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Reading Time: 4 minutes In this post we share photos of Hyatt Centric Ginza Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan.

Ginza Tokyo is one of the most upscale shopping districts in Japan and the world and is also considered a cultural hub due to its numerous restaurants, art galleries, and theaters. Renowned for its landmarks, including the Kabuki-za Theater and the Wako Department Store (with its own art gallery on the 6th floor), as well as its vibrant nightlife and entertainment scene, Ginza offers something for everyone.

The Hyatt Centric Ginza is an ideal base for exploring the vibrant city due to its prime location. With easy access to Tokyo’s iconic landmarks, cultural sites, vibrant nightlife and nearby Tokyo Station (the city’s main transport hub) and the JR Line (to swiftly move throughout Japan), visitors may consider booking a stay.

For those who find themselves in Ginza and need a break from the high stimulation, check out the hotel’s bar. It draws locals as its warm and interior design make it a restful gathering space to ready oneself for the next adventure.

Reading Time: 3 minutes In this post we share a trip planning template that has been a key resource for planning Engaged Abroad’s travel.

This itinerary planner has proven itself as a useful for all types of travel – from solo trips to large groups meeting up from all reaches of the world.

Though there are travel planning apps and options for preparing for a trip (TripIt and the likes), we have yet to come across a planner that highlights travel details and also provides space for long-form reading.

That’s why we use this custom-made document. Engaged Abroad relies on Google Documents as the primary tool to create, edit and store itineraries. The benefit of this approach is that this itinerary can be accessed by all travelers in the group, can be made available offline for access anytime, anywhere, and makes it easy to collaborate and share ideas to build a great trip.

This version is a basic form and is meant for travelers who would like an “at-a-glance” itinerary.

Engaged Abroad hopes to one day make available an Advanced Version for those who are interested in a more comprehensive trip outline.


Reading Time: 3 minutes In this post we share photos from Clearview Orchards, Watsonville, California, United States of America.

Clearview Orchards is a local certified organic farm that sits on 10-acres in the rolling hills of Watsonville.

This family owned-and-operated orchard opens to the public during September and October, and visitors can pick Fuji, Gala, Honeycrisp, Mutsu, Jonagold and Granny Smith apples straight from the trees. The general stores sells baked goods (e.g., apple turnovers, apple bread), lavender products, local honey, soaps, gourds, squashes, brussel sprouts and fresh-pressed apple juice (a must try!)

A visit to Clearview Orchards would make for a lovely continuation to time in Santa Cruz or Capitola, California, a mere three miles away.


Reading Time: 4 minutes In this post we share photos from Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills, Tokyo, Japan.

The Toranomon Hills is a prominent skyscraper complex that has a sleek and futuristic design. This multifunctional complex houses office spaces, luxury residences, high-end retail stores, gourmet restaurants, and the Andaz Tokyo. Despite being located in the heart of a concrete jungle, Toranomon Hills features lush green spaces and gardens. These green areas provide a peaceful retreat where people can relax and connect with nature amidst the urban landscape.

The Andaz Tokyo is a luxury hotel that offers a unique blend of modern design and traditional Japanese hospitality. It is located in the vibrant Toranomon Hills area, providing stunning views of the Tokyo skyline and the iconic Tokyo Tower.

The hotel boasts spacious and stylish guest rooms that are thoughtfully designed with a blend of traditional Japanese elements and contemporary aesthetics. Each room features floor-to-ceiling windows, offering panoramic views of the city. The bathrooms are equipped with deep soaking tubs and rain showers, providing a luxurious and tranquil experience.

Andaz Tokyo also offers a variety of dining options, including the popular Rooftop Bar with its breathtaking city views, the Andaz Tavern which serves delicious locally sourced cuisine, and the Andaz Lounge where guests can enjoy afternoon tea or cocktails.

For relaxation and rejuvenation, the hotel provides a state-of-the-art spa with a range of treatments inspired by Japanese traditions. Additionally, guests can take advantage of the fully equipped fitness center, swimming pool, and sauna.

With its distinctive blend of modern luxury and traditional Japanese hospitality, the Andaz Tokyo is truly a special destination for travelers seeking a memorable and enriching experience in the heart of Tokyo.


Reading Time: 3 minutes In this post we share photos from Park Hyatt Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan.

The hotel gained international fame through its prominent role in the movie “Lost in Translation”, becoming an instantly recognizable location for film enthusiasts. This luxury hotel features luxe details like mahogony paneled walls, libraries, and a formal tea room. Situated in one of the tallest buildings in Tokyo, the Park Hyatt Tokyo offers stunning panoramic views of the cityscape, providing guests with a truly memorable experience.

The Park Hyatt will close in 2024 for major upgrades to public areas and guest rooms.


Reading Time: 3 minutes In this post we share photos from Taronga Zoo, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Situated on the shores of Sydney Harbor, Taronga Zoo boasts breathtaking views of the city skyline, Opera House, and Harbor Bridge. The picturesque setting adds to the charm of the zoo and provides a spectacular backdrop for a day of exploration to see Australian wildlife like kangaroos, koalas, and platypuses, as well as other species including tigers, elephants, camels, chimpanzees, giraffes, and more.

The zoo’s grounds design blends harmoniously with its natural surroundings. The network of elevated walkways and viewing platforms that crisscross through the grounds provide visitors with an unobstructed view of the animals and minimizes disturbances to their habitats. From these vantage points, visitors can marvel at the beauty of Sydney Harbour, the skyline, and the lush foliage that envelops the zoo.

The architecture of Taronga Zoo also puts a strong emphasis on sustainability. The buildings incorporate green technologies such as solar panels, rainwater harvesting systems, and passive cooling techniques. This commitment to eco-conscious design aligns with the zoo’s mission to inspire and educate visitors about environmental conservation.

Taronga Zoo is committed to conservation initiatives and plays an essential role in preserving endangered species and their habitats. The zoo focuses on education and raising awareness about wildlife conservation through talks, wildlife shows, and school programs that aim to inspire a love for animals.They actively participate in breeding programs and collaborate with various organizations to protect wildlife locally and internationally.

Reading Time: 6 minutes In this post we share photos from Sintra, Portugal, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Sintra is home to a rich history and boasts a remarkable cultural heritage. The town’s historic center, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is filled with magnificent palaces, historic buildings, and charming cobblestone streets that transport visitors back in time. The fairy-tale-like Pena Palace, perched on a hilltop, offers breathtaking views.

Sintra is famous for its stunning palaces and castles. Apart from the Pena Palace, the Quinta da Regaleira and the National Palace of Sintra are also popular attractions. These architectural marvels showcase a blend of Romantic, Gothic, and Moorish styles, captivating visitors with their exquisite designs and intricate details.

Nestled in the lush greenery of the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, Sintra is a paradise for nature lovers. The park offers stunning landscapes, dense forests, and picturesque hiking trails. The region is known for its microclimate which creates a mystical ambiance, often enveloping the mountains in mist.

Sintra has inspired artists, writers, and poets throughout the centuries with its mystical atmosphere. The combination of its stunning natural scenery, enchanting palaces, and mystical legends adds to its allure. The “Cultural Landscape of Sintra” has been the inspiration for many literary works, including Lord Byron’s poem “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage.”

Sintra is not just a feast for the eyes; it is also a culinary delight. Visitors can indulge in traditional Portuguese cuisine, such as freshly caught fish, delicious pastries like Travesseiros and Queijadas, and fine wines. The town is also home to charming cafes and restaurants that offer a warm and hospitable atmosphere.

Visiting Sintra offers an opportunity to immerse oneself in an enchanting blend of history, culture, nature, and beauty. It’s no wonder that this charming town continues to captivate the hearts of visitors from around the world.


Reading Time: 4 minutes In this post we share photos from Park Hyatt Sydney, Australia.

The Park Hyatt Sydney boasts one of the best city views in the world. This landmark hotel has a near 360-degree span of Sydney Cove that includes Sydney Harbor, the Opera House, and Harbor Bridge. Guests are sure to be left breathless by the hotel’s very position and outlook.

This hotel’s chic and contemporary design seamlessly blends modern elegance with the natural beauty of its surroundings. Architecturally designed guest rooms feature floor-to-ceiling glass açades that open onto private balconies. The interiors are thoughtfully crafted, emphasizing clean lines and a soothing color palette.

Regional building materials were used in an effort to echo elements of Sydney’s past and present. The original 1990 foundation was rebuilt of traditional Sydney sandstone, historically used as a canvas for aboriginal rock carvings and as a building material by local architects dating from 1788. The boardwalk surrounding the hotel’s entrance was reconstructed using spotted gum, a timber native to a number of regions in Australia.

Guests can explore Sydney Harbour Bridge, the historic Rocks District, and Circular Quay, all on foot. Sydney’s best shopping districts are conveniently located nearby, as are endless options for restaurants, cafés, bars, and pubs. The iconic Sydney Opera House and Royal Botanic Gardens are located directly across the harbor.


Reading Time: 2 minutes In this post we share the categories we include when we create our in-flight kit for travel with a family.

The idea of this kit is that it is lightweight and can be attached to your one-bag with your carabiner. The kit is purpose built to placed under your seat for easy access.

This is *not* a comprehensive one-bag packing guide. The goal is to avoid having to search for items in the depths of backpack in an overhead compartment mid-flight.


Reading Time: 4 minutes In this post we share photos from Bellagio, Lake Como, Italy.

Bellagio is renowned for its picturesque landscapes, idyllic charm, and rich cultural heritage.

Known as the “Pearl of Lake Como,” Bellagio exudes a romantic ambiance. Its narrow cobblestone streets, enchanting alleyways, elegant villas and blooming gardens create a dreamy atmosphere that is perfect for couples seeking a romantic getaway.

With its roots tracing back to Roman times, Bellagio is steeped in history. The town’s historic center showcases buildings adorned with ornate facades, charming squares, and quaint churches. Exploring Bellagio feels like stepping back in time.

Consider visiting Villa Melzi Gardens, Villa Serbelloni, Punta Spartivento, San Giacomo Basilica, old town, and take a funicular ride to Montanaro while in town.


Reading Time: 4 minutes In this post we share photos from Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney, Australia.

The Royal Botanic Garden Australia was founded as the ‘Sydney Botanic Garden’ in 1816, making it the oldest scientific institution in Australia. It was initially created as a way to cultivate useful plants for the growing colony and promote the study of botany.

Over the years, the garden expanded its collection of plants and botanical research efforts. In 1959, it was officially designated as the ‘Royal Botanic Garden’ by Queen Elizabeth II during her visit to Australia.

Several notable botanists and scientists have played a significant role in the garden’s development. One such figure is Joseph Maiden, who served as the Director of the garden from 1896 to 1924. Maiden was instrumental in expanding the garden’s scientific research and played a crucial role in establishing the Botanical Magazine of Australia.

The Royal Botanic Garden Australia has made numerous scientific contributions throughout its history. It has been involved in important research on plant classification, conservation, and the study of Australia’s unique flora. Additionally, the garden has played a vital role in the introduction and propagation of new plant species into Australia.

The Royal Botanic Garden Australia actively participates in conservation initiatives aimed at preserving Australia’s native plants and ecosystems. It works on projects focused on endangered species, habitat restoration, and sustainable land management.

The garden holds cultural importance to Sydney’s locals. It serves as a recreational space, hosting various events such as concerts, exhibitions, and educational programs for visitors of all ages. The garden’s stunning landscape, with its iconic Sydney Harbor backdrop, makes it a favorite spot among locals and tourists alike.

Today, the Royal Botanic Garden Australia remains a vital institution in promoting botanical research, conservation, and public education. Its impressive collection of plants, beautiful landscapes, and dedication to scientific excellence continue to make it a significant landmark in Australian history.


Reading Time: 3 minutes In this post we share photos from Villa Monastero in Varenna, Lake Como, Italy.

Varenna is a charming village located on the eastern shore of Lake Como. The town’s charm is found in its architecture, cobblestone streets, quaint alleyways, trattorias serving traditional Italian cuisine, and panoramic views of the lake.

One of Varenna’s main attractions is Villa Monastero, a beautiful villa and botanical garden that spans two kilometers along the shores of Lake Como. The meticulously maintained gardens showcases diverse array of plant species and vivid blooms.

The villa dates to the 12th century when it began as a Cistercian convent. Over the centuries, it underwent various transformations and expansions, resulting in a harmonious blend of medieval, Renaissance, and neoclassical styles. The villa’s richly adorned rooms feature period furnishings, intricate frescoes, and beautifully crafted details, providing a glimpse into its noble past.

Villa Monastero serves as an acclaimed center for scientific research and cultural events. Hosting international conferences and exhibitions, the villa is an intellectual hub that fosters dialogues on various disciplines, including environmental sustainability, biology, and physics.

Whether you are a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or a curious explorer, Villa Monastero offers a remarkable experience that seamlessly blends art, culture, and scientific discovery.

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