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Posts Tagged ‘travel’

thirty before 30: visit tokyo

if you haven’t followed me on twitter for the last few weeks you might have missed the bit where i went to japan! after a week of catching up on work i’m finally ready to show you some photos from my fab two weeks in tokyo – and kyoto.

visiting tokyo was #4 on my thirty before 30 list, so in february i decided to make. it. happen! i invited my friend cintia to come with me and this is the condensed version of our adventures:

shibuya fireman

cute fire hydrant cover in shibuya

we had nine days in tokyo and five days in kyoto. in tokyo we spent the first few days shopping, hitting up the fabulous department stores in the shibuya area where we stayed, and then venturing out further afield to kitchijoji, nippori, daikanyama and uh tokyo disneyland. we explored so many adorable, fascinating stores, and the amazing ghibli museum – but none allowed photography, which is fair enough, but as such i don’t have so many photos from the first few days!

petit in kichijoji

‘petit’ in kichijoji

kichijoji was one of my favorite areas. cute streets full of cute shops – and this shop, petit, was my favorite. from the outside it looks kinda like a junky $1 store, but….

petit, but stuffed with treasure!

inside of ‘petit’

and i suppose inside it also kinda looks like a junky $1 store, but bear with me.. you see the photo is out of focus because we were in a FRENZY of picking through all kinds of vintage pop cultural treasures.. it was like stepping into a time machine and finding all the fun japanese junk you had as a kid – or maybe just walking into a physical version of ebay: there was a shelf of smurf figures, vintage happy meal toys, sweet sanrio stationary from the 80s, blythe dolls, new-in-box barbies from the 80s. and the ceiling? why it was covered with bowed star wars figures, of course.

giant icecream

pilgrim vs. the giant ice cream 

we spent a day relaxing in yoyogi park. giant ice creams were the least fun thing we saw. not pictured: half assed capoeira guys, unrhythmic bongo players, unenthusiastic swing dancers, a blissed our cat in a tree and a very enthusiastic guy in a rubber horse mask. it was my favorite park ever.

harajuku kids

harajuku kids…

…doing what harajuku kids do best: posing on a bridge before being moved on by the cops.

harajuku kiddo

rawr! lion straw hat

even the really little kids in harajuku looked rad!! please all go and DIY one for your own kiddos.

shinkansen time!waiting for the shinkansen bullet train

next: bullet train to kyoto!

hello kyoto!df

in kyoto we stayed in a ryokan, slept on futons on the floor, ate traditional style breakfasts, and generally soaked in a more ‘authentic’ experience. also: soaked in a japanese bath! aaaaahhh heaven.

toji temple

toji temple

kyoto was really interesting. we went to a flea market at a temple, and we went to a temple, and then another temple. did i mention temples?

big buddah ryozen kannon

ryozen kannon

this big buddha was the bigger of the two big buddha we saw. we also saw the daibutsu at todai-ji which was much more impressive than any of australia’s big things.

beware of the deers!

beware the deer. no, seriously, BEWARE the deer.

a day trip to nara introduced us to a rare breed of dangerous (wo)man eating deer. they start with your stomach and seem to only want to injure old ladies and little girls.

maiko walking maiko, apprentice geiko/geisha

it was amazing to see actual maiko and geiko (the kyoto term for geisha) walking through gion district in kyoto. i’m not sure how i feel about the tradition, but their commitment to their art form is impressive.

maiko hairclips

maiko hair accessories on display in a store

the golden pavillion

the golden pavillion, kinkakuji

kinkakuji was my favorite temple. it was perfect, surrounded by lush mossy gardens and all that greenery was a refreshing break from the heat.

shaved ice: melon flavor

melon sno-cone

did i mention it was hot? it was two sno-cones-a-day hot. the fan and the sweat cloth are two of the greatest inventions ever.

shopfitting dog in opening ceremony

a hairy store fitting at opening ceremony

back to tokyo. back to shopping and taking naughty secret photos in shops!! shh, don’t tell – but how would anyone believe me when i said i saw a hairy dog in a fashion store?!

back home with bulging suitcases!


then it was back home, with bulging suitcases and blistered feet. stay tuned in the coming day for some more detailed tales of excitement and adventure!

MONA: the museum of neon art

june first?! JUNE FIRST?! what?!

ahem. has anyone seen the first half of my 2011? apparently its gone. that means i’ve been meaning to share these photos with you for six months. and so, quickly, before i embark on my adventure to japan i thought i’d tell you about my new favorite fascinating place in LA. MONA: the museum of neon art.

mona: museum of neon art, LA

MONA was born in 1981, to neon artists richard jenkins and lili lakich, and the current collection is an amazing mix of contemporary neon art and vintage neon signage.

MONA: museum of neon art, LA


i read about the museum at some point prior to traveling, and it aroused my curiosity (as such KrazyKrap tends to do.. i’m not so good at visiting the tourist traps) but i wasn’t entirely sure what to expect – aside from neon. what i found was a completely fascinating space filled with completely fascinating works! and the most fabulous part: the kiddo loved it because he was ALLOWED TO TOUCH! in a gallery! can you imagine?


MONA: museum of neon art, LA


the various artworks and vintage pieces are arranged around the spacious old setting (i’m both excited and sad they’re moving to glendale – the current location in the falsely-enticing ‘toy district’ is crumbly and cool!) giving it a gallery-meets-junk-yard vibe that really encourages you to get close and appreciate it all.

MONA: museum of neon art, LA


from the vintage goodness…

MONA: museum of neon art, LA

… to the contemporary fun.

and did i mention the thrilling sound of the humming neon and zapping artworks? it creates a really exciting atmosphere! so if you’re in LA, and you like some kooky tourism, duck in to the humming dimness of MONA and tell me what you think of it. next visit i’m hoping to catch one of their night tours of classic neon signs still in action.

oh! i miss being on my californian adventure! not just the room service and the whole ‘holiday’ thing, but just being in amazing places like san francisco. i could quite easily just move myself into one of those brain-meltingly expensive pretty doll-houses and live happily ever after. who knows, maybe i could even learn to like sourdough bread? it’ll be tough, but i bet i could do it.

while in san francisco i got to meet up with the unspeakably gorgeous alex from strawberry lemonade, who along with her (also unspeakably gorgeous) family gave us a v.i.p-extra-special-insider’s tour of their lovely city. the first important thing to note is just how cute we looked:

alex, and pilgrim – photo by mr alex

the second thing to note is just how cute we look in a photo booth together. see, alex is so cute the camera couldn’t take it all in, and she looks a bit blurry. i promise, she’s not blurry in real life: she just can’t be captured on film. too much awesome.
after being picked up from our hotel, we were whisked away in the ‘strawberry-lemonade-mobile’ to the amazing musee mechanique at pier 45, fisherman’s wharf. swoon. i think i could’ve spent weeks in musee mechanique. it is a huge private collection of coin operated amusements dating from the 1800s to the 1980s. most of the amusements only cost 25¢, so you can spend a little money but have a lot of fun. there are tasteful antique music players, mutoscopes (early moving picture displays) and fortune telling machines. and then there were the morbid and macabre attractions such as the drunkard’s dream, the various simulated execution dioramas, and the ominously titled ‘inquest’ (two bisons investigate a dead body. hilarity does not ensue. doesn’t that sound like the start of the worst joke ever)? here is a sampling of the treasures on display:

musée mécanique: theatre automatique
beautiful carved french kinetoscope casing

musée mécanique: owl detail
detail from the casing of a fortune telling machine

musée mécanique: palmistry
i love that the ‘h’ is in a red circle in this palmistry machine. it also featured an amazing chrome wing motif at the top but my camera missed it!

musée mécanique: magic
too busy swooning over that ‘magic’ script i didn’t notice what this was! oy, design geek, much?

musée mécanique: skipping girl
the oldest attraction at the musee, a skipping girl zoetrope

musée mécanique: fairground side show
detail from a miniature fairground

musée mécanique: fortune and weigh teller's questions
detail from a ‘weight & fortune’ scale (yeah, that’s a “thing”)

musée mécanique: the opium den
the opium den, featuring shivering addicts, pop up skeletons, lurking dragons etc

musée mécanique: gumball claw machine
and finally, a shot of color! courtesy of a claw machine full of gumballs.

it was so great hanging out with alex and family, and we were so grateful to be given such super special treatment. it makes traveling so much richer when you have a local to show you around and our impression of san francisco is that its a swell town full of gorgeous people!

if you enjoyed seeing these pictures, why not take a look at the whole set on my flickr photostream. you’re welcome to add me as a contact if you’re on flickr too.

i did it! i survived disneyland, just me and the three year old son: mano-a-mano, us vs. the mouse. and you know what? it was a blast!

before leaving for the USA i read up on disneyland. i couldn’t get my head around it. i knew it was big. people were telling me to spend multiple days there. i read a guide book that suggested dressing your family in a uniform, preparing trail mix and water flasks, building up foot callouses over a 6 week walking regiment. what?! this is meant to be “the happiest place on earth” and they were making it sound like a nightmare vacation even for the grizwalds. so i did what i do anytime i get overwhelmed, i threw caution to the wind and just showed up.

main street square

i’ve never been into the disney thing, i’m not against any of it, but i got spoiled early on, being taken to animation festivals with the kind of quirky stuff that fired my imagination. the little mermaid left me unsatisfied when she didn’t end up in some fritz the cat-like escapades. however, something happened when i walked through the disneyland gates. firstly i welled up a bit and got kinda teary at how incredible it was that i was at disneyland. i thought of little cynical child pilgrim, repeatedly renting a VHS tape about disneyland just to see the bit about the haunted mansion but just assuming i’d never get to go anywhere like that. its overwhelming, and i think it would be hard not to get into the spirit of the place.

pretty pretzels in fantasyland

what i loved was the absolute commitment to everything. each ‘land’ is entirely unto itself and its hard to believe that the fun and cheesy ‘futurism’ of tomorrowland is just a short walk from the fairytale prettiness of fantasyland. i love that everything down to the rubbish bins and food carts are in theme with land they’re in. everything was so clean and well maintained, i even felt like pristine condition extended to visitors’ manners!

fab red vinyl wall in one of the refreshment shops

one of many vintage attraction posters, underneath main street station

we had loads of fun and spent two full days there, and i got to go back for one evening on my own. what did we do? well, given i was with a three year old, it was mostly very tame rides:

scene from the jungle cruise

mad tea party (the tea cups)

lanterns and leaves around the mad hatter’s tea party

in the tiki tiki tiki tiki tiki room!

and our joint favorites, its a small world and the enchanted tiki room

it’s a small world, exterior

its a small world was amazing. the first impression is breathtaking: when you ’round the corner to be met with the great white and gold facade, with spires and minarettes, and the ticking clock tower, its a bit like wandering into a full sized toy town.

it’s a small world, by night

…and at night, its even more spectacular! you can see in the pictures that there are christmas wreaths and swags of baubles up. the ride was a christmas version, with the standard ‘its a small world song’ mixed with jingle bells and deck the halls.

inside it’s a small world

when i returned on my own for the evening i rode on:

the fireworks display was really charming, and was a tribute to disneyland’s iconic rides and characters. i was so glad i could go back to see it, and really pleased i didn’t have to miss out on the ‘scarier’ rides i couldn’t take the kid on. and just in case you were wondering if all species enjoy disneyland…

… some turkeys are big fans of disneyland too!

ps: 100th post! thanks to everyone for all your comments and patronage. here’s to 100×100 more!

hello! no, i didn’t fall off the edge of california, i am alive and back in my own home. i survived the arduous flight by amusing myself with blind-box toys and i made it through australia’s passport control and customs inspection by looking like i was on the verge of nervous break-down. anyone would think they don’t want you coming into australia! but hey, where did i go?!

i got food poisoning at our hotel in anaheim and it threw me (and the contents of my stomach) off course for a bit. in retrospect its pretty funny that after days and days of eating junk food i ordered a steak and steamed vegetables to get some of that “nutrition” i’ve heard so much about and that was what made me sick. also, sharing a computer with a superstar blogger during a convention that may as well be his ‘woodstock’ means not so much time for anything but watching from the sidelines. also, my dog ate my homework and i lost the thing, and my great great aunt-in-law died and so thats why i’ve been blog AWOL and i’m sorry, and i promise i’ll do better next time! haha

but i’m back, baby! dispatches from disney to follow…

my favorite LA stop was the farmers market on fairfax and third. i know a lot of people wouldn’t be so excited at the prospect of going on holiday to see a market, but when food and history are in your top interests its hard to resist! it opened in 1934 and has long been a haunt of hollywoods brightest stars. i loved all the old signage, the amazing choice of foods, and just the general ambience. a picture paints a thousand words, so…

i really urge you to visit if you can, its the sweetest place. also there’s a cajun food stand where you can get alligator meat. they should change the market’s slogan to ‘come for the ambience, stay for the alligator’. you’re welcome, board of tourism.

the last few days have been a bit slow, thanks to the kid being a bit under the weather. we scrapped our universal studios plans and instead took to the pool and a stop at the ihop. i had waffles topped with what i assume was meant to be whipped cream but it was sort of like vanilla flavored air. whaaaaat?

it felt good to relax and let me tell you, swimming in a pool overlooking LA while ‘le soleil est pres du moi’ by air plays is as close to heaven as you can get.

i’d show you my full body shot in the pool but i seriously look like a corpse in water. its draw! pilgrim, not drowned! pilgrim.

mmm hotel dry cleaning.. and isn’t it cute?

we tried walking places, but i’m not one for the sensible footwear (blister city, population: me) so we quickly caved in and started getting cabs. i get a buzz every time i see this sign. argh! i’m in LA!

the florist around the corner from our hotel had these amazing potted, er, things.

i’m no horticulturalist but they looked like cabbages. pretty and possibly delicious sautéed with bacon (thats my pre-requisite for any floral arrangement)

do not stare directly into the whirly pop or you will be compelled to act like a chicken!

hold me closer, tiny condiments… the coke can is there to show scale. aww they’re so teensy!

and look at american smarties, in australia smarties are kinda like flatter m&ms. so, y’know, there’s that.

adieu lovely hotel… we shall miss you. next stop, disneyland! but come back on monday to hear about that, my next post is all about the fabulous farmers market! come back for an inundation of amazing vintage signage and kitsch treasures.

hello! how is your 2010 going? are you in camp twenty-ten or are you a two-thousand-and-tenn-er? as though it matters, this year is gonna rock!!

well, my year is going great so far. january 1 started with trifle for breakfast. it already bettered any breakfast in 2009, case closed. so how could i beat trifle? how about my GREAT CALIFORNIAN ADVENTURE!

yeah, i’m pretty excitable this week (blush) we’ve been here since saturday and about 2 hours after landing at LAX we were already deliriously in love (30% of that delirium possibly due to being awake for 22 hours). we’re staying in west hollywood, at the lovliest hotel ever. the lobby alone satisfies my david lynch flooring fantasies:

the weather is so perfect, around 25 celsius, and with such gentle sunshine. for those of you outside of australia, our sun is nasty. it actually kinda stings your skin sometimes. and for those of you like myself who are of an, er, alabaster/pasty complexion, this is bad, burny news.

speaking of things that get burned to a crisp back home: the lawns here pretty much insist you lie down and roll around on them. green and perfectly manicured, they look so beautiful! i’m fairly sure i came close to being arrested today after i was almost compelled to run bare foot across someone’s front lawn on rodeo drive. can they toe-print lawns and track you down? can someone provide an alibi for me? and look at this grass i found in santa monica, it has daisies!

and look at this awesome sears building i found in santa monica too. so elegant!

yesterday we went and hung out at the santa monica pier. i was rather enamoured of all the old coin operated amusements (i know, i know, i’m such a cliche alterna-girl). we played our first ever game of whack-a-mole and won a hot pink fluffy dolphin. also a street psychic told me i’d have another 4 children, and a creative breakthrough this year. guess which prediction i’m more excited about. hint: it doesn’t contain the number 4) here are some santa monica gems:

today we walked along sunset boulevard and checked out some hallowed territory for my metal lovin’ boyfriend. he is having quite the time here! first night, he had dinner with a rather important guitar guy and met some of his guitar heros, and tonight he was girlishly excited about being on the door list for a gig at the house of blues. i think one could say he is in his element! and to think, i knew him when he was juuuust that guy i loved!

i apologize for my (probably annoying) wide-eyed, touristy ramblings. this is pretty exciting for me and i love traveling and cutting loose in some place new and exciting. but exciting for me is pretty strange, so maybe be warned, i might start posting photos from grocery stores. stay tuned for the rest of the month to see whose lawn i vandalize with my presence, next! it could be YOURS!

PS: angelenos (possibly all americans), you are the most friendly people i’ve ever seen. people smiling and saying hi as they pass you on the street? what?! shop assistants acknowledging your presence? HUH!? though i can see why you don’t like the french… if you’ve grown up expecting this level of customer service it would be quite a nasty shock going anywhere else!

pan am poster by peter max

as mentioned the other day, my little family and i are planning a big californian adventure for january. my boyfriend has never travelled internationally before so its extra exciting introducing him to the fun in planning an adventure all of your own. we’ll be in california for 3 weeks, and though our main purpose is a music trade show, that only lasts one weekend so there is much more adventure to be had! we’re planning on seeing los angeles, anaheim, san diego, and san francisco.

this is where i need your help, oh lovely knowledgeable readers! see, i’m overwhelmed. my brain is melting just working out the whole disneyland thing. so i’m looking for hot tips on groovy places to stay – hotels or even general districts that are interesting or fun. i need to know intriguing places to shop, places to eat, things to see, all of it – share your experiences with me and save me from pre-holiday brain melt!

either comment below or email me at drawpilgrim (at)