And the photos I took along the way
(For those who aren’t in the know, I completed a years long dream of traveling around the world. I flew from Los Angeles to Denmark, rode trains from Denmark to Germany, and then flew from Germany to Japan, all in 23 days. I took over 3,500 photos and panoramas along the way)
“Are you nervous?” she asked.
“I was, and I thought that I would be up until I got through security. But really, ever since I left work last night I’ve felt fine.”
And I did feel fine, one bag in hand, as I stepped out to the curb at the Tom Bradley International Terminal and walked through the automatic doors, past the check-in stands, (Pro-tip, cause now I’m a pro, don’t ever check bags. It’s the greatest time saver you’ll ever experience on a long trip), through security in less than ten minutes (I showed up two hours early FOR TEN FUCKING MINUTES OF SECURITY?!?!), checked in a beer (one beer for each airport), boarded my super gay plane, and I was off. With the roaring of two jet engines, g-forces pushing me into my airline seat, Los Angeles International Airport and the backdrop of the city behind it rushing past at hundreds of miles per hours; my dream had become a reality.
Dreams get such a bad rap, in my opinion. They're dismissed so easily. They are considered unattainable by so many. Many other times dreams can be looked upon so enviously or jealously when the dreams are someone else's. I’m lucky. At least, I’m lucky every now and then. For instance, when I woke up one morning and said to myself, “Flying around the world would be amazing, let’s try to make this happen!”, I didn’t automatically snub myself by saying, “Not possible because of work, or money, or family, or children, or stress, blah blah blah.” I don’t have a lot of the ties that bind others. So right from fruition, this dream was, at the very least, attainable.
But that’s another thing that a lot of non-dreamers seem to have trouble comprehending. Dreaming isn’t easy. At least, I've never found it to be easy. We don’t just build up lofty dreams and goals out of thin air. There are usually sparks that have been embedded in our psyche for sometime, and a small experience or a large event can ignite that spark into a dream, a fascination with what can be, an obsession with what will happen, a love for the mental visions that fill our cranium until we're left researching, planning, saving, and lusting after that ignited dream. And even then it's not like that glorious little bit of DNA in our body that makes us dream makes any of the dreaming any easier. All of that fascination, all of that obsession, all of that love; it all takes time and concentration. Not easy, especially in a world where we're over stimulated on a day-to-day basis; when we're told over and over again that our dreams are there for us in our work life or hidden away in our credit card limit. And so each step of the dreaming process has a hurdle, each little thought is met with fear, ideas of inadequacy and trepidation. It can be the hardest thing for someone to ignite a dream, and then bring it to fruition.
All that I needed for my dream. Now, "Let's do this."
The Futility of Communicating Dreams
If you're on my list of friends on Facebook, then you've already experienced a good chunk of my 23 day trip. My apologies for the duplicate photos. You have my permission to skip this blog post entirely. As I've stated before, I try to keep things fresh in these posts. But this trip was a bit different in that I wanted to tell a story, mainly through Facebook, about my trip through the photos that I'd taken. I didn't get hung up so much on which photo was a better angle or had a nicer framing, and tried to pay more attention to how the photos expressed the thoughts and feelings I was experiencing where and when I took the photo. I’ve vacillated between a few iterations of this post. Eventually I decided that I couldn’t really narrate the trip properly here on my own blog. I feel like my initial plan was for the story to be told through the photos that I took while I was traveling, and that was a viable idea when a conversation was able to be had through the comments of Facebook. This page wouldn't be able to keep up with that, so I figured instead to create a bit of a hybrid.
I’ve decided upon this format; a mix of small descriptions of where I was when the photos were taken and small libraries of the photos themselves for you to enjoy. And if this doesn’t do a well enough job of conveying the wide range of emotions that overwhelmed me while I was flying and hiking and backpacking around the northern hemisphere, then instead of reading and viewing this and being all judgemental, I’d advise that you look into buying your own damn airplane tickets, maybe a nice backpack, and do a little dreaming of your own, Judgy McJudgypants.
Around the World in 23 Days
“Oh hi, Lars! Marianne! Wait, where was customs? No one stamped my passport? Can I go back and get it stamped??”
It will always and forever bother me that when I entered Copenhagen (Actually spelled København) no one stamped my passport. My first steps into Europe and I was already sad about something. And then the first thing I felt I needed to do was reassure Lars and Marianne that I wasn’t voting for Trump. Stahhhhp, Chad, stahhhhp! Enjoy Denmark!! Oh wait! first, answer the phone call from your boss. Because of course that has to happen.
Okay, NOW go enjoy Copenhagen.
Clouds over Denmark
I feel like the clouds over Denmark look so much more dense than they did on the plane in America. Flying through them was almost pitch black.
Cafe Cogneril, my first stop in København.
Riders in the Sky
Lots of good statues around København. By the way, Copenhagen is like Germany! It's not the real name of the country! The name is Københanv, which I didn't know until I was there. I'm still surprised when I find out stuff like that.
Christiansnborg Palace, The Parliament building in København. The large dirt area in the foreground is where they do horse shows of The Royal Stables.
I'm going to have to go back and take the same tour of the København that I had with Lars, because he was such an excellent tour guide but provided so much information that I couldn't grasp it all. I don't remember exactly which guy this statue is representing. I'm pretty sure it's Christiansborg.
There are dogs everywhere in København, and a surprising amount of Frenchies like this lil' guy. They also don't seem to neuter their dogs as commonly over there, because I saw a lot of swinging sacks on male dogs.
When this guy opens his wings it was a brilliant blue. I couldn't get him to open his wings at all unless he was pummeling a smaller butterfly, and in that case I couldn't get him to stand still enough for a decent shot.
Lars and Marianne
Lars and Marianne hoping that when the sharks get fed that they actually get fed. This was one of the most anti-climactic shark feedings that has ever existed.
A traditional Danish dinner of Danish meatballs and potatoes with a gravy (That's not quite a gravy, Lars said) and cabbage, with a Tuborg or a Carlsberg. This was cooked by, and I have this on good authority, the best meatball chef in all of Denmark.
Boats in Churches
They put boats in church entrances in Denmark. . . I guess?
Bikes, Bikes Everywhere
Bikes. Bikes everywhere. Old bikes, new bikes, bikes with motors, bikes for rent with electric motors. They're everywhere. And they work really well in Copenhagen. Everything is within a 20 minute bike ride, essentially.
Copenhagen South West
This is the South Westerly view from a very old church in København. The Christens Castle that I'd posted the panorama of earlier is the taller tower to the far left. The smaller tower to the left is actually four spiraling dragon's tails, and then the tower to the right is also a church I believe. The castle off in the distance. . . . I have no idea.
Copenhagen North West
From the Christiansen Church tower to the north west of København. Right at the tip top of the tower.
Wishes tied to trees is apparently a thing in more places than just Japan
Saw this guy right off of the main thoroughfare in Nyhavn, and wanted to steal it. But then I realized I'd have to smuggle it in my luggage, and that wasn't going to work at all. So then I figured I'd just ship it back, but then Lars and I went and a nice little lunch with Marianne's step-father and after a beer in Nyhavn I didn't have enough Kroner to ship it back. So whoever owns it got lucky that day.
Nyhavn (World View)
Had a wonderful time hanging out in the old fish market, Nyhavn. This is where I had a nice lunch with Lars and Marianne's step-father. Right up the street was a great little barber shop and a tattoo shop as well, where I've been telling Kylie and Chris they need to start working. This place was amazing.
The Queen. . . I believe. . .
Inside The Marble Church
The inside of the Marble Church. They had numbers all around the walls, and Lars and I were surprised to see that they didn't skip 666.
The main cross at the back of the Marble Church. I liked the blue backlighting. Apparently those priests have a flare for drama every now and then.
Another statue built for this Christian guy. Not really sure what he did, but it seemed really important to the Danes.
Migel (Lars will have to correct my spelling of his name) was incredibly generous (Like most Danes I've met) and took us on a wonderful boat ride up the northern coast of København, and I'm sure out of it as well. Some of the coast that we saw was just amazingly pretty. And then we got attacked by flying ants. So there's that.
D'awwww. . .
Moonrise Over The Sea
Apparently when you get above a certain latitude, moon rises are just spectacular.
The Little Mermaid
Another famous bit of Denmark history that I didn't know about until Lars and Marianne told me about it, The Little Mermaid was commissioned by the son of the founder of the Carlsberg brewery in Denmark. He loved the fairy tale and wanted to have something to show for it. It's been vandalized multiple times, and was even shipped to China for a while, and is apparently one of the biggest tourist stops in København.
Late night looking for hot dogs and chocolate milk.
Sweden & Bornholm
I didn't expect much from the train rides through Sweden, but I was so wrong. When I arrived in Ystad I was met with such a wonderful reception of kind people and a beautiful city. I'd go back to Sweden just to visit Ystad again. But soon it was time to move on to Bornholm.
Pro-tip: Bornholm is bigger than you think it is. I don’t know which map key I was looking at, or if I was getting kilometers confused with miles, or what, but I thought that Bornholm was going to be tiny, and it turned out to be an hour bus ride from Ronne to Nexø. Plan accordingly! Also, if you’re going for climbing, make sure to plan for transportation and plan for sport climbing. There is a nice little brewery and steakhouse in Svanake, with the same name, Svanake Brewery. Also, as much as I loved my AirBnB, right on the ocean with a lovely view and cute balcony, stay away from the south-western side of the island, because it smells like a rancid piss pot that’s been sitting in the sun at an Insane Clown Posse concert. I feel like I’m a pretty tough person, but I couldn’t take that smell.
NO BALLOONS. NO FUN IN SWEDEN.
This is exactly the Swedish village that you think it is, being all Swedish and cute and perfect. It's essentially exactly what I thought all of Sweden would like.
The Symmetry of Swedish Shipping
Symmetrical shipping and receiving. I'm sure all they push through this Swedish shipping station is flat-packed furniture.
No. I have absolutely no idea what's going on here. Not a clue. There were also some strange birdhouses to the left of this art installation that also made no sense. They had what seemed to be medieval priests in them. I dunno.
The Sun Throught the Blades
Sunset over Bornholm farmlands. Lots of grain farms all over the island.
Gypsy horses on Bornholm
Moon Rise Over Bornholm
Moon rise over fishing cabins.
Another moon rise. Every few minutes it would change to something more beautiful.
Angry Bornholm Kitteh
Bornholm kitteh wanted permission for me to take the photo. I took it anyways.
Cast a Shadow
Back to København
What do you do when you’re climbing plans on a Danish island fell through, but you nicely recovered with 14 miles of bike riding through farm towns and beautiful coastline? Well, you get your ass back to Copenhagen because you obviously didn’t plan enough for this fucking trip. Not to worry, because Copenhagen still has a ton of stuff to make up for your shitty planning skills. Like, old friends, live concerts, and a theme park that inspired Walt Disney when he was thinking about building a small park in Southern California.
You know who got to not only go to War Pigs in København, but got to go and catch up with Per at the same time?? THIS GUY. Great BBQ, great beer, and catching up with great people. It sounds so stupid and cliché to list it all out like that, but it's exactly how my visit to War Pigs was. Next time I'll make it easier on Per and I'll drive up to Aarhus. I'll get to check out that school he started as well.
As hell, even after al of these years
This guy! So much fun at Ramen to Bieru, where not only the waiter (this guy) but also the chef were so nice and funny and great to be around.
Mikkeller for Days
Ramen to Bieru is ANOTHER Mikkeller spot in København. Since I'm a big fan of Mikkeller beer AND ramen, of course I had to get there. It was awesome. Held true to Japanese ramen styles and atmosphere, with a group of amazingly nice chefs and waiters. The entire experience was great.
Inside the Tivoli
Tivoli was a wonderfully eclectic park to visit. Apparently the idea behind the park is that it's ever evolving. It would be interesting to visit again in a few years and see what's changed.
Ever felt the need to strap yourself to the smallest wooden seat you can find, and then bolt some tiny little chains to the wooden seat, and then send that seat up what feels like a few hundred feet, and spin yourself around like crazy? Yeah. I did that.
Gs in Planes
This thing was incredible. It spins incredibly fast, while the planes themselves spin and rotate, and randomize the way that they fly. It was incredibly fun, and I would do it again in a second.
View Over the Lake
So, Tivoli is one of the places that Walt Disney used as his inspiration for Disneyland when he decided that he wanted to build an amusement park. I'm pretty sure that Tivoli has built some rides that Disney would never put into his parks, because you're closer to death in these rides than you are when you're riding in a Metallica tour bus, but I had such an awesome time riding al of the insane rides at Tivoli.
I'm not sure what the puzzle is, but I'd look for it if I spoke Danish.
Live at The Tivoli
Live show of. . . . . I forget. But Lars will probably remember. A really great show; one of the shows that Tivoli puts on every Friday. I'm so upset that I wasn't in København for the Dizzy Miss Lizzy show that was going to be at the Tivoli a week or two after I left. THAT would have been the show I wanted to go to. Not that these girls weren't great and all. But, ya know. Dizzy Miss Lizzy.
Mary, My Favorite Dane
Mary Møller continues to be a wonderful person, even 10 years after I'd seen her last. I didn't expect to see her as much as I did in København, and I'm upset that I didn't see her as much as I'd like.
København at Night
København at night doesn't get any less beautiful.
The Road to Germany
Leaving København was pretty hard. The Møllers, the people of København, the architecture, the food (I don't think anyone expected me to say THAT), the scenery, it was all amazing. Taking a train away from that city was tough.
Hamburg was probably my low point of the trip. When you’re going to be alone for 3 weeks, and when you’re in unfamiliar territory, you’re going to have some missteps. This was the first time that I really felt like I was over my head, that I hadn’t planned properly, that I needed to regroup a bit and rethink how I’d managed the trip. I found myself realizing I needed to pay a bit more attention to my scheduling, and also relax a bit and really take the time to wander. I needed to not feel as though it was a requirement to get to every single destination that I thought I could, and that it was okay to let the trip be more fluid. My first night in Hamburg was stressed, and I felt sad for not really enjoying Hamburg and Reeperbahn. After a good nights rest, and a very generous AirBnB host that let me stay another night, I found myself wandering through Hamburg and enjoying a music and beer festival in the rain, amazing architecture and artwork, and a new outlook for letting the highs and lows of the trip not define the trip, but to frame it, allowing me to really take in what mattered. The people, the places, the food and beer, the countries I had the privilege to be in.
Still surprised with all of the wind power over in Northern Europe. I know that Germany is trying to get to the point where they're only on renewable energy, but I didn't expect so much of it to be wind generated.
Hamburg Main Station
This became the hub for everything I did in Hamburg. First train from Harburg-Hamburg was always to go to Hamburg HBF.
Graves in Hamburg
A nice gentlemen who spoke English saw me shooting on the street and told me to walk through the graveyard nearby and there would be some excellent photo spots on the other side (I don't remember the name of the place suggested; I think it was the lake that was nearby). Then I left to explore Reeperbahn. The train station back was a direct route through the graveyard and I took some time to for photos. I though that it was very open for a graveyard; very quiet and relaxing; a nice place to rest.
My Sunset in Hamburg
Followed by an awkward moment when the conductor spoke in German over the loudspeaker, stopped the train, and everyone got off. I wasn't paying attention. A kind German man came back on the train and asked if I spoke German. "No" I said. He replied, "Well, you need to get off the train because it's stopping here for construction. You need to take a bus the rest of the way to Harburg." The sun had just set and I had no fucking clue where I was. If he'd not helped me, I'd still be lost in Hamburg!
Monument for those lost.
Such a huge tower to walk around, of which I did almost a complete 360 degrees while I was exploring Sternschanze.
Planten un Blomen
There she is again, as I'm entering the amazing Sternschanze park.
In my continuation of, "I Went Around The World and Took Photos of Bugs" series, here's a German bumble bee's ass sticking out of a lovely flower.
This verrrrrrry large statues is right next to the crying child form earlier. The verdigris on his forehead makes him look as though he's injured, with a bandage around his forehead. It was a moving statue in person.
Making my way back from Sternschanze and the light upon these graves was nice and warm. Back came that quiet, comfortable feeling.
A friends asked for a selfie while I was in Hamburg. This is the best I got.
Broken and Scarred
A lot of the war monuments are dedicated to the oppressed peoples that were treated so inhumanely by the Nazi party. Some of them are very powerful.
American in Germany
Goes to Northern Germany, takes pictures of American cars
Hamburg Main Church
Hamburg Rathaus was pretty impressive.
Saint Peter's Church in Hamburg.
In my new vacation outlook and comfort, I soon found myself in Berlin. The scope of Berlin was huge, as it’s much more spread out than I’d expected. I also felt like I suddenly had less time than I needed in this city as well. My trip to Stone Brewing Berlin and the incredibly striking and hard to stomach Sachsenhausen Museum were definitely worth the visit, but there was so much more that I didn’t get the chance to even think about. My AirBnB host was particularly helpful, friendly, and saddened by my short visit. “You didn’t even get to go to downtown!!” he shouted at me! I didn’t know what to expect from Germany, and I wasn’t initially as taken as I thought I would be. But I wanted to change that first impression so badly once I got there. I wanted to love Germany as much as I’d imagined I would. I don’t think I LET that happen. I’ll just have to revisit the country in the future. Berlin again, and southern Germany, are now on the list.
Home in Berlin
My home while I was in Berlin. This place was amazing, with one of the nicest hosts I had on my trip. When looking out the window or relaxing on the balcony in the morning with my coffee you could see the different generations of buildings on the street. Older, pre-war buildings were common, and the buildings that were new and modern, of which they were a good number, were buildings that had to be rebuilt because they'd been bombed away during the war.
Im Marienpark - Stone Brewing
I GOT TO GO TO STONE BREWING IN BERLIN!! It was in such a random, excluded area. I need to do some research as to what the location's previous occupants were doing.
Stone's Water Tower
Apparently the Marienpark gasworks facility was going to be "the largest and most modern gas plant in Berlin", and this was the old water tower for the facility, being built in 1900-1901
Stone Brewing Berlin
Stone Brewing Berlin! It's huge! Unfortunately, it's not all finished yet. They have the taproom open, and the kitchen is currently in the experimental stage. So with the beers I was able to enjoy from Stone collaborations and local Berlin breweries, I also got food that Stone wasn't "legally allowed to sell me, but that we're testing out", so I got free food all night!
Fun wall bottle art.
99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall
Some good memories of the beers on this wall. I wonder if they have 99 of them. . . also 99 red luft balloons. . .
Berlin Trains Station at Night
And about 10 seconds later I almost had my head taken off by a train. . .
Stepping Stones, placed for those that were killed during the Krystallnacht. These Stepping Stones were everywhere I went in Berlin. It's hard to imagine what happened that night, on a city wide scale. It was hard to see these stones first hand, and to see so many of them.
The Berlin Wall
At Potsdamer Platz
The entrance to the Sachsenhausen museum.
A model of the Sachsenhausen camp before you walk along the main street used to funnel prisoners into the concentration camp.
Memorials for those that passed at Sachsenhausen.
Stand Up Around the Fallen
Of all of the memorials, I found this one the most eye catching. The wooden statues standing around one statue that has fallen, as though the circle of prisoners could protect their fallen, was very moving to me.
For Anton Huber
I wondered who used this door. This was to the direct right of the gate house. I found it terrifyingly calm.
Part of the underground dissecting rooms that were later used as a kitchen and lab for creating recipes that would provide easily digestible meals for sick inmates.
I couldn't walk into this room. The two tables were for dissection and autopsies. Prisoners were enlisted to dissect the bodies of other inmates that had been killed or had passed away. Regardless of the outcome of the autopsy, they were only allowed to list out a few pre-selected causes of death. If the inmate died of being shot in the head, they would maybe put down, "died of exhaustion."
Clouds Over Sachsenhausen
Calm gun towers under rolling clouds.
For the British prisoners that were held in the prison that was INSIDE of Sachsenhausen.
For All Prisoners
Roses dropped by visitors in remembrance of those that were held in Sachsenhausen.
Posts where prisoners held inside the prison in Sachsenhausen would be hung by ropes around their wrists and tortured.
The wall at the end of the shooting range. I thought that Sachsenhausen couldn't get more intense than this.
In remembrance of those that reached Station Z.
To Be Brutal; To be Clean
The drain that was used for disposal and cleaning up after mass killings. I had to walk away From Sachsenhausen at this point.
For the Victims
Roses laid in remembrance. In America we grow up learning about the concentration camps that were used in Germany, Russia, and to a lesser extent, even America. It was something else entirely to see one of them first hand, with my own eyes. To see where people were tortured, beaten, and killed all in the name of a few terrible people's vision for a "more perfect" world. I don't know if I'll ever forget the way I felt when I toured Sachsenhausen.
I’m not sure what can be said about Tokyo that probably doesn’t fit into a cliché Tokyo tourist pamphlet, but I don’t think I’ve been anywhere that wasn’t as accurately described as unique, beautiful, fun, and awe-inspiring. From the moment I landed in Narita Airport, and was riding the train back to Tokyo, I couldn’t stop staring at the landscape of Japan. The grey rain clouds that hung over the railway made the green foliage a deeper hue of green than I’m usually accustomed to in the deep browns and yellows of Southern California desert. The traditional homes of Japan struck me as respectful of tradition and yet appreciating of modern technology. And then when you ride into Tokyo, your jaw drops. The buildings, the people, the energy of crazy unique cultures all sparring for their chance to hop on the nearest train. Whether it’s the business men staring at the cosplayers staring at their iPhones while ignoring the foreigners that are taking photos of every crazy thing they see in every single direction, they’re all vying for more Tokyo, all of the time. It’s an amazing place to be, and one of my favorite places. Until you get out of Tokyo, that is. . . .
Clouds Over Nippon
My First View of Japan, Peaking Through the Clouds
My Sunset in Tokyo
Time to Ride
Tokyo Street Crossing
MY JUNE BUG
This fuckin' guy!! It's been so long since I got to see Jun, and then I got not only hang out with him AND Johan together, but I got to play MY favorite Fender, rock out to some Led Zeppelin, and sing some Queen!! Such an amazing night!!
Karaoke at The Gigabar. I'm a little upset that Jun didn't get me this girls number. So kawaii.
Rising Sun Behind Sky Tree
Now let's get to the top.
Japanese Wind Chimes
Furin in Sky Tree
Downtown southern view from Sky Tree
Sky Tree View
For the Shogitai
Tomb of the Shogitai Warriors in Ueno
My Favorite Dragon
My Favorite Shrine Fountain in Ueno
People around the world love writing wishes and dreams on paper and hanging them on things.
Park Fun Times
Buy some bread from a homeless man and you can feed snarky finches from your hand!!
Blooming Lotus in Ueno Park. I'm pretty sure that right now all of these lotus are in full bloom and it probably looks amazing. I was a few weeks early.
Much Arch. Such Flare. So Ueno.
For The Lanterns
There was an entire, beautiful walkway of these up to the shrine in Ueno. I loved them.
The Leader of the Red Cross
Imperial Prince Komatsunomiya Akihito, First President of the Japanese Red Cross
Imperial War Museum
Yūshūkan Imperial War Museum. I didn't get the chance to go inside, but it was still a beautiful area.
Tokyo Temple Exit
Yasukuni Shrine entrance.
Ōmura Masujirō, The Father of the Modern Japanese Military
A Peace Memorial in a War Museum
A peace memorial, situated to the direct right of a bronze statue of the Father of the Modern Japanese Military. . . makes sense. . .
Just Some Dude
A statue leading into the NIppon Budokan. In the spring, all of the trees around him are covered in cherry blossoms.
Webs of Nippon
Spiders, Spiders Everywhere.
As I blindly venture into the Japanese wilderness in search of ninja boulders.
What you climb with in Mitake: Spiders, snails, all sorts of bugs and wildlife.
Warm up boulder in Mitake. Slick river rock never looked so good.
Yuko on River Rock
Met up with 3 excellent climbers in Mitake!! So much fun to just meet new people and try out new boulders.
Mino working on the Chad-o Traverse. ;)
The view from the bouldering in Mitake was a little bit more lush and a little less dry than the usual view at say, Horse Flats or Joshua Tree. . .
The next bug on my trip were these little guys, and they're everywhere and look absolutely venomous.
124 Ninja Gaeshi
Ninja Gaeshi in Mitake. I actually didn't experience the usual "multiple hour" wait like you do in peak seasons, but there were still a lot of climbers trying to get this project down. Where this climber's left hand is, is just one of the cruxes, and the crimp there was something I didn't see one climber get past all day. And this is just halfway through the traverse.
Second half of Ninja Gaeshi in the background, behind four (future) ninjas.
Mitake Bridge View
The view as I left the Mitake area that I spent a day bouldering in. I can't explain in words how sad I was to leave after such a short day, and how badly I want to return.
Festival At The Park
A small festival near Gotanda Station where I got to see two friends I hadn't seen in 11 years!!
It's been so long!! I guess we're calling you Ya Mangelo now? Hahaha
I am so disappointed that I didn't have more time to see Haruka Kimoto and. . . . why are we calling him Ya'mangelo?? Anyways! I wish I had more time for photos, and to see you more! I'll just have to visit again, or you'll have to do a tour in America. ;)
Johan & His Beer
My great friend from LAMA, Johan lovingly caressing a beer that WE CAN DRINK ON THE STREET AND ON A TRAIN AND NOT GET YELLED AT. Also, not an amazing beer. Kirin's Galaxy Hop Session IPA was pretty light and simple, with nothing to really make it stand out against the other great craft beers we had been enjoying at Popeye, less than an hour before.
Take the energy of Tokyo, take all of the beauty of Japan, and then the wonderful people who you seem to meet in every home, restaurant, and store in Japan, and just bring it all down 2 or 3 levels of intensity. Still there, but a bit more palatable and easier to experience. There’s no shortage of amazing views, traditional Japanese homes and shrines, or amazing food and drink. The only thing I regret is not going further north.
The Bamboo Collection
Bamboo figures, that I personally think would make an amazing chess set.
The only reason I took a shot of this guy was because his lil' goatee reminded me and my hosts of my goatee. Loved it.
Kashima Shrine - Then & Now
Completely on accident I stumbled upon the Kashima Shrine I visited on the 2009-2010 New Years' Day in Hitachi.
Hitachi Ocean View
Le Chateau D. Kamiya
The entrance to Chateau D. Kamiya, a vineyard that was founded in 1903 and started brewing beer not too long ago.
I don't think I've ever seen barrels as big as these. Must have been 10 feet tall, each one.
Brick, wood, and paper.
I'm A Butterfly!!
In my continuing exposition on bugs around the world, here's an adorable little butterfly from Chateau D. Kamiya.
In Tsukuba ther was a small park full of owl statues. Each one was adorable in it's own right, but this was my favorite.
I think this lil' guy was near the end of his days. But since there're a million of them all making a huge racket all over Japan, I didn't feel terrible. I love the lines on their wings.
A wonderful restaurant at Kiuchi where I spent some time before my tour. This was the first beer that I had at Kiuchi, their Amarillo Session IPA: In what is hands down the best session IPA I've ever had, this has a big tropical fruit, mango aroma with a light, sweet body. Perfect
Who gets soba and vegetable tempura? ME. And that small bowl in the top right has Black Sea salt that was so good!!
White Ale For Days
Keg upon keg upon keg of the Hitachi Nest White Ale. Considering these are $6 for 12 oz. in America, these are some pricey kegs. . .
BEER TASTING!!! With our wonderful tour guide, Sam, and 4 tour members that were from Northern Europe and I got to chat with about Denmark and Germany!!
Out wonderful tour guide and chauffeur, Sam. Grew up in the UK, moved to Japan to experience the other side of his lineage. Awesome dude.
Unfortunately, even though my trip to the southern end of Japan included Shin-Yokohama’s (I know that’s not THAT far south) wonderful Ramen Museum and the almighty Kyoto, bearer of iconic Japanese hilltop shrines, bamboo forests, and geisha districts, my trip was grounded by the impossible to conceive weight of Hiroshima. I had felt that it would be educational and interesting to visit the location of the first nuclear bombing, even after how tough it had been to stroll the basements and ruins of Sachsenhausen. It turned out to be that and more. I would suggest that anyone willing to visit a location as emotionally charged and historically important as Hiroshima spend a day or more in this amazing city, rebuilt from the ashes of one of the most devastating acts of violence in the history of humanity. I don’t really feel that there’s any way to describe it that really feels as raw and shocking as it was when I hopped off the train less than 600 feet from the nuclear blast hypocenter. After I visited, I found out about a book that's available titled Hiroshima by John Hersey. Hiroshima was written as an entire New Yorker edition, that was shortly thereafter published as a book. It’s a brutal look into six surviving nuclear blast victims, what they experienced the day of the bombing, and in the second edition how the bombing impacted their lives over the next 40 years. I would definitely suggest reading this if you have a heart and a mind and are generally human in form.
Back to Tokyo
And with Copenhagen, Sweden & Ystad, Bornholm, Hamburg, Berlin, Tokyo, Tochigi, Naka, Ushiku, Hitachi, Kyoto, and Hiroshima behind me, my travels took me back to Tokyo for one last night before my departure from Nippon back to the United States. My literal trip around the world, was drawing ever closer to its end. Calvin from Calvin & Hobbes once said that Sunday's were awful, because they leave you worrying about the upcoming Monday. As much as I tried not to let the approaching end to my trip weigh upon me, I still found my last days in Tokyo slightly melancholy. Thankfully, I have amazing friends that helped me through it.
Nevertheless, in a small burst of emotion I found myself writing this. . . and I feel that it still resonates:
That feeling where you can't leave
You won't leave
You'll fight and rip and tear to stay
But your foot crosses the threshold to leave. . .
Black & White in Tokyo
Lanterns in Ueno.
Helllooo. . .
My, my, Mini.
My intended last brewery stop before heading home to LA, Campion is a tiny microbrew that had some wonderful beers. And it's English Pub stylings were pretty adorable.
Skeptical Tokyo Cat is skeptical.
My sunset over Japan. Nippon didn't stop being beautiful, even if I was in an airport. It did however make it harder than ever to board a plane to LAX.
Full speed ahead, to the home across the ocean.
Snap back to reality. . .
The flight back to Los Angeles was quiet and uneventful. I had first dreamt up this trip to be a flight around the world. From LA, to Europe, to Asia, back to LA. Here I was, completing that dream, staring out of the airplane window at the city that I call my home, and listening to the girl next to me freak out about how her iPhone was dead but she needed to call her father once they were on the ground. "Welcome back.", I thought to myself.
To say that I circumnavigated the world (even if I did later realize that it was just across the northern hemisphere. No small feat, thank you very much) is something I had thought would be a high point of my trip. A badge of honor I could display proudly in the pages of my life's accomplishments. But it turned out that Shepherd Book, per usual, is a very wise man.
Kaylee: How come you don't care where you're going?
Shepherd Book: 'Cause how you get there is the worthier part.
Without any thought, my trip had immediately turned into not "getting around the world", but more about "how I got there". It was an amazing trip, filled with long-lost friends and new ones to boot. Picturesque views of city and mountain, sky and ocean. Bullet trains and ferries, bikes and hikes. There was brewery after brewery after brewery after brewery after brewery after brewery after brewery and every single location I was in offered amazing food. I never coasted through any part of my trip as though I was just sight-seeing and taking tourist photos, and I still look back fondly and know that I absorbed the culture of the countries I visited. I was able to learn and love the new locations I visited and hopefully respect and honor the cultures that graciously allowed me to do so. To quote myself. . .
I can't express through words the love and affection I feel towards the friends I saw, met, and made along my 23 day trip. I've found it hard to describe my feelings about the people and places I visited, although I'm sure most of the people I've spoken to about the trip will gladly tell you that I tried.
Hopefully these photos properly conveyed the wonder, happiness, empathy, and other strong emotions I felt across my journey. Hopefully these photos will help everyone feel a bit of what I experienced and inspire some to go on their own adventures.
To immediately contradict myself, I'm going to give my shout out for this post to the friends I saw, met, and made along my 23 day trip. I've tried to think of a way that really conveys how appreciative I am of all of the people who I met along my travels, but nothing has really seemed to bear the weight of how important and meaningful it was to see each and every one of you. Whether I was being allowed to crash on a couch, or getting to know you as an AirBnB host, or meeting you on a train through Berlin, or listening to prog metal and discussing barrel aged beers in Tokyo, yelling, "Skål" in Denmark or, "Prost!" in Hamburg, or meeting new family members in Tochigi, riding bikes after maybe a few beers in Copenhagen, or one after the other of amazing people I've seen and met in much too short of a time.
This couldn't have happened without you
From the bottom of my heart, I thank you so much
You made the trip what it was
It couldn't have happened without you
If you ever need a place to stay or a tour guide through Southern California, I'm your guy