More posts by Ryan Bender

Travel Tip #37

leaning tower

Reserve Ahead of Time for Popular Attractions

When traveling, you want to see and experience everything a place has to offer in the short time you are there. You want to sample the local cuisine, buy crafts and such at small shops and stroll the main streets and back roads. You also probably want to visit major monuments and museums whose pictures splash across the covers of every guidebook and textbook about that place (Hey, the Leaning Tower really does lean!).… Continue Reading →



Vegetarian Options in Central Kyoto

Finding vegetarian options can be difficult in many places, but throw in a foreign language and a foreign alphabet, and it becomes near impossible in Japan. Lucky for those who are in Kyoto, there is Bio-Tei. This is a cozy little restaurant in the upstairs of the building on the southwest corner of Umetadacho and Higashinotoin Dori, kitty corner from the post office and just a few minutes’ walk from the Karasuma metro station and Hotel Monterey.… Continue Reading →

Fushimi-Inari Shinto Shrine

fushimi-inari shrine

Tunnel of 10,000 Torii Gates

L&A has been to their fair share of places of worship, from cathedrals and country churches to synagogues and Buddhist temples, but there is just something mystical about the Fushimi-Inari Shinto shrine in Kyoto. With its seemingly endless tunnel made of Torii gates and countless stone foxes watching your every move, it’s something you just experience yourself. … Continue Reading →

Hotel Niwa Tokyo

Hotel Niwa Tokyo

Great Hotel in the Heart of Tokyo

Booking a hotel for Tokyo is difficult only because there are so many options. There are rooms for all budgets, ranging from capsules for single men to suites for visiting celebrities. There are traditional Japanese inns (ryokans), hourly “love hotels,” business hotels, chain hotels, independent hotels, luxury hotels, you name it.… Continue Reading →

Travel Tip #36

Bring Activities for Downtime

When you are an independent budget traveler, you are often faced with a lot of downtime because you are at the mercy of someone else’s schedule. You will have to get to the airport early, remain seated with your seatbelt fastened, wait on the platform for connecting trains and sit on the airport shuttle bus while the driver waits for more passengers.… Continue Reading →

Hotel Monterey

Hotel Monterey Kyoto

European-Style Hotel in the Heart of Kyoto

We here at L&A love to plan our trips down to the finest detail. Some folks like to fly by the seat of their pants and go where the wind blows them, but that’s not us (well, not Ryan). But there are times when traveling that sticking to the plan is not in your best interest.… Continue Reading →


Kiyomizu Temple

Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto

So, you have decided to go to Kiyomizu Temple. Everyone keeps talking about how charming Kyoto is, but so far you just haven’t seen it. You got off of the shinkansen at the train station and the city looks like every other city in Japan-hopelessly modern.
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