Friday, August 9, 2013

Another Kyoto

This view, this sky, this city.

I've visited Kyoto countless times, but this summer it was completely different. I saw another side of Kyoto, the local one, with tips from insiders, so my experience was brand new. Even though Kyoto was full of tourists, cars and queues, we avoided most of those and stayed in the lesser-known areas, hiked some mountains, and ate some of the best meals I've had in Japan.

As usual, Kyoto was soothing. That city is always the place I would end up when I didn't feel so happy with my life in Japan or lost or sad- and this time wasn't different. I wasn't particularly any of those things, but the beginning of this summer was difficult for many reasons, like not being able to visit home and feeling a bit unstable with my career in Tokyo and having to make important decisions. Magically (or maybe not so magically), getting away from Tokyo somehow fixed everything, and I'm back here with a clear mind and and an exciting new chapter of my life in Tokyo- maybe I'm not so lost anymore.

It's also the first time I travel more 'comfortably'. It sounds weird to say, but I think my backpacking and hostel mixed dorms days are over- am I getting old, or is this normal? When I was in my twenties, I loved booking the cheapest hostels and mingling with other travelers and carrying a few light things in my backpack (wait- I never liked that), but now that I'm entering a new decade (gasp!), I have developed a taste for plush hotel towels, traditional ryokans with a garden view and being able to spend more than ¥500 on lunch. Those aforementioned things used to make me feel guilty and not like a true traveler, but well, I do enjoy being able to sleep without some guy snoring on the neighboring bunk bed.

I'm not sure how to write about everything I've done in Kyoto, but I'll divide by foods and places to see. I think the first time someone goes to Kyoto, they should see the main, touristy sights as they're undeniably beautiful (such as Kinkaku-ji and Kiyomizu-dera), but if you have the chance to visit Kyoto several times, you should hit lesser-known spots as that city has more hidden gems than anywhere else in the world. And forget buses and subways- rent a bicycle and get yourself a map, as it's the only way to see all the beauty Kyoto has to offer.

Refusing to leave Kyoto!!! Don't mind the flip flops.


Christine said...

I'm the same now. I can't stay in a hostel anymore. Except maybe if it's a private room.

Johanna said...

I know what you mean, but I think I've always been like that... going to Kyoto for the second thime this fall and would LOVE som lesser known spots to visit!