The Best of 2013

I LOVE a good year end wrap up. I live for the music mash-ups, the youtube year end review, and the dozens of pop culture lists that sprout up just before year end. So of course I was not going to let this opportunity pass without writing our own year end review. We had an amazing year! Yes it had its trying moments and stressful times, but looking back those times pale in comparison to the wonderful memories we made on the road.

We were lucky enough to spend time in 8 major cities in 6 different countries between the 2 of us. We thought we would wrap up this crazy year with the best of the best, and some of the worst from around the world. Here are our winners!


The Best: 

Best type of foreign food:
Nathan-Korean BBQ
Best restaurant:
Nathan-Gyu Ka ku (Osaka, Japan)
Jacy-Gyu Ka Ku (Osaka, Japan)
Country with Best Food:
Best Dessert:
Nathan-Belgian Waffle
Jacy-Belgian Waffle
Country with Best Sweets:
Jacy-Everywhere we have been in Europe the chocolate is amazing!
Best attempt at American food:
Nathan-Quick in Luxembourg  
Jacy-Critter's Burger in Osaka, Japan
Best non-American item at a McDonalds:
Nathan-Double Big Mac with 4 patties (Japan)
Jacy- Curly fries (Luxembourg)
Best Beer:
Nathan- Grimbergen (Belgium)
Jacy- Saparro (Japan)
Best Bar:
Nathan-Fabrik in Luxembourg
Jacy-Fabrik in Luxembourg

The Worst:

Worst foreign food tried:
Nathan-Octopus sushi in Japan  
Jacy-Sauerkraut in Germany
Worst attempt at American Food:
Nathan-Thanksgiving dinner at Hard Rock Cafe in Osaka, Japan
Jacy-Domino's in Japan
American food we miss the most when traveling:
Nathan- Tex Mex
Jacy-Chik fil a
Strangest food related custom:
Nathan-Raw egg and beans for breakfast (traditional breakfast in Japan)
Jacy- Mayo on french fries (Very popular in Luxembourg, Belgium, and Germany)


The Best:

Best Foreign Store/Brand:
Nathan-NKS 405 (Japan)  
Jacy-GU (Japan)
Best American Store, located outside of US:
Nathan-Apple Store in Midosuji (Japan)  
Jacy-Forever 21, Osaka Japan
Best International Brand:
Nathan-NKS 405
Jacy-Kate Spade Saturday (now in the US, but started in Japan!)
Best Bargain Store:
Jacy-Daiso, the 100 yen ($1) store that sold everything
Best Overall Shopping Experience:
Nathan-Japanese grocery stores
Jacy-Japanese department stores, specifically the dessert floor

The Worst:

Most unbelievably expensive location:
Item we can't believe they don't sell:
Nathan-Ranch Dressing-We havent found it anywhere outside the US, not even import stores.
Jacy-Deodorant not sold in Japan 

Lodging, Travel, and Transportation

The Best:

Best Hotel or Resort:
Nathan-Andaman White Beach Resort in Phuket
Jacy-Andaman White Beach Resort in Phuket
Best Airport:
Nathan-Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok
Jacy-Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam
Best Airline:
Nathan-Bangkok airways
Jacy-Bangkok airways for sure
Best View:
Nathan-View of the beach from our balcony in Phukett
Jacy-Cable car ride up to the giant Buddha in Hong Kong
Best Transportation System:
Most Interesting Landmark:
Nathan-Cologne Cathedral
Jacy-Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto Japan
Best Tourist Attraction:
Nathan-The Tokyo Tower in Tokyo, Japan
Jacy-The Flying Hunaman in Phuket, Thailand
Best Overall Travel Experience:
Nathan-The trip to Phukett
Jacy-The trip to Tokyo, Japan 

The Worst:

Worst Transportation System:
Scariest Safety Concern:
Nathan-The cramming of people onto trains in Japan
Jacy-Cable Cars in Hong Kong with seemingly no safety regulations on a windy day
Worst travel experience:
Nathan-Losing our camera in Thailand  
Jacy-Not being allowed to board the plane in Hong Kong because of a visa issue


The Best:

Friendliest Residents:
Most Accommodating to English Speakers:
Cleanest Residents:
Tradition that Americans should adapt:
Nathan-"All you can drink"option widely available at most restaurants (Japan)
Jacy-2 Valentine's day a year, one for men and one for women (Japan)

The Worst:

Biggest Culture Shock:
Nathan-Moving from Texas to Japan
Jacy-Going from Japan to China
Strangest Tradition or Custom:
Nathan-Wearing surgical masks daily to prevent sickness (Japan)
Jacy-Shameless public sleeping (Japan)
Biggest pet peeve:
Nathan-Lack of oral hygiene in close quarters on the trains in Japan
Jacy-No ice in Europe - not served in drinks, not available to purchase at grocery or convenient stores - nowhere!

What a freaking year! We are so grateful for everything we were able to experience this year and we hope we have many more years of exploring ahead!

The cities we took into consideration were:
Osaka, Japan, Tokyo, Japan, Kyoto, Japan, Phuket, Thailand, Hong Kong, China, Brussels, Belgium, Cologne, Germany, Ettlebruck/Luxembourg City, Luxembourg 

With stop overs in: 
Amsterdam, Netherlands, Bangkok, Thailand