Esparza's Tacos and Coffee

Last weekend while we were in Chatan getting my iPhone screen replaced (I finally dropped it one too many times) we decided to finally try out a new place for lunch. We have driven past Esparza's Tacos and Coffee quite a few times and each time I commented on how good it looked. After reading about how they had vegan and vegetarian options (hard to some by in Okinawa), we decided to take the plunge and try it.

We got there at 12 and it was already pretty busy and we managed to nab the last free table. I was super excited to see the menu option, over half being vegan and it all sounded delicious! We decided to share the Vegan Chorizo tacos and the two bean tacos. The vegan chorizo is basically made with tofu and chorizo spices, and was super tasty. They also had a kind of vegan parmesan on top, and I have no idea what that was made from, but it was another nice touch. The two bean burritos were also tasty, but my favourite were definitely the "chorizo" ones.

The tacos were huge, and they also have a "salsa" bar, with different sauces, salsas and an onion and coriander mix. Definitely a nice touch!

Esparza's also serves a range of drinks, including Coronas, sangria and tequila drinks. The other good thing (and a rarity in Okinawa) is that it opens from 7am for breakfast (servicing breakfast burritos and pancakes).

Esparza's is located on route 58 in Chatan, and you can find the map here. It's great to have another vegan and vegetarian friendly option in Okinawa!


Esparza's Tacos and Coffee in Chatan offers a large vegan menu and is very tasty!
Exterior




Vegan chorizo tacos at Esparza's Tacos and Coffee in Chatan Okinawa
Vegan "chorizo" tacos
Vegan two bean burrito at Esparza's Tacos and Coffee in Okinawa
vegan two bean tacos
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Esparza's Tacos and Coffee in Chatan, Okinawa has a menu that is 50% vegan, with aims of going fully vegan in the next 5 years. It opens from 7am!

3 Days in London - Part 2

On my last day in London and my only free day (even though I was flying out that night) I decided to head to the National Gallery at Trafalgar Square. I first visited the National Gallery when I was 18 years old, on my first overseas trip, and as a teen obsessed with renaissance art (yep I was cool), this was my first real life exposure to it. I decided to go back and check out some of the amazing and famous art pieces I had first seen all those years ago.

I spent the morning wandering through the gallery before deciding to walk to Picadilly Circus to find a Jamie's Italian for lunch. Jamie Oliver was another 18 year old obsession of mine, and it was fun to be able to check out one of his restaurants. It was really lovely, and not badly priced! I got a two course lunch for 12.95 GBP and a glass of red wine. I had a celeriac soup, which was warm, creamy and super delicious, followed by the vegetarian bolognese  which was so pretty and made with fresh pasta! I was really happy I made the trek. 

I finished the afternoon shopping up Regent Street and Oxford Circus before walking back to my hotel to pick up my bag and then head to the airport. Unfortunately it was a super gloomy looking day, so my photos are quite dark! It's really time that I invested in a proper camera!

It was such a flying visit to London, and so far to go from Okinawa for just 3 nights, but even though it was a work trip, it was nice to get to hang out in London once again. I'm determined to go back there for longer in the near future!

Trafalgar Square
London, grey and beautiful



National Gallery

The interior of the National Gallery, London is gorgeous and ornate
This interior!

Leonardo da Vinci in the National Gallery, London is amazingly beautiful up close!
da Vinci - One of my favourites

Van gogh


View of Big Ben from Trafalgar Square
Glimpse of Big Ben in the distance


Stopped for lunch at Jamie's Italian
Lunch specials at Jamie's Italian was good value and delicious!
The menu was awesome!

 Vegetarian bolognese from Jamie's Italian in Picadilly London was super tasty and made with fresh pasta.
Vegetarian bolognese

Regent Street

Carnaby St


Loved this building!





3 Days in London - Part 1


Anyone else feel like 2017 is already flying by? I feel like January was just a blip on the calendar and now it's already mid-February!

Anyway, during the blip of January I went to London for work for a few days. I hadn't been to London in over 10 years (maybe 12 years), and I had totally forgotten how cool it was! I was only there for 3 nights, and most of the time was work, but I managed to get out and see a few things around my work schedule. 

Basically my only aim was to eat things I struggle to get here in Okinawa! The night we arrived, my colleague and I headed straight to a pub for dinner (it was her first time to London) and had a typical pub meal - fish and chips and shepherds pie. The next morning I woke up bright and early to head to an Australian cafe, Lantana, for a flat white and some avocado on toast. 

My first work commitment wasn't until midday and seeing as I was right near it, I went to check out the British Museum before my meeting, which was pretty cool. Also, it was 0 degrees out, and any indoor activity was welcome :)

After work, I headed to Oxford St for some shopping and stopped by at a Angel In The Fields on Marylebone High St, a Samuel Adams pub, which was full of delicious organic beers and ciders. It was so lovely inside with gorgeous stained glass windows! Dinner on the way back to my hotel, I stopped for Pho. It was so exciting to be somewhere with the option to eat any type of cuisine I could possibly want!

As for the photos, well I couldn't stop taking photos of all the gorgeous buildings in the city, such a stark contrast to the typhoon-proof concrete buildings here in Okinawa. For some reason I think I had forgotten how "European" London is, and I was so happy to be back!

Even though it was the middle of winter and very cold (0-8 degrees celcius every day), with thermals on and a good jacket, I thought London was lovely We even had a gorgeous sunny day on the first day there, which people kept telling me was basically the one sunny day in winter! I wouldn't hesitate to travel to London in the winter again.

Sunny but 0 degree morning near Goodge St


A gorgeous morning sky in Goodge St, London
Morning sky


Fitzrovia, London
Fitzrovia

Loved the window planters everywhere!


The exterior of the British Museum, London
British Museum


Marylebone

Mmm organic beer

The interior of Angel in the Fields Pub on Marylebone High St is beautiful, with stained glass windows
This pub was so pretty

Pho restaraurant Oxford Circus had delicious Pho and fast service!
Pho - one of my favourite foods


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It's easy to spend 3 days in London, even in winter!


Kin Cosmos Fields - Okinawa

Since I moved to Okinawa 2 years ago, I kept seeing photos of these gorgeous cosmos flower fields in Kin and have been desperate to visit them ever since. The challenge is the fact that they only bloom for a very short time every year and I kept missing it!

I was crazy busy with work in January and only got one day off before a work trip to London. The day was lovely and we decided to head out to see these flowers. They were so lovely!

These cosmos fields are planted between rice crops because apparently they do something good to the soil. I have absolutely no idea what they do, but they look so pretty! I basically took about a hundred photos of the same thing, but I just couldn't stop because the cosmos were so pretty!

There is no parking spot near the cosmos fields, so you just park on the side of the road wherever you can find space. Be careful that you are leaving enough room for other cars to get past you. The field has designated walking paths with lots of signs telling you not to go off the paths, but there are a couple of areas good for photos without the ropes in the way. It seems a lot of people come here for professional photo shoots.

You can get specific direction to the cosmos fields here

Without further ado.... flower spam:

The cosmos fields in Kin, Okinawa bloom in between rice crop harvests and are a great place to get photos!

This guy!
The cosmos fields in Kin, Okinawa bloom in between rice crop harvests and are a great place to get photos!




The cosmos fields in Kin, Okinawa bloom in between rice crop harvests and are a great place to get photos!




The cosmos fields in Kin, Okinawa bloom in between rice crop harvests and are a great place to get photos!


Perfect spot for a family selfie
The cosmos fields in Kin, Okinawa bloom in between rice crop harvests and are a great place to get photos!



Man hole cover in Kin, Okinawa
Love the man hole covers in Japan
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The cosmos fields in Kin Town, Okinawa are a must see if you happen to be in Okinawa when they are in bloom. You will be greeted by a sea of pink and white flowers. It's the perfect photo spot.

White Christmas in Japan - Nozawa Onsen

After an amazing Christmas eve playing in the snow at Nozawa Onsen and a visit to the snow monkeys, we woke up on Christmas day to beautiful blue skies! After opening presents followed by a traditional Japanese breakfast at our accommodation, we spent the morning playing on the slopes again with the sleds and snow bikes, then headed to a cozy craft beer cafe (Craft Room) for some warmth and a snack. When we walked in we were greeted by super friendly staff and a delicious looking menu! We had a bowl of wedges and some falafel balls as well as some cider (on tap!).

After lunch we headed back for more snow play before going back to our accommodation to open more presents with the cousins and some sparkling wine. We had dinner at Kaze no Ie, an Italian restaurant in the village.

Nozawa Onsen really was one of the most incredible Christmases we've had as a family. Not only did we get the white Christmas we were searching for, the village was absolutely lovely. The staff at our accommodation and all the places we ate were so nice, and everything was in walking distance.

Nozawa Onsen was really easy to get to from Tokyo, and I can imagine us going back again in future. I can see why people keep going back there year after year. 

For more information about where we stayed and booked our holiday, check out my last post.

Nozawa onsen on Christmas day! Blue skies and snow!
Sunny day in Nozawa Onsen
Another snowball fight



Nozawa Onsen on Christmas Day 2016. Perfection


Snowy mountain shrines

Snow covered torii gate at Nozawa Onsen, Nagano on Christmas day
Torii

I love how the trees are encased in these sticks

Hikage area in Nozawa Onsen. You can borrow sleds and snow bikes for free! So much fun for kids and adults!
Hikage area

Those mountains <3





Lunch break at an awesome craft beer restaurant

View from the gondola at Nozawa Onsen ski fields on Christmas day
View from the gondola
Presents!
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White Christmas in Nozawa Onsen - Japan. This is an absolutely delightful village to stay in Japan if you want to ski and experience a white Christmas in Japan.