Travel tips, stories, and adventures from around the world.

Author: Sara Kanno

#GirlsTrip – Apple Picking at Linvilla Orchards

Apple picking is amazing. Maybe it’s because it was my first time, but I’d for sure do this again! If you have fall travel plans, make sure you schedule in some time to visit a farm 🙂

TL;DRApple picking is amazing. Maybe it’s because it was my first time, but I’d for sure do this again! If you have fall travel plans, make sure you schedule in some time to visit a farm 🙂

More Philly! Well, sort of.

I thought about doing an all-in-one post about some of the things we did on our Philly trip, but decided it’d be way too long. So breaking it up and focusing on some of the big things we checked out. This post actually takes us out of Philly to Media, PA. Since I have zero sense of direction, here’s a google map for you.

Apple picking at Linvilla Orchards - Google Map Philadelphia to Linvilla Orchards

It’s about 30 minutes out, but definitely worth the drive! There’s more than just apple picking out here, and I’m sure if we didn’t have other adventures to conquer that day, we would’ve ended up staying there for most of the day.

Apple Picking

This was our main goal, and something I had never experienced despite living in NYC where there were apple farms upstate. A few things to note about picking your own apples:

  1. The season starts in September and ends in November.
  2. You pay per person (and the number of people corresponds to the amount you can pick)
  3. Means no paying per pound (which takes out some guesswork) but also means you can’t just go in and pick say, one each.

Apple picking at Linvilla - Pricing

Since there were four of us, we paired up and paid for 2x 2 pickers. This is where the fun begins. When you walk in, you’re greeted by a worker that shows you a map of the orchard. #ProTip: Take a photo of the orchard map because you will 100% forget where everything is. From there, you pick apples!

It seems pretty chill, but we had fun walking around and trying to find the largest / different types (some I’d never even heard of). Walking around the orchards we could also see some of the other fruits and veggies (not ready for picking, though). As a note – they offer hay rides, but even though it was mid-October, the sun was blazing and we opted out. Instead, we checked out apple slinging.

Apple Sling Shot

There are no words to describe how fun this is.

 

The simple pleasures of life. It should be noted that I didn’t do so well and Karen and Alani were the only ones that hit targets, but it was still pretty fun. We asked them if they pick up all the apples later, but nope. They just leave them. Once an apple hits the ground they’re not legally allowed to sell it for consumption, and there are a ton of apples that just fall from trees. This is how they make up for it, even if it’s just $5 for a bucket.

Other things to do

Here’s a full list of the things you can do while you’re at the orchards. Depending on the time of year, there are different festivals (They have strawberry and blueberry festivals!?) as well as animals, pony rides (we were too big for this LOL) and mazes. There’s also a market where you can buy not only their products and produce, but items from the surrounding area.

Linvilla Orchards

598 Linvill Rd | Media, PA 19063

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Impossible Burger – Best Veggie Burger?

While the Impossible Burger is by far one of the best veggie burgers I’ve had – I don’t think it’s worth the steep price tag. Then again, it did fool some meat eaters, so if you’re going veggie and seriously craving a burger, this is the way to go. Personally, I’m still good with a morningstar griller. 🙂

TL;DRWhile the Impossible Burger is by far one of the best veggie burgers I’ve had – I don’t think it’s worth the steep price tag. Then again, it did fool some meat eaters, so if you’re going veggie and seriously craving a burger, this is the way to go. Personally, I’m still good with a morningstar griller. 🙂

What is the Impossible Burger?

I first heard about this burger when Ryan took a trip out to NYC in 2016. This was back when it first came out and only available at a few places in the states – in NYC, it was at Momofuku Nishi. Ryan had checked it out and said it was amazing but super pricey. I figured it was just pricey because it was at Momofuku (and in NYC), and I honestly forgot all about it when I was up there again last October. Not being veggie anymore probably also took this off the radar for me.

In any case – a little background on Impossible Foods: A Stanford biochemistry professor started the company with the goal of creating a meat alternative after he realized that industrial animal agriculture was the world’s largest environmental problem. After years of research and experimenting (they started in 2011!), they launched the Impossible Burger in July 2016. Since then, they’ve taken off and are now in a ton of restaurants across the country.

The best veggie burger, period.

So here we were, having lunch at Smith & King’s in Downtown to celebrate my little sister’s last day in the office (she’s finally moving on to a real 40-hour-a-week job!!). I flip open the menu and am caught totally off-guard when I see the “Impossible Burger” listed. Naturally, I had to order it – even though it was $18 (!) – a hefty price considering all the other burgers on their menu with actual meat were cheaper. Turns out I wasn’t the only person interested, two other people in our party (one wanted a healthier choice and the other was doing no-meat Fridays for lent) also got it!

Smith & King's Impossible Burger

Look at that burger! It’s kind of insane how it really does resemble meat. Having done the veggie thing for nearly 5 years, I’ve tried a ton of different types of veggie burgers. The ones out of the freezer, fridge and fancy restaurant-made types from vegan and veggie places in NYC. There’s none of that all too common fake meat aftertaste that you become accustomed to as a vegetarian.

One of the other burgers were shared with another coworker that came late and she didn’t even realize it was a veggie burger until we let her know!

Even though I’m no longer a vegetarian, I typically still avoid red meat (my genetics set me up for high cholesterol), so I’m pretty excited that this is available in Hawaii. I’ve never been a huge burger person, but I bet it’d be pretty amazing in a loco moco! Now, if only they had this in Japan.

Smith & King's Impossible Burger

There are now a TON of places where you can get an Impossible Burger in the mainland, but here in Hawaii, you can find it at these three places:

  1. Smith and Kings
  2. DB Grill
  3. The Counter
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#GirlsTrip – Where we ate in Philly

TL;DRPhilly’s food scene is legit. Check out the BYO places (BYO brunch, what?!) and epic happy hours (see Double Knot below) and make a reso at one of the fancier…

TL;DRPhilly’s food scene is legit. Check out the BYO places (BYO brunch, what?!) and epic happy hours (see Double Knot below) and make a reso at one of the fancier neighborhood places. Loosen your belt loop a notch and enjoy!

Before we dive in

A little background – it’s been FIFTEEN YEARS since we graduated high school! Man those years have flown. What started as a Facebook post about a new food hall in Brooklyn escalated pretty quickly into a trip to the East Coast.

Scattered across the country since graduation, the four of us have not been in the same place together since… senior year when Alani came to visit us (she left us a year early). We’ve all come a long way since those days sitting under the library during lunch. College. Marriage. More College. Kids. It’s wild to think how long I’ve known these girls. 🙂

Flying in

Aside from Kristy, who lives in Philly and let us all crash at her place (thanks!!), we flew in. Alani from San Francisco, Karen from Minneapolis, and me from Hawaii. I expected epic jetlag the first few days, but my new strategy worked and we were all up and eating shake shack at 11pm because #vacay.

We crammed a LOT into those two days. Thanks once again to Kristy for being our tour guide and planning everything! She made sure we were able to see a ton for such a short trip.

 

Reading Terminal Market

While it’s a bit of a tourist trap, I’m still a sucker for a good food hall. We started off at Dutch Eating Place and Beiler’s Doughnuts in Reading Terminal Market. The turkey sandwich was delish, but the apple dumplings are what I’d go back for. Skip all the cake doughnuts at Beiler’s and go straight for the Fritters (blueberry or apple). The line can be long, but it moves fast and those fritters are legit. They were super fresh and reminded me of a combo between a malasada and a doughnut. This is also a cool spot to swing by for omiyage since there’s so many little Philly-only shops.

Chinatown and City Center Quick Eats

Philly has a LOT to offer in terms of shopping and eating. In the City Center, you’ll find Shake Shack, Uniqlo as well as all the standard retailers (H&M, Sephora, etc). Chinatown Square is a new-ish food hall that opened up with HALAL GUYS (!) and the original rolled ice cream place from NYC (I-CE-NY). We walked through, but since we just ate didn’t pick anything up (plus, we would be in NYC in a few days). We did manage to fit in a trip to Shake Shack, even though it was at 11pm.

Double Knot

Aside from the quick service places, there’s a huge foodie scene and tons of restaurants that are BYO (bring your own alcohol and no corkage = amazing). On our first night, we had happy hour at Double Knot, where the happy hour menu plates and drinks were $4! The food was amazing and the four of us left super full and a bit tipsy with a tab under $50.

Cheesesteak

What’s Philly without a cheesesteak!? We went to Jim’s but were a bit disappointed. The line was long, and while that gave us time to google the right words to order, it also maybe added to the hype. We’ll have to try one of the other places next time. The meat was more like ground beef and a bit flavorless. Maybe we should’ve had it whiz wit afterall.

Noord

We had dinner at Noord on the second night – Scandinavian fare. I had rabbit for the first time (and it was delish, sorry bunnies) and wow the bread here. I probably could’ve survived on just the bread, but the rest of the food was amazing as well. I’m usually not a huge raw fish person unless it’s poke, but the salmon was tasty! It was another BYO place and we brought 2 bottles of wine and took our time enjoying the food and the company. 🙂 The restaurant is small, but they do take reservations.

Honey’s Sit N Eat

Who knew that BYO BRUNCH places exist? Philly, definitely doing it right! Brought some champagne and made mimosas, because #vacay. We got the toad in a hole, corned beef and eggs and the honey cristo. The honey cristo was my fave because the sweet and savory was perfect – and it was topped with a sunny egg. Perfection. Toad in a hole was also delish, but a little too much cheese for me to handle *pops lactaid*.

La Colombe

After brunch, we went to the La Colombe in Fishtown. It was huuuuuge and this neighborhood 100% reminded me of Williamsburg. The guy at the register was even wearing plaid and had a handlebar mustache. Haha. If you haven’t been to a La Colombe (in Philly or in NYC) you should definitely check it out. Their draft lattes and cold brew (you can get a black and tan which is half cold brew and half draft latte) are delish.

Federal Donuts

Anyone who knows me knows how I feel about donuts – but did you know that I actually do NOT like cake donuts? I mean, does anyone even like them? Hahaha. Moving on. Kristy said that we have to try this place, as she also doesn’t like cake donuts, but loves these! So we gave them a shot. We got a fancy (smores) as well as their standard hot and fresh (Cinnamon) – and okay, fine. I’m mayyyyybe sold – but only on the hot and fresh. 😉 The fancy was okay, but too sweet and too many things going on for me.

Talula’s Garden

A half-open garden / half-inside restaurant, we came here for dinner on our last night in the City. This one, although not BYO, is a place I would definitely come back to. We sat and had a drink at the garden bar before we moved inside for dinner. We ordered the Ricotta Gnudi, Berkshire Pork Belly, Collard Greens, and Overnight Bone-In Short Rib. The pork belly was melt-in-your-mouth amazing. Seriously. Their menu changes often, so definitely check in with the servers on what’s popular for the type of food you’re craving.

Heh. Alani also sneakily told the server that it was my birthday. 🙂 It was our last dinner together, so it was kind of a perfect send-off.


It was an amazing weekend that I seriously should’ve written about earlier. I can’t believe it’s already been so long! While we were there, Kristy was taking part in the Holoholo Lens Project a neat traveling photography project coordinated by Ricky Li. You can check out her pics here: Kristy’s Holoholo Lens Project photos.


Heading to Philly?

I created a quick google map of everywhere we ate.

Map of our Philly Adventures

Map of our Philly Adventures

 

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Finally figured out my solution to jetlag

Being born and raised in Hawaii has its perks – but traveling is not one of them. Going anywhere outside of the state requires a 5-hour flight, minimum. Living in NYC for 4 years also meant a LOT of 10.5 hour flights across four time zones to go home for holidays and weddings – sometimes for just a weekend.

TL;DRFast for at least 12 hours and eat your first meal during meal time in your destination’s timezone. Avoid light before and during your flight. Soak in all the light during the day and dim your lights in early evening for the first few days.

East is a beast

Being born and raised in Hawaii has its perks – but traveling is not one of them. Going anywhere outside of the state requires a 5-hour flight, minimum. Living in NYC for 4 years also meant a LOT of 10.5 hour flights across four time zones to go home for holidays and weddings – sometimes for just a weekend.

I’ve tried a ton of ways to get over jet lag. Read every “how to cure jet lag” post on the Internets, and honestly still struggled with it every time I flew.

My problem? The advice given is useful, but not very practical. I mean, seriously? Who has time to start moving back their sleep schedule the week before a trip? Don’t you people work? Hahaha. This week, I flew over to NYC for an epic #girlstrip, and the week before I left was: 4 hours of sleep every night, scrambling on work projects and the insane task of getting to Japan. So no. I definitely was not in bed by 8pm and waking up at 4am.

Fasting and Light Exposure

That being said – there was one consistent piece of advice on several blogs that I have never tried before: Fast and control your exposure to light. Maybe it’s because I hate saying no to free food (yes, even airplane food) and in my youth, I was self-conscious about looking weird on a flight.

As I’ve gotten older (hello 30’s) I’ve not only cared less about things, I’ve also experienced next level jetlag, likely because I just don’t recover like I used to (hello 3-day hangovers). Since all four of us only have this one weekend together, I decided I’d do everything I could to minimize the jetlag and extend our QT.

Fasting

In terms of eating, I ate lunch around 1pm and made sure to eat something pretty substantial. I drank a ton of water and passed up the free dinner offered on the flight. Tried my best to sleep for most of the flight, but the crying kid 2 rows back + guy behind me tapping like a crazy person on his video screen wasn’t exactly helpful.

Light Exposure

I also opted to look like a crazy person wearing sunglasses (these were actually blue light blocking glasses) from the moment I got to the airport until we were at cruising altitude which is when I switched it up with an eye mask.

Our flight was delayed almost 2 hours, so that was a LONG journey. 12 hours sitting on that plane. I ate the fruit and had some herbal tea at 6am NYC time, but left the sunglasses on until I got on the train at 9am.

Results

Day 1

All things considered, I didn’t nod off on the train to Philly or even feel too tired. I met up with the girls and we were out and about until midnight. Fell asleep almost immediately and woke up at 8am the next day without an alarm.

Day 2

Usually day 2 is the worst for me – but this time I felt 100%! I didn’t have coffee. Repeat, NO COFFEE. Still survived our ~ 10-mile explorations around the City. Have to admit – I’m amazed and totally believe in this now.

If you haven’t tried fasting – give it a shot. Realistically, I probably don’t need to eat anything on flights anyway – my body’s not exactly in need of energy while I sit there not moving for 12 hours.

Any other tips that have worked for you guys?

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Modern Toilet – Eating from toilets in Taipei

Eating from toilets can be …fun? We checked out Modern Toilet in Taipei.

TL;DRModern Toilet is a theme restaurant that revolves around toilets, bathrooms, and everything poop. The food is decent (nothing to write home about), but the decor is #worthit. There are some novelties that are best experienced first hand!

I’m sure you’re extremely concerned for my health right now and trying to think if you’ve shared food/drinks with me since we’ve been back from our trip. Right? Lol.

So we’re sitting on the train and Ryan tells me that he really wants to check out this “poop restaurant”.  Of course, I’m in. We decided we’d check it out as soon as we got into Taipei, but our plans were foiled by an 11am open time (note to self: check opening times!).

Getting there

Since we were early, we meandered to the nearby Lungshan temple and when we were done decided to hop on the train for the quick one stop ride to Ximen station. From there it’s just five minutes, using Exit 6, walk 2 blocks North on Hanzhong Street then West until you see:

Modern Toilet Exterior

Look at that building! So epic. We knew that there were only good things to come. Walking in, we realized the restaurant is pretty big, with multiple floors and seating for small and larger parties.

Yep, even the bathrooms are extra special. You sit on toilet seat chairs, over a poop bowl table and walk into the building to a chorus of interesting noises. We are obviously not normal since after this we were still starving and ready to order.

The food comes in various forms of poop and other bathroom paraphernalia. We ordered the ham & cheese stuffed chicken meal, fries, poop bread and ice cream.  They have a ton of different things to choose from – everything from hot pot and curries to spaghetti and au gratin.

Totally forgot to take photos of the menu, but found these pics on the internets.

Poop Head

Overall, the food was good, but the experience was better. They had menus in English, but attracted a crowd of both locals and tourists alike. I would suggest coming early, since by the time we were leaving (closer to noon) it was starting to get crowded.

Modern Toilet (便所主題餐廳)

No. 46, Xining South Road, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108 / +886 2 2311 8822
Yelp / Trip Advisor

Hours: Mon-Fri 1130am – 10pm / Sat-Sun: 11am-10p

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We’re on a boat! A breakdown of our sea days on the Celebrity Millennium

TL;DRWhen you’re in the middle of the ocean for five full days, it’s easy to get a little stir-crazy. We’re definitely doing a shorter cruise next time (or checking out…

TL;DRWhen you’re in the middle of the ocean for five full days, it’s easy to get a little stir-crazy. We’re definitely doing a shorter cruise next time (or checking out a boat with more physical activities (zip lines, anyone?).

Five days.

That’s exactly how many full days we were on the open ocean, with no Internet and nowhere to go. Alright, I’m totally exaggerating. If you remember from my post ages ago about the detailed daily itineraries the ship posts, then you’ll remember that they have multiple entertainment options at all times of the day. Also – the ship is HUGE.

Breakdown of all the decks on the Celebrity Millennium

Decks for days!

 

While most people on vacation would’ve been living it up, I was sorely missing my laptop! I could have been blogging in real time instead of attempting to catch up on it *cough* four months later *cough*.

That being said, we did get to spend a ton of quality time together with the fam, which was awesome. Lots of eating, playing games and just goofing off. Below is our highlight reel of ship events!

Eat. Eat. Eat.

We checked out the steak and pasta specialty restaurant (specialty = not included), but on most nights we were low key and just opted for the buffet at night. What can I say, we liked the variety. So much so that we usually went to the buffet even after we had dinner in the main dining room. Dessert parties, ftw!

While it’s neat to have room service as an option, room service choices were pretty limited, and the only time we really made use of it was when we ordered breakfast on port days. Beat the crowds in the buffet area + a whole carafe of coffee delivered at 630a = best ever! Also useful when you feel like hell because you caught what can only be the flu. Getting tea and water delivered throughout the day saved Ryan a few trips up and down (and let him leave the quarantine area knowing I was capable of picking up the phone).

Working off all the food

Celebrity Millenium - Gym

Nothing quite like running while you stare out at endless ocean. On days when the water was really rough, going on the treadmill was basically impossible. The waves look tiny, but the captain reported they were around 17 feet!

Celebrity Millenium - Waves

It’s hilarious because I never really go to the gym when we’re at home, but we went a bunch while on vacay. I’m sure part of it was because the in-laws are gym rats and I got the guilts knowing they were running at 5am!

We also checked out one of the “line dancing” classes – which turned out to really just be a zumba class. Not my favorite of classes, but we still had fun. Pretty sure we’re on that cruise DVD they hand out at the end since the guy was filming us for so long. Haha.

Ping Pong

Ping Pong

To Ryan’s delight, there was a ping-pong tournament. There were some REAL competitive folks on this ship – talking about how they won previous ship tournaments and getting pretty aggressive. I held my own for …exactly half a round before being totally crushed. I swear if they had bowling alleys, though!

All the Games

What cruise experience is complete without BINGO? Hahaha. What can I say – we never stayed up long enough to check out those “young people next gen parties” and we instead got excited about trivia, bingo and playing volleyball on the Xbox.

20170319_125204

There was also a pretty lonely basketball court up on the top deck. The winds were pretty chilly most of the time, but Ryan went up and played.

Casino

I’m not really much of a gambler, but there was a casino on one of the decks. We played one of those crazy addicting coin drop games in there for a bit, and maybe even a few slots, but I didn’t jump in on any of the card tables, though Ry played cards for a bit.

Show(s)

Celebrity Millenium - Theater

Really, we caught ONE show – a magic show that was surprisingly good. There were different shows every night, but usually, by the time we were done with dinner (and buffet dessert!) we were ready to have someone roll us back to our rooms for a nap.

Spa Day

All the wives (Ryan’s mom, sister and myself) went to get our nails done the day before we had the super fancy night. The nail tech did a great job, but for a standard manicure, it was something like $60. Crazytown. It was a fun experience, especially since it was one of our last sea days and there wasn’t a ton of other things we wanted to do, but I have to admit that was $$$$$ for just a mani!

All the things we didn’t use

There were actually a ton of other amenities that we didn’t really use much. Being on a cruise through Asia in March meant temps in the 40-degree range on the decks which really dampened our desire to hop in the pool.

  • Multiple pools and jacuzzis
  • Shopping deck
  • Outdoor movie area
  • Library

Overall

I think Ryan will agree with me, that while the cruise was fun, it’d be better to either have fewer sea days or be on a bigger ship. I kind of wish there was a zip line or a rock climbing wall! I’d probably also bring my laptop next time – even if I’m not online, I swear it’s my security blanket these days.

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