Kiyomizu-dera | Kyoto, Japan

When Markus and I were in Kyoto, we planned on visiting all the "must-see" temples. In an ideal world, we would have all the time, energy and money to do everything we wanted, but reality isn't really like that. On this particular day, I had way too much planned. We were in the Gion district and earlier that day we dressed as a geisha and samurai. Afterward, we walked all over the area looking at other temples. By the time we finally made it to Kiyomizu-dera, I was exhausted. We also found out that they were under construction and the line was way too long. In the end, we decided to pass on going inside. Instead, Markus took heaps of photos of the outside. Now looking back on it, I don't regret it at all. It was the height of summer and the best time to go to Kiyomizu-dera is during fall or spring. Maybe when Markus and I go back to Japan, we'll go during one of those seasons and finally see what all the hype is about!

Lakeshore Drive | Chicago, Illinois

For some reason, every place that I've moved to has been near a body of water. Before, I was always near the beach and ocean. This is the first time that I've been near a lake. I have to admit that lakes are a bit scary compared to oceans. Oh who am I kidding, all bodies of water terrify me but that's another story for another time. Anyway, Lake Michigan is quite beautiful. It's definitley a different feeling from the beach and I quite like it. I don't know if we'll go often, but it's nice to have access especially on those hot summer days.

Day 2: Wandering the Streets | Kyoto, Japan

I like to refer day two of Kyoto as "Noelle and Markus standing in front of nice backgrounds". We did more than just wander around, but I realized that I had a lot of random pictures that weren't for a specific place. Every time I saw a nice wall, house or window, I made Markus stop and take photos. I couldn't help myself, Kyoto is just so beautiful. I've just realized that this is a shameless photo post, but I still hope you enjoy them!

Kakigori on a Hot Summer Day | Kyoto, Japan

While Markus and I were in Japan, it was ridiculously hot. We went in the beginning of August, so it was the height of the summer. The minute I stepped outside it was like stepping into a bright sauna. Everyday I would be covered in sweat. It was great. So as you can imagine, I would constantly search for shade or refreshment. In Korea, they have this amazing shaved ice dessert called patbingsu. We also have an equivalent in the Philippines called halo-halo. These shaved iced desserts are the perfect remedy for hot days.

Markus and I were exploring the Gion district. We were sort of aimlessly walking in direction of a temple, but would stop at anything that peaked our interest. We passed this really cool place and thought the outside looked interesting, but we didn't know what it was. When we saw a sign for kakigori, the Japanese version of shaved ice, I asked Markus if we could try it. He didn't really want to stop, so we kept going. We walked about 500 feet and he stopped.  He turned to me and said, "You really want to eat that patbingsu don't you?" I eagerly nodded my head and he smiled.

We ordered the green tea kakigori and it was freaking amazing. I ate a lot of green tea patbingsu in Korea in the two years I was there. This was probably, if not, the best green tea shaved ice I've ever had. I'm so glad that we didn't pass up on the opportunity and we were able to try real authentic kakigori.

Chicago Thrift Store | Kyoto, Japan

One of my favorite things to do is go thrift store shopping. I've been thrifting way before Macklemore made it popular. Ever since I can remember, my mom and I would spend Saturday mornings scouring thrift stores for little treasures. It's something that I've always done and continue to do to this day. Most of the things I own are from thrift stores. I love one of a kind things and especially when they are at a low cost. When we travel abroad, I always look for secondhand shops.

Japan is one of the best countries for this. They've really embraced the culture and there are heaps of thrift stores. When we were Kyoto we randomly found Chicago Thrift Store, which also has a location in Tokyo. When I saw it, it was like destiny and we immediately went in. Everything was really awesome and there was ton to choose from. The prices were really reasonable and affordable. I wanted to buy everything, but I controlled myself. I ended up buying on really amazing dress and a super sweet shirt for Markus. Overall it was a great experience and if you're ever in Kyoto, make sure to check it out for sweet vintage finds!

Wendell Smith Restaurant | Nashville, Tennessee

While in Nashville, Markus and I were determined to get some Southern food. Being in Korea for two years, you start to crave it. The closest is Korean BBQ and while it is delicious it really can't fulfill that craving. For dinner we wanted to eat somewhere inexpensive and well known. I read lots of reviews about Wendell Smith. It's definitley a dive, which I love.We went around 5pm so it was filled to the brim with the elderly there for the early bird special. I think we were the only ones there that didn't have white or gray hair. It was pretty awesome.

All three of us decided to order a "meat and three" which is exactly what it sounds like. We tried to get a wide variety of sides, my cousin Joy even ordering this weird fruit jello concoction.  Before we knew it, our table was filled to the brim with heaps and heaps of food. For the most part, it was good but it wasn't to die for. The fried fish and hush puppies were really tasty, but it's hard to ruin fried food. The fruit jello was exactly what I thought it would be, terrifying. I tasted a little and couldn't continue. It reminded me of hospital food. Everything else was just okay. If I were to go back to Nashville, I probably wouldn't go back and would try another dive. It's definitley worth a try if you're in the area, but it left me wondering if there were other delicious places.

Day One: Wandering the Streets | Kyoto, Japan

Markus and I spent seven wonderful days in Kyoto. Those seven days were completely planned out. Almost every hour was accounted for, but I did leave us some exploring time. We spent most of our first day getting lost on the streets near our hotel. We didn't have a plan and we stopped at anywhere that interested us. Kyoto is such a beautiful city that begs to be photographed. I didn't disappoint and snapped heaps of photos. It's definitley my favorite city in Japan. It's one of those places that my heart will always long for and I can't wait for the day that we can go back and get lost on the streets again. 

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