Sake to me Baby – Japan Day Eleven

I’m so sad that today is our last day here in Japan. I’ve just loved being here. I wish I could take the whole country home with me.
While I couldn’t live here permanently, I could see myself living here a few months of the year.

We packed up and left our room close to check out time. I think we just wanted to make the most of it. Our Air BNB room was just fantastic! The only thing missing was an iron which I was silently happy about because I didn’t have to iron hubby’s shirt. I hate ironing.

And I know you’re just busting to find out… yes, the television is STILL on mute. We didn’t win that battle.
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First thing we did was hop on a train using our wonderful JR West pass, to Osaka Station. From there it was a hop skip and a jump to Starbucks. Hubby hasn’t been as obsessed with Starbucks this trip as he has in previous years.

We walked to the Umeda Sky Building. We had no choice after a kind Japanese man saw us looking at an information board. We did want to go there, but just wanted to know what general direction it was in because apart from anything else, we wanted a bathroom break before going.
But he said “follow me” in a heavy accent and we had no choice. Every now and then he kept looking over his shoulder to see if we were following. He only had a few words in English so I didn’t know how to tell him we weren’t planning to go there just yet.

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But, the bathroom had to wait as he led us most of the way there.
This is an impressive building no doubt! I didn’t take many pics as we have done this on a previous visit.

If you want to see my previous entries showing more pics, you can click here and here

Here are a few pics I took of the building today and around it as well.


Then we walked back to the station towards the Hep 5 building.
Here’s a few pics I took along the way.


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Both ravenous and still in search of some Okonomiyaki, we stopped at a place in the Hep 5 building.

I thought we’d scored! There’s Okonomiyaki right there on the menu!

Now I know there’s lot of different types of Okonomiyaki. I don’t mind them as long as they don’t have anything fishy in it.

When ours came out, it was fishy. No!!!
I tried to eat it but I just couldn’t. And those little flakes on top move as if they’re alive and it’s just so off putting!!

Hubby and I asked for ours without any of the sauces because I just don’t like the heavy sauces they use. I find it ruins the taste of the food.

This is what ours looked like. Our cute little server couldn’t believe we didn’t want sauce and even brought our dishes out with sauces in little jars on the side in case she had misunderstood us.

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I’m not sure what that thing the Okonomiyaki is placed on is called, but I can tell you it’s more or less a rice omelette. There’s rice inside that yellow stuff and THAT part was delicious!!!!

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That’s what it looked like inside!!

It’s making my mouth water just looking at it.

They use egg with just about everything here!!

And meat is terribly expensive. Especially if you want anything of a half decent quality.

I’m not a big meat eater so I don’t mind but that’s probably why they have a lot of egg and fish.

We were just killing time so decided to get on the train to the airport. We’re always so unsure when we get on a train. Don’t let me put you off, it’s pretty straight forward but so often we find ourselves on the platform still waiting for the English to come up and there is the train coming! So we just trust our gut and get on.
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We’ve only been wrong once and that wasn’t this trip but still… And even with this train to the airport. We got on it and after a few stops we heard the announcement that the first four cars of the eight car train were going to the airport, but the last four were going to be uncoupled at some stage to go somewhere else! I mean imagine we’d been sitting back there and hadn’t heard the announcement?

So now we’re at the airport waiting for our flight back to Australia.
I’m so sad this time is over. We’ve had an amazing time here and if you have a chance to come, I’d definitely recommend it.
You’re not coming here for shopping, you’re coming here to experience a different culture. We could all learn something from the Japanese.

Japan, thanking you for having us once again and we look forward to coming back soon!

Oyasuminasai

Sake to me Baby – Japan Day One

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It was so emotionally hard to leave Canada.

It’s always hard to say goodbye to family even though we know we will be back.

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We got into Vancouver quite early and had about five hours to kill before our next leg to Tokyo.

I had to share this pic that I took from the first leg of our flight. Yeah, that jacket shouldn’t be a problem to anyone at all shouldn’t it?

Luckily one of the cabin crew told her to take it down a  short while later.

We had a pretty good flight – no complaints. Got a great breakfast at Vancouver Airport. So good I had to share pics.

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Oh and the airport itself is huge and has lots to look at including these colourful fishies.
We should know, we’ve spent over ten hours  at Vancouver airport in the last few weeks.

 


I don’t think it really hit me that we were flying into Japan until we touched down! I hadn’t even really been thinking about this portion of our vacation time.

IMG_0396I was going through the Japanese phrases I know and I’m completely fluent in Hello, thank you, excuse me AND water. If the situation I’m in calls for more conversation than that, I may be in trouble.

The train trip from Narita airport took just over an hour.

The man sitting next to me must have had some sort of OCD as he was always opening and closing his luggage.

I saw tons of things I could have photographed while we were on the train but I felt like it could have stressed the OCD man out so I didn’t take many.

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I did manage to snap one of their well designed “stack em on top of each other” type car parks.

It’s pretty common here seeing as they’re space poor.

We found our apartment very easily and went straight on in. It’s very hard to describe it. Its certainly one of the roomiest (in terms of floor space) we’ve had in our many trips here but also one of the oldest.  As space is always an issue, we’re used to things being tight and awkward but this one definitely wins the prize. Although it’s roomy, the appliances are all shoved awkwardly into one small space.
I don’t want to say anything negative. It’s certainly clean. And some people don’t mind not shutting the bathroom door so if there’s not enough room for you to sit on the throne AND shut the door at the same time, it’s not a big deal is it? Hubby and I like to keep a little mystery in our marriage so we’re definitely going to have to work out a system there.

First thing to do was go shopping for some basics. As soon as I entered the supermarket I saw this.

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I’m pretty sure I heard angels singing.

We had to get milk as well. I’ve explained before how difficult it is because although we have that fab vocabulary of four words, we don’t read Japanese. So how do we know we’ve bought regular milk for coffee?? Is it Soy? Skim? Almond? We just wanted regular milk! I haven’t tried it yet so hopefully what we bought is ok.

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And speaking about buying things I have no clue about, I bought this drink (bottom left) because it was zero calories. I don’t know what it tastes like and I say that AFTER I’ve had some.
Have I told you before how difficult it is to buy diet lemonade here?? So this will have to do.

We didn’t buy sugar because finding it seemed to be an issue again and we were too tired to keep trying. Looks like we’ll be having sugarless coffees in our apartment.

We also bought our regular Milk Tea because, well, we are in Japan.

 


I’m pretty sure I’ve been up over 24 hours now so it’s time for this tired girl to get some shut eye.
Oh, I haven’t mentioned that this apartment, bigger floor space than most, doesn’t have one double bed, it has two beds that are slightly smaller than a double. So instead of putting a nice sized bed in the bedroom and allow for food traffic, somewhere to put your luggage etc, they took up the whole floor area with two beds. Hubby (all six foot seven of him) and I are going to try to sleep in one bed. This can only end badly!!!

So Sumimasen if I say Konichiwa.  By the way, do you know where I can get some mizu? Arigatō (gozaimasu)

 

Girls Gone Mild – A Prelude

Readers I’m about to embark on a “girls shopping trip” to Melbourne.
We first did this last year as we thought it would be a fun way to celebrate our mum’s milestone birthday.


We had so much fun that we’re doing it again this year.
As for a cast of characters, it will be myself, my daughter, my sister, my mother and for the first time, my sister in law. Five women who expect to giggle a lot and buy a bunch of mostly useless amazing things, probably on sale.


We stayed at the most perfect place last year but for some reason, the price of the same hotel was a lot more than it was last year so we started looking around on the usual travel/hotel websites.

We had specific needs which turned out to be not so easy to find.
1. Had to have a kitchen
2. Had to have a 24 hour gym (with a minimum of two treadmills)
3. Had to comfortably sleep five
4. Had to have two bathrooms.

534c4a778cc6fd601f691d9608ed99a9--gym-fitness-fitness-humorWe found a couple of places we liked but although they listed having a gym, they didn’t specify if it was a 24 hour gym. This is particularly important as some of us like to get up very, very early and complete our work out and be showered and ready to hit the day as everyone else is getting up.
It also needed to have two treadmills as at least two of us want to run and what good is one treadmill in a gym?

So I rang one of these hotel websites and I have to applaud the off shore girl who answered as she was doing her best to find us a place. She kept trying to call hotels and was asking them if the gym was 24 hour and if they had at least two treadmills. I bet those hotels had never been asked that question before!!!

It was getting really frustrating as we couldn’t find what we were looking for. We had been at the computer searching for a couple of hours when my daughter said “why don’t you check out the Air bnb links I sent you. “
She only sent three links but of those, two had everything we needed!!! Amazing!! Not only that, but they were about half the price of the hotels we were looking at for the dates we wanted.

So now the accommodation is booked, travel, mostly arranged and excitement growing!

21743070_10155214660564531_668942632114337689_nOh, and why the title?

69deb5515636a8db4aa99a2ae7e53989-crossfit-memes-fitness-memesLast year we called our excursion/used the hashtag “girls gone wild” but when you’ve got half your party getting up before the sun rises to exercise, then hit the town to start shopping, then eating cheaply, then shopping some more, eating cheaply some more, shopping, bringing food home and crashing on the bed at 7pm. then it’s more a “Girls Gone Mild” kind of thing!

Get ready my sistas!!!!

Greece is the Word – Day Five

When we first got to Athens, we were told that there was somebody doing some painting at the Air BnB we were staying at.
When we got there we saw an older guy painting a side fence white.
You can imagine our surprise when last night, we got back to our apartment and saw this.

 


Our first thought was that someone had vandalised it but the more we thought about it and saw what was up there, the more we thought this wall has been commissioned to look like this!
Feel free to let me know YOUR thoughts on it.
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We had an early start today as we were driving to Nafpaktos but driving through Delphi on the way.

Always time for morning selfie while on the balcony drinking coffee.

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I snapped a couple of pics along the way.

We passed such beautiful scenery but it’s hard to take photos while you’re a passenger in a moving car.

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We stopped for snacks and I picked up these sesame square things. Oh my god so tasty!!!

They’re sesame seeds and honey.

They taste like Sesame Snaps but thicker and just soooo good.

Just before we got to Delphi, we passed through Arachova and our whole party must have said in unison “Lets stop here!”

We ended up doing some shopping and having lunch at a restaurant that had views of the valleys. Here are a few pics of Arachova.

 


I need to show you the views from our restaurant too. It just doesn’t seem possible that such beautiful places exist!! Oh, and while I’m on the restaurant, I’ll show you a pic of the moussaka I ordered too. I think I’m almost over my moussaka compulsion. No more moussaka until I’m back in Australia and I attempt to make it myself.

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Once we were done, we made our way to Delphi which was literally the next town over.
We were looking for the Ruins of Delphi.

I didn’t know anything about this site and I recommend doing a google search and learning a little about it yourself.
Check out the photos. This place was amazing!! The entry ticket also includes entry into the Museum. We didn’t think we wanted to go into the museum but I’m so glad we didn’t miss it as it had tons of interesting things to look at and read about.

 


After  the ruins we were still up for more shopping and I let my credit card run wild. Thank you Delphi. My family and I will be enjoying your wares for a while!

 


And finally, about 9pm, we got to our Air BnB at Nafpaktos and our hosts were the most friendly people I have ever met!! They were waiting at the door of the apartment. They hugged us and were so eager to show us the rooms. It was like we were family returning home from a long time away.

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The wife led us into the kitchen where she presented a tray with a couple of liqueurs and another tray with a cake.
Not only had she provided this to us, but she made it all herself! The liqueurs AND the cake! And they were both sooo delicious!
I can tell you the liqueurs didn’t last long and I don’t think the cake will last much longer either.

After showing us everything they said goodbye and let us get on with the night.

I just feel so at home here!

Although the plan was to stay in as we got in late, we really wanted to have a quick explore so we walked down to the Port passing so many restaurants and interesting roads and avenues. We must have looked “different” as we were getting a lot of looks but people were so friendly.
Hubby and I went into a souvlaki/burger type take away and got three different skewers, a couple of pieces of pita and fries for just under five Euro!

They also really love it when you speak to them in Greek so I really try with the few words and expressions I know. The longer I say the more it will become familiar I hope.

Can’t wait to see more tomorrow.

Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Seventeen

Our time, sadly, has come to an end.

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I was excited this morning because today we were going to Rinku Town! And the thought of all the bargains that awaited me had me full of hope that I’d be filling my suitcase with all sorts of things

It didn’t quite happen that way.

Check out from our Air Bnb place was was not till 11am so as hubby wanted to stay there till 10.59am, I decided to go for one last walk.

Again I marvel at all the things I’m not going to see when I’m back in Australia.
Every restaurant (and there are many, no matter if you’re on a “main” street or a back street alley) has “food art” outside it’s doors. They’re sculptures of the menu so you can see what you’re going to be getting. I have never been tempted by any of these and usually find them quite repulsive but I guess that’s just me because they wouldn’t do it if it didn’t inspire the locals.

I see it every day, I’ve written about it but it still amazes me, the amount of people that ride bikes and the way they whizz around on the footpaths. I’ve been tending to walk close to the shops as there doesn’t seem to be a “keep the left” rule. Bikes tend to have the right of way. At least, that’s the way it seems.

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And finally we were on the train to Rinku Town!!

Look at the happiness on my face!

Of course, once we got there, we had to walk around and look for a Starbucks before we could do anything else.

I was so excited to start shopping but I had to wait!

It took a little while but we did finally find one and hubby was drinking his Venti, Cafe Latte with Skim Milk – Making sure to keep his receipt so that he could get another one later that day for 216 yen instead of 486 yen.
This has been a daily ritual that I was very happy to have ending. Life will no longer revolved around Starbucks.

Rinku Town is an interesting place. Full of outlet malls but otherwise appears as a ghost town.


We started off (at the shops near the Starbucks) and walked.
I need to explain that I’m normally not a person who likes to shop for clothes, but I had it in my head that I wanted to buy something from Japan… So I was really in the mood to find something. I had worn my clothes and shoes that were easy to get in and out of on purpose!

You need to take of your shoes when you enter a dressing room in Japan. If you’re trying anything from the waist up, they’ll give you a “breast cover”. I should have taken a photo of it as I couldn’t quite work out how it was supposed to go.
I must admit, when the first guy handed me this folded up piece of something and said “please cover your breasts” I didn’t quite know what he was on about…

We had a late lunch in the foodcourt. We were enticed by this picture

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Looks pretty good!! Yakisoba AND Okonomiyaki…

This is what it looked like when it came.

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Still looked pretty delicious.

I keep forgetting how much the sauces don’t agree with me though. Luckily we had said “no mayonnaise” but there were other sauces on here.
It was really really yummy, don’t get me wrong, but afterwards my stomach didn’t feel right and I kept seeing other foods I wished we’d eaten instead….

Oh, and a little giggle at another translation fail spotted in the food court…

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After shopping at the Premium Outlets for a few hours, I still hadn’t really bought anything.
We walked over to the “beach” outlet part. I forgot what it was actually called, and went into this cheap looking store. Finally I was picking out things I liked!! I ended up with four items and hubby, whose patience was being tested said “Can we please get out of K-Mart now”
He was offering to pay for today’s purchases so I don’t know why he was not happy!!!

It was almost time to leave Rinku Town, when I spotted the exact outfit I’d been looking for!! One thing I haven’t mentioned is that the sizing is much smaller here. If you’re an M (medium) in Australia, you’re at least a L (large) here.
It’s not good for the ego… And “Free” size means “one size fits all” but their “fits all” would not work in Australia.

So I found the outfit. It was a medium so it was tight but I really really wanted it. I went to the counter only to be told “cash only”. What? It’s amazing how many places in Japan are cash only.
So hubby and I hurried to find an ATM to get some cash out and in doing so, came into contact with an American living in Japan. He was the friendliest guy!!
He just had story after story to tell of his experience of living in Japan (for the last two and a half years) the Japanese culture (he’s married to a Japanese woman) and much more.
He came with us as we got money from the ATM, came with us as we went back to that store (so I could buy my treasured items) and walked with us to the train station, saw us right up to the platform gate! I’m kind of sorry we didn’t exchange information after all that time together. It was only as we were parting that we gave our names.
So Jacques, if by the remotest chance you’re reading this, please get in touch!

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Our flight left Osaka at 10.30 pm. We had a bit of time to kill but we were too tired to walk around and look at the shops.

This instruction made me smile.

Just the fact that there’s a need to put that kind of instruction there is what I find amusing.

People hey….
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And finally we were on the plane bound for home. We flew to Cairns then had to wait a few hours before our trip back to Adelaide.

Just thought I’d share the meal we got on our flight back.

I think it was chicken.
Funny how things always taste different when you’re on a plane.
I didn’t take an “after” shot in Adelaide but I’ll leave you with a pic from Cairns airport.
It’s been a long journey!!!
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Regular restaurant reviews will be following.
Thanks for sharing this trip with us!