More posts by Ryan Bender

Vondelpark Plaza Hotel

Modern Hotel in a Quiet Location

Staying in the center of Amsterdam can be a bit pricey and jam-packed, especially on a UK Bank Holiday weekend. If crowds of Brits on a stag  aren’t your scene, but you would still like to stay near the center of town, then the Vondelpark area is perfect for you.… Continue Reading →

Gontaro Restaurant


The Best Noodles in Kyoto

Kyoto has no shortage of restaurants, but if you want great noodles, Gontaro is your go-to spot. This restaurant specializes in noodles, and in fact, they have been serving noodles in Kyoto for over a century. Centrally located in the middle of Kyoto, it is surprisingly hard to find, so mark your map before you leave.… Continue Reading →



Daytrip From Kyoto

Kyoto is filled with so much to see and do that you could easily spend your entire trip there visiting the many gardens, temples, shrines and shops. But there are two things Kyoto doesn’t have: the world’s largest bronze Buddha and hundreds of tame deer roaming the city.… Continue Reading →

Travel Tip #39

Bring Your Own Over-the-Counter Medications

Over-the-counter (non-prescription) medications are handy to have at home and can be especially useful when traveling. When you are on the go, medications may be less available than you are used to, so it is better to bring a small stash with you than to have search for them while traveling.… Continue Reading →


Historic Neighborhood in Northwest Kyoto

Everyone talks about the old neighborhoods, temples, shrines and gardens in Kyoto, but when you arrive at the train station, it is easy to wonder where these historical places are. The station is large and modern, and so is just about everything you can see from there.… Continue Reading →

Saihoji Temple


Buddhist Temple and Moss Garden In Kyoto

The gardens at the temples in Japan are some of the best in the world, but the best of the best is the moss garden at Saihoji Temple (also called Kokedera) in Kyoto. Anyone can make a flower look beautiful, but it takes talent to create a breathtaking landscape made entirely of lowly moss, and this talent earned the garden a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation.… Continue Reading →

Nijo Castle

Nijo Castle

Feudal Castle in Central Kyoto

Nijo Castle, located in the center of Kyoto, is a feudal castle with a couple of moats, expansive gardens and some floors you won’t find anywhere else. In 1603, the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu started construction on Nijo Castle. It was expanded and finally completed 23 years later under the reign of his grandson, Iemitsu.… Continue Reading →