The unexpected is profound. No comparisons, no build-up, no presuppositions, it can simply be. And in that simplicity is the impact. We can truly experience all the details for what they are; ordinary. We arrived in Sayulita at noon and by late afternoon made our first steps into town and onto the main beach. I heard the din of dispersed and disparate conversations, a tuba and drums accompanied by other brass instruments play something that belonged in a parade but made so much sense to be on the beach, I saw umbrella after umbrella, tourists and locals intermixed, I felt the energy; enthused but orderly, I smelled delicious flavor after delicious flavor and I experienced the complexity and layers of this culture in this simple setting of a day at the beach. In this moment I wasn’t overwhelmed, I was captivated, instantly falling in love with this town. This feeling would further deepen with each day we spent in Sayulita; the friendly locals, the respectful tourists, the fresh food, the rustic and the chic, a sleepy surf town turned Mexican tourist destination struggling to hold onto its identity while accommodating the eager throngs. I recognize this place is far past discovery but to us it was all new.
At the foot of Mount Fuji, Hakone is a town of 13,500, known for its hot springs and is a National Geopark. The town embraces its culture, history and craftsmanship balancing charm and authenticity with modernity.
From the bustle of 9.3 million in Tokyo to 13,500 in Hakone. We trade asphalt for green, apartment for ryokan. We travel from Tokyo to Hakone on The Romancecar, an Odakyu limited express train, which meanders through the countryside at 200 mph giving you scenery and efficiency.
Akihabara, known for its electronic shops, has gained recognition as the center of Japan’s otaku (diehard fan) culture with many shops devoted to anime and manga. The crowds reminded me of Times Square and the selection of anime was equally overwhelming to Lucas as were the number of young men crowded around every console, figure, cashier stand.
The Antinori family has been involved in the production of wine for over six centuries, through twenty six generations. Antinori nel Chianto Classico was opened in 2013 and served to relocate the company headquarters from its Renaissance palazzo in Florence to the hillside of Bargino, literally, the winery is folded into the hillside resembling a pair of rust-colored slashes in newly planted vineyards. “The idea was to bring the heart of the company back to the countryside where the wine is produced,” says Antinori.
We drove past Radda on our first day in Tuscany on our way to Antinori winery. We drove past Radda two days later on our way to Podere La Piaggia for our cooking class. We were about to drive past Radda on our way to San Gimignano when we finally stopped. I could imagine us, returning home and saying to ourselves “What was that cute town we kept driving past?” and being filled with wanderlust-regret. We played on the playground, browsed the shops, chatted with an artist whose art was being displayed in the Palazzo del Podesta and experienced the charm of this 9th century medieval town for just about an hour on this Monday morning.