Hokkaido Trip, Part I.

Once you have children, time alone with your spouse becomes more precious than ever, and romantic trips become far and few in between. Alan and I are pretty lucky though. We’ve always had family close by to help us take care of Bridgette whenever we want to “get away”. That doesn’t mean we are any less grateful though. We hope our families know how much we appreciate their help!

This year, Alan and I planned a trip to Hokkaido, Japan to celebrate our 9th year of marriage. Yup, 9 full years as husband and wife! That’s 3,285 days. According to Hallmark, 9 years has not quite reached a milestone worthy of any big celebration yet, but we are deeply thankful to be where we are as a couple today. In this day and age, it truly is not an easy task to maintain a happy, healthy marriage. Often, the daily nuances of living with someone so closely 24/7 can overshadow the love and passion that once brought you together in the first place.

Alan and I talked a lot about this topic on our trip. We are both pretty happy with where we are in our marriage, and know that it has to do with our equal levels of commitment through the years. Like any other couple, we have had our rocky moments and bumpy roads, but there was never a question of whether or not we could outride them. It was always a “how” and not an “if”. Working through issues together have brought us closer, and we have vowed never to sweep our issues under the carpet, knowing that they never disappear that way. Yes, we’ve gone to bed angry, but we always bring our issues to the table the very next day.

We also knew pretty early on that this journey together as husband and wife will grow, and will evolve, and that we needed to do our best to be at the same pace as this happens. The biggest evolvement was, of course, the addition of Bridgette to our lives. Without a doubt, she is the biggest and best gift that God has blessed us with. Also without a doubt, she has changed the dynamics in our marriage in the widest ways. With our priorities shifted and household dynamics changed, we needed to learn new ways to live with one another. That may sound crazy, but I really don’t think any relationship can stay stagnant. Alan and I have gone through several significant stages in our marriage together and as we move from one stage to the next, what was deemed as important before can now be considered totally trivial.

Alan and I have learned a lot through our 9 years together. We’ve had to learn to live in harmony with our extremely different upbringing and lifestyles, to incorporate both of our extended families into our lives, and to make important decisions together. One of the most difficult decisions we’ve had to make was whether or not to have a second child. During that time, we have found that it is more important than ever for a couple to share a similar outlook in life, and to share core values and goals. A companion is easy to find, but a life long partner? To find someone who can build a rock solid marriage/ family with you….who can really be there (willingly) for you and for the family in sickness and in health, for better or for worse? That’s extremely tough. Most people live with their parents and siblings for 18 years and cannot wait to move out. With your spouse, you could very likely be living with them for 30, 40, 50 or more years! The journey is long, and rugged, but if you’ve found the right one, it can be the best journey 0f your lifetime.

This post is not intended to teach about marriage, but rather, to say to my wonderful hubby:

We’ve come a long way baby! 

Happy Anniversary! 🙂

Now back to our sensational Hokkaido trip…

Beautiful, snowy view that greeted us as we descended
Like the cute luggage tag that my sister got us?
Our intimate little room at the Sheraton in Shin Sapporo
Left: Our "snack" at Sapporo airport right when we stepped foot into Hokkaido | Right: Our first ramen dinner in Sapporo
Our late night snack on the first night 🙂
Visiting the Sapporo Beer Museum
Outside the Sapporo Beer Museum

Learning all about the history of Sapporo and its beers

Alan and his beer flight just after 10 in the morning. Burp.

The Sapporo Beer Museum was pretty interesting to us, though we were disappointed that we didn’t get to try their famous beef alongside the beer. We took the bus from Sapporo station to the museum, which only took about 20 minutes. If you look at the bus schedules ahead of time, you can plan ahead and reduce the wait time. That is especially helpful if you don’t want to freeze your butt off in the snow storm, like we did on the first day!

Left: It was snowing so hard we thought we were in the middle of a blizzard | Right: Warm corn soup from the vending machine at the bus stop to keep my hands warm
Stumbled upon the Munich Christmas Market in front of the TV tower in Odori Park

Alan and I are big foodies, and when it comes to Japanese food, we lose all form of self-control. With just 5 days in Hokkaido, how do we savor as much delicious food as possible? By pacing ourselves wisely; small meals but lots of them! We especially love perusing around the basement food markets of department stores, filled with all sorts of yummies…

Seriously, the ice cream in Hokkaido is the BEST that we've ever had! Here, I am eating an ice cream with a croissant "cone". Combo was a bit odd, but still tasty 🙂

Hokkaido is famous for its fresh seafood, and amongst that are the gigantic crabs you will see in all of their markets. On one of the nights in Sapporo, we had an amazing crab feast which included crab sashimi, crab sushi, crab tempura, crab porridge, and the list goes on. Paired with hot sake on a snowy night, it was one of the most memorable parts of the trip for us!

After such a sumptuous feast, we had to try to walk the calories off by doing some late night shopping at the Tanukikoji Shopping Arcade.

The Shiroi Koibito Park, a local chocolate company, was another interesting place that we visited. It is best known for its Shiroi Koibito cookie–two thin butter cookies with a layer of white chocolate in between, and is probably the most popular souvenir item from Hokkaido. You can pretty much guarantee to find it in any department store and souvenir shop.

We arrived near sunset, and was in awe at how beautiful the park was!

For a nominal fee, you can tour the factory and learn about its history. Our favorite part was actually witnessing the production process through these large glass windows. We cannot imagine how many cookies are being made each day!

There were these small rooms filled with displays of old toys, which Alan couldn't get enough of!
You can also sign up for a hands-on lesson to learn how to make these delicious cookies!

Part II. coming soon…

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