One day in Miami

So just over a week ago I went to the USA for work. This was my second trip to the US, and I visited Chicago, rural Illinois and Miami, Florida. Miami was my last stop on the trip, and I was lucky enough to have a whole day at the end before my (looooong) night flight back to Japan. Because I only had one day I decided to spend it in South Beach, as it promised to be a combination of the beach, shopping and art deco heaven.

The Albion hotel in South Beach, Miami, is lovely on the outside, awesome lobby, but rooms with paper-thin walls.
The Albion Hotel - Where I stayed in Miami
Let me tell you, Miami really didn't disappoint. I couldn't stop taking photos of all the amazing art deco buildings, and the skies were so incredibly blue. I can see why people flock here for some warm weather holiday. I also loved the fact that basically EVERYONE was speaking Spanish. I honestly barely heard anyone speaking English at all while I was there. It was like being in another country. 

Oh.....and I saw a hipster riding a bike with his pet lemur on his shoulders.....

I spent my one day wandering around the art deco district, taking way too many photos, shopping on Lincold Rd Mall, and finally getting to eat Shake Shack, which was super delicious! I have no idea what they put in those burgers (MSG?) but they are good!

My only regret was that I didn't make it to the Saturday brunch at Palace (seriously, how amazing does this place look?), which promised non-stop drag shows and all you can drink margaritas. I felt a bit weird going on my own, and also thought that margaritas weren't really a good idea on the day I was flying out..... US airport TSA is no joke guys! Pretty sure they wouldn't look kindly on a drunk passenger.

Because I was on the work budget, my hotel budget was limited, so I chose to stay at the Albion Hotel, which, location-wise, is fantastic and it was also art deco, which was another tick for me. The one (kind of major) downfall for me was the fact that the walls were paper thin. I could hear everything (and I mean everything) going on in the rooms around me! You win some, you lose some, right?

If you ever find yourself with limited time in Miami, I definitely recommend heading straight to South Beach. Sure, it's full of tourists, but it is gorgeous, lively and has great shopping!

South Beach, MIami has long and wide sand beach, with different colour areas for different hotels. It makes for some great photos.

South Beach, Miami is an Art Deco heaven

South Beach, Miami is covered with gorgeous beach settings in different colours for different hotels.

Amazing light

Lincoln Road Mall

This tree <3

Shake Shack Miami Beach
Finally tried Shake Shack - It was delicious!

Pastel <3

Senot Frogs in South Beach, MIami is everything wonderful
Senor Frogs

South Beach, Miami is extremely gay friendly
Rainbow flag near The Palace

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One day in Chicago!

Michigan Ave Chicago is full or beautiful tall buildings on one side, and the park on the other.

I just arrived back to Okinawa yesterday after a week-long very busy work trip! If you follow my Facebook page or my Instagram you would have seen some photos already, but today i'm back to start blogging about this epic trip!

After my last work trip to the US over a year ago, I was absolutely floored by the jetlag when I arrived, and basically went straight to work the next day. It was horrible and I was really dreading it this time. Because of this, I made an executive decision to arrive a day earlier to give myself an extra night to (try to) get some sleep before I had to work. It also gave me a day to actually explore Chicago, where my trip began. 

For some reason (I'm thinking multiple big sports games), there was basically no hotel rooms available in the city for the Saturday night I arrived under $600USD, so I stayed out near the airport for the first night and headed in to the city the next day for the night. 

Ever since I was 14 years old and started watching ER when it first aired, I have wanted to go to Chicago. Maybe it was the idea of running to Julianna Margulies or George Clooney on the street, I don't know. Anyway, i've always wanted to visit and I was so happy to finally have the chance!

When I finally got into the city, I dropped my bags at my hotel and headed straight out to explore. I was staying right on Michigan Avenue near the Art Institute of Chicago, so the location was excellent. I walked to Millennium Park, and took an awkward photo with Cloud Gate, affectionately called the Bean, enjoyed checking out the autumn leaves changing colour. I kept wandering all the way up to the street to the DuSable Bridge, because I wanted to see all the gorgeous buildings on the river. It really is a beautiful city full of lovely architecture.

The second half of the day I headed out to Lincoln Park, because I wanted to check out the suburbs, to see another side of the city. Because this post already has a lot of photos, i'll be separating it into a few posts :)

Chicago skyline obscured by low lying clouds
Foggy day in Chicago

Fall leaves :)

Cheesy tourist photo

Cloud Gate, or The Bean in Milennium Park in Chicago is one of the most well known tourist spots in the city
Cloud Gate - better known as the Bean

The view of Chicago from DeSable bridge is iconic
Gorgeous, except for the gross word on the building on the right


My hotel, the Congress. It was old, but it did the job :)

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Some ideas on what to do with one day in Chicago

Moon Beach Hotel, Okinawa

Moon Beach hotel in Okinawa extremely relaxing, set against azure waters and coral reef with a lovely white sand beach and two different pools.
Entrance to the beach
I'm lucky enough to live in an area of Okinawa surrounded by resort hotels. Although I don't get to stay at these hotels, I do sometimes like to take advantage of their facilities. The resort hotel closest to me is Moon Beach. Recently they opened a new lagoon pool and it is absolutely gorgeous! Usually I prefer going to the beach (salt water! snorkelling!), but every now and again I get persuaded by little G to go to the pool.

A couple of weekends ago, the weather was amazing, so we headed up to road to the Moon Beach pool. Because we were not guests at the hotel, we had to pay for parking and pool entry (500yen each) but it's worth it. There are 2 pools and the beach. The semi-indoor pool is good on a rainy day, and has a childrens pool as well. The outdoor lagoon pool is the nicer and newer of the two, but is more laid back, and you kind of need to keep more control of your children. Both pools are surrounded by sun lounges, and during the morning there was a nice bit of shade covering the lagoon pool if you are worried about getting sunburned. One other thing I really liked was the free kids arm floaties you could just borrow, which was handy because we forgot ours.

As for the beach, there are sun lounges and umbrellas but I think you need to pay for these, as well as floating rings for rent. There are also lifeguards at all the pools/beach. I noticed a beach bar near the lagoon pool, but it wasn't open when I was there (before midday), however, nothing is more resorty/relaxing than a cocktail by the pool! One last thing that I think is the icing on the cake is the relaxing hawaiian music playing near the pool. Perfect!

If you are coming to Okinawa, but can't afford the expensive resort hotel prices, you can always stay somewhere cheaper and just pay to use the facilities at the resorts. Moon Beach is definitely cheaper than some of the others (expect upwards of 2000yen per person at other places), but it's still lovely!

Moon Beach hotel in Okinawa extremely relaxing, set against azure waters and coral reef with a lovely white sand beach and two different pools.Lagoon pool

Moon Beach hotel in Okinawa extremely relaxing, set against azure waters and coral reef with a lovely white sand beach and two different pools.

Moon Beach hotel in Okinawa extremely relaxing, set against azure waters and coral reef with a lovely white sand beach and two different pools.

Vines growing inside from the roof
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Moon Beach hotel in Onna, Okinawa is fantastic! IT's a little retro, but if you can't afford to stay the night, you can still just visit for the day and use their amazing pool and beach facilities.

Rainy shrine in Tokyo

One of the great things about mainland Japan, is no matter where you are staying, you're probably going to stumble across some temples and shrines. This is exactly what happened on our recent trip to Tokyo. Even though were staying in what seemed like a suburb completely full of love hotels, I also spotted a shrine across from the station. Of course, I needed to check it out.

Motomishima Shrine is located just near Uguisudani station, and even though the weather was horrible and rainy, I still went to have a look. The shrine was nothing spectacular, but there was no one else there and the gloomy, rainy weather was actually really nice.

I definitely recommend wandering around your accommodation neighbourhood. You never know what you might stumble across.

Motomishima is a little neighbourhood shrine near Uguisudani station in Tokyo
Stairs up to the shrine

Motomishima is a little neighbourhood shrine near Uguisudani station in Tokyo

The view from our Airbnb over the misty train tracks to the huge graveyard on the other side.