Travelling the world, one adventure at a time. Follow the UK's leading solo adventure travel blogger, Dave Brett on his travels around the world. An Adventure travel blog that features travel tips and advice, inspirational stories, travel videos and travel photography that will help you inspire and plan your next trip abroad.
Oita Prefecture is a region located in the southwest of Japan on the island of Kyushu and home to the city of Oita. The prefecture consists of endless countryside and farmland, and you will also find the world famous onsen towns and scenic trains there. The scenery in the region is breathtaking.
Within this blog post I share my own experience during a recent 3-day visit to Japan. I hope you’ll enjoy the read and will find the information useful.
Let’s explore the Japanese prefecture of Oita.
First stop from Oita city is Usuki which has a charming old town worth walking around and exploring.
Here you can find much history around the castle and delightful old shops selling handmade items and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Be sure to try the extremely tasty local produce here and stop off for a bowl of ramen if you get hungry.
Usuki Stone Buddhas
Usuki Stone Buddhas are located in the countryside around a 10 minutes’ drive from the town of Usuki. The area is a wonderful place to walk around and explore.
The Usuki Stone Buddhas are a collection of stone sculptures of Buddhas. You can follow a mapped path which will take you around the forest and rice fields which are all a part of the attraction.
Grab a hiking stick and explore this area for a while and make sure you don’t miss out on the tasty ginger ice cream which is served at the local shop.
Family farm stay in Usuki
Why not try a unique homestay experience in Japan and stay with a local family on a farm in Usuki?
Your host will pick you up and give you a look into the day of local Japanese farm life.
Be sure to pack your own bed pyjamas and toothbrush as you come stay in the guest room. The rest you can leave up to the hosts who will make you feel right at home.
Here you can explore the local farm garden and pick some fruits and vegetables.
Be sure to take in an idyllic sunset walk before dinner as the area is covered by bamboo forests and farmland which creates a stunning view from above.
A homestay is a great way to have a look into the friendly local life in Japan as well as a unique experience. I can highly recommend it to everyone.
Take a peek into my family farm stay here as I made a YouTube video:
Family farm stay in Usuki, Oita, Japan - YouTube
Yufuin no Mori scenic train
Why not upgrade your train journey to Usuki and jump on board the Yufuin no Mori scenic train?
The scenic train will cost you an additional ticket but if you can try a scenic train route in Japan, I would highly recommend it.
The scenic train experience takes train travel to another level as the trains are specially designed to enjoy the scenic views with additional windows, spacious compartments and comfortable seats. You can just sit back, relax, and enjoy the journey to your next destination whilst taking in the stunning countryside views of Oita Prefecture.
You can also try an exclusive bento box that has been created for this train journey, and you have to try a bento lunch on any train journey in Japan – it’s a wonderful experience.
Oita Bank Dome will host the Rugby World Cup in 2019
Oita city in Oita Prefecture will host the Rugby World Cup in 2019 at the Oita Bank Dome.
Oita will be hosting a fan zone during the games. There will also be a bus transfer service for fans to use: the bus will leave from Oita train station and take you directly to the stadium, the heart of all the action.
It’s exciting that Oita will be hosting some of the games for the RWC 2019 and I hope you enjoy visiting this city during the tournament.
Usa Jingu shrine
Usa (not the country of United States of America) is a town located in the prefecture of Oita and home to the unique Usa Jingu shrine which is worth a visit if you have some free time and you’re passing by the area.
Usa Jingu shrine located in the Oita Prefecture in Japan is thought to be the first Hachiman Shrine-Temple of its kind.
With its mixture of Shintoism and Buddhism, Usa Jingu shrine is a popular spiritual location for people to heal the mind.
Wonderful location to walk around, take in the nature and spend a day in the area.
Thank you for reading all about Oita
Thank you for exploring the hidden charm of Oita Prefecture with me. I hope this blog post was useful with your own travel planning to this unique part of Japan. Have a lot of fun exploring Oita Prefecture.
I’ve yet to discover the port town of Chania which is located on the largest island in Greece, Crete.
Crete is popular amongst food lovers for its locally grown and tasty produce. Here you can end up going on a food adventure of your own and this is why I’ve put together a fun guide of local places where you can eat and drink to your heart’s content and discover the very best of what Chania has to offer.
Expect a lot of Greek salad, olive oil, wine and incredibly fresh seafood. This will be a Greek food adventure for sure and what better place to do so than in Chania.
Here is what I got up to on my food adventure to Chania on the island of Crete.
Fly with Aegean Airlines to Greece
What better way to start your adventure to Greece than flying with the Greek national carrier, Aegean Airlines. They offer daily connections from London Heathrow airport to Athens airport.
From here you can hop on many of the connection flights to the surrounding Greek islands, such as Olympic air flights to Crete. Start off your trip in style and enjoy the award winning friendly customer service and dining experience in the sky.
The rooms have loads of cosy space with a balcony to enjoy the view and access to a lovely sized pool for you to enjoy a refreshing dip.
Explore the island of Crete on a safari adventure
What a great way to first discover and get a taste for the island of Crete than going on a 4X4 Land Rover tour of Chania with Safari Adventures Greece.
Start off by driving off road up to the heart of the White Mountains, which offers the best panoramic view of Chania from above.
You will also visit an original shepherd’s hut called a “Mitato” located at 1400 m height where you can feed some local goats and experience the rugged and unique terrain of the mountains.
End your tour enjoying traditional Cretan food and wine at a local restaurant. The safari adventure offers a wonderful introduction to Crete and a chance to see a unique off road side to the island.
Apostolis seafood restaurant for the best seafood in Chania
If you go to the old quater of Chania you have to sample the local seafood dishes which are a speciality and most popular in this old port town.
Apostolis seafood restaurant is a wonderful spot with a great view over the harbour whilst you dine.
The owner and his son offer incredible hospitality and make you feel most welcome but wait until you try the food.
You can choose from a wonderful selection of set dishes to share and you won’t be left disappointed at this location.
Sample some local olive oil and Cretan wines
It would be a crime to travel to Crete and not try the fantastic variety of olive oil and wine that’s on offer on the island. First off visit a local Olive Oil Factory to taste directly from the local source.
It’s said that many local Cretans like to consume around 2 litres of olive oil per month and it’s often the one thing they will travel with in their luggage when going abroad.
I’d recommend also trying the olive oil with a combination of some local lemon juice and sea salt, it will transport you to food heaven.
Also be sure to visit Mavredakis’ winery where you can explore the process of Cretan wine production and sample all the different 16 types of wine that they create on the grounds.
Walk around the vineyards, explore the foothills and sample some local fresh grapes straight from the vine.
Don’t worry, you won’t be drinking 16 glasses of wine but you can sample all the different varieties on offer as you wish and be sure to take home a bottle or two to enjoy the taste of Crete at home.
Head on a guided tour at Chania Old Town
Take a guided tour around the old town of Chania. It’s best to go there just before sunset so you can see the town transform from day to night.
Explore and get lost on all the back alleys and side streets that come to life at night time.
You can discover Turkish, Italian and even Egyptian influences on the architecture around Chania from different time periods, which makes this town unique.
Of course the most popular attraction in Chania is the lighthouse that dominates the Venetian style port and offers a fantastic viewpoint at sunset.
End your night in the old town of Chania and dine at Oinopoiio restaurant, located in the heart of the culinary area.
The whole street comes to life at around 21:00 at night time (late dining is popular on Crete) when locals flock to this spot to grab a bite, drink some wine and catch up over a candle light conversation.
It’s a site and dining experience to enjoy for sure.
Visit a local farm and make some Greek cheese
The Olive Farm which is put together by Hand Picked Greece allows you to connect with local farmers in Chania and put together some local dishes in the locals’ kitchen.
It’s a wonderful hands on experience to walk around the farmer’s garden and see all the different produce that grows on the island of Crete.
Crete is known for its fantastic soil and good weather, which helps to grow a wide variety of fruits and vegetables such as lemons, avocados, bananas, clean potatoes and a host of many other varieties.
Eating fresh from the source is always a tasty experience and dining within the farmer’s garden is a must experience on Crete.
You can also attend a cheese workshop where you can create feta cheese for your freshly prepared Greek salad.
It always tastes better when you make it fresh from the garden yourself.
Grab a speed boat for a spot of lagoon swimming
Why not hire a speed boat from Chania port for half a day and see the lighthouse from the water for a unique photo spot as well as the surrounding harbour.
Then you can head out to the close by island of Agii Theodori for a spot of swimming.
You can’t enter the small island but it’s beatiful to look at from the boat and swim around close by. Perfect way to end your time in Chania on the island of Crete, Greece.
Thank you for reading about my adventure to Chania
Thank you for taking the time to read my guide about going on a food adventure around Chania. This blog post was put together with help from Discover Greece.
I hope you found this post useful and you’re looking forward to your next trip to the island of Crete, Greece.
Also be sure to watch my video from Chania
Food adventure in Chania on the island of Crete, Greece - YouTube
Kobe is a perfect city city to explore on a day trip whilst travelling around Japan. It offers a wonderful mixture of natural beauty for you to enjoy, from Mount Rokkō and the stunning city skyline down to the waterfront.
Here is a blog post guide that will help you navigate around the city, and offer you a fun itinerary for day trip visitors to Kobe.
Transport: Getting to Kobe is easy for travellers
Kobe has a direct Shinkansen connection that departs from Tokyo and arrives at Shin-Kobe station, which is located a bit outside of the city and is easy to access. If you have a JR rail pass, this makes Kobe a wonderful city to visit on your route from Osaka.
Public transport is both easy and affordable to use as Kobe has a public metro network, and you can connect to the metro line from Shin-Kobe station.
Kobe will be a host city for the 2019 Rugby World Cup
Kobe will be a host city for the Rugby World cup in 2019. Games will be held at the Noevir Stadium, which has easy connections from the city using the public metro system.
It will be a fun time to be in Kobe as the city is going to set up fanzones around Kobe to get behind the RWC2019. It will be exciting to see the tournament being hosted in both Kobe and Japan.
Check out Nunobiki Falls
Located just behind Shin-Kobe station, you will find the hiking trail which will take you to Nunobiki Falls – a stunning waterfall which is a lovely way to begin your Kobe visit.
Nature and the outdoors can be enjoyed easily from the city of Kobe, and you can even take the cable cart to the top of Mount Rokkō where you will find a selection of hiking trails and onsen spas to choose from.
This hotel has a perfect location on the harbour front overlooking the city skyline. Be sure to grab a cocktail at the hotel’s roof bar terrace (called the View Bar for a reason), which is a wonderful spot to be at for night time with all the glimmering lights to look over.
Also be sure not to miss the buffet breakfast in the morning, it’s a pretty impressive spread on offer and will get you fuelled up for the busy day ahead.
Enjoy the skyline view of Kobe City.
Kobe city offers a great scenic view from the harbour front, with iconic buildings such as the Kobe Port tower, Kobe Harborland shopping district and Mount Rokkō from a far distance. It’s worth enjoying at both sunrise and sunset.
Enjoy Kobe beef at Steak Misono restaurant
A trip to Kobe wouldn’t be complete without first trying the local speciality of Kobe beef. Head to Steak Misono restaurant for a lunchtime treat to remember.
This location was the originator of Teppanyaki, which has taken off around the globe. Dine in style as the head chef cooks up your delicious meal right in front of your eyes.
One thing is for sure, you will not leave this place hungry and it’s a dining experience you will always remember.
Has to be one of the best meals I’ve ever had, its definitely a must-try for steak lovers.
Be sure to book your lunch spot in advance, as this location is very popular amongst locals and visitors and is a must-try on a visit to Kobe.
Japan is known for its skilled craftsmanship and rich history of elaborate woodworking, and here you can see how woodwork has evolved over the years to what it is today.
You can also see a wide selection of different tools as well as examples of skilled woodwork art located around the museum to enjoy and admire.
Be sure to also grab a beverage in the rest room, which has a vending machine made of wood.
Kiku-Masamune Taru Sake Meister factory kobe
Kobe has a rich history in regards to sake production. Head outside of the city by public train to the sake district and sample a cup or two of this traditional Japanese beverage.
Kiku-Masamune Taru Sake Meister factory offers guided tours for visitors, as well as a look at the unique process of sake barrel production showing you how the skilled workers put them together from start to finish.
Be sure to sample some of their favoured classics, as well as the special sake ice cream that they make on site.
Hopstand Yakitori and Craft Beer
Feeling hungry after exploring Kobe all day? Head over to the Kobe Harborland shopping district at night time where you will find Hopstand Yakitori and Craft Beer.
Here you can sample a wide variety of different craft beers brewed in Kobe.
Yakitori is a type of Japanese BBQ style – you must try the Yakitori chicken here which goes wonderfully with the craft beer.
A fun spot to meet up with friends and to try all the different dishes on offer. Also for the more adventurous, why not try the fried chicken on wafffles with maple syrup? Simply wild but fun to try.
Thank you for joining me on my day trip to Kobe, Japan
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my blog post all about my day trip journey around the city of Kobe, Japan.
I hope you have an awesome trip around Japan and consider making time to stop off in Kobe. You won’t be disappointed with so much to explore in and around the city.
Be sure to check out my video all about my visit to the city Kobe
I once heard that the Finnair lounge at Helsinki Vantaa airport with access to a Finnish sauna.
Visitors to Helsinki airport are either delighted or confused when they hear that there is a sauna at the airport – that’s why I wanted to investigate.
I had to try this out to believe it exists. So, I bet you’re all wondering how it went. I’m totally happy to share my experience with you.
Here is a little information about how to find the lounge
Finnair has three lounges that customers can use.
One lounge is located in the Schengen area – Transit Hall, 3rd floor, next to gate 22 – and it’s open from 5.30am to midnight.
And two are located in the Non-Schengen area (International long-haul flights) – these are the ones with access to the sauna.
One is the Premium Finnair lounge exclusive to Finnair Plus Platinum members and Finnair Plus Gold members.
Both located in the Transit Hall, near gate 50 and open 5.30am to 12 midnight.
How to access the Finnair lounge
You can access the Finnair lounges in a number of ways:
– Have a One World business class flight ticket departing from Helsinki Vantaa airport.
– Be a One World Sapphire or Emerald level member.
– Alternatively, you can use your Finnair Plus Air Miles or pay €48 – this needs to be booked in advance online and is subject to availability outside of the peak hours.
Grab something to eat and drink
Once you’re in, enjoy the lounge space, grab something to eat and drink. Be sure to try the special Brazilian blend coffee with some tasty Finnish style cake.
They normally have a selection of pizza slices and hot dogs if you fancy grabbing a quick snack.
You can sleep in the Finnair lounge
If you want to sleep, they have sleeping pods for guests to use for as long as you wish (take into account the lounge is closed after midnight).
But should we move on to the Finnair lounge sauna review?
Here is my experience trying the Finnish sauna in the Finnair lounge
The shower and sauna room are located in the middle of the two non Schengen Finnair lounges – and you need to be in one of these lounge areas in order to access the sauna room.
You do not need to book the sauna in advance = it’s simply a free-for-all first-come-first-served basis.
The shower rooms are private and split up into female and male rooms, but the sauna room is mixed so you need to wear your towel to cover up.
This is at least handy for those that don’t wish to travel with wet swimwear, you can simply wear just the towel.
Drinking water, towels, bathrobe, soap, shampoo, lockers are all provided and can be found within the shower and sauna area.
You can use the private shower room if you only want to shower, or the sauna room also has a shower to use. The option is yours.
It’s recommended to shower before you go into the sauna so you’re clean and ready, and it’s advised to sit on the provided disposable paper seats.
How was the Finnish sauna in the Finnair lounge
How was the actual Finnish sauna in the Finnair lounge?
It was better than expected!
It is rather small, and you are able to sit up to 4 people. But for an airport it was better than expected as it was a proper Finnish electric sauna.
It was pretty cool that you could pour the water onto the hot rocks by yourself so you could really heat it up, which I thought wouldn’t be possible in an airport.
Remember to push the button for the lid to come up, and then you can pour the water directly onto the hot rocks.
I was able to have the whole sauna to myself for a good 30 minutes around lunch time before my flight, and it was so relaxing to have a last sauna before I departed Finland to fly to Japan with Finnair.
Enjoy the sauna on your next trip to Helsinki airport
What an awesome experience to try in an airport! I’m pretty sure that the Finnair lounge is the only airline lounge to have a sauna you can use before a flight, it’s a pretty crazy but awesome idea.
On your next trip to Helsinki Vantaa airport be sure to try the Finnair lounge sauna before your flight, and have a great trip to Finland.
A temporary update announcement regarding the Finnair lounge
Finnair is renovating the non-Schengen area, lounge starting in October 2018. The renovation will go on until May 2019.
The food and beverage selection will be limited during the improvements. The shower cabins and sauna will be closed as of 1 October 2018.
Check out my video review of the Finnair lounge
Finnair lounge at Helsinki Airport has a Sauna! - YouTube