I confess: until this resort, I’d never been to a resort at all. To be baldly anti-elitist, they just don’t jive with my travel priorities. I don’t travel to sit and drink cocktails and get a massage – I can do all that stuff at home. When I travel, I want to do something I can’t just do from my couch or by driving 10 minutes away from it. But if you’re the kind of person who wants a luxury experience in a tropical paradise, you’ll love Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa.
First snow had yet to fall in Sapporo, but it was still bitterly cold, a fact that we definitely hadn’t missed when we’d gone looking for the Benson Bubbler in Odori Park the previous night. The bubblers are an iconic Portland feature, and one we decided to share with our sister city, Sapporo. Unfortunately, all my research on the bubbler yielded no results as to an exact location, and we’d wandered the park for a good two hours in the bitter cold with no luck. (We would have better luck later—have some GPS coordinates!: 43.0610733 N, 141.3539886 E). Although the sun was up now, it seemed hardly warmer as we walked from Naebo station to the Sapporo brewery.
Two things make every potential Japanese tourist curious: capsule hotels and hot springs. They’re as terrifying as they are intriguing, crossing the lines of Western taboo more the lines of safety and yet many people are too afraid to try them. Put these intriguing things together and what have you got?: Spa Safro in Sapporo.
I have a hard time trusting the Pacific Ocean, and a really hard time trusting “the beach.” I’ve lived in Oregon for almost twenty years, and any delusions that I had about the Oregon coast being in any way a “beach” were dispelled when I tried to frolic in the waves only to discover that 60 F (15 C) is considered exceedingly warm. If the water’s too cold to swim in, what’s the point of sitting in the blazing sun on a million tiny hot rocks that will inevitably get onto every inch of skin you have? It was hard to convince my animal brain that ocean water could be good for recreational purposes, but something in me held out hope, which is why I decided to try out Haemida Beach on Iriomote Island.
I don’t need a lot when I first arrive at a travel destination: a clean, warm, safe place to sleep tops the list, and everything after that is gravy. Unfortunately, our first night in Japan I also wanted something with a good location: close to food and particularly so close to Tsukiji Market that I could walk there. I was worried I’d never find something in my price range, but then I stumbled on Viainn Higashi Ginza.
In high school I was that dork who loved reading Hamlet and writing essays about it. I loved all the plays I read, but there was one great I never got around to reading or seeing: The Tempest. Last year my friend Steph invited me to her new place in Vancouver, B.C. for a little friend reunion, a little Welcome to Night Vale, and a little Bard on the Beach, Vancouver’s yearly Shakespeare festival, where I could finally see it.
Ishigaki is one of my favorite places I’ve ever been, and we only stayed there a day. I wish I’d known–I would have made it a bigger part of our plans.
When I was a girl, I was always excited to stay in hotels—it was a luxury we almost never got, my dad preferring to drive 48 straight hours and sleep in the passenger seat than stop for a bed. If we stopped at all, we’d always end up at the cheapest of the cheap, a Motel 6 or Super 8, so the first time we stayed in a Marriott I was blown away by the accommodations. Of course, as an adult I learned that Marriott is also pretty basic. I don’t get that feeling often—being blown away by a hotel’s unexpected greatness—but Hotel Patina on Ishigaki Island in Okinawa did that for me.