Celebrating 100 Blog Posts!

As we reach the beginning of February the novelty of the new year starts to wear off, but here at It’s a Schmahl World, we are celebrating a blogging milestone! Today we are posting our 100th post! When we started this blog to write about our travels, we didn’t expect to be where we are today. In this post, we’ll look back at how our lives have changed from being two young professionals working full time to a Peace Corps volunteer and an engineering graduate student.



Back to where it all began, our first post It’s a Schmahl World after all… published in February of 2016. Both Kim and I were working full time saving up all our paid time off to travel. We went on trips with our family to Washington DC for the 4th of July and a quick trip to Colombia for our first time in South America! Kim was able to go to Europe with her college roommates, 5 years after graduation! Highlights of their two week trip were hiking through Plitvice Park in Croatia, visiting the baths and ruin bars in Budapest, exploring palaces and the opera house in Vienna, and wandering the narrow streets and canals of Venice.



Occasionally I was lucky enough to travel for work, one time all the way across the globe to Japan for two weeks. For my first time in Asia, I got the chance to attend a festival the small city of Utsunomiya, wander the temples of Nikko and explore parts of Tokyo for a day. I even reached waaayyyy out of my comfort zone to experience a Japanese onsen (or a naked bath house).



September of 2016 came with an exciting road trip around Iceland’s Ring Road for Nelson and I. We snorkeled between the tectonic plates, hiked on a glacier, saw some amazing waterfalls and last but not least we got engaged! While planning is still in the works over a year later, Nelson and I are finally going to tie the knot in July of 2018.



Kim was the next to have a major life change when she decided to join the American Peace Corps to teach high school math in Liberia. Before she left we went on one last family vacation to Florida. We made the most of our limited time together exploring Key West, Disney World and the Ringling Museum.



In June of 2017, Kim packed her bags and began the long journey to Liberia. After a bit of training in Washington DC, they received 3 months of training in the of Kakata, just an hour outside of Monrovia, Liberia’s capital. Currently she has been teaching at her site for the last 5 months and learning the ins and outs of her community. See all of her updates about living in Liberia here!



To wrap up our life changes through 100 posts we’ll look at a recent big change in my life. I left my full time job and my first order of business was to go on an amazing week long 10 year friendaversary trip to Tuscany, Italy with two friends from Girl Scouts. I traveled solo for the first time to Copenhagen, Denmark and now after my sabbatical I have started going to school full time to get my masters degree in Mechanical Engineering!



When we began this blog, we never would have guessed where we’d be now, after 100 posts… who knows where we will be after the next 100 posts, but we are excited to continue the journey!



Tokyo, Japan in a Day


While there are way too many things to do and see in Tokyo in just one day, here is how we made the most of our limited time!

After our 1 hour and 45 minute train ride from Utsunomiya we got off at the Tokyo Skytree station. We saw the Skytree from the outside while walking around then headed over to Tokyo Solamanchi, the mall at the base of the Skytree, to browse around. The Tokyo Skytree stands at 634m tall and is the tallest free-standing broadcasting station in the world. There were many specialty stores in the mall including a Pokemon Center megastore and a Hello Kitty Store themed store. Overall Solamachi houses over 300 shops and restaurants to explore.

Next we hopped on the subway to visit the Akihabara district. Akihabara is famous for its electronic, anime and manga shops. We wandered in and out of stores ranging from large department buildings to “yard sale style” stores where individuals sell their collectables renting out glass cases. As we explored the department store and started to go to upstairs to the next level our Japanese friend stopped us warning it was “for adults”. Among the shops there were also Anime themed restaurants such as the Gundam Café and various cosplay themed restaurants where the waitresses are dressed up.  If there is one place we wished we had more time to explore it would be here!

After Akihabara we headed to Tokyo Station to walk around the Imperial Palace Gardens. While they only allow visitors inside to roam the palace grounds freely 2 days of the year, the gardens are free to explore with views of the mote and guard towers. After some scenic views we had Katsu for Lunch in Tokyo Station.

Our next stop was a short one at the Honda Headquarters right outside subway station  You can see and sit in many of their vehicles (many of which are Japanese models not sold in the US). After sitting in the cars and on the motorcycles we sat down to watch a demonstration of Honda’s Asimo robot, the world’s most advanced humanoid robot! He is designed to eventually assist people in their daily lives. The presentation was pretty cool, it took you through the development process of Asimo as real life Asimo walks around, dances and shows off his capabilities.


The last area of Tokyo we were able to visit was Shinjuku. In Shinjuku we went straight to the Metropolitan building. The building has 2 towers that you can go up in to get incredible views of Tokyo. If you want a view of Tokyo from above but don’t want to pay at Tokyo Skytree or Tokyo Tower this is a free option with views of both towers from the top. There are many windows to give all different views of the city so be sure to check them all. On a clear day it is said you can see Mount Fuji, but we weren’t lucky enough.

Tokyo has so much more to offer than what we saw in just one day. I can’t wait to make it back to Tokyo for a completely different day full of adventures in the same city.

Sneak Peek of Kathryn’s Japan Trip: Nikko, Tokyo and Utsunomiya!

After over 24 hours of travelling I’m finally home from my first trip to Japan. While I was there for work there was still plenty of time to explore! Now I’m trying to adjust back to a 13 hour time difference, but in the meantime enjoy this sneak peek until I have time to write about everything!

Our first stop was Nikko, Japan. Here we explored Toshogu Shrine, Nikko Futarasan Jinja shrine and made a visit to Kegon Falls by Lake Chuzenji!

Toshogu Shrine
Toshogu Shrine
Toshogu Shrine
Toshogu Shrine
Nikko Futarasan Jinja shrine
Nikko Futarasan Jinja shrine
Kegon Falls
Lake Chuzenji

Our hotel was located in Utsunomiya, Japan where we explored Hachimanyama Park, Futarasan Shrine and even attended a festival!

Hachimanyama Park


Furarasan Shrine

And to wrap up the sneak peek we spent 1 day in Tokyo exploring Akihabara, the Toyko Skytree and views from the top of the Metropolitan building in Shinjuku!

View of Tokyo from the top of the Metropolitan building
Tokyo Skytree

Overall my time in Japan was unforgettable. I can’t wait to share my experiences!