Sapporo, HokkaidoMay 19, 2017 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 72 °F
Bye LA! Today, Andy, Richard, and I are all off to the land of the rising sun. Funny enough, Andy and Richard are on the same JAL flight to NRT while I am flying ANA to CTS connecting through NRT.
My dumb ass should have gone to the orthodontics yesterday for a wire poke, but instead I went this morning and cut into some precious lounge time. At LAX, we checked in at TBIT and walked over to T4 to go through security. We did not have precheck since we had international tickets, but the security line at T4 was painless! After going through security, we took the tunnel back to TBIT and went to our respective lounges. Andy to Qantas First Class, I to Star Alliance First Class, and Richard later ended up at the oneworld Business Class lounge.
First, the Star Alliance First Class lounge is nothing entirely special. The Business Class lounge is more memorable but the great thing about the First Class lounge is the sit-down dining service. They have a number of items available for devouring, so I had the Salmon Lox Flatbread and their 20th Anniversary Singapore Chicken Satay. The Salmon Lox Flatbread was delicious, but since I had just gotten my wires tightened, I could not eat the bread. Chicken Satay was okay, nothing too special. Then, I loaded up on Beau Joie champagne and lots of it. The rose was delish!
I went to shower in the Business Class lounge and proceeded to check out their food offerings, nothing too special. I checked out their outdoor terrace, which I think is the best part of the lounge. The First Class lounge only had 3 people, which were all 3 of the first class passengers on the ANA flight to Japan. They called for first class boarding while I was still eating, so I decided to skip the escort and enjoy a few more minutes at the lounge. When I finally went to board, the VIP first class experience started and boy did ANA deliver.
Upon seating, I received the choice of a glass of champagne or orange juice--naturally, I went for the champagne. All the flight attendants greeted me and introduced themselves. I had Usui-san as my primary flight attendant and she was an absolute sweetheart. They came by with free Shiseido products and I grabbed as many as I could. The Samsonite amenity kit was also waiting for me at my seat. It's a pretty purple color though the case is a bit too bulky for my liking.
We hit the road and I was given the choice between the American or Japanese style dining menu. I went for the Japanese washoku since I am flying a Japanese airline and going to Japan. The dishes were all delicious! Like holy fuck, what great airline food. None of that shitty economy food you dread. I had an umeshu to start my meal and ended with the famed Hibiki 21 year. Usui-san poured me a GENEROUS amount of the Hibiki when I only asked for a taste. It was delicious, but I felt like it was pretty overpowering by itself. Wouldn't have been able to get it elsewhere, so it was great to have been able to have a taste.
I kept myself hydrated by selecting from a number of their drink offerings. I then ate more getting some raw scallop salad dish and a salmon chazuke. I even slept for 4 hours straight and watched 3 moives (Hidden Figures, Moonlight, and Moana). Before I knew it, I was touching down in Narita. Is it weird that I wished the flight was longer?
But really, the MVP of the flight was...SHISEDO beauty products in the bathroom! They had a lotion toner and milk emulsion and wow, I woke up from my sleep with super soft skin...and this is with shitty air circulation on a plane. I wish I had bought some empty Daiso/Muji travel-sized bottles to steal some. Man.
All in all, it was a great experience and I thank Usui-san and the ANA crew for a fabulous experience! If only I could fly first class all the time..Read more
And we're back! The gals are back beer tasting and trekking all along San Diego. Here's where we hit up in 24 hours:
- Pacific Beach Alehouse, we went here for brunch and stuffed ourselves silly. We got a taster of their core brands brew in-house. I thought brunch was overall okay in both the food and brews. I did like the taproom though.
- Amplified Alehouse, for more drinks! It was walkable from PB Alehouse and was on our list for the Miramar area. Gotta say I liked this location a lot more. The outdoor patio was very nice and gave you a nice oceanside view from the 2nd level. The food here also looked delicious; I think we would have really enjoyed brunch here. They had a number of Amplified beers as well as guest beers, so we got 2 flights here. The waitress was very nice and gave us a sample of their Trois Cabrones because it was her favorite and we had not ordered it. Aside from the Garage Project/Victory IPL in one of our flights, the Trois Cabrones was very delicious! It's supposedly a hazy unfiltered DIPA, but I could not tell since it was just a taster. We had a few laughs here like me pronouncing DIPA as WIPA. Drunk already? No, this is just usual ineloquent Fanny.
- Legacy Brewing, we hit up the Miramar area next as there were a cluster of breweries on our list. Legacy had a Yelp free taster offer, so hay for free free beer! They are most known for their guava beers and they were pretty delish! We also got Buffalo Chicken Fries here as an appetizer.
- Duck Foot Brewing, Duck Foot Brewing had a special event at 6pm today. I wish it was earlier! It was an Anti-Romance party for Valentine's Day and pretty hilarious. They were also tapping 2 new beers for the party, but we did not stay long enough to partake. We played 5 Seconds here and shared some good laughs. By now, everybody knows how much I love Common :D
- Pure Project was our next stop and even though it was a mile away, we grabbed a Lyft since it was windy and for the sake of time. Pure Project was poppin'! Probably my favorite stop, so kudos to the sis for the recommendation. The brews were ordered were all along the color spectrum and Delphyne, a dragonfruit sour, was delicious! I got a 4pk of this. I wish I tried their IPA and Golden Stout--it seemed like popular picks. The only downside is that the place is tiny and seating was hard to come by, but we made due and eventually settled on some seating. Very nice place I'd visit again.
- Rip Current Brewing was our next stop as we made our way back to Gaslamp area. I had no idea how close to Belching Beaver this place was! Man. Another flight here and they had a delicious Bock that won a GABF medal. Well deserved.
- The Tipsy Crow rounded out our day of drinking. We made it just in time for the famous drink exchange! It was a cool concept, but it sucks that their taplist was thin and there were only a couple of beer on the drink exchange. We played Heads Up here and it was pretty hilarious.
- Sorrento's Street Tacos was our last stop given it was past 8pm and we had not eaten dinner. They told us it would be a long wait as the kitchen was behind. The food ended up being a lot and I was stuffed after eating 2.5 tacos, couldn't even finish. By this point, we were tired after going nonstop from 10am. We ended the night after dinner and took off early in the morning
- Cafe Bossam was our breakfast stop and I had stopped by on a previous San Diego trip to try their delicious mocha drinks. We got Chai Lattes, which were delicious and back to LA we go.
Thanks for a fun 24 hours, SD! My goal is to try to hit up the San Marcos/Encinitas area next for a number of breweries clustered in that area. Until next time!
P.S. Photos are from my new Sony A5000 in action! (:Read more
Last day of the trip, which means I had about 6 flights to go before I hit LAX. Most of my time today was spent traveling and sitting around waiting for flights. I don't think I realized how tired I was until today, so good thing I am going home! Europe, it's been real, but I think I'm done with you for a while. Norway and Sweden felt extremely expensive. I'm ready for my cheap ass Asian countries! But really, the itch to return to Japan just keeps getting stronger and stronger.Read more
Last day in Tromso! Wow, time flies. Today was a day of sleeping in and we went to get coffee and a light breakfast before going on a brewery tour at Mack Brewery. Learned some cool things and then drank a few beers in their taproom. We then had dinner at Mathallen, which was a bit pricey at $50pp but delicious! The soup appetizer had the softest crab and this chive oil that I'm not sure if it added any flavor to the dish but was a beautiful color. The Norwegian beef was also delicious though a bit on the salty side. After dinner, we went to our last Northern Lights tour--a cruise tour. While we did not see the Northern Lights this night, the cruise itself was cool. Again, a different experience and it was cool to have 3 nights of Northern Lights chasing with a success rate of 67%. 10/10 would do again.Read more
Today, we drank a lot of beer. Tromso was home to one of the oldest breweries and now has a defunct brewery space that is used for tours. The pub next door has dozens of beers on tap, so there was a lot of variety to choose from. The bartender was also very helpful in helping select beers. Kudos to her!
We had a large bus tour today to see the lights and it was less impressive given the visibility was low. You can faintly see the lights and you really needed a camera to better capture it. It also sucks that we had such a great showing the very first night, so that set a very high bar for the rest of the nights. It was still a good experience nonetheless since it was different from the mini bus tour. We had to drive out to Finland to chase the lights, so it felt way more exhausting. zzzzzzzzzz.
P.S. The northern lights photos are from Chasing Lights. They took some cool shots of the bus and cars with the lights.Read more
We went on a Fjord Excursion today, which was a last minute decision. It was so great! Being in the snow and all. I felt like we had the perfect introduction to Norway! We even saw whales without having to go on a specific whale watching excursion.
At night we went to our first Northern Lights tour with Northern Soul Adventures and saw the Nothern Lights on our first attempt! Ahhh how fucking majestic. Everybody must experience the magic behind the lights. It was such a fulfilling experience and honestly it was Northern Soul Adventures that made it so worthwhile! I can finally check the Aurora Borealis off my bucket list (':Read more
Today, we are en route to Tromso via Oslo and let me tell you that airport is a bitch for transfers. I don't know why they make it so much more complicated that it really is. In the morning, we spent some time in Berlin still but again being the holidays a lot of things weren't open early.
We touched down in Tromso around 7pm so it was too late to go on a Northern Lights tour. We went to a pub for dinner and then another bar for drinks; the second bar ended up being a Boston bar. How weird.
Tromso was snowing and it was pretty damn cold. Since it was nighttime, it did not look too impressive, but the lights made it look magical!Read more
Today, Berlin was pretty dead in the morning since it was Christmas Day. We hauled ass and woke up early enough for the Reichstag building, which ended up being a treat even though it was rainy. Afterward, we went Christmas market hopping! We went from Potsdamer Platz to Gendarmenmarkt to Alexanderplatz. They were all fun and different in their own way. We also had a great meal at Gendarmenmarkt! At this point though I'm pretty sick of sausages and the lack of veggies. Hopefully, Norway will change that. We ended our night at a hip bar/lounge. Unfortunately, a lot of things were closed today.Read more
Day 2 of Europe meant off to Berlin!
The day consisted of a free guided tour where we saw Brandenburger Gate, Hitler's Bunker, Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, and Humboldt University. Since it was Christmas Eve and Germany was practically empty, we had dinner reservations at Eckstein where Rahul proceeded to set the receipt on fire. We had duck and geese and it was delicious! We ended the night with an Anti Bar Crawl and we hit up a number of places. I lost my scarf at the first bar though and I was 100% sober. Sigh.Read more