul) (1 Chome-17-10 Dogenzaka, Shibuya, 150-0043, +81 3-3461-7788) – A cool bar (recommended by Anna Klebine on Facebook) that is basically a one-man shop filled with records, whiskey, and smoke. It’s tucked away on the second level of an office/shopping plaza.

*Kakimaru (6 Chome-1-6 Roppongi, Minato, 106-0032, +81-3-5413-3689) – While catching up with my friend, we found this awesome place. There was an older couple next to us and a wedding party getting drunk across from us. As the night went on, the couple helped us pick food (try the speciality crab dish, it’s served in the shell and to die for), and the wedding party kept asking how we loved Japan and refilling our sake glasses, sang songs, and talked baseball. It was an amazing experience. The food is also outstanding. Be sure to get the oysters. Note: While Google Maps will list the restaurant as Kakimaru, when you go there the restaurant will be called Uohama.

Kanda Matsuya (1 Chome-13 Kanda Sudacho, Chiyoda, 101-0041, +81 3-3251-1556, kanda-matsuya.jp) – Bethany (@bjbitler on Instagram) also recommended this for authentic soba noodle dishes.

fresh sushi

*Kyubey (8 Chome-7-6 Ginza, Chuo, 104-0061, +81 3-3571-6523) – Suggested by my friends, this restaurant (which has a couple of locations) offered the fanciest sushi I had in Tokyo. You sit at the bar and are served whatever the chef decides to bring (this is called omakase). It was expensive (at $150 USD) but worth every penny. Check out this video where the shrimp they served me is still moving.

Masaru (1 Chome-32-2 Asakusa, Taito, 111-0032, +81 3-3841-8356) – Daina (@headedanywhere on Instagram) recommended this as an excellent option for tempura dishes.

*Memory Lane (Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku, +81 3-3342-1589, shinjuku-omoide.com) – On this tiny alley of yakitori joints, some require an entrance fee, but they are all worth it. I ate at about three of them, but I don’t remember any of the specific restaurant names.

Mutekiya (1 Chome-17-1, Minami Ikebukuro, 1F Sakimoto Bldg., Toshima 171-0022, +81 3-3982-7656, mutekiya.com) – Carly Sabo (@carly_sabo on Instagram) recommended this spot for its amazing ramen. Honmarumen is its most popular dish.

Narisawa (2 Chome-6-15 Minami Aoyama, Minato, 107-0062, +81 3-5785-0799, narisawa-yoshihiro.com) – One of the highest rated sushi restaurants in Tokyo. This was suggested to me by many people and, very sadly, I did not make it here but you probably should! I doubt it is cheap though!

*Ostrea Oyster Bar and Restaurant (8 Chome-9-15 Ginza, 8F Jewelboxginza, Chuo, 104-0061, +81 3-3573-0711, ostrea.jp) – I found this while wandering Ginza, and being an oyster lover, went in for some giant oysters. Japanese oysters are big and meaty, and the ones here were no different. They also lacked a very briny, oceany taste to them (I prefer my oysters to be more sweet than salty). The restaurant doesn’t get too busy, so you won’t have a wait.

chopsticks and a bowl of noodles

Robot Restaurant (1 Chrome-7-1 Kabukicho B2f, Shinjuku, 160-0021, +81 3-3200-5500, shinjuku-robot.com) – There are a lot of weird restaurants in Tokyo, and I was sad I didn’t get to this one. Dinner comes with a show featuring robots, lasers, monsters, and dancers. It was recommended by just about everyone.

Rokurinsha (1 Chome-9-1 Marunouchi, Tokyo Station Ichibangai B1F, Chiyoda, 100-0005, +81 3-3286-0166, rokurinsha.com) – Located on Tokyo Station’s “ramen road,” this tasty ramen restaurant is easily to spot: it has the longest line. I didn’t eat here as I didn’t want to wait; I went to one further down the “road” and it wasn’t super good. I mean it wasn’t bad, but it made me wish I had waited here!

Shin Udon (2 Chome-20-16 Yoyogi, 1F Soma Bldg., Shibuya, 151-0053, +81 3-6276-7816, udonshin.com) – Recommended by Macaera (@macaera on Twitter), this is supposed to be great for tasty udon noodles at an affordable price.

Sometaro Okonomiyaki (2 Chome-2-2 Nishiasakusa, Taito, 111-0035, +81 3-3844-9502) – Housed inside an antique building, it is well known for its okonomiyaki (a Japanese savory pancake). Recommended by Mark Wiens.

*Standing Sushi Bar (1 Chome-12-12 Nishishinjuku, Kasai Bldg. 1F, Shinjuku, 160-0023, +81 3-3349-1739, uogashi-nihonichi.com) – Recommended by my other food guru Jodi, this standing sushi location is one of many in town. It’s great for a quick bite: you stand, eat sushi, and get out. It has a robust menu, so you can get anything you want, and a meal here will only set you back around 1,000 yen ($9 USD).

Sushi Yuu (1 Chome-4-15 Nishiazabu, Minato, 106-0031, +81 3-3403-6467, sushiyuu.com) – Lauren Michelle Stow (@lstoweaway on Instagram) raved, “Sushi Yuu was possibly the best culinary experience I’ve ever had. Expensive, but worth it. Make a reservation and ask to sit at the bar. Shimazaki-san makes the meal extremely personal and answers all your fish-related questions.”

fancy sushi

*Sushi Zanmai (11 Chome-9-4 Tsukiji, Chuo, 104-0045, +03-3541-1117) – This sushi restaurant has locations over the city. I ended up eating at the one in the fish market on one of my last days there. The fish was fresh, the servings were large, and the staff was attentive. I can’t speak for the other locations, but this one gets very crowded around lunchtime (expect a 30-minute wait).

*Tenmatsu Tempura (1 Chome-8-2 Nihonbashimuromachi, Chuo, 103-0022, +81 3-3241-5840, tenmatsu.com/english.html) – The tempura here is well known for its lightness. It’s a small establishment with set tempura menus. The staff doesn’t speak great English (the clientele was mostly Japanese businessmen), but they were super friendly and accommodating, and the food is outstanding.

Tonkatsu Maisen Aoyama Honten (4 Chome-8-5 Jingumae, Shibuya, 150-0001, +81 120-428-485, mai-sen.com/restaurant) – A legendary tonkatsu place. Allyson (@wanderwithheart on Instagram) recommended this one.

Tonkatsu Tonki (1 Chome-1-2 Shimomeguro, Meguro, 153-0064, +81 3-3491-9928) – Recommended by Kimberly Ann (@kimberly_ann113 on Instagram), this restaurant specializes in pork tonkatsu.

Tonkatsu Wako (1 Chome-9-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda, 100-0005, +81 3-3214-6987, wako-group.co.jp/shop/detail/3147) – This restaurant reputedly makes the best tonkatsu in town. Megan (@megameg71 on Instagram) suggested it; put her recommendation to the test.

busy merchants at the Tokyo fish market

*Tsukiji Fish Market (5 Chome-2-1 Tsukiji, Chuo, 104-0045, +81 3-3542-1111, tsukiji-market.or.jp) – This world-famous fish market, whose auction powers much of the world’s sushi supply, is truly breathtaking. You can’t get in before 10am these days, and when you do, most of the vendors are already breaking down, but it’s beautiful to walk through. All around you are fish with colors and shapes you didn’t know existed. I have never had seen more seafood I couldn’t identify. Most of the restaurants nearby source their food right from the market. Some must-eats in and around the market:

  • *Nakaya (5 Chome-2-1 Tsukiji, Tsukiji Ichiba Jonai 8, Chuo 104-0045, +81 3-3541-0211, tsukijigourmet.or.jp/46_nakaya/index.htm) – Located in the Fish Market itself, it’s a great place to go for a sashimi rice bowl breakfast. I loved the uni salmon bowl. (Another Migrationology suggestion)
  • Sushi Dai (5 Chome-2-1 Tsukiji, Tsukiji Fish Market 6th Bldg., Chuo, 104-0045, +81 3-3547-6797, tsukiji-sushidai.com/shop/honkan.html) – As it is the most famous sushi spot in the market, people line up at 4am for when it opens, and wait times can last up to three hours. I hear it’s good, but frankly, in a city with so much good fish, I wouldn’t wait three hours for a meal.
  • *Sushi restaurant with no English name – One of the best value meals I had the whole trip, it included a delicious 15-piece sushi lunch (1,200 yen, or $10.76 USD), with huge cuts of fish and a tasty miso soup. The restaurant is small, so try to avoid peak eating times. There’s no real good signage, but it’s the only restaurant-looking place on the street. (Another Migrationology suggestion)
  • *Tsjukiki Dontaku (5 Chome-2-1 Tsukiji, Bldg. No. 6, Chuo, 104-0045, +81 3-3541-9408) – A few doors down from Sushi Dai, this restaurant has a great omakase (though slightly expensive at 2,500 yen ($22.40 USD)), but the service and fish were impeccable — the uni and mackerel were some of the best I had all week. And there’s hardly a wait.

Tsuta Japanese Soba Noodles (1 Chome-14-1 Sugamo, Toshima, 170-0002, +81 3-3943-1007, ameblo.jp/yuki-onishi) – Another recommendation from Tom (@tjdj311 on Instagram); it has a Michelin star so the noodles are probably pretty out of this world. They also use truffle-infused ramen oil.

Yakitori Ton Ton (2 Chome-1-10 Yurakucho, Chiyoda, 100-0006, +81 3-3508-9454) – This tiny stall near the railroad in Yurakucho specializes in skewered pork and chicken. Suggested by Mark Wiens.

***While I can’t vouch for every suggestion on this list, I never ate a terrible meal in Tokyo (although there were some “meh” restaurants that didn’t make the list). I suspect that it’s hard to eat a bad meal in Tokyo, where even the worst thing is ten times better than what you find back home!

So the next time you find yourself in Tokyo, you won’t be short of food options! Half the fun of travel is trying something new. (If it’s someplace I didn’t make it to, let me know how it is!)

?

Thanks to everyone who gave me recommendations. And special thanks to Mark for being my Tokyo food ninja. You can check his blog for more posts on Tokyo and food in general.

The post 37 Places to Eat in Tokyo appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Memories

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/travel-memories/

a man gazing out over a city landscape at sunset
Spurred by the writing of my next book about my years on the road, I find myself wandering the halls of memory reminiscing about my last decade of travel.

I dig through old photos and journal entries. I search Facebook for people I met years ago. Stories and faces long forgotten zoom back into my mind as I wonder where they are and what they are doing.

Those whose lives briefly intersected with my own on the highway of life.

The five backpackers who inspired my original trip. The girl from that hostel in Prague who welcomed me into her friend group when I was too afraid to say hello. The Dutch guys I spent weeks traveling with in Australia. The motley crew I spent a month with in New Zealand. My friends from when I lived in Bangkok. The folks I picked up on my road trip across the states. My first Couchsurfing host. Or this group of crazy cats I spent a month in paradise with:

sharing a meal with new friends

As strangers in a distant land, we were each other’s support. We were the best of friends, partners in crime, and sometime lovers.

Yet, as we all wander further along life’s path and cast our head backwards, we notice each other’s light fading like a star being snuffed out, until one day, it’s gone and nothing but dust remains.

new friends

What happened to the folks I hitched with in Iceland?

Where are all these people now?

Where are the Spaniards from Valencia who I partied with in Florence?

What happened to Lennart, the guy I played poker with in Amsterdam?

Does Jen, a German girl and my first relationship on the road, still live in Australia?

Where is that American couple from Bocas del Toro whose information I forgot to write down?

Where are those people I met in Thailand that inspired me to quit my job?

Those folks I live with at that hostel in Taiwan with?

friends goofing off on a sand dune

I met these folks in Thailand and visited in Bordeaux. I remember this day. Where are they now?

Where are the countless others I spent days, hours, and minutes with in hostels around the world? The ones who wandered unfamiliar streets, partied into the night, broke bread and laughed with me?

What are they doing? Do they still travel? Did they make it all the way around the world like they hoped? Are they happy? Married? Do they like their jobs? Are they healthy? Are they even alive?

And do they have similar thoughts?

Do they think about the people they met? Do they come across a photo on Facebook, sit back, and get lost in memory?

goofing off before rafting

These guys made me realize I worked too much when I traveled….and I don’t remember their names.

Is there someone out there right now telling that tale about a crazy night in Prague and including me in it?

Wandering your past is like wandering a minefield of emotion – joy, excitement, sadness, regret. They are all there. Every memory stirring together its own portions of each emotion. There are so many people I miss and wonder about. I know it’s foolish to think that everyone will stay in your life forever. People come, people go. Growing apart is a fact of life. People, life, and situations change.

matt with new friends

What happened to these cool dudes??

But that doesn’t make me wonder any less.

Our paths may not intersect again and the memory of them may fade (really, what was the name of that couple from Bocas?), but their effect on my life will remain with me forever.

Maybe, like me, they wish they had stayed in touch a little longer, said yes to that photo, and stare out at the sky hoping they are being thought of too.

As we go our separate ways on this long twisting journey, maybe that’s as much as one can really hope for.

I’d like to think they’re telling their friend/loved one/kid, “There was this one time….”, remembering me, and saying “That was a cool guy. I hope life is treating him well.”

Yes. Yes, that would work for me.

That will keep me going until the next time I wander back into this room and wipe off the dust again.

The post Memories appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/travel-memories/

a man gazing out over a city landscape at sunset
Spurred by the writing of my next book about my years on the road, I find myself wandering the halls of memory reminiscing about my last decade of travel.

I dig through old photos and journal entries. I search Facebook for people I met years ago. Stories and faces long forgotten zoom back into my mind as I wonder where they are and what they are doing.

Those whose lives briefly intersected with my own on the highway of life.

The five backpackers who inspired my original trip. The girl from that hostel in Prague who welcomed me into her friend group when I was too afraid to say hello. The Dutch guys I spent weeks traveling with in Australia. The motley crew I spent a month with in New Zealand. My friends from when I lived in Bangkok. The folks I picked up on my road trip across the states. My first Couchsurfing host. Or this group of crazy cats I spent a month in paradise with:

sharing a meal with new friends

As strangers in a distant land, we were each other’s support. We were the best of friends, partners in crime, and sometime lovers.

Yet, as we all wander further along life’s path and cast our head backwards, we notice each other’s light fading like a star being snuffed out, until one day, it’s gone and nothing but dust remains.

new friends

What happened to the folks I hitched with in Iceland?

Where are all these people now?

Where are the Spaniards from Valencia who I partied with in Florence?

What happened to Lennart, the guy I played poker with in Amsterdam?

Does Jen, a German girl and my first relationship on the road, still live in Australia?

Where is that American couple from Bocas del Toro whose information I forgot to write down?

Where are those people I met in Thailand that inspired me to quit my job?

Those folks I live with at that hostel in Taiwan with?

friends goofing off on a sand dune

I met these folks in Thailand and visited in Bordeaux. I remember this day. Where are they now?

Where are the countless others I spent days, hours, and minutes with in hostels around the world? The ones who wandered unfamiliar streets, partied into the night, broke bread and laughed with me?

What are they doing? Do they still travel? Did they make it all the way around the world like they hoped? Are they happy? Married? Do they like their jobs? Are they healthy? Are they even alive?

And do they have similar thoughts?

Do they think about the people they met? Do they come across a photo on Facebook, sit back, and get lost in memory?

goofing off before rafting

These guys made me realize I worked too much when I traveled….and I don’t remember their names.

Is there someone out there right now telling that tale about a crazy night in Prague and including me in it?

Wandering your past is like wandering a minefield of emotion – joy, excitement, sadness, regret. They are all there. Every memory stirring together its own portions of each emotion. There are so many people I miss and wonder about. I know it’s foolish to think that everyone will stay in your life forever. People come, people go. Growing apart is a fact of life. People, life, and situations change.

matt with new friends

What happened to these cool dudes??

But that doesn’t make me wonder any less.

Our paths may not intersect again and the memory of them may fade (really, what was the name of that couple from Bocas?), but their effect on my life will remain with me forever.

Maybe, like me, they wish they had stayed in touch a little longer, said yes to that photo, and stare out at the sky hoping they are being thought of too.

As we go our separate ways on this long twisting journey, maybe that’s as much as one can really hope for.

I’d like to think they’re telling their friend/loved one/kid, “There was this one time….”, remembering me, and saying “That was a cool guy. I hope life is treating him well.”

Yes. Yes, that would work for me.

That will keep me going until the next time I wander back into this room and wipe off the dust again.

The post Memories appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

How to Use Your Social Network to Travel the World

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/social-network-travel/

Celinne da Costa posing at a temple
One of my favorite websites is Couchsurfing. This website allows you to connect with locals abroad and get a place to stay, a friend to show you around, and local information. I remember I used it when I was first traveling and stayed at this lovely home in Athens. I’ve grown to love it even more since they have a “who’s nearby” feature on their app, which I heavily used in France last year.

Celinne, on the other hand, created – and used – her own personal social network. She traveled the world only staying with friends and friends of friends. She reached out on the web and found strangers will to open their home to her. Not only did this help her lower her travel costs, it allowed her to meet wonderful, fascinating, and kind-hearted people. To me, travel is about the human connections we make – and she found a way to make some great ones. Here’s her sharing her story, what inspired to do this, and what she learned along the way.

Nomadic Matt: Tell us about yourself. Who are you? What drives you?
Celinne Da Costa: My love story with travel dates as far back as I can remember: I was born in the heart of Rome, Italy, to an immigrant Brazilian mother and a German-raised Italian father. Since leaving Italy, I’ve gone from living in the quintessential suburbia neighborhoods that American dreams are made of, to frenziedly exploring Philadelphia while balancing my studies at University of Pennsylvania, to adventuring my way through every nook and cranny of New York City. Last year, I left behind my corporate advertising job in the city to design my dream life from scratch. I began with a journey around the world, in which I harnessed the power of human connection and kindness to stay with 70+ strangers in 17 countries across four continents.

Eighteen months later, I’m still traveling full-time and writing a book about my experience circumnavigating the globe by couchsurfing through my social network.

What fuels your passion for travel?
Travel accelerates my personal growth and challenges me to become the best version of myself. There are so many beautiful places in the world, but after a while, they begin to blend into one another. What truly makes travel valuable is the lessons it can teach you, if you are willing to be present and pay attention to your environment.

Travel has helped me develop the humility and goodwill to learn from people that I meet along the way. It has pushed me to understand my insignificance on this planet, yet still take actions that will positively impact others. Most importantly, it has challenged me to open my heart to others and live in the moment. Ultimately, travel is not a matter of what I see, but who I become along the way. I don’t need to see the entire world. I just want to feel it run through my veins.

Tell us about this long adventure you were just on. How did you think of it? How long did it last? Where did you go? What did you do?
I didn’t want to just quit my corporate 9-5 job on a whim and travel the world without a plan. I wanted to make travel into a lifestyle, not a sabbatical, so I decided to design a project that would 1. incorporate my main passions (travel, writing, and making connections with interesting humans) and 2. create opportunities for a lifestyle change once I was done. I challenged myself to design my dream life, attempt to live it out for six months and re-evaluate once I got there.

That’s where the idea of my social experiment came from: I circumnavigated the globe by couchsurfing through my network. I wanted to reincorporate real human connection back into my life. I never used the Couchsurfing website since everyone who hosted me was connected to me somehow (friends, friends of friends, people I met on the road).

I ended up being on the road for nine months for this project, and having 73 hosts in 17 countries across 4 continents: I passed through Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Oceania, and the US.

Celinne da Costa skydiving in New Zealand

How did you actually find hosts to host you? How far ahead did you know where you were going to sleep? 
There were no websites involved! Only sheer human connection. All the interactions were initiated by me and were enabled by my phone (texting, voice notes, calling) and social media (mostly Instagram and Facebook).

I reached out to everyone I knew telling them about my project and asking whether they knew someone they could connect me with. I kept moving from one connection to the next until I found someone willing to host me. As my project grew and people started finding out about it, hosts started to reach out to me through Instagram.

I only had a one-way ticket to Italy (where I’m originally from) booked – everything else was on the whim. I had a general trajectory of where I was going, and I would add or subtract places depending on my hosting situation. There were places I wanted to visit no matter what, so there were often times when I was down to the wire and didn’t find a host until super last minute. Other times, I had hosts lined up months ahead. It always worked out – I was only left without a host once, in Dubrovnik, Croatia. I ended up renting a cheap room last minute, but luckily, I did make some local friends on that trip so I’ll have a place to stay if I return!

What was the furthest connection with a host that you stayed with? How did that happen?
My furthest connection was seven degrees in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was: my mom’s friend’s girlfriend’s client’s client’s co-worker’s friend. It was crazy how it happened. I kept struggling to find a place, and each person would pass me along to someone else they knew until eventually, someone was available and willing to host. This happened several times during my travels – I also had plenty of five- and six-degree connections. I was taken aback by how dedicated people were to finding me a place to stay.

Did you ever meet someone on the road and stay with them? Or did you strictly stay with friends of friends?
Yes, all the time! There was never a point when I had all my hosts lined up – I usually had my next couple of destinations planned, and everything else up in the air. I was constantly meeting and befriending travelers on the road, and upon hearing about my project, a vast majority would offer to host me without me even asking.

Celinne da Costa posing with some locals

For example, I met an older gentleman for all of 30 minutes as I was leaving a meditation retreat in Nepal (which, funny enough, was also part of my project: my Kathmandu’s cousin worked so I was his guest). Despite knowing me so briefly, he offered to host me in Tasmania. I ended up visiting his and his wife’s farm (located in the middle of nowhere) six months later with another host, and it was amazing. Four complete strangers ended up spending an entire evening sharing stories about our travels and philosophies on life over a feast of freshly caught crayfish and vegetables picked from their garden.

Tell us a few host stories that completely surprised you when you were on the road.
If there is anything I learned from meeting hundreds of people during my travels, it’s that there is so much more than we could ever fathom going on below the surface of a human being. It is our nature to categorize things. With people, it tends to be by culture, race, geography, religion, etc. If you make an active effort to put these categories aside, sit down with locals, and demonstrate some basic interest in their lives and stories, you’ll find that each person is their own universe. In fact, the most incredible nuggets of wisdom I’ve gotten came from people who didn’t even realize their own brilliance.

One of my favorite encounters was with Maung, an older gentleman that I met who was a hotel manager in Myanmar. After some conversation, I found out he smuggled cows to Thailand for a living when he was younger, and was a commander in the guerilla fighting movement against the oppressive regime alongside a monk who later became famous for his humanitarian efforts towards orphaned children. What a story!

Then, there is Adam, the Italian-American host I fell head-over-heels in love with (spoiler: we broke up). We grew up less than an hour away from each other in the US yet I found him while he was living in Australia.

Lastly, I’ll never forget asking my host Anna in Bali whether she knew of a spiritual healer and her telling me that she lived with one. That week, I spent most of my evenings sitting on their porch in an Ubud village, discussing the meaning of love and happiness as they proceeded to school me on life with their wise Balinese philosophy.

What challenges did you have couchsurfing around the world? How did you deal with them?
I could never predict the comfort or location convenience of my accommodation, so I really had to learn to go with the flow and not set any expectations. I’ve stayed in penthouses with my own private room, bathroom, and maid, and I’ve also stayed in cots on the floor of a village with a hole for a toilet. It’s funny because some of my most “uncomfortable” hosting accommodations ended up being my richest and best experiences, and vice versa.

Celinne da Costa and one of her hosts

Also, “reading” my hosts was a challenge. Their reasons for hosting me were so different: some wanted to pay it forward, others wanted to actively show me their city and pick my brain, others were only offering a place to stay but didn’t necessarily want to socialize. I had to sharpen my people skills so I could stay respectful and intuitive to people’s boundaries (or lack thereof).

What are your tips for people who are inspired by your story and want to do this on their own? What are some great resources you suggest to use?
Identify what you are passionate about, and try to build your travels around what works for you. My project was successful because I tapped into my strengths and passions. If you’d like to create a project around your travels, I suggest you customize it around your preferences: if you are an introvert and hate talking to people, for example, spending hours a day chatting with people and asking them to host you may not be the best idea. Make your journey fun by catering to what you realistically feel comfortable and happy doing, and make sure you do some planning ahead of time.

My best resource was fellow travelers who had also done round-the-world trips. When I was thinking about doing this trip, I reached out to full-time travelers on Instagram, asked friends if they knew people who went on long travel trips, and did a lot of “blog surfing.” I had so many Skype calls with strangers who had just finished round-the-world trips before I left for my own. Talking through my doubts, fears, and confusions – and being reassured that I would be okay – made me so much more comfortable with leaving.

Specifically, my trip was inspired by one of my mentors Leon Logothetis, who is the author of book (and now TV show) The Kindness Diaries. He traveled the world on a yellow motorbike relying on people to offer him gas, food, or shelter, to prove to himself and to others that humanity was kind. Other books I also read that prepared me for the trip were Vagabonding by Rolf Potts, The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton, and A New Earth: Awakening To Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle.

Celinne da Costa and two of her male hosts

How do you make your money last on the road? What are some of your best tips?
My top tips for people trying to make it work financially on the road:

  • Know your weaknesses, and plan for them. I’m terrible at numbers and never budgeted before, but I knew I would have to if I wanted to make this work financially. I created an excel sheet and for the past 18 months, have been documenting and categorizing every single expense so I can track where I need to cut down if necessary. I also knew I’d go crazy if I didn’t occasionally treat myself to something I liked but wasn’t necessary, so I gave myself a monthly “frivolous stuff” allowance.
  • Always remember that you can barter or negotiate. Traveling and negotiating on the road taught me that currency is not only monetary – it is social as well. I did not have abundant funds, but I did have a skillset: I am a brand strategist by trade, as well as a writer, social media influencer, and content creator. When negotiating with dollars didn’t get me anywhere, I would offer my services in exchange for goods or services of similar perceived value. In many areas of the world, people respond favorably to a favor-exchange. If marketing isn’t your skillset, that’s totally ok too! I’ve seen people barter all kinds of skills for experiences of places to stay: for example, exchanging farm work or teaching English for room and board, helping a small business with coding a website in exchange for free tours, etc. The possibilities are endless!
  • Embrace the minimalist lifestyle. When I’m on the road, I live a very minimalist lifestyle. I only travel with a carry-on to keep my belongings to a minimum, I hardly buy souvenirs or clothes, I walk or take public transportation whenever possible, and I buy most of my food at the grocery store. I normally don’t pay for culture and history-related activities or tours; I email places ahead of time, tell them about my project and that I’m a writer (in addition to having my own social media following, I also write for some major publications… both which I achieved by creating this social experiment). Since I stay with locals, I don’t pay for accommodation, which helps tremendously.

Were your family and friends supportive of your traveling adventure?
Surprisingly, yes. I was originally nervous to tell my family and friends about my plan to quit my job to travel around the world by sleeping in random people’s homes – I really expected them to try to talk me out of it. Although a handful of them did, the vast majority had a response along the lines of “Yes! You need to do this!”

I was overwhelmed by the support, how much they believed in me, and how they supported me along the way, emotionally as well as by connecting me to potential hosts. I couldn’t have made it without them!

Celinne da Costa and a new friend

What’s on your bucket list?
Oof, am I allowed to say every country in the world? If had to narrow down to five places that I’m itching to see, they are: Peru, Bolvia, Antarctica, Japan, and the Philippines. Now I just need to find hosts there!

Do you have any advice for people that feel like Couchsurfing is something dangerous that they could never do?
Yes! The first rule is probably the hardest to internalize: you have to trust people. We live in a world that is constantly inundating us with news of what terrible humans we are, but that is not the case at all. I found all over the world that most people are good, and want to help. I have enough stories about people who went out of their way in kindness for me to fill a book (and that’s why I’m writing one!).

Of course, there are exceptions, and that’s where my second piece of advice comes in: trust your intuition. Western society particularly values mind over heart, and that’s something I learned to question during my time in Southeast Asia. It’s important to use rationality and logic when moving through life, but there is something about intuition that just cannot be quantified. Listen to what your gut tells you – if something is off, remove yourself from the situation, no questions asked.

Overall, I’ve surfed over 100 couches in the past couple of years and I’ve only had one bad experience which I quickly removed myself from before it escalated. Statistically, that’s a 1% weirdo rate. Believe that people are good, and that’s the world that will manifest for you!

Celinne Da Costa left behind her corporate advertising job in the city to design her dream life from scratch. She began with a journey around the world, in which she harnessed the power of human connection and kindness to stay with 70+ strangers in 17 countries across four continents. Follow her journey at Celinne Da Costa as well as Instagram and Facebook or pick up her book of short stories, The Art of Being Human

Become the Next Success Story

One of my favorite parts about this job is hearing people’s travel stories. They inspire me, but more importantly, they also inspire you. I travel a certain way but there are many ways to fund your trips and travel the world. I hope these stories show you that there is more than one way to travel and that it is within your grasp to reach your travel goals. Here are more examples of people who overcame obstacles and made their travel dreams a reality:

P.S. – I’m having a meet up on January 23rd in Queenstown. You can sign for that by clicking here! Come join the fun! Location TBD!

The post How to Use Your Social Network to Travel the World appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/social-network-travel/

Celinne da Costa posing at a temple
One of my favorite websites is Couchsurfing. This website allows you to connect with locals abroad and get a place to stay, a friend to show you around, and local information. I remember I used it when I was first traveling and stayed at this lovely home in Athens. I’ve grown to love it even more since they have a “who’s nearby” feature on their app, which I heavily used in France last year.

Celinne, on the other hand, created – and used – her own personal social network. She traveled the world only staying with friends and friends of friends. She reached out on the web and found strangers will to open their home to her. Not only did this help her lower her travel costs, it allowed her to meet wonderful, fascinating, and kind-hearted people. To me, travel is about the human connections we make – and she found a way to make some great ones. Here’s her sharing her story, what inspired to do this, and what she learned along the way.

Nomadic Matt: Tell us about yourself. Who are you? What drives you?
Celinne Da Costa: My love story with travel dates as far back as I can remember: I was born in the heart of Rome, Italy, to an immigrant Brazilian mother and a German-raised Italian father. Since leaving Italy, I’ve gone from living in the quintessential suburbia neighborhoods that American dreams are made of, to frenziedly exploring Philadelphia while balancing my studies at University of Pennsylvania, to adventuring my way through every nook and cranny of New York City. Last year, I left behind my corporate advertising job in the city to design my dream life from scratch. I began with a journey around the world, in which I harnessed the power of human connection and kindness to stay with 70+ strangers in 17 countries across four continents.

Eighteen months later, I’m still traveling full-time and writing a book about my experience circumnavigating the globe by couchsurfing through my social network.

What fuels your passion for travel?
Travel accelerates my personal growth and challenges me to become the best version of myself. There are so many beautiful places in the world, but after a while, they begin to blend into one another. What truly makes travel valuable is the lessons it can teach you, if you are willing to be present and pay attention to your environment.

Travel has helped me develop the humility and goodwill to learn from people that I meet along the way. It has pushed me to understand my insignificance on this planet, yet still take actions that will positively impact others. Most importantly, it has challenged me to open my heart to others and live in the moment. Ultimately, travel is not a matter of what I see, but who I become along the way. I don’t need to see the entire world. I just want to feel it run through my veins.

Tell us about this long adventure you were just on. How did you think of it? How long did it last? Where did you go? What did you do?
I didn’t want to just quit my corporate 9-5 job on a whim and travel the world without a plan. I wanted to make travel into a lifestyle, not a sabbatical, so I decided to design a project that would 1. incorporate my main passions (travel, writing, and making connections with interesting humans) and 2. create opportunities for a lifestyle change once I was done. I challenged myself to design my dream life, attempt to live it out for six months and re-evaluate once I got there.

That’s where the idea of my social experiment came from: I circumnavigated the globe by couchsurfing through my network. I wanted to reincorporate real human connection back into my life. I never used the Couchsurfing website since everyone who hosted me was connected to me somehow (friends, friends of friends, people I met on the road).

I ended up being on the road for nine months for this project, and having 73 hosts in 17 countries across 4 continents: I passed through Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Oceania, and the US.

Celinne da Costa skydiving in New Zealand

How did you actually find hosts to host you? How far ahead did you know where you were going to sleep? 
There were no websites involved! Only sheer human connection. All the interactions were initiated by me and were enabled by my phone (texting, voice notes, calling) and social media (mostly Instagram and Facebook).

I reached out to everyone I knew telling them about my project and asking whether they knew someone they could connect me with. I kept moving from one connection to the next until I found someone willing to host me. As my project grew and people started finding out about it, hosts started to reach out to me through Instagram.

I only had a one-way ticket to Italy (where I’m originally from) booked – everything else was on the whim. I had a general trajectory of where I was going, and I would add or subtract places depending on my hosting situation. There were places I wanted to visit no matter what, so there were often times when I was down to the wire and didn’t find a host until super last minute. Other times, I had hosts lined up months ahead. It always worked out – I was only left without a host once, in Dubrovnik, Croatia. I ended up renting a cheap room last minute, but luckily, I did make some local friends on that trip so I’ll have a place to stay if I return!

What was the furthest connection with a host that you stayed with? How did that happen?
My furthest connection was seven degrees in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was: my mom’s friend’s girlfriend’s client’s client’s co-worker’s friend. It was crazy how it happened. I kept struggling to find a place, and each person would pass me along to someone else they knew until eventually, someone was available and willing to host. This happened several times during my travels – I also had plenty of five- and six-degree connections. I was taken aback by how dedicated people were to finding me a place to stay.

Did you ever meet someone on the road and stay with them? Or did you strictly stay with friends of friends?
Yes, all the time! There was never a point when I had all my hosts lined up – I usually had my next couple of destinations planned, and everything else up in the air. I was constantly meeting and befriending travelers on the road, and upon hearing about my project, a vast majority would offer to host me without me even asking.

Celinne da Costa posing with some locals

For example, I met an older gentleman for all of 30 minutes as I was leaving a meditation retreat in Nepal (which, funny enough, was also part of my project: my Kathmandu’s cousin worked so I was his guest). Despite knowing me so briefly, he offered to host me in Tasmania. I ended up visiting his and his wife’s farm (located in the middle of nowhere) six months later with another host, and it was amazing. Four complete strangers ended up spending an entire evening sharing stories about our travels and philosophies on life over a feast of freshly caught crayfish and vegetables picked from their garden.

Tell us a few host stories that completely surprised you when you were on the road.
If there is anything I learned from meeting hundreds of people during my travels, it’s that there is so much more than we could ever fathom going on below the surface of a human being. It is our nature to categorize things. With people, it tends to be by culture, race, geography, religion, etc. If you make an active effort to put these categories aside, sit down with locals, and demonstrate some basic interest in their lives and stories, you’ll find that each person is their own universe. In fact, the most incredible nuggets of wisdom I’ve gotten came from people who didn’t even realize their own brilliance.

One of my favorite encounters was with Maung, an older gentleman that I met who was a hotel manager in Myanmar. After some conversation, I found out he smuggled cows to Thailand for a living when he was younger, and was a commander in the guerilla fighting movement against the oppressive regime alongside a monk who later became famous for his humanitarian efforts towards orphaned children. What a story!

Then, there is Adam, the Italian-American host I fell head-over-heels in love with (spoiler: we broke up). We grew up less than an hour away from each other in the US yet I found him while he was living in Australia.

Lastly, I’ll never forget asking my host Anna in Bali whether she knew of a spiritual healer and her telling me that she lived with one. That week, I spent most of my evenings sitting on their porch in an Ubud village, discussing the meaning of love and happiness as they proceeded to school me on life with their wise Balinese philosophy.

What challenges did you have couchsurfing around the world? How did you deal with them?
I could never predict the comfort or location convenience of my accommodation, so I really had to learn to go with the flow and not set any expectations. I’ve stayed in penthouses with my own private room, bathroom, and maid, and I’ve also stayed in cots on the floor of a village with a hole for a toilet. It’s funny because some of my most “uncomfortable” hosting accommodations ended up being my richest and best experiences, and vice versa.

Celinne da Costa and one of her hosts

Also, “reading” my hosts was a challenge. Their reasons for hosting me were so different: some wanted to pay it forward, others wanted to actively show me their city and pick my brain, others were only offering a place to stay but didn’t necessarily want to socialize. I had to sharpen my people skills so I could stay respectful and intuitive to people’s boundaries (or lack thereof).

What are your tips for people who are inspired by your story and want to do this on their own? What are some great resources you suggest to use?
Identify what you are passionate about, and try to build your travels around what works for you. My project was successful because I tapped into my strengths and passions. If you’d like to create a project around your travels, I suggest you customize it around your preferences: if you are an introvert and hate talking to people, for example, spending hours a day chatting with people and asking them to host you may not be the best idea. Make your journey fun by catering to what you realistically feel comfortable and happy doing, and make sure you do some planning ahead of time.

My best resource was fellow travelers who had also done round-the-world trips. When I was thinking about doing this trip, I reached out to full-time travelers on Instagram, asked friends if they knew people who went on long travel trips, and did a lot of “blog surfing.” I had so many Skype calls with strangers who had just finished round-the-world trips before I left for my own. Talking through my doubts, fears, and confusions – and being reassured that I would be okay – made me so much more comfortable with leaving.

Specifically, my trip was inspired by one of my mentors Leon Logothetis, who is the author of book (and now TV show) The Kindness Diaries. He traveled the world on a yellow motorbike relying on people to offer him gas, food, or shelter, to prove to himself and to others that humanity was kind. Other books I also read that prepared me for the trip were Vagabonding by Rolf Potts, The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton, and A New Earth: Awakening To Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle.

Celinne da Costa and two of her male hosts

How do you make your money last on the road? What are some of your best tips?
My top tips for people trying to make it work financially on the road:

  • Know your weaknesses, and plan for them. I’m terrible at numbers and never budgeted before, but I knew I would have to if I wanted to make this work financially. I created an excel sheet and for the past 18 months, have been documenting and categorizing every single expense so I can track where I need to cut down if necessary. I also knew I’d go crazy if I didn’t occasionally treat myself to something I liked but wasn’t necessary, so I gave myself a monthly “frivolous stuff” allowance.
  • Always remember that you can barter or negotiate. Traveling and negotiating on the road taught me that currency is not only monetary – it is social as well. I did not have abundant funds, but I did have a skillset: I am a brand strategist by trade, as well as a writer, social media influencer, and content creator. When negotiating with dollars didn’t get me anywhere, I would offer my services in exchange for goods or services of similar perceived value. In many areas of the world, people respond favorably to a favor-exchange. If marketing isn’t your skillset, that’s totally ok too! I’ve seen people barter all kinds of skills for experiences of places to stay: for example, exchanging farm work or teaching English for room and board, helping a small business with coding a website in exchange for free tours, etc. The possibilities are endless!
  • Embrace the minimalist lifestyle. When I’m on the road, I live a very minimalist lifestyle. I only travel with a carry-on to keep my belongings to a minimum, I hardly buy souvenirs or clothes, I walk or take public transportation whenever possible, and I buy most of my food at the grocery store. I normally don’t pay for culture and history-related activities or tours; I email places ahead of time, tell them about my project and that I’m a writer (in addition to having my own social media following, I also write for some major publications… both which I achieved by creating this social experiment). Since I stay with locals, I don’t pay for accommodation, which helps tremendously.

Were your family and friends supportive of your traveling adventure?
Surprisingly, yes. I was originally nervous to tell my family and friends about my plan to quit my job to travel around the world by sleeping in random people’s homes – I really expected them to try to talk me out of it. Although a handful of them did, the vast majority had a response along the lines of “Yes! You need to do this!”

I was overwhelmed by the support, how much they believed in me, and how they supported me along the way, emotionally as well as by connecting me to potential hosts. I couldn’t have made it without them!

Celinne da Costa and a new friend

What’s on your bucket list?
Oof, am I allowed to say every country in the world? If had to narrow down to five places that I’m itching to see, they are: Peru, Bolvia, Antarctica, Japan, and the Philippines. Now I just need to find hosts there!

Do you have any advice for people that feel like Couchsurfing is something dangerous that they could never do?
Yes! The first rule is probably the hardest to internalize: you have to trust people. We live in a world that is constantly inundating us with news of what terrible humans we are, but that is not the case at all. I found all over the world that most people are good, and want to help. I have enough stories about people who went out of their way in kindness for me to fill a book (and that’s why I’m writing one!).

Of course, there are exceptions, and that’s where my second piece of advice comes in: trust your intuition. Western society particularly values mind over heart, and that’s something I learned to question during my time in Southeast Asia. It’s important to use rationality and logic when moving through life, but there is something about intuition that just cannot be quantified. Listen to what your gut tells you – if something is off, remove yourself from the situation, no questions asked.

Overall, I’ve surfed over 100 couches in the past couple of years and I’ve only had one bad experience which I quickly removed myself from before it escalated. Statistically, that’s a 1% weirdo rate. Believe that people are good, and that’s the world that will manifest for you!

Celinne Da Costa left behind her corporate advertising job in the city to design her dream life from scratch. She began with a journey around the world, in which she harnessed the power of human connection and kindness to stay with 70+ strangers in 17 countries across four continents. Follow her journey at Celinne Da Costa as well as Instagram and Facebook or pick up her book of short stories, The Art of Being Human

Become the Next Success Story

One of my favorite parts about this job is hearing people’s travel stories. They inspire me, but more importantly, they also inspire you. I travel a certain way but there are many ways to fund your trips and travel the world. I hope these stories show you that there is more than one way to travel and that it is within your grasp to reach your travel goals. Here are more examples of people who overcame obstacles and made their travel dreams a reality:

P.S. – I’m having a meet up on January 23rd in Queenstown. You can sign for that by clicking here! Come join the fun! Location TBD!

The post How to Use Your Social Network to Travel the World appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Andalusian insights: Nerja

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2018/01/17/andalusian-insights-nerja/

Andalusian capitals such as Seville, Granada, Cadiz, Cordoba and Malaga all have a certain mystique about them, well known and well loved. But one of the most endearing things about Andalusia, inspiring that wonderful sense of wanderlust in adventurous travelers, is the proliferation of lesser known towns and villages across the region. The buzzy little […]

The post Andalusian insights: Nerja appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2018/01/17/andalusian-insights-nerja/

Andalusian capitals such as Seville, Granada, Cadiz, Cordoba and Malaga all have a certain mystique about them, well known and well loved. But one of the most endearing things about Andalusia, inspiring that wonderful sense of wanderlust in adventurous travelers, is the proliferation of lesser known towns and villages across the region. The buzzy little […]

The post Andalusian insights: Nerja appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

My Mom Says This Blog is Boring

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/mom-said-blog-boring/

Matt in the Loire Valley
Last month, my mom told me she thought this blog was boring. “Where’s all the fun stuff? I want to see more photos of you traveling. I don’t care about these other updates.”

“Mom, I live in Austin now. You know I’m not on the road that much,” I replied.

“I know but still….I want to see more stuff. It’s just much more interesting, honey.”

“Ok, Mom,” I say and move the conversation on.

But you know what? She’s right (shhhhh, don’t tell her I said that). This website has gotten a little boring.

There aren’t many new adventures, photos of exotic destinations, and exciting stories from the road being posted, because, well, I’m pretty non-nomadic these days. I spent more time in the US last year than I did abroad.

I feel this way every few years, though. “It’s OK,” I think to myself, “I’ll be on the road again, and there will be new content, stories, and tips for my website.”

But lately, as I’ve come to terms with my move from nomadic to more stationary, that’s no longer true. Last year, I only did two big trips, and after I return home from my current winter adventure in New Zealand, it’s doubtful I’ll take another trip until the summer.

Even if my mom doesn’t like it, I’ve come to terms with this change.

Maybe one day, I’ll sling on my backpack and a few weeks will again turn into a few years. The future is unwritten.

But, after vacillating so long between staying and going, I’m pretty happy being “stationary Matt.” I’m currently writing a new book. I signed up for Swedish and cooking classes, and I’d like a relationship that lasts pasts my next international flight.

So, as I put down roots, I’m left at a crossroads with this website.

Travel is what I do — and I’m blessed that I get to share my stories and tips with everyone here. It’s amazing meeting people on road who tell me that this website inspired their trip, saved them money, or helped them improve their life. It’s truly amazing in every sense of the way.

But I’m not nomadic anymore. The kids you see on Instagram or YouTube channel filming crazy videos can take up the nomad mantel. I’m going to sit home, write, practice my Svenska, figure out how not to overcook my dinner, and read a book.

So where does that leave us? Is this my “it’s not you, it’s me” breakup post?

No.

While “the nomad” is now just “the traveler,” I am not going anywhere.

While I’ll still blog because I like to write and am never short of ideas, updates won’t be as regular as they were in the past. Instead, I’ve decided to turn this site from primarily a blog into primarily a travel resource. There’s big plans afoot to spruce up, expand, and refresh every single page on this website.

This year has another focus and that is community. I want to use this platform to connect travelers with each other. We are going to launch a major, major, major meet-up program in a few weeks so people can meet each other while learning about travel. There will be local chapters, events, speakers, and gatherings. I’m organizing a conference in the fall.

There will be also more videos, webinars, FB lives, and Q&As. My YouTube channel is coming back. I’ll be interacting more on social media, sharing people’s stories, and answering your questions.

The team and I are committed to using this giant platform to bring people together, highlight community members, and find fun ways to take what we have online and bring it into the real world. We’re going to be a lot more social this year!

***

When I started this website, there were always stories to share. I was always on the move. Forever the nomad I thought to myself.

But life is not static. The person I was and the wants I had at 25 are not the same at 36.

I’m not done traveling. Far from it. I love every trip I take. There will still be how-to blogs and travel stories — just not as many.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to serve travelers.

So while the “blog” will be a semi-ghost town, the community and resource part of this website will be more active and larger than ever. My goal is to expand the reach of the “cheaper, better, smarter” philosophy and turn more people into travelers.

So, yes, Mom, the blog may be boring, but so much more is happening this year than just a blog about Thailand.

And that makes me (and I hope you) excited for what’s to come!

P.S. – If you’re in New Zealand, I’m having a meet up in Christchurch on Wednesday, January 17th at Dux Central. Sign up to attend here. I’m also having a meet up on January 23rd in Queenstown too. You can sign for that by clicking here!

P.P.S. – If you’re a teacher and would like funding for your school trip, we’re accepting applications for our next FLYTE grant. Click here to learn more.

The post My Mom Says This Blog is Boring appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/mom-said-blog-boring/

Matt in the Loire Valley
Last month, my mom told me she thought this blog was boring. “Where’s all the fun stuff? I want to see more photos of you traveling. I don’t care about these other updates.”

“Mom, I live in Austin now. You know I’m not on the road that much,” I replied.

“I know but still….I want to see more stuff. It’s just much more interesting, honey.”

“Ok, Mom,” I say and move the conversation on.

But you know what? She’s right (shhhhh, don’t tell her I said that). This website has gotten a little boring.

There aren’t many new adventures, photos of exotic destinations, and exciting stories from the road being posted, because, well, I’m pretty non-nomadic these days. I spent more time in the US last year than I did abroad.

I feel this way every few years, though. “It’s OK,” I think to myself, “I’ll be on the road again, and there will be new content, stories, and tips for my website.”

But lately, as I’ve come to terms with my move from nomadic to more stationary, that’s no longer true. Last year, I only did two big trips, and after I return home from my current winter adventure in New Zealand, it’s doubtful I’ll take another trip until the summer.

Even if my mom doesn’t like it, I’ve come to terms with this change.

Maybe one day, I’ll sling on my backpack and a few weeks will again turn into a few years. The future is unwritten.

But, after vacillating so long between staying and going, I’m pretty happy being “stationary Matt.” I’m currently writing a new book. I signed up for Swedish and cooking classes, and I’d like a relationship that lasts pasts my next international flight.

So, as I put down roots, I’m left at a crossroads with this website.

Travel is what I do — and I’m blessed that I get to share my stories and tips with everyone here. It’s amazing meeting people on road who tell me that this website inspired their trip, saved them money, or helped them improve their life. It’s truly amazing in every sense of the way.

But I’m not nomadic anymore. The kids you see on Instagram or YouTube channel filming crazy videos can take up the nomad mantel. I’m going to sit home, write, practice my Svenska, figure out how not to overcook my dinner, and read a book.

So where does that leave us? Is this my “it’s not you, it’s me” breakup post?

No.

While “the nomad” is now just “the traveler,” I am not going anywhere.

While I’ll still blog because I like to write and am never short of ideas, updates won’t be as regular as they were in the past. Instead, I’ve decided to turn this site from primarily a blog into primarily a travel resource. There’s big plans afoot to spruce up, expand, and refresh every single page on this website.

This year has another focus and that is community. I want to use this platform to connect travelers with each other. We are going to launch a major, major, major meet-up program in a few weeks so people can meet each other while learning about travel. There will be local chapters, events, speakers, and gatherings. I’m organizing a conference in the fall.

There will be also more videos, webinars, FB lives, and Q&As. My YouTube channel is coming back. I’ll be interacting more on social media, sharing people’s stories, and answering your questions.

The team and I are committed to using this giant platform to bring people together, highlight community members, and find fun ways to take what we have online and bring it into the real world. We’re going to be a lot more social this year!

***

When I started this website, there were always stories to share. I was always on the move. Forever the nomad I thought to myself.

But life is not static. The person I was and the wants I had at 25 are not the same at 36.

I’m not done traveling. Far from it. I love every trip I take. There will still be how-to blogs and travel stories — just not as many.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to serve travelers.

So while the “blog” will be a semi-ghost town, the community and resource part of this website will be more active and larger than ever. My goal is to expand the reach of the “cheaper, better, smarter” philosophy and turn more people into travelers.

So, yes, Mom, the blog may be boring, but so much more is happening this year than just a blog about Thailand.

And that makes me (and I hope you) excited for what’s to come!

P.S. – If you’re in New Zealand, I’m having a meet up in Christchurch on Wednesday, January 17th at Dux Central. Sign up to attend here. I’m also having a meet up on January 23rd in Queenstown too. You can sign for that by clicking here!

P.P.S. – If you’re a teacher and would like funding for your school trip, we’re accepting applications for our next FLYTE grant. Click here to learn more.

The post My Mom Says This Blog is Boring appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Amazing animals to see in Canada

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2018/01/16/amazing-animals-to-see-in-canada/

Canada is well known for its bears & whales. Whether its Grizzly or Polar, Orca or Beluga, Canada has them covered and there are many trips offering chances to glimpse these wonderful creatures.  However, do you know the other animals that Canada has to offer? Moose Moose can be found across Canada, with heavily forested […]

The post Amazing animals to see in Canada appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2018/01/16/amazing-animals-to-see-in-canada/

Canada is well known for its bears & whales. Whether its Grizzly or Polar, Orca or Beluga, Canada has them covered and there are many trips offering chances to glimpse these wonderful creatures.  However, do you know the other animals that Canada has to offer? Moose Moose can be found across Canada, with heavily forested […]

The post Amazing animals to see in Canada appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.