Page 9 of Bellini Travel Blog Posts

Oceania » Australia » Queensland » Port Douglas June 22nd 2015

It was pretty difficult to get to Port Douglas from Cairns. Even though it's just an hour up the coast, most transports were a ridiculous 68 AUD round trip. Instead, I found a hostel who would get me there for free and then I paid $18 to get back after a few days. I had hoped to get all the way to Cape Tribulation, but it was too expensive. I could have found a tour that took me to a few places (Mossman Gorge) and then to the Cape, but I found that all out too late and it was pretty complicated. I expected all of this on some level. Australia is for campervans, working holidays, and posh condos. I felt left out without cheap ways to get around, much like many must feel when visiting ... read more
The outer reef
Four Mile Beach
Aboriginal community

Oceania June 19th 2015

I arrived in Cairns on a 7-hour overnight flight from Osaka. The flight was delayed an hour and a half because of electrical issues, but it worked out well because I arrived right at dawn. I wasn't aware of the free airport pickup through Caravella's Backpackers, so I just walked the hour from the airport to town, past mangrove swamps and eventually some nice bike / walk trails. The mangrove swamp near the airport would be worth a visit if you have car... it has a series of boardwalk trails that would give an interesting view of the swamp. Both times I saw it I had my pack with me, so I didn't get a chance to explore. The town itself has used its tourist revenue wisely. The waterfront has several walking/running/biking trails and closer to ... read more
Grove in Kuranda
Botanical gardens
Didgeridoo in Kuranda

Asia » Japan » Osaka » Osaka June 18th 2015

After a stay with Peggy at possibly the best hotel room I'll ever be in (the Executive Suite on the 53rd floor of the Marriott), I walked around the city a bit before my flight to Australia. I stopped at a shrine and the browsed some interesting shops. The food looked fantastic; hopefully I'll get to spend more time here someday. There are a couple of photos below.... read more
Peggy and sushi train
Hotel room view

Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto June 17th 2015

Though Kyoto is considered to be a must-visit city in Japan, it was the least favorite of my stops. I've heard that once you get into the surrounding hills/mountains, it's wonderful, but weather and time made it difficult. I did enjoy walking around the city and the Philosopher's Path was fine, but if I ever return I'll only spend time in the surrounding areas. The city itself is a wonderful place to pick up gifts and I enjoyed browsing the shops and tasting some interesting food. The temples are beautiful and interesting and important, but choosing one or two for a quick look is more than enough. It's sightseeing -- not my kind of travel -- and it reminded me of some of the fake towns in China that are built to entertain in a way ... read more
Ordinary Home
Panda seats on the train

Asia » Japan » Hiroshima » Hiroshima June 14th 2015

Other than Tokyo, Hiroshima was my favorite place I visited in Japan. It's a small, unassuming city with plenty of river walks and tasty food, and its history is ubiquitous and palpable. Anyone visiting here should absolutely read John Hershey's novel Hiroshima. It was published just a year after the bombing and it brilliantly laces together the lives of several survivors who basically never should have survived the blast. After visiting the museum, these people weren't just in the blast zone where some survived- they were in the area where practically no one survived (beyond a few days). Reading the novel ahead of time was so much more valuable than just reading the descriptions on the historical landmarks; actually, it enhanced my understanding of the landmarks around the city that tell brief stories about the condition ... read more
yakisoba noodles
Bridge after bombing

Asia » Japan June 13th 2015

The island of Shikoku isn't the most common tourist destination for foreigners, but Peggy was able to get a room with her Marriott points at their resort in Naruto. It is also somewhat on the way to Hiroshima, our next stop. The larger train stations in Japan have some amazing plates / sets for dining on the trains. They're reasonably priced and delicious. Everything about the Shinkansen experience is wonderful- from the smooth, quiet ride to the spacious seats, the speed, and the service. Rather than dealing with traffic and directions and being safe, I was able to read, eat, and leisurely look out the window. The trains were even superior to most in Europe. I'd definitely visit nearby U.S. cities at home if this was the travel experience. The drawback is that the JR trains ... read more
Crossing from Shikoku
Our bus stop on a bridge

Asia » Japan » Shizuoka » Ito June 12th 2015

It takes about two hours each way from the Ginza area of Tokyo to get to this hike. If you have time, however, the whole area is renowned for its onsens (natural thermal baths), so it would be worth spending a night or two. It looked like the sort of area that would be incredibly busy during the Japanese week-long holidays; I can only judge it from my experience when it was pretty well empty. From Tokyo, we took the Shakaido Shinkansen (Kodama- the faster trains don't stop at Atami) southeast to Atami and switched to the JR Ito line to continue to Jogasaki Kaigen (the JR line only continues for part of this, so if you have a rail pass you'll have to pay 500-600 yen when you get off in Atami, and then 680 ... read more
Area map
Onsen sign
Sea cat

Asia » Japan » Tokyo June 10th 2015

I found cheap tickets from Pittsburgh to Tokyo via Toronto on Air Canada (who still offers a teacher discount) so I decided to stop in Japan for ten days on my way to Australia and New Zealand. I can't recommend Tokyo enough -- it would be worth going to Japan for only a few days even if you only got to experience the capital. I flew into Haneda, the smaller of the two airports, which is also closer to the city center. Transit from there was fairly simple and most signs included accurate English translations and directions, but it would be a good idea for anyone to study the extensive train system a bit beforehand. And all you need is a confused expression to ensure plenty of locals asking if you need help. The metro is ... read more
Asakusa bridges
Soba bowl with splash and drip protection

Europe » Portugal » Lisbon & Tagus Valley » Lisbon September 4th 2014

Lisbon was surprisingly The subway system is fabulous, and... read more

Europe » Portugal » Lisbon & Tagus Valley » Sintra August 2nd 2014

This was an enjoyable day trip from Lisbon. It's very touristy but has some beautifully manicured gardens, nice walking, and good photo ops. It's low key and requires little energy. ... read more

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