Things to skip in Vienna

Things to skip in Vienna

Six things to SKIP in Vienna, Austria

and Six things to do INSTEAD!

Avoid the typical to find the hidden gems

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With any destination that you visit, you should always research with caution as to which things you must see and which you can pass over. Because let’s be honest, not all museums are created equal, five plus churches in one day begins to lose its lust, and we can’t all go into the same ‘famous’ restaurant.

Before any trip I take, I do a lot of research. I see which blogger recommends what, what’s the best area to stay in and what I should be packing with me. And quite frankly, a lot of what I found online was the same places listed out over and over again.

So, after visiting these places I realized what wasn’t worth our time and what was a much better use of travel time. Read on for the Six things you can skip while in Vienna, and six things you should do instead:

Things you should skip in Vienna, & six things to do instead!

(1) Don’t pay to go into ALL of the Hofburg Palace museums/areas

INSTEAD choose one part to pay for and enjoy your time outside marveling at the Hofburg Empire architecture. I would suggest either the Sisi Museum or the National Library. Vienna is full of exciting and exquisite history, but that doesn’t mean you need to spend your entire time inside of museums. Choose one in the Hofburg Palace to immerse yourself in and then be sure to have time to explore other areas of the city.

(2) Don’t pay to go to the top of St. Stephen’s Cathedral

INSTEAD enjoy a view of the cathedral and all of Stephansplatz (St. Stephen’s square) from Do&Co Hotels Onyx bar. Their interior and cocktails are almost as stunning as the views! You can still, and should, go into St. Stephen’s Cathedral, as it’s beautiful and is the city’s most important and standout church since it’s construction in 1160. But don’t pay to go up to the top of the tower. It’s like paying to be inside of the view, when the view should be the cathedral itself.

(3) Don’t visit every palace in Vienna

INSTEAD head further outside of the city to explore the Schönbrunn Palace. This palace is one of the main attractions in Vienna, but it is massive so you won’t feel like you’re walking through a crowded space (although I would still suggest you arrive early in the day to avoid some crowds).

With over 1400 rooms, gardens that are comparable to those of Versaille and it’s own zoo, you will have plenty to explore here all while getting an incredible sense of history of Austria.

Since you’re a smart sustainable traveler, you’ll be purchasing your tickets to the Schönbrunn Palace in advance. I love these ‘skip-the-line’ options!

*Please note- I often will not promote the visitation of zoo’s, as many around the world are not animal friendly and are often seen as abuse to the animals. I personally did not visit this zoo, but have read that the ‘animal enclosure areas’ are quite large and mimic their wildlife habitats. I’m unaware of their conservation efforts at this time (however, I have reached out to them for details) besides careful breeding of endangered species. Visiting and contributing funds to this zoo would be a personal consideration that you will need to make.

(4) Don’t go to Hotel Sacher for the famous Viennese Sachertorte (cake)

INSTEAD go to Kleines Cafe or Cafe Sperl for Sachertorte. Both are smaller and more authentic cafes, with a traditional Viennese cafe vibe. Kleines Cafe is located in Franziskanerplatz, and Cafe Sperl is near the Naschmarkt. Plus both of these cafes are not nearly as crowded as typically tourist frequented Hotel Sacher or Cafe Demel will be.

(5) Don’t eat schnitzel or sausage

I mean for one thing, true traditional schnitzel is to be made with veal, aka baby cow so no thank you 🙁

INSTEAD Enjoy the city’s best bakery, Joseph’s Bakery & Cafe. This is where the locals are enjoying their weekend brunches or lunches. Josephs has a few locations throughout Vienna, and some of the best bread you could enjoy. They also have a handful of vegan and vegetarian options, which pair amazingly well with their delicious coffees, juices and teas.

(6) Don’t visit every museum in Vienna

INSTEAD- visit the Kunsthistorisches museum. Known as the city’s fine art history museum, the Kunsthistorisches museum is incredibly beautiful inside and houses works of art from many famous and well known artists. Such as Caravaggio and Bernini – what can I say, I’m impartial to Italian artists

Click here to get discounted tickets to visit the Kunsthistorisches Museum!

Don’t forget to pack these items:

With Vienna being the most livable city in the world, and home to the center of European history it is chock full of beautiful places to discover, foods to sample and history to learn about. I hope this list provides you with some insight into what you can skip over during your visit to have an even more authentic visit of Vienna.

Happy travels,

Laura

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing web designer & photographer. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

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Best Tips to Beat Jet Lag

Best Tips to Beat Jet Lag

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For when you first arrive to your destination AND when you return home from a trip

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Jet-lag can be a serious challenge, even for avid travellers. To my fellow Californians who to fly to Europe – west to east – we know that flying is much more difficult going east than it is west. This is because flying east shortens the day (or you lose time, depending on how you look at it). I’ve personally done this type of west coast to Europe flight a handful of times and have felt, first hand, the effects of jet lag (even after I denied it to be a real problem for years).

Your body wants to eat when you tell it to sleep, and it wants to sleep when you tell it to walk around the city for 10 miles. Your time is precious when you’re traveling as you most likely have a limited number of days at your destination and are using well-deserved vacation days. So, there is no time to be wasted on coddling your jet lag. Keep reading to learn what jet lag is and why we get it, hilarious stories of others trying to power through jet lag and my best tips for how to beat jet lag.

What is Jetlag & why do we ‘get’ jet lag

        Understanding what jet lag is can help us better deal with the problem. As airplanes are a fairly recent modern form of transportation, so is jet lag a newer modern term in our vocabulary. Our bodies are built on a 24 hour time clock and when we throw that off, our bodies are trying to re-correct an error in their natural clock. This is the basic explanation for jet lag.

        Jet lag is considered to be a chronobiological problem. Chronobiology examines the cyclic phenomena in living beings and their ability to adapt to solar and lunar rhythms. And medically, jet lag is called Desynchronosis, which means that your circadian rhythm, or body clock is out of sync. We get jet lag because your body thinks, and therefore feels it’s in one time zone, but it’s physically somewhere else. For example, in May 2019 my body felt like it should be asleep while I was walking around Budapest, Hungary at 11:00am, because it was 2:00am where I’m from, in San Diego.

        Your body needs to adjust from the time zone it was in, and catch up to the time zone you’ve traveled to. It’s important to ensure your body has a smooth adjustment and transition from any jet lag symptoms as our bodies and brains use their natural body clock to communicate to ourselves how the organs should act/react and is based on light exposure.

        How long does it take to recover from jet lag? There is no one answer unfortunately. So, it’s best to have as many tools in your tool belt to help combat it. Keep in mind, our bodies tend to have an easier time adjusting when we fly west, versus when we fly east. Because we can adjust to longer days (flying west), as opposed to shorter days (flying east). Here’s an example: when flying from San Diego to Philadelphia, a 6 hour flight – your flight departs San Diego at 7am, and your land in Philadelphia at 4pm, so a 6 hour flight, now feels like a 9 hour day. Whereas when flying from Philadelphia at 7am to San Diego you would land at 10am.

        People often ask how long does it take to get over jet lag, and it depends entirely on how far you travel and the times of your travel. You can use this program to help you understand the length of time it will take to adjust to a new time zone based on your personal trip details.

Symptoms & Effects of Jet Lag

  • Groggy
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Weight gain
  • Change in body temperature
  • Hormone regulation issues
  • Increase in blood pressure (as can flying in general)
  • Change in appetite
  • Indigestion
  • Lack of concentration and
  • Impaired decision making skills

Everyone is affected by jet lag differently. Any number of the symptoms and effects listed above can cause health issues and none of which I personally enjoy dealing with while traveling as it takes quite a bit of time away from enjoying my trip. In fact, here are a few ways that other travelers have made some (pretty funny) mistakes and mishaps while experiencing jet lag!

    The things people have done while feeling jetlagged

    The stupid, the funny and the embarrasing

    “After traveling for over 20 hours, I wanted to wash my hair. Instead I poured my shampoo from the bottle over the drain, only to be confused why it wasn’t in my hair”

    -Laura (me!), Blue Eyed Compass

    “When I flew back from China last October I was so jetlagged that I went all the way into work only to find that the office was closed…it was Sunday. I thought the commute was kind of quiet!”

    -Hamish, My Travel Fix

    “On the balcony of my hotel I proceeded to take a single drag of my cigarette and drop it inside my coffee.. I stared aghast at my still-hot cigaccino for a full minute before calling it quits and going to bed.”

    -Bradley, Winged Writer

    “The most expensive goof I’ve made whilst jet lagged is forgetting to check out of a hotel in Bali. I was so foggy headed I was convinced we had an extra day so returning from exploring and finding our room key didn’t work I was forced to have a pretty embarrassing conversation with hotel staff and pay top rates for our extra night!”

    -Karen, Are We There Yet Kids

    “After I landed in China, I woke up a half an hour before I had to leave for a tour, and thought I was awake. The next thing I knew, the tour was calling my room to see where I was. I guess I just collapsed back asleep.”

    -Kimberly, Panali Travels

    “The night before a cruise we left our passports with hotel reception in Venice Italy.  We only realized we didn’t have them at the cruise terminal, coughed up all of our euros for a water taxi to the hotel and then ran through the city back to board the ship just in time!”

    -Gwen, A Broad Reach Travel

    “After 24 hours of travel, I went outside in below freezing weather with just a t-shirt, to the shock of the locals, and claimed I was plenty warm…that didn’t last long.”

    -Chelsey, The Ninja Gypsy

    “After a restless night in the Paraguay airport, I agreed to go to a Radiohead concert in Lima. With barely two hours of sleep I made it to the concert. I fell asleep about 10 minutes into the concert and was woken up when it was time to leave. I’ve still only ever heard Radiohead’s song Creep.”

    -Katie, Just Chasing Sunsets

    “We spent 3 weeks in an RV in California, filling it with petrol every three days. On returning to the UK &  work the next day, I filled my beautiful new BMW with $100 of petrol… except, the car was diesel!  Four hours later, orange cones around my car & totally humiliated, I was towed away to be drained and re-filled, which cost another $200….pretty expensive jet lag!”

    -Izzy, The Gap Decaders

    The Best Tips to beat jet lag

    These are my personal best tips for how to combat jet lag. It is NOT a list of doctor recommended remedies. What works for me may not work for you, but I’m sure a handful of these just might do the trick for you.

    • The best way to beat jet lag is to quickly and effectively provide your body and mind the information it needs to know about its new time zone by providing proper sunlight, sleep and nutrition at the right time/s. Keep reading for how to do this:

    Before your flight:

    • Strategize your flights

    Choose your flights so that you arrive in the early evening. That way you don’t have to force yourself to stay awake all day. Of course this is dependent on where you are to and form.

    • Be organized and calm

    Feeling stressed prior to your trip will leave you with poor sleep before you take off, so your starting point for a trip will immediately be poorly off center. Aim to prepare for your trip a few days before your take off, so that your last 48 hours at home or at your destination are enjoyable and stress free.

    I’ll often start bringing out my travel items and outfit ideas a week before I depart, so that I know in advance if I need to purchase something and/or do laundry and not needing to do so the day of my departure.

    • Get a great night’s sleep the night before you fly. Even if your flight is an overnight trip

    If someone suggested you stay up or sleep less before you take a red eye is providing poor advice. It is physically impossible for your body and mind to sleep as well when you are flying, so boarding a plane already sleep deprived will not help you sleep better when you take off. EVEN if you can sleep easily on a plane. Your brain will not turn off completely and your organs react differently at 35,000 feet.

    Unless you’re flying business class with lay-flat seats, don’t start your trip feeling sleep deprived. Stick to your regular nighttime routine, or better yet, head to bed even earlier the night before a flight and gift your body an extra hour of rest.

    During your flight:

    • Acclimate to your landing time zone as soon as you board the plane

    Meaning, if you’re flying from New York to Poland, when you sit down in your seat tell yourself it is Poland time and act accordingly. Another example is from a personal flight – I was flying from San Diego to Paris. We departed San Diego airport around 7:00pm, and were slated to arrive in Paris around 2:00pm. So, I needed to tell myself that it was bedtime and rest/sleep as much as possible, and then wake up and do something active an hour before landing to pretend I had my morning routine.

    Do NOT state your previous time zone to yourself or anyone else around you. Keep your mind focused on the time zone you are aiming for.

    Drinks lots of water and avoid booze & caffeine. Both are stimulants and prevent proper sleep

    If you’re trying to sleep on the planebring items that will help you do so and stick to your nighttime routine. In fact, pack supplies so that you can mimic your evening routine in the plane bathroom. I typically pack the following with me and do my routine in the bathroom, including changing into pajamas

    • Pajamas & fresh undies (don’t judge, no one should be wearing the same skivvies for long haul travel haha)
    • Tooth brush & toothpaste
    • Face wipes or wash
    • Nighttime serum
    • Moisturizer & face spray
    • Jade roller

    I’ll also pack…

    • An eye mask
    • Ear plugs
    • Travel pillow
    • Thick scarf or sweater
    • Fuzzy socks
    • A strapable foot rest

    If you’re trying to stay awake on the plane :

    • Stand up and stretch every two hours. Walk to the bathroom area (where there is more room) and stretch out your body from top to bottom.
    • Drinks lots of water and avoid booze & caffeine. Both are stimulants and prevent proper sleep
    • Bring something to do besides watching movies – I almost always pack a small book, sudoku puzzles and a bit of work with me that excites me (like editing photos or watching educational courses)
    • *Note- in order to easily stand up every two hours aim to book your seat in an aisle seat. If that’s not possible, I will politely notify my seat mates that I have to stand up every few hours (I have prior injuries where I do physically need to do this). Gentle courtesy to your seat mates can go a long way.
    • Pack your own meal/s and snacks. Doing so will help you avoid the time settings the airline sets for the meals and maintain your own personal timeline depending on the time zone you are acclimating to. You’ll also avoid highly salted and processed foods, but that’s a discussion for another time.

    (Personally, I get a high from packing stellar food and snacks for my flights, especially because it gives me something to look forward to.)

    Your first day back home (or at your destination)

    • Workout!

    Your body may demand sleep, but stay strong and follow through the time zone with some sort of physical activity. Even if it’s just a simple brisk walk followed with some yoga stretches. This will help tire your mind and body for a better nights sleep, and provide endorphins to help heal your body from traveling

      • NO Naps

      I know crazy, because naps are amazing. But avoid them at all costs.

        • Sleep

          How counterintuitive of me to list these next to each other, but it really depends on when you land and how sleep deprived you may be. Make sure you time your first nights sleep accordingly. For example, I flew/traveled for 33 hours and landed in San Diego at 2:00pm in the afternoon after two weeks of feeling sleep deprived. So, I scheduled my bedtime for 7:30pm (I’m typically in bed around 9pm, with lights out by 9:45/10pm, so 7:30pm isn’t that much earlier)

          *If you think you’ll have trouble falling asleep you can always try a light dose of Melatonin – a natural hormone that tells your body when it’s time to sleep. Personally, I’m not a big fan of melatonin (it has led me to have very vivid dreams that I can’t wake up from), but it’s much more natural than a Tylenol PM and I know others who swear by it. PLEASE check the MG dosage as many over-the-counter melatonin pills have a much higher dosage per pill than is necessary. We only need 0.5mg per dose, many bottles boast a 5-15mg dose.

          • Prepare your bedroom

            Tying into how to have a great night’s sleep when jet lagged, you want to make your room isas dark as possible – close any blinds, face screens away from you and turn your thermostat down. You can also try this- take a warm/hot shower and step out into a cool room.

            Adjusting light and temperature will help manipulate your body’s natural sleep clock

            • Avoid blue light

              Adjust your phone to night shift mode (apple) or use the twilight app (android), or purchase blue light blocking glasses

              • Unpack right away

                Get your routine back into action and avoid any lingering to-do items by unpacking as soon as you get home

                • Soak up some sun

                  As I mentioned under the sleeping tips, light and temperature will affect your mind’s capability to rest. So, if you need to stay awake, be sure to take a walk outside. And of course, put on healthy sunscreen too

                  • Stretch

                    Stretching will alleviate those post-flight aches & pains from sitting upright for so long

                    • Shower & Pamper yourself

                      As a female, I find that if I shave my legs, do a nice face and eye mask (maybe even treat myself to a massage) I feel uber refreshed and recharged for the next day. It’s like hitting a reset button!

                      • Avoid heavy meals

                        • Don’t Succumb

                          Don’t succumb to the fact that you’re going to be jet lagged regardless of what you do. Your mind is a very powerful thing, and negative talk will absolutely reflect how your body reacts. If you put your mindset towards feeling jet lagged it was naturally occur. If you land in the morning and immediately take a nap, then your body’s clock will be off for far longer than you’ll want it to be, and you’ll have difficulty getting back on track.

                          Instead, create an easy to follow plan and tell yourself how great you’ll feel when you follow through!

                          How are you feeling?

                          Jet lag isn’t permanent, but it can make you feel like time is moving in slow motion, and can really damper your epic travel adventures. Being prepared! By utilizing the jet lag tips above you should be able to help prevent your jet lag from feeling worse or hopefully prevent it all together!

                          Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

                          Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing web designer & photographer. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

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                          Guide to Visiting Tokyo for the First Time

                          Guide to Visiting Tokyo for the First Time

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                          An easy to use guide for first time visitors to Tokyo, Japan

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                          Visiting Tokyo for the first time left me feeling lavish, while practical, and humbled, while also confused. Tokyo is a beautiful blend of high tech and tradition, and if you’ve never been to Asia before this massive city can feel overwhelming. There is a lot going on in Tokyo.  And that is definitely an understatement. Regardless, this city is incredibly beautiful, inspiring and kind, as well as a destination that everyone should experience at least once.

                          This Tokyo Guide for first time visitors will present the basics that you need to know for planning your trip and provide some guidance for what to expect. Continue reading to find out how to get to Tokyo, where to stay in the city, what to pack, the best things to do on your first trip to Tokyo, and more!

                          General Information about Tokyo, Japan

                          (for travelers & tourists)

                          • Tokyo can be quite expensive, especially the lodgings, so budget accordingly. We found that decent hotels were in the $300-$400 price range. There are over 30 million people living in Tokyo, which means real estate is sparse, and in order to fit everyone the rooms need to be small in order to have enough places for everyone.
                          • Budget for Tokyo by visiting free attractions and eating one of your daily meals from one of Tokyo’s awesome 7/11’s. They have plenty of food options for cheap prices (however, not many for vegetarians, at least that I could decipher)
                          • Utilize 7/11’s atms. Who would have thought that 7/11 would be the saving grace for tourists in Tokyo? Many atms in the city do not accept international credit cards, but the 7/11s do!
                          • Tokyo is very safe for travelers.  In fact, crime rates are crazy low. I never felt uncomfortable (except in Golden Gai, but not to a point of fear, just a general awkwardness as an outsider.  Read more about that here)
                          • Water in Tokyo is safe to drink
                          • Japanese currency is the Yen.  Once you arrive, I would suggest taking out money as some places will only accept cash
                          • The Japanese language can be confusing for tourists. Here are a few basic phrases that we used:
                          • Tokyo bathrooms are pretty fun. Weird to announce to the internet, but seriously their public restrooms felt nicer than some hotels restrooms I’ve been to in the states. Some play music in your stall, and I’m now convinced that toilet seat warmers should be required in all bathrooms.
                          • Write down your lodging address in Japanese (you can ask the staff at your hotel), this way if you need to show it to a taxi driver or are asking for directions, it will make translating much easier.

                          How long do you need to visit Tokyo?

                                  You could spend months in Tokyo and still find unique and fun things to do, but if you’re traveling to Tokyo for the first time with a limited number of vacation days, I would suggest three to five full days in the city. It will give you a great taste for the culture. Check out my itinerary that has details for each day.

                            When is the best time of year to visit Tokyo?

                                    It seems that anytime of year is good to visit Tokyo. Many visitors flock to Tokyo for the annual spring cherry blossom bloom (which makes finding affordable lodging difficult). We visited Tokyo in November and were in awe of the fall foliage. Summers may be hot, but not unbearably so, just as their winters don’t become too cold. I suppose what is too hot/cold will depend on you, a simple Google weather search will show you what you need to know.

                              Getting to Tokyo:

                              There are two main airports that fly in and out of Tokyo:

                              1. Haneda, which is the closest and larger airport
                              2. Narita, which is much further away (up to two hours driving time).

                              *I would suggest researching how to get to your hotel from BOTH of these airports. Our flight was redirected to land in Narita, so our transportation plans from Haneda had to change. From Narita you can take the Narita Express into Tokyo.

                              • Currently, no visa is required for US citizen tourists staying less than 90 days, but you must have an onward ticket booked out of Japan in order to be admitted into the country.  Your passport must have at least one free page, and be valid for your entire stay. *If you are not from the US, please check your country’s entry requirements for Japan
                              • Effective January 2019 visitors to Japan are required to pay a 1000 yen tourist tax. This will be built into your airfare, and was put into place to help support their infrastructure for the 2020 Olympics.

                                How to get around Tokyo:

                                With a massive city like Tokyo, comes an equally intricate public transportation system. I’ve put together a blog post detailing how to use Tokyo’s public transportation system here.

                                  Where should a first time tourist to Tokyo stay in the city?

                                          Choosing the best location to stay while visiting Tokyo for the first time is key to having an enjoyable experience. It’s best to stay in a major area of the city such as Shinjuku, Shibuya or Ginza.  Many recommend Ropongi as well (I did not visit this area of the city, so I cannot speak from personal opinion).

                                          When booking your lodging I would suggest a hotel or a capsule hotel. While I typically recommend booking an Airbnb, there are new measures being put into place post-2020 Olympics that will limit the number of Airbnbs. So, you might as well try to earn a few hotel member points during your stay. Here is where we stayed and loved its location being close to Shinjuku.

                                    Foods to try in Tokyo:

                                    While there are so many delicious options for japanese food, here are the items I looked forward to most & enjoyed as a vegetarian:

                                    • Green tea: green tea is served at basically every restaurant, instead of a glass of water.
                                    • Mochi: a sweet rice paste that’s gooey, sweet & flavored
                                    • Taikyaki: a japanese fish-shaped pastry, usually filled with red bean paste. Typically served warm & so yummy!
                                    • Sushi: I typically stay away from seafood, but felt that I couldn’t visit Japan and not try a piece of sushi (especially since those who I was traveling with wanted it for every meal haha)
                                    [the plethora of places selling sushi had me thinking about fish consumption in Japan.  After researching, I wrote a post about the information I found. Check it out here]
                                    • Vending Machines: the plethora of vending machines in Tokyo is comparable to the number of people living in the city. At least once, order something from a vending machine. However, keep in mind how much plastic that runs through those machines, please don’t overdo it.

                                    *Fun fact- Tokyo has the most Michelin star restaurants of any city in the world!

                                      What to pack for a trip to Tokyo:

                                      • Comfortable shoes to walk around in: You will be doing a lot of walking in Tokyo, so comfortable shoes you can wear all day should be the first thing you pack
                                      • A small lined bag for inside of your purse or backpack: Tokyo is extremely clean, yet there aren’t many public trash cans, so you will need to hold onto your garbage waste when you’re walking around the city. Having a lined bag with you will help make it easier to do so.
                                      • Reusable water bottle: You can find & purchase reusable water bottles anywhere, and since the water is safe to drink you won’t need a fancy one. Having a reusable water bottle with you will prevent you from paying for drinks all day, and help avoid how much plastic you waste.
                                        • Travel Credit Card: Our Visa was accepted everywhere we wanted to use it, but I’ve heard that American Express may not work too great in Japan. We LOVE our Chase Sapphire Preferred card, especially because using it allows us to earn points that we redeem for free travel. Considering signing up for this stellar travel rewards credit card?  Please do so here. If you sign up for this Chase credit card you can now earn 60,000 bonus points (used to be 50,000 bonus points.
                                        • Layers: Tokyo’s weather can be fairly mild, but I would suggest dressing in layers so that you can spend all day out without having to waste time going back to your hotel for a jacket
                                        • Universal Adapter: the outlets in Japan are similar to US standard, but are two pronged, so if you have a three pronged plug, you’ll need an adapter.

                                        What to see & do on your first trip to Tokyo:

                                        This is only a short list of the things you should see and do on your first trip to Tokyo.  There is much more detail provided in this post.

                                        • Visit Teamlab Borderless
                                        • Explore the Asakusa area & the Sensoji Temple
                                        • Walk around the Tsukiji Fish Market
                                        • Go to the top of the Government building
                                        • Drive like a Mario Kart player
                                        • Explore Ginza
                                        • Walk around Harajuku
                                        • Enjoy a night out in Shinjuku
                                          Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

                                          Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing web designer & photographer. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

                                          Follow Along!

                                          Start your own blog today!

                                          Set up your blog today by using my discount code for Bluehost – Click the image to get started.

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                                          Fish Consumption in Japan

                                          Fish Consumption in Japan

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                                          Last Updated November 12th, 2019

                                          A discussion on the fish consumption rates in Japan. How much is too much & can our oceans recover?

                                          “I wonder how much seafood Japan consumes?” A question I continually asked myself while visiting Tokyo, Japan in November 2018 (this was also my first visit to Asia).

                                          Can the blame of certain fish species population depletions be placed solely on Japan?

                                          Do the Japanese over consume seafood?

                                          It’s said that one out of every ten fish is consumed in Japan. This rings true as the worldwide view of the Japanese diet is based around its affinity to create incredibly delicious sushi.

                                          So with an amazingly popular dish and a unique culture that millions of visitors want to experience each year, why should we care if there may be an overconsumption of seafood in Japan?

                                          It’s important to consider that

                                          1. Seafood is a top provider of protein for diets around the globe.  As more and more people turn away from the heart health problems of red meats, seafood is seen as a healthy conscious choice.
                                          2. The fishing industry provides jobs for millions of people around the world, as in over 200 million jobs. This means that almost 3% of the entire world’s population is affected by the fishing industry.

                                           

                                                  For decades fishing seemed like an endless opportunity in our oceans, yet overconsumption and unregulated fishing practices have pushed many species to the brink of extinction.

                                                  Most notably affected is the torpedo shaped bluefin tuna, which Japan is the largest consumer of. This specis of tuna is a highly sought after endangered species. Oddly enough, we shake our fingers at poachers of endangered rhino species and sign petitions to end dog meat trades, yet are comfortable ordering a plate of sushi that offers an endangered fish.

                                          Please keep in mind, the first two examples are terrible, this statement is merely aiming at opening your perspective in a new way and in no way trying to place negative opinions on those who consumer fish or undervalue the atrocity of other species killings and abuse.

                                          So, how much is too much fish consumption for Japan?

                                          Japan is one of the dominant importers of seafood.  Japan’s fishing industry is focused on feeding Japan, with 90% of its caught seafood consumed domestically, and importing the remainder from the United States and South America.

                                          Due to their high consumption of seafood, they are one of a few countries who look to sustainably source their fish, however it’s an uphill battle. It was only in 2017 that agreements were haphazardly agreed upon to structure the fishing of the most popular fish sold worldwide, the bluefin tuna.

                                           

                                          The population of tuna has been depleted by about 97% due to overfishing and has become a billion dollar industry.  In fact, each year there is a New Years tuna auction in Tokyo. This year, 2019, the winning bidder won with a record high $3.1 million!  Talk about a supply and demand market that is a perfect example for economics professors to use in their lecture halls.

                                            Japan asked for an increase in their annual quotas for bluefin tuna, which was thankfully denied by the Pacific Fisheries committee (thanks to the United States opposition to the request).  Japan has had plans to rebuild the Pacific bluefin stocks, with a target to regain up to 20% of historic levels by 2034.  However their asked for expansion was not approved due to the population levels not improving enough.

                                            Their Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries has said that fish consumption is down from 2001’s high of 40.7kg to 24.6kg consumed per person each year.  (Considering part of this could be due to Japan’s younger generation now having access to other options such as beef and poultry.)

                                            With the help of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), fisheries now have access to evaluations and strategies to implement more sustainable tactics.  It is clear there is a need to conserve the ocean’s ecosystem and maintain a healthy balance from low lying plankton to large predators, and also preserve the jobs of millions.

                                            Greenpeace compares this all to ‘simple housekeeping’ that I feel needs quite a bit of regulation and accountability. Luckily there is the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership who has the T75 goal, where 75 % of all fishing will be done sustainably by the end of 2020 (fisheries must be certified by the MSC).

                                                      For a typical consumer it feels overwhelming to consider the ramifications of the interests of business owners overpowering the needs of our environment.  You can help make a difference by using your money as your ‘vote’. Here’s how:

                                              • Only purchase sustainable seafood from brands who only sell seafood with a certified MSC blue label.  This is currently the most trustworthy and widely known label for sustainable seafood

                                               

                                              • Support restaurants that are MSC certified; even asking if they provide MSC certified sustainable seafood will help.  Think about it this way- if enough people ask a restaurant if they sell sustainably certified seafood then they will look into, and hopefully, transition to it.

                                              The MSC Blue Label

                                              Image credit: http://global-impacts-report-2016.msc.org/

                                              The question of whether Japan consumes too much fish is a difficult one to properly answer, especially because I don’t believe we fully understand the impacts of the oceans shifting biodiversity.

                                              The actions needed to be taken should be based on how we fish around the world, the retail and food services industries seafood choices and higher consumer standards.

                                                If you’re planning a trip to Japan, then be sure to check these posts about Japanese culture & my First Timers Guide to Tokyo

                                                  Citations:

                                                  IWC “The IWC is the global body charged with the conservation of whales and the management of whaling.  The IWC currently has 89 member governments from countries all over the world.

                                                  The Commission’s role has expanded since its establishment in 1946.  In addition to regulation of whaling, today’s IWC works to address a wide range of conservation issues including bycatch and entanglement, ocean noise, pollution and debris, collision between whales and ships, and sustainable whale watching.”

                                                   

                                                  Organizations you can support to help with ocean conservation:

                                                  -WWF

                                                  -Greenpeace

                                                  -Marine Stewardship Council

                                                  -Sustainable Fishering Partnership

                                                    Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

                                                    Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing web designer & photographer. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

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                                                    Tokyo, Japan in 4 Days

                                                    Tokyo, Japan in 4 Days

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                                                    A four day itinerary for what to do in Tokyo, Japan

                                                    Four days in Tokyo is a great amount of time to spend in the city, if you’ve never been to Tokyo before.  This Tokyo itinerary is the best way to spend a weekend here and get the most out of your time in this wonderfully clean, fast paced & unique city.

                                                    Below are four days of what to see and do in Tokyo based on location within the city, including tons of tips and how to be best prepared.

                                                    Things you should know before going to Tokyo:

                                                    • The city is massive, so prepare in advance by allocating time spent getting from one place to the next
                                                    • Each day in this itinerary is stuffed with awesome places to see & things to do, which means these are long days.
                                                    • Be sure to understand Tokyo’s public transportation systems before you arrive.  Here is an awesome detailed guide about Tokyo’s public transportation.
                                                    • If this is your first trip & you need general information about Tokyo, then check out this first timers guide to Tokyo
                                                    • You do not have to follow the order of this itinerary, however each day is based on a certain area of the city to make the most of your time there

                                                    While there is definitely an endless amount of things to see & do in Tokyo, here are the

                                                    Best places to see in Tokyo in four days for your first visit:

                                                    Day ONE: Saturday, Central Tokyo

                                                    Fly into Tokyo the day before, Friday

                                                    Explore the Tsukiji Fish Market

                                                    The Tsukiji Fish Market was once the largest wholesale fish & seafood market in the world.  Today it is split into two locations.

                                                    1. The wholesale fish market is in Toyosu (the wholesale fish market was the original inner market)
                                                    2. The outer market is still in Tsukiji, and is mostly restaurants and vendors.  Here is where you can experience the traditional looking market that many travelers cherish.  You will find plenty of sushi, mochi, matcha green tea and more at the Tsukiji outer market. Most of the restaurants and vendors are open until around 3pm, so visiting here first thing in the morning would be ideal.

                                                    *Please note- the Toyosu fish market is located where a previous gas company took residence.  It took many years for the transition due to concerns about contamination. It’s said there is no contamination, but for my preference I wouldn’t choose to go or eat from there.  Just something to consider…

                                                      Become a real life Mario Kart player!

                                                      Let your childhood gaming dreams come true by booking a go-karting experience through Tokyo.  Dress up in cartoon onesies and a local guide will direct you through the beautiful city. You’ll have a hilarious and fun few hours revving your engines while seeing a new perspective of Tokyo.

                                                      After thorough research we chose this company to go-kart with.  They had small groups of about six people plus one guide.  You will need to bring an IDP — International Driver’s Permit — and your passport with you.

                                                      *Tokyo may be a massive city of 30+ million people, yet their roads felt very safe and easy to navigate (which was a fear of mine going into go-karting).

                                                      *Be sure to dress in layers.  Considering the fact that go-karts have no walls, you are zooming through the streets which means lots of wind.  Our hands were numb halfway through, and I was very grateful for my goofy onesie as it provided an extra layer of warmth.

                                                        Walk around Ginza

                                                        Ginza is Tokyo’s famous shopping, entertainment & ritziest neighborhood.  It felt like a cleaner, more extravagant version of Manhattan. I suggest walking around on a Saturday afternoon as the main street is closed off to vehicles (from 12-5pm) so pedestrians can meander through the streets.  Hop in and out of gorgeous department stores, listen to live music on the street and find a great place for lunch to take in the extravagance of Ginza

                                                          Explore the Imperial Palace

                                                          Tokyo’s Imperial Palace was rebuilt after its destruction during World War Two to its identical style.  While the buildings are not open to the public, you can walk around the gardens. There are options to book a tour guide for these gardens.  We did not participate in a tour, however they are free and limited to 300 people (!?) per group. For more information here is the ‘application’ page to book one of the tours.

                                                            Go out for drinks in Shinjuku

                                                            Shinjuku is considered the business district, yet it has an exciting night life and turns into an entertainment hub when the sun goes down.  It’s also home to the famous Robot Restaurant. Take your time walking around, popping into different stores and bars to gain a sense of how nightlife in Tokyo is done by all ages.

                                                            Shinjuku is where the popular Golden Gai is located as well.  Golden Gai is a small area with narrow bars and alleyways. The clientele are comparable to the locals you see at your bars, but are very loyal to their small bar in Golden Gai.  To be honest, as tourists, we felt uncomfortable entering the narrow establishments. I would suggest only exploring here with a local.

                                                              Day TWOSunday, West Side/Modern Tokyo

                                                              Wear comfortable shoes today, as you’ll be doing a lot of walking

                                                              Meander through Shinjuku Garden

                                                              Shinjuku Garden is a beautiful place to leisurely walk around and disappear from the hustle of Tokyo.  It’s beautiful in both autumn (fall foliage) and spring (cherry blossom blooms). The Shinjuku Garden is a national park and has an entrance fee of 200 yen.

                                                                Step back in time at Yoyogi Park & the Meiji Shrine

                                                                An even more densely forested area in busy Tokyo, Yoyogi Park is one of the city’s largest parks.  The Meiji Shrine sits inside of the beautiful Yoyogi park, and was originally built for the emperor who helped Japan transition to a world power in the early 1900’s.  Similarly to the Imperial Palace, the Meiji Shrine was rebuilt after World War Two. When you visit here you may likely witness a traditional Shinto wedding like we did.

                                                                This Japan Guide provides great instructions on how to get here without having to walk crazy far (…which we may have done ourselves accidentally).

                                                                  Channel your inner child spirit at Harajuku

                                                                  Thanks to Gwen Stefani, we’ve come to know Harajuku girls are fun, eclectically dressed girls, and it originated in Harajuku, Tokyo.  The main street is Takeshita Dori, or Takeshita Street. Everything is still open on Sundays, and still very busy but very much so worth the experience of shuffling through the crowds.  Spend your time here exploring the colorful shops and restaurants (many of which have lines lasting at least 30 minutes just to place an order)

                                                                    Become lost in the crowd at Shibuya Crossing

                                                                    Shibuya Crossing is the busiest crossing section in the world, but oddly enough is not overwhelmingly hectic as you might expect.  Curious as to why that is? Read this to learn more about Japanese culture. Unlike most street crossings, Shibuya’s crosswalks will all turn green at once which is why it’s such a busy crossing.

                                                                    *Many people will suggest going into the Starbucks at Shibuya to people watch the crossing.  This could be a great option, but you’ll be waiting in an epically long line to cram your way to the glass window.  INSTEAD go to the Magnet building roof. It’s free to go up on their rooftop viewing deck, and (in my opinion) has a better view as it’s higher up than the Starbucks window.  Plus there was NO line. We casually walked into the elevator with only one other couple, and were greeted by at most 10 people up there.

                                                                      Day THREE: Monday

                                                                      Get a birds eye view of Tokyo from the top of the Government Building

                                                                      While you can go to the top of the Tokyo Sky Tree for a fee, you can visit the top of Tokyo’s Government Building for free!  (My excitement for free things to do while traveling apparently makes me rhyme like Dr. Suess) You will get an equally high view of the city, just from the opposing side of the Sky Tree.

                                                                      We arrived 15 minutes prior to it opening and there was already a long line, however it moves quickly.  Be prepared for potential motion sickness, as the elevator ascends quickly.

                                                                        Test your senses on a Japanese food tour

                                                                        Japanese food is known for sushi, but compared to America’s take on sushi it is vastly different than what you might expect.  Having a guide to direct you to the best unknown gems and suggesting new items to try is a great way to test the waters and build your confidence when ordering food on your own.

                                                                        We booked through City Unscripted.  I love their concept of hiring local guides for personalized and private tours.

                                                                        Personally, I try to maintain a vegetarian diet while traveling, however given certain circumstances I will eat seafood on my travels.  I wouldn’t necessarily recommend a food tour for strict vegans or vegetarians as it was quite difficult for our local guide to find places that satisfied our eating preferences.

                                                                          Have your mind mesmerized at TeamLab Borderless

                                                                          By far one of our favorite places in Tokyo.  TeamLab Borderless is a museum filled with unique rooms with lightshoes.  Pictures can do it more justice than I could explaning it, so see below!

                                                                          NOTE: there are TWO locations near each other in Tokyo–

                                                                          The difference between TeamLab Borderless and TeamLab Planet:

                                                                          It is easy to confuse the two.  TeamLab Borderless is known for the images I have included in this post, and is further away than TeamLab Planet (by only a 5-7 minute train ride).  It is also intended to be permanent.

                                                                          TeamLab Planet is a temporary exhibit, and doesn’t require as much time to go through & enjoy.  It also apparently has an exhibit where you walk through water.

                                                                          You must purchase your tickets in advance, so book your tickets now!  It’s difficult to say what time of day is best as you will want to spend hours inside enjoying everything.  Mornings are busy but you will have the most time to explore. However, even with a busy crowd entering we were able to take the pictures we wanted with almost no one in the way.

                                                                          Fun story: we were SO proud of ourselves as we arrived early and were towards the front of the entrance line, only to find out that we were at the wrong location, and sprinted to the train to get to the correct one we purchased tickets for.  A typical travel fail, but oh well, it happens to the best of us.

                                                                            Maps to reference the two locations of TeamLab

                                                                            Catch a rainbow view

                                                                            Enjoy sunset and watch the Rainbow bridge light up.  The bridge is located in the same area as both TeamLab locations, which is why I would recommend visiting TeamLab in the afternoon, and staying for sunset.  There is an easily accessible beach area where you can watch the bridge light up. The bridge lights up in different colors depending on the time of year, so you may not witness the rainbow colors, however sunset here is beautiful either way.  Fun fact about the bridge is that the lights are solar powered- bonus points to Tokyo for sustainability!

                                                                              Day FOUR: Tuesday

                                                                              Enjoy Ueno Park

                                                                              Ueno Park contains quite a few museums and is quite beautiful during autumn and spring (similar to Shinjuku Garden).  Choose a museum to explore and spend the morning calmly walking around the peaceful park

                                                                                Dive into Japanese culture by exploring the Asakusa neighborhood

                                                                                Asakusa showcases some of the most popular landmarks to see in Tokyo. Feel as if you are stepping back in time by walking through what feels like a living museum.  The Nakamise Shopping Street here has many small shops that are great for purchasing souvenirs and gifts to bring home… or to bring home the creepiest mask, like Marcus (my boyfriend) did.

                                                                                  Marvel at the Sensoji Temple

                                                                                  The Sensoji Temple is part of the Asakusa neighborhood, but rightly deserves its own section here.  It is incredibly breathtaking and in the heart of the Asakusa area.

                                                                                  *If you’re curious about what people do in and around the temple read about basic Japanese culture here

                                                                                    Tokyo, Japan is an incredibly unique city that is a great gateway for those who have never visited Asia before.  This four day itinerary for Tokyo will have you excited to spend even more time in the city on your next visit. The city  feels like a blend of culture, entertainment, history and modernity with some of the most respectful and kind people I’ve ever met.

                                                                                      Tips for Visiting Tokyo, Japan in four days:

                                                                                      • Aim to stay somewhere central, as getting around Tokyo can take quite a bit of time
                                                                                        • We stayed in the Shinjuku area, but other great neighborhoods would be Shibuya, Ginza or near the Tokyo Station
                                                                                        • If you can, try staying in a capsule hotel. Note: We couldn’t find one that had availability for both male & females.  If you find a capsule hotel that accommodates both please share with me!
                                                                                      • Department stores are great for gift & souvenir shopping.  Many are located underground, so look up their locations as opposed to hoping to find one while walking around
                                                                                      • Tokyo is a very large and busy city that can feel overwhelming, so be sure to slow down & enjoy it (which is why I suggested so many parks)
                                                                                      • 7/11’s will be your best friend.  You can find relatively cheap food and use their ATMs easily.
                                                                                        Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

                                                                                        Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing web designer & photographer. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

                                                                                        Follow Along!

                                                                                        Start your own blog today!

                                                                                        Set up your blog today by using my discount code for Bluehost – Click the image to get started.

                                                                                        Get $15 OFF your AirBnb!

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