So, it has been three weeks living in the amazing metropolis of Tokyo, and of all the beautiful areas this city offers, I feel very fortunate to be living in Koenji, a charming and welcoming neighbourhood in the Suginami Ward, full of independent cafes, restaurants, and vintage stores tucked away in its endless maze of narrow streets.
Although I need to do a proper introduction to this little secret called Koenji, I could not help it getting ahead of myself and had to share with you what has now become my regular coffee spot in the neighbourhood. Being a coffee lover, I love roaming the streets looking for places where I can enjoy a good cup of coffee, a comfortable atmosphere, and great service. Well…at Honohono Cafe I found that and much more.
Honohono is nestled in Koenji’s main pedestrian strip, about a 15-minute walk south of the JR station. It looks very unassuming from the outside, but on the inside, the owners have done a great job to make you feel as if you are walking into your own living room…that is a living room full of beautiful vintage furniture, all of which I want to take home every time I visit.
The coffee is of course delicious and the main reason I come to Honohono. It is served in a different hand-crafted cup each visit, making the smooth cremma look even tastier then it already is. And if you are not a coffee lover per se…no need to worry. Following on the guidelines of cafe culture in Tokyo, Honohono offers a food menu full of tasty treats…salads, curry dishes, miso soup (of course) and sweets that will make your mouth water.
The experience at Honohono Cafe wouldn’t be complete without the welcoming service that the owners provide. Always friendly and with a big smile on their face, the two girls running this place are doing it right…and I am definitely sold on it.
Please do yourself a favour and visit Koenji and Honohono Café. You will not be disappointed.
For more information please visit: http://honohonocafe.com
On a recent visit to Cartagena, Colombia, the city that makes my mind wonder like no other, I got to experience first-hand the creativity and imagination that is brewing in Getsemaní, Cartagena’s not-so-well-kept secret.
Thanks to the first edition of the “Ciudad Mural” Urban Art International Festival, the streets of this magical up-and-coming neighbourhood were covered with bright graffiti, history and lots of culture. 38 urban artists where responsible for this feast of colour, including 11 local artist who got the chance to showcase their city to the world. I love the fact that one of the main goals of this festival was to create a new cultural experience for the local community which often time is forgotten in the midst of all the foreign tourism.
It is projects like this that make me proud of being Colombian. It is also gratifying to see the attention the local communities get for something other than drugs and coffee.
Next time you are in Cartagena, be sure to get out of the now-common walled city to explore Getsemaní. It holds many surprises and stories at every turn. Let it dazzle you with its art and talent.
For more information on the festival visit:
Visiting Barichara in Santander, Colombia, is like traveling back in time…a time when happiness meant enjoying the simpler things and really taking it one day at a time. It is a town that embraces the future without letting go of the past.
Nestled in the middle of the Colombian Andes, Barichara is a place to disconnect from the fast pace that we have become so accustomed to. A leisurely walk around its cobblestone streets will let you discover most of what this Andean gem has to offer. You can wonder around in search of the perfectly hand-crafted art piece, peak through the half-opened wooden doors of the town’s endless colonial houses, chat with the ever so charming locals (including the mobile baker), or take the time to enjoy the delicious treats this oasis of creativity and peacefulness has to offer.
If you do decide to make this a stop during your Colombian journey, I highly recommend you drop by the School of Arts and Trades. The school has wide assortment of crafts made by locals during free workshops offered in-house. Or if typical and mouthwatering food is what you are after, try the goat glazed with ant sauce at the Las Cruces Restaurant, also within the School of Arts and Trades.
And if you are in Colombia or are planning to visit…please go to Baricharaa…taste of paradise awaits!
As a coffee lover and drinker, I feel very fortunate to haven been able to learn about the coffee growing process and to have come in contact with the best coffee bean in the world.
This pleasure came courtesy of the El Roble Coffee Farm in La Mesa de Los Santos, Santander, Colombia. El Roble can boast about having its very own Geisha, that is, the best coffee variety in the world as voted by the Grounds for Health 2013 auction in the US. Sold under the brand Café Mesa de Los Santos, El Roble’s coffee is not only 100% organic but it is a delicacy.
A tour around the farm will set you back US$15 and includes a guided walk through the Coffee Garden/Museum, a look at the different varieties of coffee plants, a detailed explanation of the coffee growing process and of course a tasting session of the Geisha and other exquisite varieties.
I highly recommend you add this to your travelling plans on your next visit to Santander. Being only a 40-minute drive from the city of Bucaramanga, El Roble is the perfect chance to learn about the drink that Juan Valdez has made famous all around the world.
The land of the Guane awaits!
Siendo un amante y fiel consumidor de café, me siento muy afortunado de haber podido conocer el proceso de cultivo de café y de haber estado en contacto con el mejor grano de café en el mundo .
Este placer fue cortesía de la Hacienda El Roble, ubicada en La Mesa de Los Santos , Santander, Colombia . La Hacienda El Roble puede presumir de tener su propia Geisha, siendo esta la mejor variedad de café en el mundo según la votación en la subasta Grounds for Health 2013 en los Estados Unidos. Vendido en el mercado local bajo la marca Café Mesa de Los Santos , el café de El Roble es no sólo 100 % orgánico, sino también un verdadero manjar.
Un recorrido por la hacienda le costará US$15 o $35.000 pesos e incluye un paseo guiado por el Coffee Garden/Museo , una mirada a las diferentes variedades de plantas de café , una explicación detallada del proceso de cultivo del café y por supuesto una degustación de la Geisha y otras variedades exquisitas .
Le recomiendo agregar este tour a sus planes de viaje en su próxima visita a Santander. Al estar a sólo 40 minutos en carro de la ciudad de Bucaramanga, El Roble es la oportunidad perfecta para aprender sobre la bebida que Juan Valdez ha hecho famosa en todo el mundo .
La tierra Guane te espera!
For more information follow the following links:
Strolling along the streets of Tokyo, it becomes clear that this city is all about the details. The details in its food, the details of an organized transportation system, the details of its history, and the details in its architecture. It was Tokyo’s architecture and its seamless fusion of beauty and simplicity what capture my admiration and provided the biggest joy while exploring this unforgettable city. I enjoyed the harmony of irregular shapes, the uniformity obtained from the combination of unique designs, as well as the modernity of the construction while maintaining a calming balance with the buildings’ surroundings. Here’s is a small sample of one of Tokyo’s greatest virtues.
Paseando por las calles de Tokio, se hace evidente que esta ciudad tiene mucho que ver con los detalles. Los detalles en su comida, los detalles de un sistema organizado de transporte, los detalles de su historia, y los detalles en su arquitectura. Fue precisamente la arquitectura y su perfecta fusión de la belleza y la simplicidad lo que capturó mi admiración y me brindó la mayor alegría, mientras exploraba esta ciudad inolvidable. Disfruté de la armonía de las formas irregulares, la uniformidad obtenida de la combinación de diseños únicos, así como la modernidad de la construcción de sus edificios sin olvidar un equilibrio con el entorno urbano. Aquí les comparto una pequeña muestra de una de las mayores virtudes de la hermosa capital Nipona.
If you happen to be in the beautiful and mind blowing Tokyo, are feeling overwhelmed with the crowds, dazed from the culture shock, and in need of a delicious cup of coffee, then take a breather and head over to the welcoming and intimate Quatre Café. This jewel is tucked into the 4th (hence the name) floor of a not so attractive business building. The atmosphere alone will make you want to spend the whole afternoon chatting up with someone special as you try the many delicacies on offer. From Shibuya station, head up the Miyamasuzaka about three blocks. On the left hand you will find Quatre…and you’ll be glad you did.
Address: 〒150-0002 東京都渋谷区渋谷1丁目8−5
For more information on Quatre Café you can visit their website:
Si de casualidad te encuentras en la hermosa y alucinante ciudad de Tokio, te sientes abrumado con las multitudes, aturdido por el choque cultural, y con el deseo de beber una buena taza de café, toma un descanso y prueba el acogedor e íntimo Quatre Café. Esta joya está escondida en el cuarto piso (de ahí el nombre) de un no muy atractivo edificio de negocios. El ambiente solo hará que desees pasar toda la tarde conversando con alguien especial en compañía de las muchas delicias que aquí se ofrecen. Desde la estación de Shibuya, sube unas tres cuadras por el Miyamasuzaka. A mano izquierda se encuentra Quatre … y sin duda alguna haberlo encontrado te hará muy feliz.
Dirección: 〒150-0002 東京都渋谷区渋谷1丁目8−5
Para mas información puedes visitar la página web de Quatre Café:
Many around the world celebrated the new year with bells and whistles, champagne, and fireworks. In Japan on the other hand, the New Year’s festivities are more about connecting with nature, getting in touch with the past, preserving tradition, eating meaningful food, and enjoy the majesty of nature. It is a serene and discrete way to welcome the year ahead and an experience I am fortunate to have live through. Visiting the shrines at Fujinomiya and Ise, eating a delightful Osechi-Ryori with loved ones, and witnessing the first sunrise of the year over the Pacific Ocean, are all unforgettable experiences that can only be a great sign of things to come in the year that begins. So in the words of the japanese “Akimashite Omedetou Gozaimasu”.
When one thinks of visiting New York City, one of the first things that come to mind is how to get around this populous urban centre, and how to do it in the most practical way so as to enjoy all the excitement the Big Apple is famous for. One option is to ride the subway. It is fast, affordable, convenient, and can get you pretty much anywhere worth seeing. However, being underground prevents you from experiencing the hassle and bustle of the city. Another option is to walk around the eclectic and exhilarating neighbourhoods often showcased in many hollywood films. Walking around town you can people-watch, window-shop until you drop, and take as long as you feel it is necessary to discover its charm. Although this is one of the most popular ways to venture around NYC, it is a bit time consuming and not very practical if you are in town for just a few days.
A third option which until recently seemed to be reserved for locals (…or daredevils), is biking. At first, it might feel like a very risky proposition for a city like New York, but if you can get your head around biking along side hectic traffic, having the bike lane blocked by every imaginable obstacle (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzE-IMaegzQ), or sweating it up on your vacation, this is one of the most thrilling experiences that NYC has to offer and a very fun way to get around while basking in on the endless beauty. Biking around the wide streets of New York you will enjoy gazing at the historic buildings, being surrounded by the collage of skyscrapers, coming up close to the diversity of the people and the neighbourhoods. While on a bike, you will be able to hop on and off easily, get lost in Central Park, and visit the Union Square farmers’ market along the way. Riding down the iconic 5th avenue or over the cobblestone streets, you will feel part of the city and its magic.
If you are sold on the idea, you should consider renting a “Citi Bike”…
Citi Bike is a bike sharing system that provides an easy and affordable option to get around the city. Renting a Citi Bike for 24hrs will set you back $9.95 plus tax. This fee includes an unlimited amount of 30-minute trips on a rugged and easy-to-use blue bike. If you keep your rides within the time limit you will not pay a penny more, but if you take longer, overtime charges will apply. You can pick-up and drop-off the Citi Bike at any of the 330 locations around the city; definitely a very convenient service.
So next time you are in the Big Apple, why not let your wild side take over? Hop on a bike and experience NYC like the locals do. Many thrills await so enjoy…and share your experience, let me know what you think about biking in NYC.
For more information on the Citi Bike system you can visit http://citibikenyc.com/how-it-works