Why I was wrong about Moscow

My adventures in Moscow began with a wedding invite. Innocent enough. My senior prom date had spontaneously proposed to his Russian girlfriend on a cross-America road trip. Somewhere on the highway in middle of nowhere USA, he looked at the passenger side and he realized he wanted to be with this woman forever. I’ll have to remember that one when it comes time to trap a man for myself.

When he asked me to come to Russia for their wedding, I knew I had to go. My crazy, spontaneous, never ready to settle down friend was about to make a lifelong commitment. Miracles happen every day, and I was ready to witness this one in the flesh. I arranged PTO, booked my travel, and began shopping for a wedding present.

Within a span of a few weeks everything went straight to hell: Continue reading “Why I was wrong about Moscow”

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How to beat loneliness as a solo traveler

From my 19th floor hotel room, I can see a gorgeous view of downtown Manhattan. Skyscrapers glitter above and below me, and the crawl of people and cars never stop. I’ve always dreamed of working in New York City, and now I’m finally here – flying first class coast to coast, staying weekends at luxury hotels, and melting into the flow of a busy, bustling city. And before New York, I’d quite literally flown around the world, spending time in Shanghai, Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, and Moscow. Over the past 2 months, I’ve spent about 4 days in my home in San Francisco. (That’s why there have been more travel posts and less recipe posts. It’s hard to bake in a hotel room :))

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10 Matcha Desserts to try in Japan

Over the past few years, the matcha trend has taken the world by storm. But if you love matcha treats, there’s no place like Japan to indulge yourself in soft serve, pastries, and sweets of all kinds.

If you’ve been following along for the past few weeks, you’ll know that I’ve been hopping around the world, with an extended 2 week stay in Japan. As a girl who loves to eat, travel, and travel to eat, Japan is a dream where I can visit beautiful places and fuel my exploring with delicious food. One of my favorite obsessions is matcha-flavored sweets. The slightly bitter tea flavor perfectly balances a wide variety of sweet and creamy desserts that you just can’t find outside of Japan.

Continue reading “10 Matcha Desserts to try in Japan”

Jiggly Cheesecake Saga – How to bake a souffle cheesecake

My obsession with jiggly cheesecake began with an Insider food video that was simply mesmerizing. It showed a beautiful, fluffy, creamy cheesecake… that jiggled. It jiggled and swayed and wobbled from side to side. I was captivated and knew it was my mission to eat one of these cheesecakes. I imagined it must taste like a sweet, creamy cloud – the stuff dreams are made of!

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Alas, at the time the video was made, jiggly cheesecakes could only be found in Osaka, Japan at Rikuro Ojisan. This revelation was the biggest disappointment of my 20s. But there was hope! I replicated my own jiggly cheesecake recipe – it was both an adventure and a misadventure and I wanted to share the recipe I used and tips to avoid the mistakes I made. It took two tries, over 2 dozen eggs, and help from my more talented best friend before I managed to produce a souffle cheesecake.

Continue reading “Jiggly Cheesecake Saga – How to bake a souffle cheesecake”

A Day with Deer in Nara, Japan

You know in Disney movies where the princess sings and a swarm of woodland creatures come flock lovingly around her? That’s how I felt at Nara, except the woodland creatures were exclusively deer, and I lured them with rice crackers instead of a beautiful singing voice. This town in Japan is home to a herd of deer who have learned that if they bow to humans, they will be rewarded with a special rice cracker. It’s crazy and crazy adorable and a must-visit if you’re in the Osaka area. Every deer looks like Bambi and his mom, with perfectly dappled coats, fuzz-covered antlers, and round black eyes.

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Hike of Fushimi Inari shrine, Kyoto, Japan

1000 red tori gates line the path to the peak of Mt. Inari. Early morning sun glances off the bright red gates, packed so closely together they seem to capture you in a quiet, mystical world.

Fushimi Inari shrine is perhaps the most iconic picture spot in Kyoto, Japan, and for good reason. The tori gates rise high into the air and run in a never-ending red path, one after another. It’s truly an experience that can’t be missed, not only for the beautiful pictures but also for the tranquility of the hike. Just be sure to beat the rest of the tourist crowds!

I visited in mid-May and managed to miss the Golden Week hordes. The weather was lovely, the trees were lush and green, and the path was not too crowded. After hiking up and down early in the morning, I enjoyed food at the stalls surrounding the shrine and shopped for prayers to take back home.

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How to get your Russian visa 8 hours before your flight

I’m not a last minute person. I never pull all nighters, never study the day of an exam, never work out or diet the week before the beach. If it’s not done by the last minute, I’d rather not do it at all! For my around the world trip to China, Japan, and Russia, my flights were all booked well in advance, my hotels were ready to go…. and my Russian visa was nowhere to be found.

Granted, I’d procrastinated. It’s just really freaking difficult to get a Russian visa. Some reasons why the process sucks?

  1. The consulate application fee alone is $198… never mind all the processing and mailing fees that get tacked on
  2. In-person applications appointments are only available Mon-Fri until 4pm…
  3. And these applications are only accepted in 5 cities across the United States
  4. Plus to pay the fee you need a money order, so get ready to visit your bank or post office as well

It’s like the classy, refined, beautiful girl in your biochem class – it’s not easy, and it’s not cheap. But it’s also 100% worth it. Moscow was easily one of my favorite places to visit, with it’s history and gorgeous views and balmy early summer weather. Good things in life are worth working hard for 🙂

So after receiving my visa on my door step exactly 8 hours before my flight departed, I’m here to tell you EXACTLY how you can get your Russian visa in the cheapest, least painful way possible.

Continue reading “How to get your Russian visa 8 hours before your flight”