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Posts tagged ‘beach’

Journeys in Japan – Atami, Kai hot spring

This post as hundreds of others I am yet to post is very overdue but with the scarce amount of free time I have lately, I decided to close my eyes on time stamps and just write about events I want to write about regardless of when they took place. So, stay tuned for the continuation of my Patagonia story. ^-^ Seriously? 5 years have pasted…

Last summer, I took my 7 month old son to Atami to show him the Pacific ocean and enjoy some time under the sun. It was a very easy breezy trip as he was still sleeping beautifully in the moving car (unlike now!) and was satisfied with just happily observing the world from the coziness of the baby carrier instead of running every which way like he does now.

We arrived at Atami in the early afternoon, had lunch at a local diner and then spent some time on the beach, dipping baby’s bare feet in the water. He was scared of the “big bathtub” so didn’t insist on staying long.

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My mom, upon seeing this photo has asked why so many are dressed up in not just clothes but clothes with long sleeves. In Japan, a lot of people wear UV-protective clothing to the beach, especially women who don’t want to get tanned and children whose skin is too sensitive to sunshine. It is hot and uncomfortable but a great way to avoid sunburn.

As you can also see, the sand on Tokyo beaches as well as in every sandpit on every playground is dark grey, almost black in color. You have to go to Izu to find white sand beach but it will be even more crowded than this one. ^-^

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After the hot beach, we cooled down in my favorite MOA museum that held a very beautiful exhibition depicting mount Fuji through the works of Japan’s most famous artist Hokusai.

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This is the bandana I bought for my son at the exhibition. Isn’t it cute with the little clouds over mount Fuji?

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The museum has a gorgeous Japanese garden with a tea house inside but you have to book the seat in advance or be prepared to wait to be seated. The place is very popular.

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It was my second failed attempt to have tea at the museum’s tea house but fortunately I had my cup at the KAI ryokan upon arrival. It was very refreshing after a hot day out.

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The ryokan is very old but some of its parts have been rebuilt with modern standards in mind. The outdoor bath in particular was designed by Japan’s contemporary artist Kengo Kuma. It is really relaxing. I happened to go in the bath right in the midst of a pouring rain that enveloped the bath area in a soft flowing veil of water through which I peacefully gazed at the ocean. It was a beautiful tranquil moment that I often go back to in my mind when I need to relax.

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Ryokan had a drawing room with a small library and self-serving kitchen with herb teas and biscuits.

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The way from the main building to the hot springs terrace was very long and steep but amazingly beautiful especially at night.

At the very bottom of it, there is an open air adult-only bar that we unfortunately couldn’t check. It did look very romantic. You can also enjoy a special Geisha performance there on weekends or so the website says. ^-^

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This is a hot spring terrace with a gorgeous view to the ocean. You can chill there with a glass of free beer or milk after steaming it off in the hot springs.

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The dinner was amazing. We often take the traditional full course onsen dinner because it is served in the room and you can go about your evening at your own pace. With a baby, this sort of arrangement comes particularly in handy. ^-^ The food is always fresh, it highlights the best of local cuisine using the best of local ingredients. After a full Japanese meal, you will never feel full and uncomfortable as for example after a Russian “sour cream on top of everything” meal. After this sort of traditional “kaiseki” meal you feel nothing but satisfaction. It also pleases not only your stomach but your eyes as well.

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The next day, we went to the beach again just to give our little boy another chance to get acquainted with the ocean. I would very much love for him to be passionate about watet and to follow in the steps of the generations of men in my family.

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Stay tuned for other overdue posts on my trips to Ikaho and Karuizawa. ^-^

 

Accidentally in love

For winter holidays, me and my husband spontaneously decided to go to Bali. I have always wanted to go there but somehow Thailand was always an easier choice..  Come to think of it, there isn’t much difference in traveling distance or price.. Bali is even cheaper, now more than ever because of strong Yen.^-^

So the reason why we took off without an elaborate advanced planning (something we always do and are notoriously famous for) was because we found a very rare mileage deal for Tokyo – Singapore – Tokyo. Such deals don’t come often and certainly not for the New Years.. Once you are in Singapore there are so many cheap budget airlines available – you can go anywhere you want for like 100$. So, we chose Bali. ^-^

Unfortunately, the New Year falls to the monsoon season in Bali so the weather was pretty much always on the verge of rain. We had a couple of sunny days that however always ended up in late night showers… Other days, the shower would start in the morning, then stop by lunch but once we go out to the city, it would start again locking us up in one place for a few hours.. I do enjoy this kind of weather  – the heavy lead-colored skies, the urgency in the air from rain about to burst through the skies, the quiet moments in between thunder strikes…However, when you are on one week holiday bad weather is something you usually hope to avoid.. But in the end, it didn’t ruin our perfect getaway and if anything, made it even more enjoyable because it gave us a sense of adventure and an opportunity to focus on something else besides getting sunburned at the beach. ^-^

So we chose two places to stay in Bali. Our first destination was Seminyak which is located north to Kuta – area famous for its wild parties. If you want to get the taste of a busy nightlife but avoid the crowds of people in a semi-constant state of blackout drinking and partying  – Seminyak is a good choice. It wasn’t too crowded or too deserted. A lot of foreigners were as good as locals, staying there with their families, riding scooters, walking their dogs, doing groceries at the supermarket.. I reckon a lot are living there. The main street of Seminyak was lined with legal offices offering visa extensions. ^-^ During my stay I haven’t met anyone who would be on the same short schedule as me. Whenever I was asked about the length of my stay, my reply was always met with the same amused look – “What? A week? That IS very short!”. What can I do? There simply aren’t longer holidays in Japan. ^-^

Seminyak is relatively big. The main street runs long and harbors plenty of cute little restaurants, art galleries and shops.  Wherever I go I am always on the hunt for local fashion and interior designers and I was pleasantly surprised to find both and with a very strong voice and amazing quality. Unfortunately I was too absorbed in window shopping to take any pictures but here are some links to the shops I liked the most:

Biasa http://www.biasabali.com/index.php?/collections/for-her/

Ali Charisma http://www.alicharisma.com/fall-winter.php?id=13

Lily Jean http://lily-jean.com/collection.php

Magali Pascal http://magalipascal.com/

As for the restaurants, we tried different ones each day. Most of them had outside terraces and many were directly on the beach. The very first day, we had dinner at this cozy restaurant which was located on the “sacred” part of the beach. There are special places in Bali which are designated for religious rituals and processions so at that particular part of Seminyak beach, it was prohibited to swim. Of course, some middle-aged Russian tourists in skin-tight shocking pink Speedos were swimming there anyway… Oh well.. For every rule, there is at least one Russian breaking it.. ^-^

Besides the “designated”places, there are religious offerings everywhere you go. They are literally scattered around on the pavement, on the road, in front of shops and restaurants, inside too. More than half of them end up being smashed or stepped on so the overall look of the street can sometimes look messy but I liked the determination with which Balinese people continued preparing those offerings. I like when people are dedicated to their beliefs. I respect that.

That evening, we drank our Mojito and watched the most amazing sunset I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t painted with happy colors. The sky and ocean were dark and heavy but the sunlight was shimmering gold. The clouds didn’t move at all.. They were just slowly melting into the purple sky.  We sat there on the beach and watched the dark ocean till we could see no more. Then, we returned to our hotel.

In Seminyak, we chose to stay at La Villais spa & villa resort which was only a few minutes walk to the main street and 10 minutes to the beach. Surprisingly, not so many resorts in Bali have their own access to the beach (something that is quite common in Thailand). It might be different in Nusa Dua (manicured South-East part of Bali) but in Seminyak-Kuta area, only a few of the hotels where located directly on the beach..^-^

But I really loved our hotel. It was very private and secluded. Each villa was completely isolated from each other. We met other guests only during breakfast in the morning or by the main pool area.

Our villa had its own pool and it was quite big, at least in comparison to the other villas with plunge pools I found on Trip Advisor. The bedroom was in one building and the living room with kitchen was in another. The wall facing the pool garden was missing which was both unusual and exciting at the same time. I have never lived like that before but I really enjoyed it, especially my evenings sitting on the sofa, drinking Balinese ginger tea and watching the rain outside.

There were several Frangpani trees in our garden that not only smelled incredible but also showered our pool with its beautiful flowers every time it rained.

I stayed in the pool as much as I could, sometimes till the skin on my fingers turned white. I love water and I love feeling weightless.  I couldn’t get enough of it.

So the mornings, we stayed at out villa and enjoyed the sun or went down to a spa if it was raining. Spa was really amazing. It was cheaper than in Thailand and I could mix my own fragrant oils. ^-^ In the afternoons, we went exploring the town and its cuisine. We checked out all the hip places recommended by Timeout. It allowed me to observe the locals (Balinese and foreigners). I like watching people and contemplating their stories. There were a lot of Russians there – surfers, families, models on holidays…

A funny fact about my husband. He doesn’t really like taking photos (read: obsessed with photos like me) so every time I want one, I need to ask him for it. Except when I am drinking.. If there is a cocktail in my hand, he is compelled to take a picture. ^-^ So I have an extensive collection of such shots but I swear I am not an alcoholic!! I think it’s just his idea of a perfect vacation picture.. ^-^

By the way, that chubby tattooed man with a pierced ear behind me was Russian.. The night we went to an Italian restaurant, there were 4 tables speaking Russian!!! It felt more like Odessa than Bali… Oh, and another funny thing. Whenever I wanted to say something to my husband in private I would use Japanese or Russian. Only it was never really in private! I swear every Balinese waiter, driver or shop owner I met was capable of speaking one language or another!! I got into so many embarrassing situations thinking they didn’t understand me!!! Never, never underestimate people working in hospitality business!!!

Another day, we had dinner on the beach at a gorgeous restaurant called “Breeze”. The staff was amazing. They addressed us by our names and were very friendly and chatty. One waiter was a painter from Ubud who used to live in Japan!! ^-^ The food was absolutely amazing! I had the best gazpacho I’ve ever tasted, even better than the authentic one I tried in Madrid. I was in heaven!!! Of course we also tried Indonesian dishes like Nasi goreng (fried rice with meat, tofu and veggies) and bunch of other stuff – they often serve an assortment of local delicacies on one plate (aka tourist plate) and then explain each one of them but it was just too much to remember.. Everything was soo good though, the right amount of spicy and sweet!

That evening, as we were drinking our coffee and munching on a triple chocolate cake (courtesy of a guy sitting next to us who got a surprise birthday cake from his girlfriend! Yeah, the whole cake!!!), the air exploded with a loud rumble and within fracture of a second the rain poured down. It was like a curtain of water, I could hardly see in front of me. The lightning stroke every minute or so and the rumble was getting louder and louder.. A sane person would wait it out or call a cab. Me and my husband, we decided to walk back to our villa without an umbrella! I completely ruined my Tory Burch sandals but I couldn’t care less. Running down the dark street in an alien country under the pouring rain was quite a liberating experience! I wanna do it again!!

Our second destination was Ubud, a small village located amongst rice paddies and steep valleys. It is Bali’s major arts and culture center harboring many amazingly talented painters, dancers, wood carvers, designers and musical instrument makers. Ubud is also famous as a place to gather medicinal herbs and plants. You remember that Medicine man from “Eat pray love”? He was living in Ubud. ^-^

In Ubud, we stayed at Kamandalu resort which was gorgeous but very Japanese-oriented. Everyone spoke the language and everything in the room was written in Japanese. I mean it’s nice, thank you but I kinda want to get away from it!! Next time, I will stay at a family-run B&B and will make sure they don’t speak Japanese or Russian. ^-^ But apart from that, everything was perfect! Beautiful chalets with views to the rice paddies, nice landscape design and amazing kind people.

It’s funny how we chose this hotel because it was almost the only one with a pool in Ubud and yet we didn’t use it at all. ^-^ It was raining the entire time we were there so instead I cuddled with a book on a chaise longue with parasol in front of it and watched the rain… and occasional middle-aged Russians in skin-tight shocking pink Speedos swimming in the pool like no weather is ever bad enough. ^-^

So because it was raining, I spent a lot of time at Kamandalu spa. I ALWAYS feel nervous when someone is washing my feet or serves me tea while kneeling down but somehow it felt amazingly comfortable in Bali. You know how Japanese people are always polite regardless of whether they mean it? Well, Balinese people are also polite but you can feel true sincerity behind their smiles. They are radiating with kindness and you can feel it is for real.  I mean I still would prefer them not to kneel in front of me but they handled themselves with such ease and confidence , I had no choice but to relax and let it go.  ^-^

Ubud has the main street called Jalan Raya Ubud that is the address for the majority of Ubud’s art galleries, batik and paper shops, bookstores, jewelers and the coziest cafes. I was blown away but the variety of silks and candles and woven baskets.. I wanted to buy everything.. A little word of advice! When going shopping in Ubud, NEVER bring your husband. He spoiled the whole experience by constantly reminding me that I didn’t need a trillionth candle holder or pillow case.. Well, yeah I don’t need them – I WANT them!!

Everything was so cheap AND I was allowed to negotiate the price. Now that I am back to Tokyo, I curse myself for not buying more of that delicious mango jam and lavender bath salt…and the silk scarfs..and banana leaf paper…and candles… Ahhh…

The main attraction at night was to go to one of those amazing dance performances at Puri Saren (Ubud palace) or Puri Saren Agung (Water palace).

My friend Mia is a professional Balinese dancer so I already knew that I wanted to watch Legong dance because it is the one performed exclusively by girls. We saw it at Ubud palace and then again at this beautiful water lily palace the next day.

There is a terrace restaurant called “Lotus cafe” right in front of it so you can actually have dinner while watching the dance performance. Or, you can go for the best seat at Starbucks next door that also had a huge terrace facing the pond.

We chose the restaurant because it was our last night in Bali. Here I am with the cocktail.. again… ^-^ Where is all the food? I don’t have a single picture of anything we ate… I tend to forget to take pictures when I am having too much fun..

Other dances we saw were Barong (a dance of Lion and monkey) and Kecak (a trance-like chanting ritual).

That night, we made friends with the local guy who took us to the airport the next day. His name was Wayan which means “first”. In Bali and some other parts of Indonesia, names are decided based on birth order, regardless of sex. There are only three more names used and you can guess what they are. Yep! Second, third and fourth – Made, Nyoman and Ketut. If you are a fifth child in the family, your name will be Wayan Balik which means Wayan “again”.  Fascinating, isn’t it? ^-^

On our way back to Tokyo, we spent one day in Singapore. I really wanted to see my friend Anastasia who moved there from Tokyo a year earlier. We met at Clarke Quay and had dinner on the river not far from the Fullerton hotel.

She said it was tough to get used to Singapore mixed cuisine after so many years of living in Japan.. Everything is much more oilier and spicier… But the restaurant we found was very good.

After dinner, we went to the bay to watch lazer show, a novelty attraction of Marina bay – newest hotel on the town. Again, Starbucks was the place with the best view and it wasn’t crowded. I don’t really know Starbucks without a crowd. In Japan, it always comes with it.

I have been to Singapore several times so I didn’t do any sightseeing this time. In Bali too, I decided not to waste any time sweating inside tourist buses but instead experience life of a local – slow and very very relaxing. As much as me and my husband are determined to do it every time we travel, we usually fail to escape the pressure of seeing this and that. This time, we completely let go and enjoyed a real vacation – doing absolutely nothing at all!!!

So, it was a very short holiday but it completely rejuvenated me.  I am already planning my next trip, thinking of places to go and things to buy (yes, I want Balinese furniture, I can’t stop thinking about it). I understand fully now why my friend Mia is so crazy about it.. You can’t help but to fall in love with the place, the culture, the lifestyle and above all the people. ^-^

Golden week in Tokyo

This year, I stayed in Tokyo for Golden week – a week of consecutive holidays in Japan. It’s a rare occasion to actually go somewhere but with everything happening around recently I just wanted to stay put and enjoy my GW as I used to do when I just came to Tokyo.

One of my favorite activities was spending time in Odaiba on the beach reading book or strolling down the flower fields in front of Palette town.

Odaiba is a large artificial island in Tokyo Bay. It was initially built for defensive purposes but then was turned into a seaport district. Now, it became a major commercial, residential and leisure area.  Odaiba, along with Minato Mirai in Yokohama, are the only two places in the Greater Tokyo Metropolitan area where the seashore is accessible and not blocked by industry and harbor areas.

So, there is an actual beach in Odaiba where you can swim, surf and sunbathe all the while enjoying Tokyo skyline on the horizon and the proximity of everything you might ever need – shops, restaurants, multiplex cinema, amusement park, museums and even a TV station. I used to go there a lot when I was freelancing as a model/extra.

On Wednesday, I met with Laura who was actually working for Fuji TV that day in the evening so we could spend some time together before her job.

Last year, poppy flower fields were relocated farther to the west from the Palette town. It is actually close now to the Museum of Maritime Science which is convenient if you want to later go to Shiokaze park or Odaiba Seaside park (decks beach).

Lilacs, poppies and cornflowers are my favorite flowers so I always take a chance to go see them whenever I can. In Odaiba, you can see both poppies and cornflowers and also Susuki – Japanese pampas grass.

This is a grasshopper Laura caught in Susuki. He was extremely patient while we were taking pictures of him. ^-^ Don’t worry he wasn’t harmed at all!

After the poppy field, we went to Shiokaze park to say Hello to Jenya who checked-in in Facebook saying she was having a BBQ there. ^-^

You can rent all the equipment, tent, table and chairs right there at the beach and it is not crowded at all so Shiokaze park is a really nice place to have BBQ – much better than let’s say Tamagawa river where you have to fight for a spot under the highway bridge.. ^-^

Jenya’s friends were wonderful! They have prepared tons of food which was perfect because me and Laura got tired looking for a place to eat.. Odaiba during GW is crazy! Everywhere are lines of people, even to a food stand, let alone restaurant..

Then, I left the girls in Odaiba and went to meet with Dasha and Inna. Our Facebook group “Stop panic” wrote a support letter to Fukushima workers and it somehow reached NHK who then contacted our group and asked for an interview. So we went to meet with them and other members of the group. We had a tea or what we call in Russia “chaepitie” and talked about the events in Japan after the earthquake and the reason we stayed and made that group.. They cut a lot in the final version but it anyway turned out to be good.

You can see the interview here. It’s in Japanese though..

After the interview, we all went for yakiniku at a local Korean restaurant but since there were just too many of us, they put us into a karaoke next door. ^-^

Tom, who does all the updates on radiation and the situation at Fukushima came specially from Niigata to party with us so of course we had to go to Roppongi. ^-^

Somebody (I am not to point fingers here) got so wasted, we had to drive them home in a taxi to the other part of Tokyo. It was quite the adventure to try and get the correct address out of that person. ^-^ Fortunately, everything turned out to be good. But really, it’s impossible to party with those guys. They have friends everywhere which almost always results in tons of free tequila..

A week later, we had another fundraising party where we auctioned a book of radiopoetry (poems on radiation that talented members of our group came up with) and other funny stuff like t-shirts and coffee mugs with TEPCO logo turned into Cheburashka – CHEBCO. ^-^

We had a public reading of poetry, music performances and other fun stuff. It was a really good party! ^-^

Now, the group is actively organizing deliveries of food and clothes to the shelters and also planning to go out to Tohoku region with an entertainment program for children. If any of you want to participate in charity activities or just want to read the latest information on radiation, look for “Support for people in Japan and please STOP panic!” on Facebook. ^-^

Trip to Enoshima

A few weeks ago, me, Laura and Vincent went to Enoshima for our last dip into the ocean before the season was over. Summer houses were already closed but because of that there were only a few people on the beach – the best condition ever (you can actually see the color of the sand)! ^-^

There were a lot of birds though – seagulls, crows and huge hawks that happened to attack Laura. One of them went down and tore a chunk of her sandwich – crazy!

She gave me a gorgeous new XOXO bikini that tripled my boob size because she really hated my flat MJ one I wore last year.  So I went into the water and modeled it for her. ^-^

And these are the pics she took of my brand new Rachel Pally beach dress. I bought it online in spring but didn’t dare to wear all summer. Despite the fact that I bought size XS, the dress was too big for me in every single way (either jersey or Rachel Pally’s sizing went really wrong). To fix the hem alone would have cost me 80$ – half of the dress price so after hesitating and quite frankly almost throwing it away, I took my scissors and just cut 15 cm off it. The hem now is horrible but at least I can wear it. ^-^

In the end it got really dirty and heavy with water so I had to change into my always favorite Abercrombie attire. ^-^

So all we did that day was just stay in water and play with birds.. I always feel so blessed to have such peaceful moments in my life.. Just me and my friends, white sand and salty wind – what else do you need?

10 days of summer

My trips back home are very emotional to me – every time I come back from St.Petersburg I am painfully homesick and desperately seeking the reasons that keep me away from my family and friends. It is especially hard in summers when the weather is perfect and the city is so awake and bright and offers a lot of fun activities that doesn’t include me.. My 10 days in St.Petersburg each summer is all I can hope for but thanks to my family I usually get the most out of it.

This time, because of my brother’s wedding we mostly stayed in the city so I had plenty of time to catch up with my old friends. As usual, everyone seemed to grow in my eyes, evolve into some kind of better versions of themselves – polished and completed and very successful. My childhood friend whom I shared a school desk with for 10 years is now a very scary lawyer that also gives lectures in University that my cousin attends to. I heard her talking on the phone with someone and in the lifetime that I know her I have never thought she can be this intimidating.

And then, my friend that I used to hang out with last year of college is now working directly under the minister of land and transportation(?). He sounded very important and very busy. I ran into him at the airport on my way to Moscow.

My best friend Anna has changed to. For one, she’s got long hair and skepticism – two things I could have never imagined her with.

We went to Pushkin together and asked our common friend who became a full time photographer to take some snapshots of us in the park. The last picture we took together was when the pink hair and Dr.Martins’ platforms were still in style so I thought it was about the time. ^-^

The weather was on the verge of rain but once in a while sun came out so we kept chasing it around the park. ^-^

We walked around the Alexandriskiy park and discovered the ruins of an old Mason tower.  It was closed for viewing so of course we had to see it. Luckily all three of us were skinny enough to get in between the iron rods of the gates and into the premises of the tower.

It was magnificent and a photo shoot location to die for. Unfortunately my photographer friend overdid the post-processing and never bothered to give me the original raw data so I am not posting much pictures from there.

On our way back to the station we saw Ekaterininskiy palace in all its glory and a long procession of foreign tourists that took a group carriage ride around the park.

After Pushkin, we headed back to St.Petersburg to eat lunch, drink milkshakes and watch ballet. Every time I am back home, I am literally feeding on milkshakes from “Идеальная чашка” because the stuff they make is the closest version of what I used to drink as a child. I love it so much, I can easily drink 2 or 3 at once. Actually 3 makes you sick so don’t try it. ^-^

Anna’s friend could get us cheap tickets to “Конёк-горбунок” ballet in Mariinskiy theatre and I really enjoyed watching it. As the story evolved I began remembering it piece by piece realizing now as an adult that Russian folklore fairy tales are actually quite cruel. ^-^ I mean I have heard that story a million times as a child but it never occurred to me up till now that the characters and the plot are almost inhumane.. ^-^

The front dancers were quite good and even good looking. Everything they did looked so effortless and airy. I wish I had it in me to be cruel to my body to make something beautiful out of it…No pain, no gain…

I really love these two pictures because they express my mood at that moment and also show St.Petersburg sky in the evening. The rainbow picture of the local iMAX cinema was taken around 8PM and the bridge one around 9PM..

Since it was sunny and hot each day, we used every opportunity to take a ride to the beach and enjoy the rare St.Petersburg scenery of people tanning and swimming and playing softball. This is Alex, Anna and me on Krestovskiy island’s beach by the yacht club.

And this is me on my cousin’s bike. I just couldn’t resist jumping on it. Ever since I got my driving license I feel fearless. ^-^

He joined us later for lunch at “Zima-leto” – yacht club’s open air restaurant with pretentious food and crowd but good view to the bay. Then something funny happened. A little girl walked right into our coach, sat in between me and Andrey, took her shoes off and even tried to eat from our plates before realizing that she misunderstood the location of her family’s table. ^-^ When she saw that we are not her mom and dad, she put her shoes on and walked away. A funny little thing!

This is a new member in the zoo that is my cousin’s house. She has 10 pets and now also a brand new hunting dog. His name is Patrick and I love him.

Then, we also went to the birthday of my nephew Victoria. She is 1 year old and doesn’t care for anything except brightly colored plastic cubes and strawberries. But no, her parents had to go all the way and organize a huge 20 guest party with a hired photographer and designer’s cake and fireworks and Blumarine dress for the baby..

Or maybe they just needed an excuse to throw a party! Nonetheless, it was kinda fun to meet Andrey’s friends and realize that I know some of them from my teens. Hopefully soon, that hired photographer will give us the pictures so I can post them here. We took a funny one. My aunt brought a framed photograph of toddler me, Andrey, Alex and Liza standing next to her in the zoo so that we can re-create the image this many years later. On that black and white picture Alex was the smallest of all children but now he is the tallest so he had to kneel to make it look right. ^-^

This is me and Polina – Liza’s daughter who has already signed up with a modeling agency.  She is as determined to become successful and famous as Dima. ^-^

I love this picture of her – an innocence in its pure form. Freshly out of my teens, I have been chasing it for a while but no, it’s gone forever…I guess it’s sad for everyone to realize that the perception of world you had as a child is no longer there..

This is Alex, playing hoops in the backyard. He took my geeky glasses and never returned them.

The rest of the pictures were taken either on dacha or wedding. Coming up soon! ^-^

海の日

I have been meaning to write about it for a long time, ever since I got it – my driving license!

I went to a Japanese driving school here in Tokyo and studied for two months to get it. It was a lot of fun because I got to drive brand new Mazda and then BMW for highway training. I also scored an absolute 100% during the paper test, something to be proud of since it’s written in a bad bad English..

Right before going back to Russia I got my international license too and then tried driving in St.Petersburg with the left steering wheel. This is me in my mom’s car driving to dacha on a rough Russian unpaved road – what an experience!

This is me driving my brother’s car to my nephew’s birthday to a countryside in the rain. How cool is that? By the way, my very first training drive in the city was at night in a heavy rain. I couldn’t see a thing but my instructor was so calm so it did the trick on me and I drove for two hours around Setagaya-ku without any troubles.

Then, a week ago was my very first independent long distance drive to 90 Kurihama beach, this time of course with the steering wheel on the right which is much more comfortable since I was trained using it.

I took Shonan highway and even managed to overtake a couple of cars in front of me that were too slow. ^-^ I have to wear beginner’s mark on my car for a year. My husband says it’s embarrassing but I kinda like that everyone is giving me a way. ^-^

It was my first time to go to 90 Kurihama beach and I was pleasantly surprised to find it clean and sandy and not crowded at all.

The water was still a bit too cold to swim in but the season is opened so next week I am planning to go to the beach again with my friends and even get some tan.

This time I burned badly loosing track of time over Haruki Murakami’s “The wild sheep chase” but because the damage is done, next time is gonna be much better. ^-^

After the beach we drove around for a while and saw many windmills along the road. Shonan is going green and that is so cool seeing all these eco efforts in action, such a long way to go for Russia..

Our last stop was the lighthouse at the cape. If you stand on the hill facing the sea you supposedly can see that the earth is not flat. That is what the place is famous for. We didn’t go up to the top of the lighthouse because it was too crowded. Instead, I chose to spend time walking around the cape, watching waves hitting the rocks and disappearing among the pebbles on the beach.  It’s a beautiful place if you scratch the touristy side of it. ^-^

Pizza on the beach

It’s my second time to sneak into Laura’s hotel and stay at her room free of charge. She is a spokes-model for French perfume on a night shopping channel so the agency rents her a room in a nice hotel in Makuhari every time she has this job. It has an onsen and a great pizza restaurant and it’s right by the beach. I arrived there on Friday evening and stayed till next morning. We took couple of pizza out and ate on the beach which was quite windy so I had sand topping on my Napolitana.  ^-^

The grass on the beach had the same color as my hair so Laura had this idea of taking my pictures while laying on it. Unfortunately the sun was high in the sky so I couldn’t force myself to keep my eyes open. This is literally the only picture we managed to take.

If you want to enjoy a beach in Japan, it’s better to come before the season starts. Endless crowds make it impossible to find a solitude or take a picture with no one on the background. Winter beach is the best. It’s empty and the colors are gorgeous. You can have a big stretch all to yourself and do whatever you want.

Laura has such an eye for taking good pictures. Whenever I see her stopping and looking around I know that she got inspired with something. She notices things I don’t. Like this picture for example. It was just a small passage from hotel to the beach with trees on both sides. Yet, she noticed these beautiful patches of light coming through the leaves and how beautiful would it look when shot from the bottom up.

I wish I could spend more time in Makuhari but I had to leave right after lunch for Dima’s birthday party (see the next post).

Christmas at the beach

Me at the beach

My fiance took me to the beach on Christmas because he knows how much I love winter sea. It’s so bright and blue and empty – a perfect place to spend Christmas away from crowds and commercial fantasies.

Jumping at the beach

We sat on the beach, climbed at the top of observation deck and had hot and steamy rice cakes. It was so windy and sunny and peaceful. I can sit on the sand and look into horizon for many hours.

xmas

Later on we went to the park to have picnic on the grass and then to the shopping mall to try different types of new Italian gelato.