japan part two: kyoto.

We were up bright and early to board one of the faster bullet trains to get to kyoto. It would take about 8 hours to drive to kyoto; we made it two hours, flat! 
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Kyoto had a charming, old world kind of vibe to it. Im so glad we ventured into this part of Japan to see some of these sites.
Our first stop was Arashiyama to see the Bamboo forest.

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ext we walked over to the Iwatayama Monkey park. I wasnt so sure what to expect out of this. i read that you hike up hill and when you get to the top there are wild monkeys around and you see panoramic views of Kyoto.  Milo was asking if we were going to hike on this trip, so I figured this would be a good opportunity to see some nature, and possibly a monkey or two. Well, when we got towards the top of the hike, I could start to hear monkeys. We got a little further, and there was one. And another. And a few more. Oh wait, THERE WERE A WHOLE BUNCH OF MONKEYS at the top of the hike! and they were loose and everywhere and were walking right past my feet. They tell you not to look directly at them, or touch them, so I was kind of scared when they would just run past me or plop down next to me….but it was certainly a site to see.  And the view was pretty awesome too! They had a shelter you can go into and the monkeys climb the outside and you can feed them peanuts. This was wild! They take the peanuts right out of your hand and eat them. This was milo’s favorite part of the trip.

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We grabbed lunch and then headed to Kinkaku-Ji, the Golden Temple. We lit a candle for our family’s health while we were there.

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Milo made a friend on the bus. 
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We stayed at hotel across the street from Kyoto station. We learned there was a cherry blossom festival at night about a 10 minute walk from the station, so we went to check it out. Holy Moley! If you thought the cherry blossoms were something during the day, they were a whole other story at night. Just gorgeous! We felt so fortunate we were there to see the blossoms in bloom! 
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The next day was calling for rain, so we tried to get as much in as possible before the rain started. We started at Kiyomizu-dera Temple. The grounds were really beautiful. Before you enter the temple, you can enter the Tainai-meguri, which is pitch black dark winding hallway that takes you to a giant precious rock. When you do this, you are symbolically entering the womb of a female bodhi­sattva. When you approach the rock in the darkness, you stop and make a wish.

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We took a quick stroll through Gion, the Geisha district, but it was still pretty early, so most things were closed.
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Our last stop in Kyoto before the rain hit was the Fushimi-Inari Taisha.
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We had lunch at vegans cafe, which was fantastic by the way, and on our way there we walked down a street where cherry blossoms hung so and felt like they were engulfing us as we walked. It was so magical and probably my favorite part of the whole trip!!
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(the first part of my photos can be found here)

istanbul.

Istanbul has been on my bucket-list of travel for quite some time now. Last week, we were able to spend some time there and it didn’t dissapoint. Spring is making its debut there right about now – the sun was shining and the tulips were in full bloom. We were staying in sultanahmet, or the Old city – which is where you will find the main sites – and is pretty touristy. There is plenty to do and see here, but if you are ever in istanbul, make sure to explore its other parts because we really came across some treasures, especially in kadikoy.

Our first day there we visited the Topkapi Palace.

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Near the ferries, right outside the spice market, we discovered the pigeons. So many pigeons. You could feed them and there were plenty of children chasing them. The pigeons were my favorite and we stopped here many times.

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There were also cats and dogs everywhere. They were extremely friendly and pretty well taken care of for being stray. Seems that people feed them scraps and kibble. They cats will weave through your legs while you are dining outside and the dogs will be basking in the sunlight.

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A visit to the amazing Hagia Sophia, where it turns out cats also roam freely.

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We took the ferry over to the asian side, Kadikoy, and this was probably my favorite place to wander. We ate our best meal here at Ciya Sofrasi, and wandered the markets and shops Kadikoy had to offer.

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Back in Sultanahmet, we walked through the Grand Bazaar many times, along with the spice market, where we sampled and purchased much turkish delight!

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One afternoon we walked to the Galata tower, and discovered a whole other area to explore; The area around galata is bustling with music stores and street musicians and the area north of there, Beyoglu, is full of fun antique shops, graffiti and dogs and cats a plenty. The views from the tower are pretty stunning.

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los angeles.

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to escape the polar vortex and head to sunny los angeles. LA is definitely making its way into my top places in the US to visit….You sure can’t beat the weather (especially in january!) and there is so much delicious vegan food – and most importantly some of my favorite people in the world live there! This was a quick trip, and there is still SO many more things I want to do and capture with my camera so there will hopefully be many more trips to this fantastic city!

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