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Travelblog Gone with the Wine

Travelblog and lifestyleblog. Life under the Californian sun - Gone with the Wine. Trips, food and wine from all over the world. Solo and family adventures.

Filtering by Tag: ANA

Japan for the First Time

Paula Gaston

Last February I got very lucky and won tickets to Japan. So we started planning our trip. Because we never visited Japan before, I read many travel blogs and articles about what to see and do in Japan. My ex colleague from work, our Country Specialist for Japan, convinced me that in addition to Tokyo, we should also see at least Kyoto. So our trip soon started to look more like a cross country tour, which made me a little nervous since we were travelling with a 4 year old. But this was the plan we used, and it worked out well.

In a the middle of November we jumped into a plane and got to enjoy business class service at All Nippon Airlines. After we arrived at Narita airport in Tokyo, we stamped our JR pass (a train ticket sold only for foreigners) and took a train to Shinjuku in Tokyo. After some confusion at the metro station we finally found our apartment, and started our very first Airbnb experience. 

The most beautiful airplane meal I have ever seen. 

The most beautiful airplane meal I have ever seen. 

Gyoen Park in Tokyo

Gyoen Park in Tokyo

We stayed three nights in Tokyo before taking the bullet train to Kyoto. In Kyoto we visited some shrines and castles, saw many Unesco Heritage Sites and some geishas in Gion district. We got to experience the autumn colours of Japan, and enjoyed some delicious Japanese food. We also spent one day in the city of Nara. Then we packed our bags and moved on to Himeji and Hiroshima, and finally back to Tokyo again. 

Kinkaku-ji

Kinkaku-ji

Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle

In Nara you can find some friendly deer roaming around the park freely

In Nara you can find some friendly deer roaming around the park freely

Hiroshima gets one quiet.

Hiroshima gets one quiet.

Everything on our trip went surprisingly well. We were able to drag our bags and a baby stroller along, and our daughter seemed to enjoy the trip as well. We got to visit all the places we planned, and had no problems with our hotel reservations. The only blunder we had, was that on our way to the airport when leaving for home, we lost one small backpack. And of course, the one with some important things in it. We are hopeful that we will get it back. Other than that, we arrived back home to California both tired and happy. Now we have time to process what all we saw and experienced on this trip. So stay tuned!

All these pictures are from my Instagram account which you can follow @paulagaston. You can also follow my travels on Facebook, Twitter; @paulagaston or at Snapchat with username paulagaston. 

 

Bingo! Japan here we come

Paula Gaston

A few weeks ago I got invited to a wine tasting arranged by ANA (All Nippon Airlines). I signed up since I was interested to see what wines they would have to offer and what kind of event they created, and anyway, it was on my way home from work. 

When the day was finally here, I felt tired and had some cold symptoms so I figured I should just go straight home from work. At the end, I decided to stop by quickly just to see what kind of event it was and try out the wines. I was pleasantly surprised to see some of my co-workers at the venue and ended up having a great time with them. And of course, we all know about Japanese hospitality and that they know how to take care of their guests. Tasting was organized so nicely, I couldn't just leave right away. 

All Nippon Airlines is a Japanese airline which is known for it's Starwars themed airplanes. The tasting was at a car storage facility called Auto-Vino which was an interesting place. This is where people store their vintage cars and they are set up almost like in a museum. They combined the storage with a wine tasting room, which makes it an excellent venue for hosting an event like this. As you can imagine, in Silicon Valley there is no limit to with how much people will pay for their cars. We saw some old treasures as well as some new sports cars costing a fortune.

ANA treated us with some sushi and other treats together with Woodside wines. We tasted Woodside Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel as well as Kings Mountain Cabernet. After tasting the wines we were invited to a Japanese Mochi pounding ceremony. Mochis are Japanese rice cakes which are first pounded into a paste. They are especially eaten during New Years. Everyone was also invited to try mochi pounding but I was happy to take pictures for my friends and record a little video of the ceremony. Fresh mochis are delicious!

The highlight of the evening was a bingo game. The first prize was business class tickets to Tokyo for two. The bingo row would be created by the names of the cities where Nippon Airlines currently flies to, and suddenly I noticed that one row on my bingo sheet was full. I could not believe it and I showed it to my co-workers twice before I dared to shout: "Bingo!" There it was! Unbelievable! I won! I was almost in a shock and still am. Winning such a prize feels surreal. 

Even without winning bingo the night was a success. Everyone had so much fun and we were treated so well. I loved it! We also got a little goodie bag to take home with us. I think this event was one of the best customer events I have ever been to and we truly got to enjoy Japanese hospitality. I will invite you all to enjoy it with me thru my blog when I am able to travel to Japan!