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Book Review: Getting Genki in Japan by Karen Pond

Getting Genki in Japan: The Adventures & Misadventures of an American Family in Tokyo

By Karen Pond | Illustrations by Akiko Saito

Every time I visit Mitsukoshi at the Japan pavilion in EPCOT, I peruse the rather large book section.  I have read many interesting books from there and Getting Genki in Japan is no exception!

Getting Genki in Japan

A good book and a glass of wine.

GENKI = Energetic, Exciting, Full of Life

Getting Genki in Japan is a very clever and delightfully illustrated book about the adventures of an American family living in Tokyo.  Tokyo is a character in the book that is both difficult to deal with and amusingly charming at the same time.   Each chapter highlights the everyday struggle of moving to a foreign country and particularly one where the language and culture are so significantly different than America.  This family was very brave to dive right in and immerse themselves in a whole, new life.  It is both impressive and humorous reading the tales of getting through mundane situations in Japan and with children nonetheless!

I relish hearing about all the new and unfamiliar foods, words, customs and occurrences in Japan.  As a traveler, I appreciate touring but savor the little things you learn about day to day life of people living in other countries.  This book is a terrific, light-hearted read that highlights those exact aspects of life in Tokyo.

Traveling Gals Tip:  Reading fuels your passions and interests.  If you are feeling uninspired, grab a book and that should change quickly!

The sign of a good book to me is when after reading it I want to immediately hop on a plane and visit the destination.  Genki  definitely bolstered my determination to spend time in Japan.  I am ready to pack my bags and set out to the Land of the Rising Sun!

Interested in getting the book? Getting Genki in Japan *

*This is an affiliate link. If you make a purchase through this link we may receive a commission

Or check out your local library!

Do you have a favorite travel book? Let us know in the comments!

The Traveling Gals

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Starlight Blogger Award Nominee

Starlight Bloggers AwardThese are the rules:

1. Thank the giver and link their blog to your post.
2. Answer the 3 original questions then the 3 new questions from your nominator given to you.
3. Pass the award on to 6 or more other bloggers of your choice and let them know that they have been nominated by you and add 3 new questions for your nominees.
4. Include the logo of the award in a post or on your blog, please never alter the logo, never change the 3 original questions and never change the Award rules.

Please don’t delete this note: the design for the STARLIGHT Bloggers Award has been created from YesterdayAfter. It is a Copyright image. You cannot alter or change it in any way, just pass it to others that deserve this award.
Copyright 2015 © YesterdayAfter.com – Design by Carolina Russo

Thank you so much to Fabiola from My Heart of Mexico for nominating us for this award!

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Royal Caribbean Chops Grille
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The Finer Things Aboard Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean:  The Finer Things

In the world of cruising, family and budget friendly usually come to mind when thinking of Royal Caribbean cruises, not the finer things.  I want to share with you two experiences I recently had on the Vision of the Seas that were quite grand events and elevated my perception of service and epicurean significance.

Royal Caribbean

Vision of the Seas

Source

Lafite Wine Tasting

When reserving the tasting, I did not realize it was Lafite and assumed it was the usual tasting offered on board most ships.  It was not!  Royal Caribbean has exclusively partnered with Domaines Baron de Rothschild Lafite and this program presents the history and details of these exquisite wines of the region of Bordeaux.  Chateau Lafite is a wine estate in France owned by members of the Rothschild family.  It is renowned as one of the most famous wine properties in the Medoc.  Producing primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, some Lafite Rothschild vintages are the most expensive wines worldwide for purchase.

We had a small group and an excellent sommelier.  As is usual in tastings, everyone is quiet at the beginning but are much more chatty as the wine continues flowing!  The sommelier is key.  Ours was very knowledgeable, but also a lot of fun!  I really enjoy wines and informative tastings, but I do not take them too seriously.  I want to learn and have a good time.  Since the wines are primarily reds, we started the tasting with the one white wine and moved up to the fuller bodied reds and ended with a classic dessert wine.   The wines tasted are below.  I loved the Bordeaux Blanc which is a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc and the Medoc red which was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  They were all interesting to taste.  The wines flowed very freely and we were sent home with a beautiful folder packed with information regarding Lafite and the wines we tasted.    This is a perfect afternoon endeavor on a day at sea as long as you have time for a nap at the pool before dinner!

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Halloween Celebrations Around the World

Halloween Around the World

Learn about Halloween celebrations in a few different countries around the world! Happy Halloween!

Ireland

Did you know Ireland is considered the place where Halloween originated? The Gaelic pagan festival called Samhain marked the end of summer and beginning of winter, which was considered the darker half of the year and meant death for many. This period is when the dead were thought to return so villagers would light fires to ward off spirits. Irish immigrants brought the idea of All Hallow’s Eve to the USA.

Bunratty Castle Halloween

By: Kathy

Popular Events
Banks of Foyle Halloween Carnival in Derry

Bram Stoker Festival in Dublin

The Masquerade Mystery at Malahide Castle

Family Fun at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park

England

Halloween in England has become rather commercialized as well. But they do have many haunted castles and buildings to visit as well as some interesting celebrations that focus more on the end of the harvest and honoring the dead.

Ottery St. Mary Tar Halloween

Ottery St. Mary

Popular Events
Halloween in Cheshire

Guy Fawkes Day

Ottery St. Mary Tar Barrel Festival in Devon

Punkie Night in Hinton St. George

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Quick and Easy Pumpkin Rice Recipe

Pumpkin season is upon us! Although it certainly doesn’t feel like fall here in Florida, we still enjoy the change of seasons. By now you have probably seen a lot about pumpkin spice. We wanted a quick and easy way to add pumpkin to a meal, and decided to add it to rice! If you love pumpkin, this is a great way to get your pumpkin fix.
autumn pumpkin rice recipe

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Book Reviews: North of Naples, South of Rome and Stolen Figs and Other Adventures in Calabria

Book Reviews: North of Naples, South of Rome by Paolo Tullio and Stolen Figs and Other Adventures in Calabria by Mark Rotella

I have switched gears a bit lately and my reading has been devoted to Italy.  The following are two books I enjoyed reading and made me long to spend time in Italy!

italybookreviews

North of Naples, South of Rome

North of Naples is a recommendation from the Crystal  Cruises website.  The author was born in Gallinaro in the Comino Valley, but was educated and resides in the UK.  He returns to his family home in Gallinaro for summers.  It was written in the early 1990’s so it is interesting to have an older time period and the point of view of a non-American.  Paolo’s take on Italy’s economy was a time of Italian prosperity with an influx of foreign investors.  The politics were scattered and based heavily on the favor system, so not much has changed!

The stories told are typical Italian, but very interesting.  They offer an insight not often covered by many of the romance laden travel journals.  I found myself laughing and at the same time getting a deeper understanding of the passionate Italian people.  Paolo’s take on Naples for example goes beyond the typical, scary depiction of theft and non-safety.  It endeavors to make you think of Naples as a place for the ultimate hustlers, therefore only scary to the naïve.  Apparently, this book inspired a PBS mini-series in the 1990’s and I would love to see it!

Traveling Gals Tip:  When looking for interesting travel journals to read, I check upscale and river cruise websites for their recommended reading suggestions.

Stolen Figs and Other Adventures in Calabria

Stolen Figs has been on my reading list for some time.   I was happily entertained by Mark Rotella’s recounting of discovering the hometown of his family, Gimigliano.  I have never visited this part of Italy located in the toe of the boot.  It is much less traveled by tourists, which makes it very interesting to me.  Although life seems less prosperous and perhaps more difficult, it is easy to be drawn into the welcoming and charming family of the author.  Life in Calabria seems to be relatively unchanged over time for better or worse.

After arriving unannounced in Gimigliano, Mark and his father are welcomed with open arms by extended family and residents.  Particularly Giuseppe, an informal guide and postcard salesman, introduces Mark to the real Calabria.  Their adventures and fun and make me want to hop on a plane to visit immediately.  This is always the sign of a good book!  Apparently, figs right off the tree are the best in Calabria.  I never think about eating them, but I am now inspired to try a recipe with fresh figs!

Interested in reading one of these books?

North of Naples, South of Rome *

Stolen Figs: And Other Adventures in Calabria *

*These are affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these, we may make a commission.

Or check out your local library!

Let us know your favorite travel books in the comments!

Canoe Florida Fall Foliage
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Fall Foliage in…Florida?!

Fall Foliage in Florida?!

We are starting to feel cooler breezes reminiscent of fall. Of course, this is Florida so that means a drop in humidity…not temperature!  Obviously Florida is not the first place that comes to mind when you think Fall Foliage.  When living in Chicago, Fall Foliage meant a weekend trip to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin to see the beautiful leaves turning colors and hiking around the lake for the final time before winter.  Living in Florida, the colors are subdued but there is foliage nonetheless changing into muted hues of yellow, orange and red.  Fall colors can be seen on such trees as Cypress, Red Maple and Sorrel trees among others.  Since the evenings do not cool off until well into October/November, the leaves tend to change colors here sporadically and not until long after northern leaf changes have peaked.

Torreya State Park Fall Foliage

Torreya State Park – from floridastateparks.org

The Traveling Gals Tip:  Try something new and view foliage while canoeing!                                    

The panhandle and northern Florida are the best for viewing in places like Torreya State Park. This is a wonderful place for hiking, fishing, etc. and you can even spend the night camping or rent a yurt!  The stretch along I-75 north of Tampa is surprising hilly and can display a multitude of color, at least by Florida’s measures.  The I-10 corridor through the panhandle can some deeper hued color changes especially in the most northernmost part of the state.  Although Florida is not a conventional choice for Fall Foliage, it is a wonderful time of year in the Sunshine State to get out and experience nature.  If that is not enough for you…you can always travel!!!

Canoe Florida Fall Foliage

photo via Flickr user LOLren

Where are your favorite places to see Fall Foliage? Let us know in the comments!

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