My favorite Bar I have been to is Bar零. It is located in Tokyo, Japan. It is easiest to find Bar零 by getting off at the Ikebukuro Station. You will have to look for the dark wooden door off to the side of the bustling street with the small sign.
Once through the door, you walk down the narrow staircase to another door and are greeted by the owner, and are seated at the beautiful, dimly lit, traditional Japanese bar.
The bar is the perfect spot for a quiet date night drink because of the intimate size, highly skilled bartender and wonderful cocktails.
The owner is extremely kind and speaks English very well. He will love to have a nice conversation with you. He has owned and operated the bar for sixteen years.
Once you order a drink, be sure to watch him make it. He uses perfected skill and precision to cut each ice cube to the correct size so it will slowly melt and to drop into your glass at the exact moment he pours your drink.
I highly recommend spending a night at Bar零 if you are ever in Tokyo. It will be a truly unique experience.
My first stop in Japan was Tokyo. I knew I would like Tokyo, but I unexpectedly fell in love with the city life, ease of transportation, such kind and helpful people, and of course the food. The first day I spent in Tokyo was at a sushi making class. Cooking School Yuka Mazda was my favorite cooking class I ever went to! If you’re planning on visiting Tokyo I highly recommend that you take one of Yuka’s traditional Japanese cooking classes. She offers sushi, tempura, teriyaki, and gyoza with wagyu beef cooking classes as well. Yuka was the chef that taught the sushi class. She was incredibly kind, funny, and extremely knowledgeable of traditional Japanese cooking. Yuka helped each of us to cut the sushi fish correctly which was not as easy as it looked. She bought us the finest fresh ingredients and taught us not only how to make sushi but how to properly cook Miso soup and how to make sushi rice…the correct way. You will not go hungry after leaving Yuka’s sushi class. We made so much sushi and had extra rice, fish and vegetables to eat as well as homemade Miso soup, tofu, tea, and even a sweet dorayaki (Japanese red bean cake.)Of all the sushi and even Miso soup that I ate in Japan, the food that I had at this cooking class was by far the best quality and taste.I learned so much about sushi making, Japanese food and culture. It was a great start to my trip in Japan. I am definitely going back to Tokyo some day and cannot wait to go to Yuka’s cooking class again!
I decided only three days before Christmas Eve to book tickets home. I only told my brother, my aunt so she could pick me up from the airport, and my dad so I could make sure I had a spot at dinner out on Christmas eve in Philly. (I was so excited to eat Italian food) Cuffari’s are famous for suprises so I figured I would keep up the tradition!
I took three flights to get home. My first was a short 40min flight in New Zealand up to Auckland. The airport was so small they didn’t even have security and I just walked onto the plane from outside. I had to literally hand my bag to the worker so it could be placed under the plane. My flight only had five people…including me. Everyone was so kind.
After hanging around the Auckland airport for six hours…I finally got my second flight to San Francisco which was 13 hours long.
Once landing in San Francisco (after circling for an hour around the airport due to so much fog in SFO) I had to sprint to through customs, security, and all the way to the domestic terminal to make my flight to Newark. It was so weird to leave the kind and small airports in New Zealand to the rude, highly disorganized and crazy packed ones in the US…it was not welcoming at all.
Pictured above, on my flight to Newark I looked out at the snow covered ground and think that I spotted Blue Mountain Ski Resort.
My aunt picked me up from Newark and drove me to go suprise my mom at her house. She had no idea that I was there! I was literally standing next to her while she was eating dinner and she didn’t even notice! It was absolutely the best suprise ever!
I also suprised my friend Colleen at her house. She had no clue I was in her house for half an hour talking to her parents downstairs until I finally knocked on her door and she then slammed the door…like she does when people suprise her. It was so funny!
The next suprise was my Grandparents in Philly on Christmas Eve. I rang their door bell, and my Grandmom opened the door screaming. But the best part of the suprise video was my Grandpop. He totally knew that my brother was holding my phone beforehand. He was screaming “She is sneaky!”
It was great to spend time with family and friends over Christmas and New Years.
Taranaki is located on the west coast of the north island. It is known for the volcano: Mt. Taranaki.
There are beautiful views of Mt. Taranaki all throughout the area.
The weather was terrible this week and I only got out to hike one day.
Pictured above is the water that now streams over where the lava flowed when the volcano erupted years ago.
Wellington is the capital of New Zealand and is located at the bottom of the North Island.
It is a bustling city on the water and has many shops, restaurants, farmers markets and free museums. (Which are good to see on the many rainy days.)
There are several hikes through forests and on beaches that are beautiful to see when you need a break from the city area.
I unfortunately didn’t realize that these shells I stumbled upon were the famous New Zealand paua shells. They are used for jewelry and are very expensive to buy in stores. I only brought one back home though…Oh well. Sorry to anyone who wanted one.
Below is a fresh new fern growing. It is one of my favorite things to see on a hike. The ferns grow outwards in a spiral-like fashion. Throughout New Zealand the spiral symbol is seen everywhere.
New Zealand is very good at making delicious hot chocolate. This was one of the best hot chocolates I have had in New Zealand at Nikau Cafe.
Also, I have started a new obsession with avocado toast in New Zealand. Pictured below (also from Nikau Cafe) is an avocado toast with goat cheese, pistachios, pickled turnips, sprouts and herbs.
At The Library, on Tuesday nights the adesserts re two for the price of one…so of course I took advantage of this sweet opportunity. Chocolate Cube: chocolate orange icecream with pistachios and a cube of dark chocolate ganache cake.
The second dessert I had was a vanilla ice cream topped with carmel popcorn and peanuts.
Being in Wellington during December was neat to see how Christmas is celebrated. There was a big Christmas festival and parade one weekend that was weird to see people dressed up and it being 70 degrees outside. Definitely didn’t feel like Christmas to me.
To bring some wintery Christmas to the children, the festival had set up a snow dome which had man made snow inside where the children could play in the snow.