Whale Watching in Juneau, Alaska

Were in Juneau Alaska – On the excursion agenda – Whale Watching, with Allen Marine Tours – and guess what we saw …Whales, lots of them. First lets set the stage, they pick us up in a bus from the pier, and it is overcast and raining – a lot of rain. But when I see the boat I am excited, it is covered and at least we can stay inside. I am not a cold weather girl, so am dressed warm and ready for this.

Heading on to our ship for whale watching, lets Go!

Inside the boat it is warm and we are headed out to look for some whales…

Babe did you get that, nope missed it, but here is a great picture from my husband!

Yes, we saw this!
A whale tail. We were told if you see a whale tail, you are blessed with another year or two of life. Well we saw dozens of tails, so glad to live to 90!

There was a guarantee, if you do not see a whale you get back $100, no worries there, we saw lots of whales.

We also had a wonderful buffet dinner on the whale watching boat and it was all Alaska based locally made foods, we loved it!

A Yummy dinner of everything delicious from Alaska.
The Blueberry dessert was my Favorite, but David loved the Reindeer.
Honestly, I am falling in love with Alaska, and this was supposed to be a trip for David and me just tagging along. One day in and I am enjoying this A LOT!

Space Needle – Seattle, Wa

Second on our list while in Seattle, Wa for one day on our way to Alaska is the Space Needle. We honestly do not know much about the space needle, except it is tall and cool and we want to check it out. I did just learn today that the space needle was built in 1961 for the world’s fair. The glass floor is new from a recent renovation – which is good, because it turns out the glass floor is our favorite part.

Walking up to the Space Needle after a quick Lyft ride over.
We bought our tickets – and did not realize thought we would not have enough time to make it over to Chihuly gardens, and turns out the gardens are right next door, so missed out on the shared deal you can buy as we purchased these tickets at the base of the space needle.
TIP: Really look into a joint deal on travel sites, prior to dismissing the option.

Video (from the top) of the elevator we just rode up to the top of the space needle.

Picture from the top and the glass bottom, people love to lay on the floor and snap a picture of the suspended look. It is for sure an uneasy feeling walking over the glass portion for the first time.

David having fun with the glass bottom from the top of the space needle.

You can buy at drink of wine or beer or a soda/water at the top or a light snack meal. We did not, but instead just reviewed the views from the top.

Wait a minute: “This will be to Seattle what the Eiffel tower is to Paris” – then we have back to back seen Both the Seattle and Paris towers… this is us in June. (wait it was late July, time sure does work weird when your on vacation).

https://daveandlaurasdream.com/2019/07/10/eiffel-tower/

Late Nite Pokemon MagicKarp snack in Tokyo

Late Night snacking – we come across this pokemon Magic Karp snack made of a warm cake filled with pudding (choices are chocolate or vanilla) we buy one of each and they are incredible. Just perfect for a Tokyo Late night snack.

210 yen or approximately $2.10. A deal for this warm delicious treat.

Tokyo Sky Tree at Sumida district

We thought we were at Tokyo Tower, but were recently corrected this is Tokyo Sky Tree at Sumida district an Eiffel Tower inspired lattice communications and observation tower in the Shiba-koen district of Minato, Tokyo, Japan. It is huge, actually 332.9 meters and is the second-tallest structure in Japan. When we visited Tokyo Tower, we had no idea what to expect, but it is like a HUGE mega mall. So pictures of what we were up to at Tokyo Tower! We walked in and first saw a huge food market, with so many choices, of everything, then later a food court, and then shops, so many many many shops. We were there for over 3 hours and had to start walking faster, just to get to the stores we really wanted to see – Pokemon’s second store, and some clothing stores the girls wanted to look at.

Totoro character – we bought quite a few gifts at this store.
Moomin House Cafe – ran out of time for eating here, but fun place.
Pokemon store at Tokyo Tower

Japan Wendy’s Fast Snack

The kids wanted a quick Wendy’s Hamburger while in Tokyo, Japan. David and I figured we could eat a Wendy’s Hamburger right around the corner from our house just like the ones here. Nope, there is a difference… Check out this Tokyo Wendy’s.

TIP: 550yen is approximately $5.50 US.
So a single Wendy’s Hamburger, is $5.50, pretty close to the prices we pay at home. The hamburger looks the same, but it tastes slightly different – but check out the rest of the menu, pasta, shrimp, green tea drinks….
There is even a hamburger bun hamburger, and the funniest thing of all, a Jim Beam mixer.
David, had to try one, I took a sip, it was cold and frothy.
Sabrina loves this green melon soda, and her Corgi stuffed animal from the crane game earlier in the week.

Gundam Cafe- Akihabara Japan

Garion more than anything else wanted to buy as many Gundams he could while in Tokyo. He wanted to buy a super large one, but it would not fit in our suitcase – he did purchase five normal sized model kits. So we decided to surprize him with a Gundam Cafe Visit. Gundam’s are a Japanese science fiction media animation series that features giant robots (mecha).  

Tip: Check out web sites before heading over to a special tourist cafe, as sometimes you HAVE to have a reservation, or they open at weird times.

Gundam Cafe website: http://g-cafe.jp/akiba/menu/food/

I can’t stop smiling!

In his complete Glory of happiness!

So we had a snack and Garion ate, everything – a blue soda drink a Hamburger and fries. He could not be happier, and that makes all of us super happy.

The Best Fortune at Sensoji Temple, AsaKusa Japan

There was a Fortune area in front of the temple, and for $1.00, you can pick a chop stick out of a box, track the symbol on the stick to a box, and take out your fortune.

Dave gets a Bad Fortune!

Oh no! So you take your bad fortune and wrap it up tie it to a metal rod, where they will burn it later.

I also got a bad fortune.
Looking for the box that matches the stick symbol.
But guess who got a good fortune!
Katrina, she got a good fortune! Actually the BEST Fortune! All the rest of us fated a bad fortune. Sabrina wants me to point out, she did not get a fortune.

Shrine of Confucius, Tokyo Japan

We stumbled across the Shrine of Confucius while walking around Tokyo, toward Nakamise Shopping Street and Sensoji Temple. Confucius Temple is hidden away behind a gate and greenery. We walked in and looked around the peaceful garden grounds. Were sharing a few pictures of our time and the treasures we saw while there. We were told, this is one of the few non replica temples in all of Japan. Now, we are a Christian family, and all Strong believers, so we enjoy learning about all other religions without worry of waiver in our faith. So check out what we enjoyed. Nakamise Shopping Street We stumbled across the Shrine of Confucius while walking around Tokyo, toward . Hidden away you can walk into the gated temple and walk around the peaceful garden grounds. Were sharing a few pictures of our time and the treasures we saw while there. We were told, this is one of the few non replica temples in all of Japan. Now, we are a Christian family, and all Strong believers, so we enjoy learning about all other religions without worry of waiver in our faith. So check out what we enjoyed.

I read this is the largest statue of Confusion in the World. It was big, but not overbearing big, but that makes since as he was wise and simple, not extravagant. I loved the exposed tree roots, and I felt drawn to this status. We continued walking thru the garden toward this large dark temple.
Its raining and we are enjoying the rain, because it is super hot and humid.

It is a $4.00 donation to see inside the temple, so David and I go in, but the kids wait outside in the rain. Inside we learn about a water drinking well that captures rain water to drink later.

There is a lot of very interesting artifacts inside. It feels dark, peaceful, ominous and fascinating. We stay for about 25 minutes, just looking around and imaging what each of these items history. I have a huge imagination, so there is a lot of Indiana Jones and zen ninja fights going on in my mind while walking thru this temple.

We end our tour and collect the kids and walk on to the next adventure.

The Masked Dancer Dances Backward on Dance Dance Revolution Game – This video is Amazing! Sega Akihabara Tokyo Japan

While inside the SEGA Building in Akihabara Japan, after checking out the Crane Games and Virtual Reality and playing until we were almost out of money for the day, we saw this….. The Masked Dancer is what he calls himself. Look! HE IS DOING THIS BACKWARD!!! with a Mask on – he has memorized this Dance without even looking at it.

Backwards!

Forward is just as impressive!

I could watch this all Day!

Mario Cart Competition & Crane Games – Play Videos Akihabara- Tokyo Japan

Were at the Sega Video Game Building in Akihabara, Tokyo Japan. This building is FILLED with all kinds of AWESOME crane games, Video Games and Virtual Reality Games. Next to the escalator, you can see there is 7 – yes 7 floors of arcade games here!
Many Stories and Two separate SEGA Buildings, so many Games, so little time!

Crane Games Everywhere!

At this point he has spent more than the item would cost…. but so close – so by the end of the trip he could have bought two. I love how animated he is after this.

Sabrina wanted this puppy and lost, but her sister won it on the next try. Lucky, not many winners around.

Our family loves to go to our local Utica, MI Dave and Busters to play Mario Cart. I typically loose, David and Sabrina are up at the top, Katrina second, Garion third. But lets check out our game in Toyko, Japan.

Get Ready to Battle Drive!

The Winner of this Round – David! So for the finally, we went up to the top and the boys played Virtual Reality shooting and horse riding bow and arrow competitions, it was funny to see how they walked around with their headsets on – and when they were done, they said it was so real, they could not get their minds to believe it was not. They were shaking after the first round.

Hedge Hog Café – Tokyo Japan

On the Way to the Pokémon Café, we see a Hedge Hog and Cat Café. The Café is on top of a puppy store – yes they sell Puppies there – really tiny teacup puppies, that are on display in a fish tank style shop, these puppies are honestly the cutest I have ever seen, but they are $$$ in price, starting at $1000.00 was the cheapest I saw. But I cannot take pictures, because it is posted everywhere not too. But this post is about Hedge Hogs – Because we decided we had to go and we pay for 10mins at 350yen or $3.50.

Tip: In pet café, the clock starts when you are at the bottom of the stairs, it seems they all were upstairs – all that we saw, and they don’t give you a clock you have to keep track yourself.

We jog up the stairs, we are seeing hedge hogs, the kids went to see cats – I don’t know why – we have two cats at home, but its their money, I am going to pet a hedge hog! I open the door and there they are – Two Hedge hogs sitting in there little habitats. I’m headed to pet one.

I pet one, but realize I should wear a glove. He is spiky and does not like to be petted.

Hedge Hog Happiness!

Hedge Hogs are Fiesty!

There were also Rabbits there, but I grew up on a farm and raised Rabbits, so it was only the Hedge Hogs I wanted to see.

Hedge Hog Paradise

We saw two, but you can put them in any habitat they have, I was not going to move him, but enjoyed this for sure for the price!

Disney Popcorn & Disney Twins

Popcorn At Disney is Unique. Check out this Popcorn Bucket for 2300yen, or $23.00. So you get the bucket and popcorn, plus refills are cheaper. These buckets come in many different shapes – Steam Boat Willy above and Toy Story Wagon below. We also saw popcorn buckets in the shap of Cinderella’s Carriage, Duffy the Bear (who is HUGE in Tokyo Disney – bigger in popularity than Mickey), and BB-8 from star wars.

Curry Flavored Popcorn

The popcorn flavors here in Disney are Unique. We tried chocolate Milk and Honey. There was also Garlic Shrimp, Curry, Strawberry and of course Butter.

In Addition to the Unique Flavors and Buckets for Popcorn, there was also a twin theme, which apparently is always going on from what I heard from others I spoke with, not just during our visit. Check out some of the pictures of people dressing as twins. There was seriously 100s of people wearing twin clothes, it is hard to not notice this.

Now my daughters are twins, but have not dressed that way since third grade.

Next Post a few more pictures of Disney, then Samurai Museum.

Disney Tokyo

This is what I have been waiting for the Entire Trip, the one thing I REALLY wanted to do in Tokyo – Go to Tokyo Disney. I actually want to go to every Disney Park in the world, so all that is left is the waterparks in Florida and Shanghai and China Disney parks. I researched that today is a great day to go as the Tokyo Disney crowd calendar says it is moderate, which is the lowest crowds at the park the entire time we will be there – Never go during high, because it turns out it was still pretty darn busy there.

TIP: Use a Disney Crowd Calendar – just do a quick web search on this and it is easy to figure from there.

Disney Sea Map
The map including rides and details of Disney Sea, Tokyo
Entrance to Tokyo Disney Sea – Wide shot

We take a train about 45mins from our Airbnb to the entrance to Disney Tokyo, and wanted to visit both Disney Sea and the Disneyland Parks, there are two Parks. But you cannot swap between – no Park Hopper options. No using the tickets we have from the Florida park you have to buy new ones. A one day price one park (we decided on The Seas based upon previous online research) is 7400 yen or $74.00, in comparison todays price for Disney World is $109.00 for one park one day.

The best price deals though were inside. Food and snacks in comparison to Disney World are extremely well priced you can buy an ice cream large for $3.00, this frozen treat is made of a frozen jello on the bottom, shaved ice in the middle and rice crisps sprinkled on top with a creamier than you get in the US style frozen custard on top – it was 550yen or $5.50, Bargain in Disney!

You can buy a quality tasty chicken curry bun sandwich for $5.00, and it is cute! More on food in a future post.

View from when you walk in
View of Arabian Coast
The boys in front of Indiana Jones Adventure Temple of the Crystal Skull Ride

Check out my two bearded guys faces on the screen – nothing just pan face nothing, lol!

This is a YouTube Video of the Indiana Jones Adventure Tokyo ride for more details: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OEkTOubp8g

Train to Toyko from the Airport

Ok, lets head to Tokyo!
Pasmo Card – Best travel plans! – You have to pick up one of these in the train station, it cost 5000yen, or $5 to get one (you get your money back at the end if you ask for it – bargain). Then put money on the card, this is actually very easy, click on the English version of the card machine and just like using a simple ATM back at home, there are multiple YouTube Videos on how this works, but it is easy enough to figure out as long as you know you will need it. We put on $100 for each card and made our way to the AIRBNB.

Tip: You really have to use the subway and train in the Tokyo, so figure it out prior to getting there and the rest you can solve when your there as it is easier than you might fear.

Tip: The PASMO Card and whatever you put on it can be refunded, just ask when you return to the airport prior to leaving the train station and get all your money back.

So, now we have to figure out how to get to our AIRBNB

So when we were on our honeymoon we figured out you can go ANYWHERE with Google maps, as long as you have internet and we picked up our router, so we were good. We have the address we just follow Google Maps, and it looks something like this – EASY.

Notice you will loose signal a lot, but find your way, then keep following the steps, do not close the ap, or you will have to find it again. We are on AirPlane mode – you can see that above, but still using our portable internet router.
Look at the top, Walk 8 mins to the KO pink station….
There is always someone around – ok, they probably can not speak English, but they might know a word or two. Plus they had a universal translator when my card would not work.

We Arrive In Tokyo!

A Twelve and a Half hour flight, over Russia to Tokyo. Low priced and tight seats, argh, but we are here. It takes about 1 hour to get off this flight and thru security, collect our luggage, pick up our phone router, so we can have internet and leave our phones on airplane mode, then figure out how to get to the train. Were off!

Were Here

Oh no, we have about 4 hours to check into our Airbnb, but not enough time to visit Disney Tokyo like I thought we might, and we have all this luggage and so we decide to check in our luggage at the airport holding area – it cost 1000Yen, or $10 to store three pieces for 4 hours and we hit the local mall.

Narita Airport Welcome!
Bus stop to the Local mall from the Airport – spend our time seeing something while waiting to check in our AIRBNB.
Busses in Tokyo Run EXACTLY on time, NEVER late – Notice the English

While we figure out what is going on, a local TV Station interviews us on why would you vacation in Japan! Super cute – I hope to find that one day. We buy a bus ticket to the local mall – and check out this plastic food that helps us figure out what to eat.

We might not know what were eating, but we can get an idea from the plastic examples of the food. Notice the English. The pictures match the food pretty closely – and you can kind of figure, that meat looks like pork.

So we choose a place to eat- the girls want Italian – yep first meal is Italian in Tokyo!

The pictures and some English on many menus, make things easier. A Set is a complete meal, so you order just the food, or if you want a set, that would include a drink and some kind of side. Prices are reasonable, the girls ate a Pizza Margarita at the Italian Mall with a Salad and Soda, they shared and the entire price was 1150yen, or $11.50 – very reasonable, and different than what we were told prices would be – we were told to expect this meal to cost about $25.00 – Glad it was cheaper!

Grocery Store Fish Market in the Mall. So many choices I am overwhelmed

Eiffel Tower

So we saw the Eiffel Tower from a far and walked down to it! Stopped and took a bunch of pictures, had an ice cream, and bought Katrina an Eiffel Tower sucker.

Garion showing off his mini Eiffel Tower he bought!
Katrina showing off her Eiffel Tower Sucker!

Next Post – Under the Eiffel tower and then….. Off to Toyko, Japan!

Paris Pictures

There are so many beautiful pictures from random areas we saw in Paris, these are a few. Some from a top the Hop on Hop off, some just from wandering around. Enjoy!

A wonderful eating and shopping street near Notre Dame.
The busy streets near the Seine river
Notice the Bride entering the building.
Gift from Egypt to France.
There was a protest going on at this area – peaceful and childrens medical rights based.

Arc De Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile or Triumphal Arch of the Star in Paris, France. It is a monument to the fallen solders of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.

The name of all French Victories and general are inscribed on the inner and outer surfaces.

You can walk under the circle intersection of twelve roads and pop out in the center – and walk around checking out the twelve roads surrounding – you can take the elevator up to the top – but the line was HUGE – or you can book this in advance and skip the line – remember the tip of doing these at least 30 days in advance.

Notre Dame – still standing just like us!

Notre Dame is still standing – battered and in renovation, but she is still standing despite what we all thought was the end of her and the fire that was so devastating only just 2 months ago.

This month David and I will be married 3 years and together 5 years. We are winning against the odds of a second marriage succeeding. Our marriage and my life is testament that regardless of your current situation, you can fight hard, and win – in a big way. Our children are thriving and growing up surrounding by love and we are a family. Six years ago, my life was so different. I was in the middle of a divorce and thinking my life was over, I was fighting for my health, my finances, and my children. I was devastated and burnt down to my core. At the time I could have never predicted that point of my life was just the beginning of things to come. I still have to pinch myself to believe this is my life. I feel so blessed and grateful, it can be overwhelming.

Seeing the Grand Dame was also a memory of 2008, and my last visit to Paris with my parents and children. When we were there, we went to Palm Sunday Mass, which was crazy busy with mass mobs of people – in fact we were separated by the crushing crowds. I was just laughing about that with my parents last night – what wonderful memories of this trip, and the memories are still strong.  

Six years from now, I would love to visit Notre Dame and see her completely re-built, toast her and myself for both over coming against the odds.