Sake to me Baby – Japan Day Three

I want to let everyone know that I’m “sumimasen-ing” all over the place!!!  It was my phrase of the day! I’m saying it without thinking twice about it now.

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Speaking of thinking about it twice, hubby used to confuse arigato and konichiwa and now, I find that I’m confusing it also which is probably karma as I paid him out badly for it. He’d walk past someone on the street and say “arigato” then keep walking. I’d love to know what they were thinking.

This morning hasn’t started off great in that it’s been raining all night. It’s not cold. It’s pretty muggy, but the rain means we can’t go walking. The pics above were taken from our balcony. I was up early again and now can’t do anything. That’s a bit depressing.

Seeing as we were up so early, we had a second breakfast. This time courtesy of the Family Mart that’s thirty metres away (dangerous) and look at what I scored for not much more than 500 yen.

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Ahhh, you wonderful treats that delight my taste buds. I miss you already.

Tomorrow we’re going on a tour (won’t spoil it by saying where yet!) and the tour was booked online. Because I want to make sure everything  is correct and that we have the right meeting spot, hubby and I went to Shinjuku. The only info I had was that the pick up is from Keio Plaza Hotel but I wasn’t given the time. Inconvenient.

So we braved the weather. When we got to Shinjuku it was still raining.


IMG_0502We found the hotel the tour is leaving from and confirmed the departure time. All good.

Seeing as we were so close to the Tokyo Government Building and it was still mostly an undercover walk to get there, we decided to go on and see that.

Only to be met by the sign on the right.

No!!! They’re not allowed to be closed on a rainy day when there’s nothing much else to do!!!

We we went back to the station and walked around the shops. Looked at the food. Got hungry, got a little bored. Walked around in circles.
They’ve got one of those food areas where you can buy all kinds of food. Sadly, not many were offering samples. I would have loved to have tried some of the foods I saw. I didn’t even know what half of it was! So many people. And the food is packaged and packaged and packaged. Layer after layer of wrapping and packaging.


I’ve seen the restaurant “La Pausa” about the place here and was craving some kind of pasta. I would have had ramen but every place we went to had a line up and we didn’t want to wait. So, we went to La Pausa which is an Italian restaurant.
I took a pic of their lunch menu.
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IMG_0511They didn’t have an English menu so we had to try to decipher ourselves.

Because I wanted to try something different. I had the one on the bottom right.

And that pic to the left is what I was given. Look ok doesn’t it? I mean, it’s not Italian and the egg on top was cold which was a bit weird but it tasted pretty good. There was some sort of cheesy sauce on the bottom too.

There are so many Italian restaurants here!! But they’re all like this. It’s “Italian” but with a Japanese spin.

As it was still pouring with rain we decided to take an afternoon break – it’s supposed to clear up later today.
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I’m not sure if we are still a bit jet lagged (you can use that excuse for just about anything when travelling) but we lay down and when we stirred again it was 9pm. Changing time zones and 4am wake ups will do that to you!

We had a few museums and other indoor activities planned but that went out the window!

We went for a bit of a late night walk but there are no photos to prove it so did it really happen??

I’m so excited about tomorrow I’m barely going to be able to sleep!!!

Oyasuminasai

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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)

 

Oot and Aboot in Canada Eh! – Day Five

IMG_0229I’ve been told that since I’m here in Winnipeg, it would be a crime not to have the much talked about, Jeanne’s Cake. Jeanne’s Bakery seems to be quite famous locally.

So I looked up the different places I could get this “amazing” Jeanne’s cake from and found I could get it from our local supermarket.

They only had one choice “white” and they were only available from the freezer.

We had some for breakfast (naughty) and my verdict?

 

It was ok. I definitely liked the biscuit base. The icing wasn’t significantly different to other icing I’ve had but maybe that was because it was still a little frozen.
So yes, I did like it, but no, I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to have it again.

We went back to Kildonan Park this afternoon and this time walked through. It was so warm we saw topless men. There was lots of Summer clothing out!


And we went to the popular witch’s hut but it was still closed even though it said it was opening in May


This is supposed to be the witch’s hut from the Hansel and Gretel fable and if you don’t know what that is then I feel sorry for you!

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We also came across these painted rocks which we later learned were part of a Winnipeg Community called “Winnipeg Rocks”

They have a pretty cool Facebook Page if you’re interested.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/WinnipegRocks/

Speaking of nice weather and enjoying the sun, we came across an older couple who from a distance, were sure were sunbathing in the nude. The “blue” you can see is actually a book and we weren’t sure if there was any clothing behind that.

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But as we got closer it became more clear

 

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Tonight we plan to enjoy a little piece of home and yes, I’m looking forward to it!

Stuck in the Middle – Day Two

I was still very apprehensive as I woke up this morning. Hubby still wasn’t feeling that well. I was ravenously hungry but didn’t want to go out on my own.

After a little while hubby had a shower and felt well enough to explore the hotel with me, to see if there was somewhere we could get breakfast.

We ended up at the hotel restaurant where they were serving a buffet breakfast for 49 Qatari Riyal which is about $18.34 AUD.
We hadn’t eaten since about late morning the day before so we were very hungry!

They had such a great selection of food! I don’t know why but I felt uncomfortable taking photos in there so I didn’t. Everyone there was so helpful. They just couldn’t do enough for us, asking us if we wanted coffees and bringing it to us even though we were in a buffet restaurant.


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After breakfast we went to the top floor to check out the pool and the views.

Pretty nice views!
We were told there was an indoor pool here but there are no walls around/no roof above the pool and I’m pretty sure that’s what indoor means.

This is the sign outside the spa room. Separate times for men and women! Although, outside of those times, both men and women can be in there together.

Hubby and I walked outside despite the fact that it was almost 40 degrees Celsius at 9am. We went down to the water and snapped some pictures. NOBODY else was about. They’re smart here these people.


We started walking in the direction of the Souq Waqif markets when a cab driver stopped and asked if we wanted a driver. We said no. He then said the markets were closed and not due to open again until 4pm, and he offered to drive us around. He was very very persistent and it was HOT, so when he said “just hop in the cab and I’ll show you where I can take you and for what price”.
So we went in and he convinced us to be our driver for the next three hours. He already had a “tour” planned so off we went.
He wanted 350 Riyal for his time. We talked him down to 280 but I still think that was too much. In any case we were in and he seemed like a really nice guy.

I took a couple of pics as we drove.

That’s his cab there bottom right. It was comfortable.
He stopped here and there for me to take some pictures. He was very informative about DoHa but most of the information he said I haven’t retained.


This is a VERY impressive place!! Very new. Everything is new and more and more is being built.  You can see that there is no one around. It’s just too hot.

I thought it was funny how he and hubby both talked with their hands. I was sitting at the back and watched as they mirrored each other.


At one place there was a board up with references to the signs of the zodiac. I was surprised to see that in such a religious place.

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There is a lot of references to Italy here and I also noticed a lot of programs on tv in Italian. The driver said there is a “little Venice” section of DoHa and it is so pretty!! So colourful and has little canals through it.
Not a soul to be seen on the streets though!

I can’t remember the name of this next place that the taxi driver took us too. Honestly, he had told us about a mall – Villaggio Mall – that I really wanted to go to. I could have easily missed this next stop and had him take us to the mall but I think he really didn’t want to go there. If you hover over “Villaggio Mall” it will take you to the website and you can see the cool pictures of it.

In any case he didn’t take us there, he took us to some cultural place. I think that’s what he said. I honestly can’t remember. There’s a mosque there which is quite distinctive and I took a picture of the front of it. There’s also a pretty cool looking auditorium. Everything looks like it’s come out of The Flintstones.


IMG_7675We were supposed to meet the driver back in 30 minutes but we kind of lost our way.

There were golf carts that were driving people around and the driver said these were free so we approached one and I showed him a picture of the mosque and said
“Can you take us back there?”

Thank you Mr Nice Man.

Next stop was a famous mosque. Our driver wanted us to go and take pictures inside. He said I needed to go around the back to the women’s entrance and I would have to change my clothes into what they wear (forgot the name sorry) but then it would be ok to go in and take pictures.

It was really too hot to think about getting changed into anything and I don’t know how I feel about the whole male/female thing so we just went up and took some pictures of the mosque and the city from the mosque, then came down again.


IMG_7677If you can see it, that last picture is the one showing the way to the women’s entrance.

Oh look (pic right), these signs are all over the place showing you where it’s safer to cross the road.

After all this, our driver said for another 70 Riyal, he would take us to the Villagio Mall and leave us there. We’d have to make our own way back and a taxi back from there he estimated would be about 40 Riyal.  So he wanted about $26 AUD on top of the $105 AUD we’ve already given him, to be left at a mall far from our place.

We decided then we’d get him to take us to City Centre Mall which is closer to where we’re staying. He kept telling us it wasn’t worth going there but that’s where we insisted we wanted to be left so we went. He dropped us there, took our money, and went.

Later on, when we got a taxi back from there to our place, the driver said that most drivers can be hired for about 65 Riyal an hour. That’s about $25 AUD an hour. We had our guy for 2 1/2 hours at $110AUD. We got ripped! Ah well..

And turns out City Centre Mall was quite ok! With an ice skating rink in it too.


They even had a Tim Hortons there.
We cooled off, had something to eat, and had a look around.

Once we were back in the room, we decided to use the pool facilities. YES both of us went in the pool!! Because we left our phones behind there is no photographic evidence.

We were hoping it had cooled down a bit (insert laughter here) and walked down to the Souq Waqif markets at about 7pm. It was still stifling hot. Even though it was “only” 32 degrees, it was really humid. The air was thick and heavy and there was a strong smell of spice in the air.

The stuff there was so interesting! But the second you look at something, the owner of the stall comes out super excited that he’s going to make a sale. And sometimes you just want to look! And they just seem so desperate to want to make a sale. I feel bad! I can’t buy from every one so I bought from none.

I loved those dresses in the bottom pic!!
Some of these style dresses were expensive but others were really cheap. I was tempted to buy one but where would I wear it?

Hubby and I had some food at a local place – that is – a place full of locals. The food was so cheap we were worried there was something wrong with it but it was so tasty!! And as always, I ordered better than hubby!! Look how big my noodle plate is compared to his little kebab wrap thingie.

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It was just so tasty!

I’m glad we spent today here in Doha. We’ve seen a lot of new things and seen an incredibly different culture.

Tonight will be our last night in a strange bed. I’m looking forward to being home.
Love seeing new things but there’s no place like home.

Stuck in the Middle – Day Three

Our last day away and I can assure you, there will be no “surprises” after today. The next bed I’m going to sleep in will be my own!

I wanted to share another photo from last night. This was taken from the top of our hotel.

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Very nice views from up there!

Oh and a few other things from yesterday, we were talking to one of the servers in the restaurant here about the weather. He was saying they get temperatures of 50-55 degrees Celsius in the Summer!!! Then he added “It’s not too bad now, 42/43”
What?? That’s crazy! Who could ever say that 42/43 Celsius is not too bad!

And we asked our driver yesterday what the haze over the city was. Was it smog? Sand? He said no, they don’t really get sandstorms here. He thought it might be “something from the sea” which sounded pretty vague. I had a quick google and found out that DoHa is one of the most polluted cities in the world. This was one site I clicked on
http://aqicn.org/country/qatar/

Some other observations, even though everyone says there is no dress code for Westerners, I felt uncomfortable as a woman. Sometimes I think they say what they hope to be true, rather than what is true.
I was mostly covered up while I was here but you’re walking among people who are really covered up, and being white and blonde, I felt like I stuck out even more.
Just knowing people usually dress a different way made me feel uncomfortable. I know I’m not articulating this correctly and this is no reflection on the people here, everyone we interacted with was very nice but some of the looks we got made me uncomfortable at times.

Oh and there is a metal detector at the entrance of our hotel. Every time we have to go in or out, we need to go through it.

This morning we had breakfast at our hotel restaurant again and this time I took a few pictures.

 


We found out that there is a man there cooking up eggs the way you want them as you order them. They were so nice! I felt like we were eating so much and that everyone was looking at the gluttonous westerners. We wanted to make it last though as we weren’t eating again until late afternoon at the airport.

Everyone has been recommending the Museum of Islamic Art and it’s free and very close to our hotel so we went there this morning. You need to walk through a security scanning thing similar to what is at the airport to enter.
Again, no one on the streets!! Just a few workers as we approached the building.
The building itself is quite impressive!

 


Equally impressive inside.

 

 

They brought out these little sesame seed biscuit things with the coffee. They were so good!!

I took a few pictures of some of the exhibits inside. Not sure you can read the sign explaining what the exhibit is.

 

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Our shuttle back to the airport is booked for 3pm and as it’s too hot to do anything, we went back to the hotel and relaxed.

 


Our flight was not until 8pm though so we had a lot of time at the airport to wander around and see what’s here.
Again, this is an impressive building. It just seems like they’ve got money to throw around here at anything!

And I finally got to take a picture of the teddy bear! I think that’s what it is.It’s not the only large thing here either.

 

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I also took a pic while we were in the shuttle.

I realised later it didn’t take us very far and we could have easily walked it.

 

I just wanted to share a few more pictures from our plane. We were able to view outside of it via some camera and it made for some pretty interesting viewing during the landing!


That brings this vacation to an end.

Thank you for reading about our adventures and I welcome any comments you may have.

Kalinychta

Buona Notte

Tusbih ealaa khayr