That's right, I won a trip to Tokyo. Actually, this was nearly a year ago. I won a trip offered on base that involved a bus ride from the base to Tokyo (not as close as you may think) and then a few nights at a military hotel down there (only military members and dependents can book rooms there). They offer this once a month but it was difficult to find a time that worked for me, Ryan and another couple. Oh yes, it was a trip for 4!
I was so excited to win because I never win anything. I was even more excited to actually be able to use the trip before it expired.
Here is the room. It is American style, so a little bigger than your average Japanese hotel room. The other bonus was that there were American amenities, like a pool, APO (military/US post office), restaurant with an American breakfast, fitness center, and what equates to a BX and shoppette (which probably doesn't mean much to you unless you have been on a military base).
We arrived just in time for excellent weather and sakura. Sakura means cherry blossoms. If you are familiar with Japan you will know this is a big deal. Cherry blossoms are synonymous with Japan, especially Tokyo. I feel like that should have been on my bucket and I am more than thrilled to have experienced this.
After checking in and putting our stuff down, we headed to an area known as Ginza. We love Ginza. Yes, it is probably the most expensive area in Tokyo, but we enjoy walking around there window shopping and checking out the fancy cars. Plus, you can guarantee that almost any place you find for food will be excellent. We didn't have anything specific in mind, but when we walked by this sign, we knew we had to check it out. This place is called Nataraj.
Yes, in Japan it is normal to find a random sign like this outside of a building or on the street and then pop in an elevator and head to the floor indicated on the sign (7F on this sign let us know to head to the 7th floor). In fact, this is how we find most of the excellent places we have eaten at in Tokyo.
We started off with some papadum with onions and tomato.
We ordered two dishes to split. Lots of awesome vegetarian options, plus they even had a vegan naan. This is the matter paneer, which is an Indian cheese with peas. It happens to be my favorite Indian dish and has been since I was probably 14 years old.
This is the baingan bharta, which is an eggplant dish.
Of course we had some rice to go with this.
And naan...because what is an Indian meal with out naan!
After dinner we headed out and about around Ginza, winding down walking streets and alleyways filled with stores.
This place was so cute that it definitely caught our eye. These are cream puffs.
Cream puffs decorated like bunnies with different kinds of filling in them. Yes, we bought some, but we couldn't eat them there, so we took them to go. Sadly, they weren't good the next day. But at least they still looked cute!
We did manage to find one place that had both dessert and a place to eat it right there. The amazing smell wafting out of this waffle stand was enough to make anyone stop dead in their tracks and wait for a Belgian waffle.
As soon as I spotted this sign for a chocolate caramel waffle, I was sold!
This was nearly 9 at night and they were still fully stocked with waffles. Not because no one was buying them (we waited at least 10 minutes in line), but because they were still making them at this hour!
The chocolate caramel is a little hard to see because it had a plastic piece over it, but you can get an idea. It was amazing!
After that we headed home, but not without getting a glimpse of the cherry blossom craze that was starting in Tokyo as the trees were now blooming. These are traditional Japanese sakura mochi treats.
Stay tuned...more to come on our 2 full days down in Tokyo. By the way, Tokyo is one of my favorite cities in the whole world. If you haven't been, I hope my blog inspires you to book a trip or at least add it to your travel bucket list.
QUESTIONS: Do you have cherry blossoms where you live? What is your favorite Belgian waffle topping? Have you ever won a trip?