When we visit a new destination, we like to get away from the tourist areas and explore the places where the locals eat, drink and have fun. Generally, this works best when you have local guide to show you around.

locals at Izakaya in Osaka, JapanWhile researching for our visit to Osaka, Japan, Mr. Jones found the Osaka Local Evening Tour led by guide Yuki Fujisawa of Inside Osaka walking tours.

We scheduled our tour for the evening of our first full day in Osaka. It was a busy Friday night when we met Yuki at the Temma train station, which is right next to the longest shopping street in Japan.

Tenjinbashi-suji shopping street, Osaka, JapanThe Tenjinbashi-suji shopping street extends for more than 1.6 miles. The covered street is lined with continuous shops and places to eat.

Colonel Sanders in Osaka, JapanAs we walked with Yuri, we learned local insights, such as why this man is so popular, and why locals have to reserve their “bucket” of Kentucky Fried Chicken well in advance for Christmas Day.

Takoyaki preparation, Osaka, JapanWhile you can find takoyaki (octopus-filled snack balls) everywhere in Osaka, Yuki took us to a takoyaki stand which has been loved by locals for more than four generations.

Takoyaki shop, Osaka, JapanTakoyaki are made from wheat flour-based batter and cooked in a special molded pan. The batter contains diced octopus, tempura bits, pickled ginger, and green onion.

At this shop, the takoyaki are made slowly, with multiple layers of batter added as each ball is frequently turned.

eating takoyaki in Osaka, JapanThe result is worth the wait. These takoyaki were light and delicious.

fun with locals at one of the oldest Izakaya in Osaka, JapanNext, Yuri took us to a crowded Izakaya (a Japanese-style standing pub) where we bonded with several locals while enjoying beer and sake.

This Izakaya is one of the oldest in Osaka, Japan, and is famous for its dashi broth (generally made with water, dried kelp and bonito fish flakes.)

daikon and tofu in dashi broth, Osaka, JapanWe tried daikon radish and tofu that were long-simmered in the pub’s famous dashi broth.  We had the most fun, however, conserving with the locals.

skewers and omelet -Local Evening Tour, Osaka, JapanFor our final stop, Yuki took us to one more dining establishment. We sampled a number of local foods like the skewers and omelet pictured above.

If you are visiting Osaka, Japan and want to try to have a more local, non-touristy experience, we highly recommend the Osaka Local Evening Tour with Yuki.

Have you been to Japan? What is your favorite local food?  

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Hilton Boston Logan Airport HotelPrior to a late-September cruise to Canada and New England, we stayed 1-night at the Hilton Boston Logan Airport Hotel.

This hotel is connected directly to Boston Logan Airport Terminals A and E via pedestrian walkways, so we walked from the Southwest baggage claim to the hotel following the airport signs.

If you arrive into a different airport terminal, or do not want to make the longish walk, the Hilton Boston Logan Airport Hotel also offers 24-hour courtesy bus service to and from all airport terminals. The hotel’s shuttle will also deliver guests to the Rental Car Center, subway, and even the Boston water taxi.

The hotel offers self-parking for $42 per night or valet for $49 per night.

king bed - Hilton Boston Logan Airport HotelThis is the view as we walked into our hotel room.

We used Hilton Honors Awards points to book a king bed room.  Currently, the Boston Logan Airport Hotel requires 54,000 Hilton Honors award points for a 1-night stay.

desk and TV - Hilton Boston Logan Airport HotelThe Boston Logan Airport hotel has fairly standard rooms.   The guest rooms feature soundproofed windows which is key for an airport hotel.

Also important to know: this hotel is 100% non-smoking including all guest rooms and public areas. This is a Boston ordinance and cannot be modified.

Smokers have to go outside the hotel in order to smoke.

bathroom - Hilton Boston Logan Airport HotelThe bathrooms are standard size for a Hilton hotel.

outside view - Hilton Boston Logan Airport HotelOutside, there are several walking paths around the hotel.

Hotel guests can walk across the street to visit the 9/11 Memorial at Boston Logan Airport.

The memorial is focused on a glass cube structure called The Place of Remembrance and was designed by Moskow Linn Architects of Boston.

Our bottom line on the Hilton Boston Logan Airport Hotel:

  • The hotel has a terrific location for travelers arriving into Boston Logan airport late in the evening or for those spending the night before departing on an early morning flight. From the airport baggage claim area in terminals A and E, you can walk to the hotel via an enclosed walkway by following signs to the Hilton hotel. There is also complimentary airport shuttle service to and from the hotel that runs 24 hours a day.
  • The hotel has a beautiful, open lobby. The hotel rooms are standard, but have good sound-proofing.
  • We found the service to be uneven at the hotel’s restaurant called Connolly’s Publik House. The evening service missed the marked, and the pub-style food and drinks were over-priced. At breakfast in the same restaurant, however, we found excellent service even among a big crowd of guests.

Have you stayed at the Hilton Boston Logan Airport Hotel? How would you rate it?

If you are planning to visit Boston, these are good resources:

For a look inside other hotels, check out these posts:

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Princess Cruises Updates Its Beverage Package

by Janis on October 17, 2017

Although it’s from a Princess cruise I took three years ago, this post: Is the All-Inclusive Beverage Package on Princess Cruises a Good Deal? remains popular with readers of this blog.

Princess Cruises French Martini Cosmo in Seaview BarThere is an update. On September 20th, 2017 Princess Cruises announced changes to its on-board beverage offerings, introducing the cruise line’s new Premier Beverage Package.

Princess CruisesWhat’s new and different with the Premier Beverage Package on Princess Cruises?

  • The cost has increased. The Premier Beverage Package retails for US$59.99 per day (with an additional 15% service charge for all itineraries except Australia). For a 7-day cruise for a cabin with two guests that comes to $965.84 ($59.99 x 7 x 2 = $839.86 + $125.98 service charge.)
    • If you are traveling on a different length of cruise, take the number of days times $68.99 per day to determine the cost for your Premier Beverage Package.
    • Unless you are sailing on a Princess ship based in Australia. On Australia-based vessels the package price is in AUD and is inclusive of the service charge for a total price of $86.99 AUD per day.
  • The package offers a wider range of drinks and better value.
    • All beer, wine by the glass and cocktails up to US$12 are included, compared to the previous limit of US$10.
    • The new package includes a 25% discount on ALL bottles of wine, whereas the previous discount included bottles under $100 only. This can add up to substantial savings, especially on premium wines and Champagnes like Opus One and Dom Perignon.
    • The beverage package can be used on the cruise line’s Private Islands and at all food and beverage venues that offer beverage service. (But not for drinks from room service or the in-suite mini-bar.)
  • Princess is now limiting the number of alcoholic drinks to 15 per day (to each person purchasing the package.) Sharing drinks is strictly forbidden.
  • The Premier Beverage Package includes an unlimited number of non-alcoholic beverages including mocktails, fountain sodas, bottled water in 500 ml bottles, fresh juices, specialty coffees and teas, Frappes at Coffee & Cones and Red Bull energy drinks.

Wine on Princess CruisesSome other important notes on the Princess Premier Beverage Package:

  • Guests must purchase the Premier Beverage Package for every day of sailing.
  • Guests that pre-purchased the All-Inclusive Beverage Package (before September 20, 2017) or took advantage of our Sip + Sail promotion will benefit from this newly updated package.

Are you are fan of Princess Cruises? Will you purchase the new Premier Beverage Package during your next cruise?

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Learn more about my California Coastal Cruise on the Star Princess:


Visiting the 9/11 Memorial at Boston Logan Airport

October 11, 2017

In late September we spent a night at the Hilton Boston Logan Airport hotel before a Canada and New England cruise. The Logan Airport 9/11 Memorial is located across the street from the hotel. Before heading to the cruise ship, I took a walk around the hotel and visited the memorial. It is called The Place […]

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