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Knowing Where to Eat: American Restaurants in Japan {A Guest Post by The Ham and Cheese of It}

While I'm gallivanting around Germany for the next two weeks, I've got some wonderful bloggers to guest post for me. Starting off the fun is Trisha from The Ham and Cheese of It. She and her family currently live in Japan and are going to move again to Germany in early 2016. She's got plenty of travel ahead of her, so make sure to check out her adventures.

Today, Trisha sharing some of the American foods that she's found while they've been stationed in Japan. Not all of them are what you'd expect!
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Hello to everyone visiting Cosmos Mariners today! 

I wanted to give a BIG thank you to Natalie for allowing me the ultimate pleasure of guest posting with you all today. I am new to the blogging scene and was so excited when Natalie asked me to guest post for her. I hope I can live up to her blog’s name! 

Before I start with the purpose of this blog post I just wanted to give you a little bit of information about me. My name is Trisha and I am the writer, editor and photographer for The Ham & Cheese Of It. I am also the wonderful mother to a new baby girl and an awesome wife to a very handsome husband. Because of my husband’s military career we get the opportunity to travel internationally quite often. As of right now we currently live in Japan and this winter we will be moving to Germany. This wonderful life that we lead allows us to try different food from all over the world.
I am a travel and food writer and often post about our awesome experiences with food that we get to have here. 

So, for today’s post, I wanted to share with you some of the really amazing food experiences that we have had while stationed here in Japan. I figured we would start out with some really common ones and then move on from there. 

The first dinning experience I would like to discuss is sushi. Sushi is such an integral part of the Japanese culture. Japan is actually credited for creating sushi as a cohesive dish, but it was the Chinese who were the first to create the idea of sushi. 

To tel you the truth I never enjoyed sushi before moving to Japan. American sushi is just over done and filled with a lot of extras. In Japan, sushi is delicious for its simplicity. In the picture posted below, I am having grilled eel, boiled shrimp, raw tuna and yes, egg salad sushi roll. If you would like a brief history of sushi you can check out my blog post: Traveling Japan: The History of Japanese Sushi.


Knowing Where to Eat: American Restaurants in Japan {A Guest Post by The Ham and Cheese of It} | CosmosMariners.com


Another amazing thing in Japan is that you can order “sets” which are different variations of meals here in Japan. While my husband and I were traveling down towards the tip of Japan we had the opportunity to stop at this beautiful onsen (basically a hotel/spa). 

The restaurant here was stunning. It over looked the beautiful bay waters that lead out to the deep, beautiful sea. Since we had both been traveling all day we ordered the largest set possible. I had fried tempura, rice, miso soup and a bowl of raw fish. I was surprised that in my raw fish bowl there was shark pieces! I will have to say… I am not a fan of eating JAWS. He’s a bit too fatty for my taste. Probably from all those surfers he was munching on in the movie!


Knowing Where to Eat: American Restaurants in Japan {A Guest Post by The Ham and Cheese of It} | CosmosMariners.com


While we were at this onsen we also discovered that near by was a small aquarium that over looked the bay as well. If you ever get a chance to visit Japan and want a very cool experience you have to go here. At the Keikyu Aburatsubo Marine Park, in Miura City, we got to hold hands with otters, pet sharks and watch a very cool dolphin show.

 But the neatest thing was that they had Dr. Pepper. Dr. Pepper! In all of my time here in Japan, I have yet to see a single can of Dr. Pepper--that is until I visited this little out of the way aquarium.


Knowing Where to Eat: American Restaurants in Japan {A Guest Post by The Ham and Cheese of It} | CosmosMariners.com


As you probably have guessed, I have traveled quite a bit around Japan. But the one thing that continues to surprise me is all of the American restaurants that are over here. Including the
ones listed below, I have also seen a Red Lobster, Taco Bell, Burger King, KFC, HOOTERS, Outback Steakhouse and of course Dominoes Pizza. 

Yes, you’re correct in thinking. That is a three story McDonald’s and it was packed! Another cool thing about McDonald’s here is that they deliver. Probably a good thing they don’t offer that service in America!


Knowing Where to Eat: American Restaurants in Japan {A Guest Post by The Ham and Cheese of It} | CosmosMariners.com

Breakfast anyone? Denny’s in Japan is not identical in flavor or in taste. But, it is unfortunately, the only place to get a decent American size breakfast on the main island. There is another place that is very similar to Denny’s and it’s called Jonathan’s. It too offers a a simple American breakfast option. But I think that is only because they are located so close to base. Denny’s, however, is scattered all over the main island. We have one near base and the one pictured below is about two hours from us near Enoshima Beach.


Knowing Where to Eat: American Restaurants in Japan {A Guest Post by The Ham and Cheese of It} | CosmosMariners.com


Now, if you’re a Louisiana native this next image will blow you out of the water. My husband and I were just wondering around a train station waiting for our next train to arrive when we turned a corner and my eyes landed on this beauty. 

If you have ever been to the famous Cafe Du Monde you know exactly how exciting this is. I am from Texas originally and traveled to New Orleans quite often. Having one of their delicious cafe au lait or a heavenly beignet can all but change your life. I was so beyond excited when I went in. All I could think was "powder sugar overload." 

But alas, it was not the same. The beignets were not dusted with powdered sugar, but with cinnamon sugar. The cafe au lait was seriously lacking as well. But the excitement of it was sure to last a life time. 


Knowing Where to Eat: American Restaurants in Japan {A Guest Post by The Ham and Cheese of It} | CosmosMariners.com


As most of you can tell, being stationed in Japan has been such a blessing. I hope everyone of you will have the opportunity to travel here. The people are wonderful and the towns are nice and clean. 

Everything is made simple, with such heart and dedication to last generations. Thank you, once again, to Natalie for allowing me this opportunity to share with you some of my experiences here in Japan. I hope to talk to you all again! 

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Make sure to show Trisha and her blog some love!

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Odds + (Week) Ends: A Weekly Travel Round-up | Vol. 5

Odds + (Week) Ends: A Weekly Travel Round-up, Vol. 5 | CosmosMariners.com

Hey, Mariners! Our weekend was filled with football (Go Clemson!) and packing. Since my husband isn't going to Germany with my parents, my sister, my toddler, and I--that pesky vacation time has run out for him--we're trying to spend as much time with him as possible in the days leading up to our trip to Europe.

What's in this weekend's round-up? SO. MUCH. COOL. STUFF!

Odds + (Week) Ends: A Weekly Travel Round-up, Vol. 5 | CosmosMariners.com
{photo via}

I have two DSLRs, a Nikon D90 and a Sony A6000, but I often find myself reaching for my iPhone to take pictures while I'm out and about. These iPhone DSLR lenses are awesome and allow you to get so much more out of your phone's photos. The lens kit seems like a great compromise for people who want better photos, but don't want to haul their bigger DSLR cameras around. What do you find yourself reaching for when you take a picture?

Odds + (Week) Ends: A Weekly Travel Round-up, Vol. 5 | CosmosMariners.com
{photo via}
I'm a huge proponent of staying in locally owned accommodations, and I try to do so whenever possible. They're quirky, charming, and unique, and a great inn or B&B can make your vacation. When I ran across these 11 hotels in former prisons, I was intrigued. You don't normally find yourself wanting to check into prison, but these would be an exception to the rule!

Odds + (Week) Ends: A Weekly Travel Round-up, Vol. 5 | CosmosMariners.com

London will always, always, always be my favorite city. Add my love of London to my love of anything literary, and it becomes the perfect storm of awesomeness for me. Even though I've been to London many times (including a study abroad stint there in college), I still haven't made it to all of these 6 literary-themed day trips from London. I guess it's time to plan another trip!

Odds + (Week) Ends: A Weekly Travel Round-up, Vol. 5 | CosmosMariners.com

I'm up for a new adventure when I travel, but these 13 slightly crazy adventures around the globe make me look like a newbie traveler! One guy traveled by tractor (yes, you read that right) from the Netherlands to the South Pole, while another couple biked from Belgium to China (on their honeymoon, no less!).

Odds + (Week) Ends: A Weekly Travel Round-up, Vol. 5 | CosmosMariners.com
{photo via}

Scotland is a magical place: all of those lochs, castles, and rolling hills. There are some incredible myths and legends hidden in those picturesque hills and valleys, including the tale of the fairy flag of Dunvegan Castle. Located on the Isle of Skye, the castle holds a tattered piece of cloth that supposedly has magical properties.

How was your weekend? Don't forget to keep up with my adventures in Germany on Instagram for the next two weeks!

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Packing for a Two Week Trip to Germany: Parent + Kid Edition

Packing for a Two Week Trip to Germany: Parent + Kid | CosmosMariners.com

It's crunch time. You know, that time right before your trip when you're starting to realize that you're leaving in just a few days and your to-do list is still crazy long and the plane will be leaving whether you get yourself together or not.

I'm smack dab in the middle of it.

I'm planning on sticking pretty closely to what I packed for our time in the UK. I'm going the route of just a carry-on again, so I'm working on packing for two weeks in just a carry-on case.

It's going to be cold while we're there, as we're going to be traveling through the Alps and into Austria. That means lots of layers, a puffy vest or two, and my trusty Columbia 3-in-1 jacket.

Packing for a Two Week Trip to Germany: Parent + Kid | CosmosMariners.com


My final packing list will look something like this:
4 thin sweaters
1 sweatshirt
4 turtlenecks
Plaid flannel shirt
1 pair insulated tights
1 pair regular tights
2 pairs skinny jeans
2 pair jeggings
1 wool skirt
Black flats
Grey boots
3-in-1 jacket
Orange puffy vest
Gloves
Hat
Travel Scarf (don't forget to enter to win one of your own!)
Pajamas
Tablet
Camera + charger
Phone + charger
Travel blanket

Another wrench in my packing right now is that it's still 80 degrees here in Charleston, so all of our winter stuff is shoved in the back of the closet. I've had to go through, see what still fits, what needs to be replaced, and what needs to be washed. I still haven't figured out how I'm going to get on the plane in Charleston in warm weather clothing and get off the plane in Germany in winter weather clothing. Fun times!

Packing for a Two Week Trip to Germany: Parent + Kid | CosmosMariners.com


We made a last minute decision to take Britton with us on the trip, so there's that added level of stuff to organize and pack. She's completely delighted and keeps telling us, "Going to Germ-er-ny. Going on big plane in sky. Zoom. Go see castles!" which pretty much sums up the trip.

While she's getting excited about the plane ride, I'm slowly figuring out how we're going to fit all of her stuff into her little Frozen suitcase.

Packing for a Two Week Trip to Germany: Parent + Kid | CosmosMariners.com

I'm very much a minimalist when it comes to packing, and I'm doing my ever-loving best to apply those same techniques to Britton's stuff, too. The entire process is just so much harder when I know I have to pack extra clothes since she tends to use herself as an extra napkin at most meals.

Packing for a Two Week Trip to Germany: Parent + Kid | CosmosMariners.com


Her packing list:
Wool coat
Mittens
Beanie
5 sweaters/sweatshirts
2 pairs jeans
4 pairs leggings
2 skirts
3 pairs of tights
Brown mary janes
Black boots
3 pajama sleepers
Stroller
Sleeping cot
Sippy cup
One of her small blankets
Her travel pillow
One stuffed animal
Basic first aid stuff: band-aids, toddler Tylenol, and Neosporin

For the first time in a very long time, I'm checking a bag at the airport. Since Britton doesn't do well in full sized beds yet (i.e. she will kick whoever's sleeping next to her all night long), we decided to get her a little cot of her own. This is the perfect solution, but it requires us to check the carrying bag.

Our backpacks for the airplane will have:
Extra headphones for Britton
Books for Britton
Coloring book + markers/crayons
My tablet with e-books
My travel journal/ notebook

For parents who've traveled internationally with little ones, tell me your best tips! I will be traveling with my parents and sister, so I'll have extra hands to help with all of the stuff. I've never taken Britton, who is a very enthusiastic and inquisitive kid, on an airplane before: what do you recommend that I take to keep her happy on a trans-Atlantic flight?

This post contains affiliate links. By purchasing an item through the links, you'll help this blog out at no additional cost to you!

A Hauntingly Beautiful Spot at the Edge of the World: Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island, Georgia

A Hauntingly Beautiful Spot at the Edge of the World: Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island, Georgia | CosmosMariners.com

There are many reasons why you'd want to visit Jekyll Island, Georgia.

There's the Guilded Age-era hunting lodge that was once the winter lodging for the Carnegies, Vanderbilts, Pulitzers, and other super wealthy people. The Jekyll Island Club Hotel now a completely restored luxury hotel, and one that I highly recommend. (Even if you can't stay on property, stop by for the afternoon tea!) [Take a virtual tour with this post here.]

Odds + (Week) Ends: A Weekly Travel Round-up | Vol. 4

Odds + (Week) Ends: A Weekly Travel Round-up, Vol. 4 | CosmosMariners.com

Ah, what a week. My little sister (who's not so little anymore!) got engaged on Monday. It was so exciting to plan the moment with my soon-to-be brother-in-law, and I can't wait to start planning with my sister. I'm particularly excited about the bachelorette party because that means more travel!

This weekend has been filled with plenty of drama, most of it thanks to Mother Nature. The Charleston area has been inundated with over a foot of rain in the last 48 hours. I left my house yesterday morning so I could watch the Clemson-Notre Dame game (go Tigers!) with my parents at their house--and we're now stuck here since all of the roads to our house are completely closed due to flooding.

Odds + (Week) Ends: A Weekly Travel Round-up, Vol. 4 | CosmosMariners.com



Hopefully, your weekend was filled with far more pleasant weather than we're getting here. I've had plenty of time to discover some great stuff for this weekend's round-up!

Odds + (Week) Ends: A Weekly Travel Round-up, Vol. 4 | CosmosMariners.com

Did you know that Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris has over 13.6 million visitors each year? And it's only the 13th most visited in the world! See the top 50 most visited places in the world here. How many have you seen?

Odds + (Week) Ends: A Weekly Travel Round-up, Vol. 4 | CosmosMariners.com

We're in the midst of making our final preparations for our upcoming trip to Germany, and I just got Britton's first passport. I'm going to print out this fun U.S. Kids' Passport activity booklet for her to work on while we're in transit--I think she's going to love it! How old were you when you got your first passport? I was 17!

Odds + (Week) Ends: A Weekly Travel Round-up, Vol. 4 | CosmosMariners.com

I love traveling, and I love reading. The intersection of those two is my happy place! I recently read about an Edinburgh book tour over on Lady's Travel Blog, and it immediately shot to the top of the list of things that I want to do the next time that I'm in Scotland. Who's your favorite Scottish writer? I'm partial to Rabbie Burns and Robert Louis Stevenson.

Odds + (Week) Ends: A Weekly Travel Round-up, Vol. 4 | CosmosMariners.com

Fall is such a pretty time to travel--the weather is cooler and the crowds are (generally) not as insane. I ran across this article on Casual Travelist about the best places to visit in Europe during the fall, and was excited to see that I'll be headed to one very soon. Munich, here I come! Where would you like to visit this fall?

Odds + (Week) Ends: A Weekly Travel Round-up, Vol. 4 | CosmosMariners.com
{photo via}

If you love ruins, abandoned things, and/or The Hunger Games movies, you've got to check out this post. There's a decaying Parisian community that's been left to the elements for years. Because of the apocalyptic air of the locale, parts of The Hunger Games were shot there. The community was built in the '70s and '80s as a way to provide housing for all socio-economic backgrounds, but the experiment never took off. Today, only a handful of people live in the gigantic, and mostly abandoned, area.
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Also, don't forget to enter to win a travel scarf with a secret security pocket. I'm so excited to take mine to Germany in just a few weeks!

How was your weekend?
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A Traveler's Must Have Accessory: Travel Scarf with Secret Pocket

A Traveler's Must Have Accessory: Travel Scarf with Secret Pocket | CosmosMariners.com


One of the worst things that can happen while you're away from home is losing your money, keys, passport, and other valuables. Whether this happens due to your own forgetfulness or due to a mugging, no one want to go through the process of having to replace these essential items.

After my family was mugged on the Paris Metro several years back, I've approached my safety while abroad in a new way.

I've tried money belts, but they were a hassle and were bulky once I loaded them down the passports, money, and hotel keys.

I've also tried carrying a small, crossbody purse, but putting everything in that seemed risky.

For our upcoming trips to Europe, I decided to try something new: a scarf made especially for travel. This travel scarf comes with a secret pocket for complete security, so you can wear your valuables, your passport, and your extra money on you. Unlike a money belt, it's not bulky and it looks just like any other scarf.

A Traveler's Must Have Accessory: Travel Scarf with Secret Pocket | CosmosMariners.com


Recently, I bought the Weekend in Vermont scarf, this gorgeous purple and blue plaid flannel one, from the 4theloveofoils Etsy shop, and I have had the chance to test drive in our last several cold-weather trips.

My verdict? I don't know how I ever lived without on.

The infinity scarf is soft and warm, which will be nice when we got into the Alps.

A Traveler's Must Have Accessory: Travel Scarf with Secret Pocket | CosmosMariners.com


The pocket is deep enough to hold my iPhone, passport, hotel key, and other accessories. Since I got a flannel scarf, the zipper was larger than what you get when you order the knit or cotton scarves. Even so, the zipper is easily hidden once you put the scarf on and fluff it up.

A Traveler's Must Have Accessory: Travel Scarf with Secret Pocket + Giveaway! | CosmosMariners.com


Tammi, who makes the scarves and runs the shop with her niece, Elizabeth, told me that she came up with the idea on her own travels.

I asked Tammi how she started making the scarves. "They were born out of necessity when I had looked online for months trying to find something for cash, travel documents, credit cards, etc. that I could use when traveling to New Orleans with a friend of mine for the holidays of 2014. I have used the money belt in the pants, the neck stash down the blouse, and all of those are great, except for when you want to retrieve it," Tammi told me.

A Traveler's Must Have Accessory: Travel Scarf with Secret Pocket | CosmosMariners.com
Wearing my travel scarf on Ha'Penny Bridge in Dublin

"I was determined to travel with only a carry-on and like most seasoned travelers, my wardrobe was solid colors that could be mixed. I decided to make a few scarves to use as a pop of color. As I was sewing that long seam, like in pants, I realized I could add a pocket and solve both issues. And so was born the secret scarf. The first design I made to take with me was called the French Quarter."

Tammi decided to list a few of the scarves on her niece Elizabeth's Etsy shop and immediately started receiving orders. She now offers scarves in a wide variety of fabrics and lengths for any traveler's needs.

A Traveler's Must Have Accessory: Travel Scarf with Secret Pocket + Giveaway! | CosmosMariners.com


No matter where you're headed, one of these scarves will give you piece of mind about your important documents and money. Head over to 4theloveofoils shop to pick out one for your next trip!
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9 Things You Probably Didn't Think to Pack for Your Cruise

9 Things You Probably Didn't Think to Pack for Your Cruise | CosmosMariners.com

Over the years, I've been on several cruises, and each has been a learning experience. Since cruising is the exception for my travels rather than the rule, I find myself struggling with the packing aspect every time.

Booking.com


I've slowly come to terms with my cruise packing abilities, and I've even come away from this last cruise with a few things that most people (including myself!) don't ever think about packing for a cruise.