365: Day 114 – Philosopher’s Path

365: Day 114 – Philosopher’s Path

Photograph from Matcha.jp.com

It is late morning and I’ve been walking for a few miles in the cool springtime air. The last forty-five minutes of my walk have been the slowest of my life. I am helpless as nearly every step of the way as I keep raising my camera to photograph the most wonderful blooming trees. The Sakura-lined Philosopher’s Path is the most beautiful walk I have ever experienced. I could spend a lifetime composing music, painting a landscape, and writing about my emotions as I experienced this path and they would all fall short of capturing what my heart feels in this place. This land is foreign and far from home, yet my soul would have me thing it is home. A part of me belongs here in Kyoto as strange as that may sound.

I finally decide to take a rest and walk into this beautiful little cafe along this path. There are lovely lamps with colored glass lamp shades and all filling the interior of the room with a warm glow that brought to life the wood on some of the walls and furniture. Soft instrumental Jazz music was playing on the radio. The small round tables near the large windows are basked in the late morning daylight. I set my backpack on the floor and set my camera aside. I order a cappuccino and a matcha roll cake. While I wait I take in that incredible vista of the blossoming Sakuras and the passersby fixated on the pink boughs. My order is placed on the table and the ceramic cup and plate with the silverware resting on them complement the scene better than I could hope for. I am again helpless and pick up my camera to capture the moment that I know all too well to me so tragically fleeting. I dream of being able to experience scenes such as these an photograph and write about them. It is moments like these that I treasure being alone because time is immaterial when it all belongs to you.

365: Day 71 – Day Trip to Balboa Island

365: Day 71 – Day Trip to Balboa Island

Coastal California towns are my favorite to explore. They have a refreshing small town feel where life is more relaxed, the people are friendly, and their streets are dotted with small businesses selling local apparel, lovely smelling soaps, art, home decor, etc. Balboa Island is no different even though it is still within the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

My favorite way to reach the island is to go to Newport and enter the Balboa Peninsula and continue driving until you reach the Balboa Pier area. There are lost of shops and restaurants to explore there as well, but today I will focus only on the island. Near the pier, but on the opposite side of the peninsula you will find the Balboa Island Ferry. There you can hop on the ferry on foot, on your bike, or in your car. Only about four cars fit on the ferry and it’s quite fun to drive onto this tiny ferry. I recommend trying to be the first car on (especially in a truck or SUV) because when you pull all the way forward you will only see the water beyond your hood. It’s quite fun when especially when you start to feel the gentle floating on the water. If you’re prone to motion sickness, don’t worry about it as it is a short ride to the island.

Once you’re on the island make your way towards the main street. It’s a small island so if you get lost, you will still end up on the main street with all the shops. Parking on the main street may be difficult so try looking for parking on the side streets as well. Everything is walking distance and you’ll want to be walking by as many stores and restaurants as possible.

Shopping

As I mentioned before, in the shops on the island you can find local apparel, lovely smelling soaps, local art, and unique home decor. You’ll find only boutique shops here and I love it. I can’t comment much on apparel, but we did buy some great soaps and few unique items for our home. If you go later in the fall you will find lots of beautiful seasonal items. A part of me wanted to buy everything and turn my home into a Christmas wonderland. If you’re in the Los Angeles area, this would be a great place to buy unique gifts for friends and family instead those plastic rectangles everyone seems to exchange these days.

Restaurants

The island has about a dozen restaurants, and of those the list below are the ones we were most interested in trying.

  • Shanghai Pine Garden Restaurant
  • Basilic Restaurant
  • Balboa Island Baking Company
  • Picante Martin’s Mexican Restaurant
  • Ciao Italian Restaurant

All of these seem pretty self explanatory in terms of what cuisine they serve except for one. Basilic turns out to be a highly-rated French-Swiss restaurant which also ends up being the most expensive restaurant on the island. The first time we were tried to eat there, but they were booked for the evening so we agreed to come back to this restaurant for my mom’s birthday and make a reservation. So I will leave you on that cliffhanger as I will write about our dinner at this restaurant in tomorrow’s post!

However, in the meantime I will leave you with a few pictures of the neighborhood from our walk around the island.