3 Year Blogiversary

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What was first only meant to be a way for me to document my year abroad, this blog has turned into something much bigger. Hundreds of posts and followers later, most of my site’s photo storage is used up and we’re still going!

Seeing the ‘three year anniversary’ of my blog pop up today as a notification was quite weird. Has it been that long? I guess it has.

Really, I am quite amazed by my commitment and perseverance in nurturing this blog along. Some months I post more, others I post less, but no matter what, the site is still plodding along and holds an integral part in all my adventures. I love sharing with the community and reading your blogs, which inspire me to continue to explore and to write.

So happy blogiversary to Robyn Bobbing Travel! Here’s to many more stories to share with you guys!

Also, from the pictures below, it seems I have changed so much in only a few years!

Earliest blog photo of me to one of the most recent:

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Peru 2013, feat. llama

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Japan, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Japan Series: Fushimi Inari

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Upon arrival there is a rush of people drawn to get to the Inari Shrine. We have all come to see the thousands of famous red torii gates. We start walking, selfie sticks everywhere, in a sea of people. I think to myself that at this rate, there is no way I am going to get a decent picture, let alone actually enjoy it.

We keep walking. We hear the group next to us agree to each other, ‘let’s turn back, we have seen enough, it’s all the same.’ The rest of us continue. We keep going, turning off here and there to see the odd shrine on an adjacent path. This place is huge!

It turns out there are 10,000 of these wooden torii gates on the Inari mountain. That is a lot and I should have read about this place a bit better beforehand – I am usually much better than this! Then I am reminded that if you want to do the entire route, it’s about a 2 hour walk to get up and down the mountain. We decide to ‘see how we feel’ but I didn’t bring any water and it’s starting to get pretty warm.

We keep climbing, the steps are getting steeper now. Then we come to a clearing and we can see across the entire city. It’s a magnificent view and worth the climb. At this point there is a rest stop where you may purchase beverages and snacks, turn around or carry on. We kept going, somehow 35 minutes and a lot of sweat later, made it to the top!

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That view!

The route is very clear to follow, and even has timers to estimate how much longer it takes to climb the next sections. There are vending machines up the mountain but the further up you get, the more expensive they become! There are signs about wild bears in the area to be careful about, but maybe that is more at night.

The further we climbed, we noticed that the crowds became smaller and it got to a point where it was just us around each corner. Photo time! If you want to get some good shots, just keep on walking. It’s a shame for people with mobility issues as this is not an accessible attraction. However, I did see some ladies in high heels near the top which was absolutely shocking. What are they trying to prove?!

The Inari Shrine is open 24/7, you can go day or night. I would have loved to experience it in the evening – not to go all the way to the top as it looks so isolated, but to see it in a different light.

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At the top, there is no ‘well done, you made it’ but there is a vending machine to quench your thirst which is still pretty good. We had wobbly legs the entire way down but were proud to have done the circuit.

My Fitbit was pleased with me that day: 100 flights of stairs climbed or 1000m of ascent!

The low-down:

Cost: Absolutely free!

What to bring: sensible footwear (I do not condone the high heels!), a bottle of water, a camera to take some amazing photos

How long: Up to 2 hours

 

Adventures at Home: Yorkshire Wildlife Park, England

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Waking up at 8am, I looked out the window to heavy rain – total wash-out, not what I was hoping for a day out with some friends.

Undeterred we decided to go to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park, after sitting on the living room sofa for half an hour trying to come to a decision about what we should do for the day.

We actually live very close by, and it has been a place on my local bucket-list for quite a while.

What is it?

It really is a sanctuary for animals and conservation while also being interactive for visitors. Not only can you learn about the animals and their habitats, but also about what the Park is doing to support the (critically) endangered animals that they work with. It is also quite big, so be prepared to do some walking if you want to see everything!

The highlights of the park

My favourite area was the Lemur Woods, for of course, the lemurs! I love these little guys so much, they are so energetic and interesting to watch. For the lemurs, you are allowed to enter the enclosure to get up close to them.

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snack time

Still, the experience was not as exciting as the time one jumped on my head for some fun at another animal sanctuary. These guys were a bit more reserved here.

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So cute and on my head too!

The South America Viva enclosure was brilliant to see the tiny but incredibly cute squirrel monkeys and marmosets!

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Look at him though!

There was quite a lot to see but there was just one problem – it seemed that we had our timings a bit wrong, as most animals seemed to have been on their afternoon nap!

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Sleepy sleepy

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Polar bear lunch

On the other hand, the polar bears were tucking into a meaty lunch!

It was a lovely afternoon out, even though the weather wasn’t. I would definitely go back as it is so fascinating observing all these animals and it acted as a good break from work.

What is your favourite animal?

 

The low-down:

How to get here there: situated near Doncaster, England, close to key travel links such as the A1, M1, M18 and the east coast main line linking London and Edinburgh via Doncaster.

The cost: check online, as there are a range of discounts available
What’s on: check the website to see what times the daily talks/feeding times are to plan your day

Japan Series: Rainy Kyoto

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Welcome back to the Japan Series! After a few days in Tokyo and a day trip to Kamakura, it was time for a weekend trip to Kyoto…

During our trip to Kyoto we rented an Airbnb, staying in a traditional Japanese house near Toji Station. This was a great location and amazing to stay in a beautiful Japanese home.

We arrived Friday night after a long coach journey, and had only 2 full days to make the most of this city, which I must admit, is not long enough to see everything. Pressure!

In Kyoto, there is a lot of tourism. So much so, that it can get to the point were there are just too many tourists at sites. Still, we found that by being smart with our itinerary, there are ways to avoid a lot of the stress of the crowded temples and shrines. It was also coming to the end of sakura season, so the main bulk of tourists had fizzled out. Nevertheless, for some places, the overcrowding is just inevitable and you have to suck it up and go with the flow (of the crowd).

The weather forecast was not looking promising for Saturday morning, so we changed our plans up a bit to take into account the rainy weather.

Our first stop was to the nearby Toji Temple. Now, this is not one of the ‘top sites’ as such, but with it being a short walk away it would have been a shame not to see it. In all honesty though, this was one of my favourite places that I visited in Kyoto. Maybe because it was quite empty, maybe because it was just so beautiful, I don’t know, but I loved it! The 5-storey pagoda is really something, and has been even earthquake-proof for a few centuries! It was really interesting reading about how they managed that.

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Toji

 

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Toji

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Toji

The rain still beating down, we made our way to Tofukuji Temple. We caught the bus right outside Toji which took us straight there – handy! It was a short walk to the Temple. This one is interesting as it has two very different gardens which you have to pay to enter. We decided we may as well do both while we were there. These gardens are actually made to be appreciated in rainy weather, and there are plenty of walkways to keep dry if necessary.

The first garden, you can walk around and explore away from the sheltered areas and really get into nature. It was so tranquil and the colours around were mesmerising.

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The second was a ‘zen garden’ which was also beautiful in its own way but with a lot more structure and perfectionism to it.

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It wasn’t long after until the sun reappeared and it became sunny and humid again, just in time for our next stop, Fushimi-Inari Shrine, which I will talk about in next week’s post…

Robyn

Japan Series: coach travel

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9 hours of air travel from Helsinki to Tokyo felt like forever, but 9 hours from Tokyo to Kyoto went by so quickly!

Most people get the shinkansen (bullet train) or choose to fly to Kyoto in just a few hours to save some time. We decided to take a coach, hence the nine hour trip. Coach travel in Japan is not so bad though from this experience, and I would recommend it for those wanting to save some pennies on transport.

For our trip which left from Shinjuku Station, our coach seats reclined quite far back and had a hood around them to give us some extra privacy and shade from the light when desired. This was lovely for when I wanted to nap, and I did nap (a miracle as I find napping on any form of transport so difficult)! If only economy plane seats were this good! The coach was not very full and on both trips we had no one behind us either.

We had breaks every so often at good service stations (I have never seen such a pristine and inviting service station bathroom), and there were plenty of options for snacking and hot meals so there was no need to bring provisions if you didn’t want to.

This was also the day I ate my first onigiri (rice snack with filling in a triangle shape). This one had fried chicken as the filling and it was delicious. There will be a separate post on food as it was one of the best aspects of the entire trip.

All announcements on the coach were made in Japanese, English, Mandarin and Korean and the bus driver left a sign on the front of the bus to let us know when to be back during service station breaks.

Overall it was quite a pleasant experience, and I felt well rested, ready for two full-on days of sight-seeing in Kyoto!

On the return journey which left at a grueling 12:40am (night bus), be warned that there is hardly anywhere open 24 hours near Kyoto station! The nearby Starbucks seems to be where everyone lingers until closing time at 11pm. The station is open for somewhere to sit but nothing more.

When we rocked up to a service station at 6am, still half asleep, we turned round to find Mt. Fuji right in front of us! I didn’t get to do the day trip but at least I got to see her from a service station on a clear morning…

The low-down:

Price: a return ticket cost £68. You will have to book these when in Japan.

Worth it? Yes, if you are wanting to save some money but not if you want to maximise your time in Kyoto.

Coin-lockers: Kyoto station has plenty of coin lockers starting from 300 yen to hire for the entire day. If you have a late bus or train back, these are great to keep your luggage safe and make the most of your day.