Sake to me Baby – Japan Day Ten

Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain. That was the forecast for today. It wasn’t so bad because it wasn’t windy and it was still warm/muggy so not really complaining. I still went for my early morning walk and there were still plenty of people going about their business either walking or riding their bikes with their umbrellas held steady.

We were so happy with the JR pass we’d bought yesterday. Today there were going to be no limitations! Or so we thought.

We hopped on a train for Shin Osaka station (where the Shinkasen leave from)
Mostly the trains have been so busy and normally if their is a seat, hubby lets me take the first free one. This morning another seat opened up between two ladies and hubby gently placed himself in the middle. He was sitting directly opposite me and when I saw the scene before me, I just couldn’t help but laugh.

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He’s six foot seven in case you’re wondering!
Next stop Shin Osaka. We were so excited to be riding on a Shinkansen again!

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We had decided to go to Nagoya. There was some museum that hubby wanted to go to. A Toyota one I think and I had my sights on the Science Museum that had a lot of interactive exhibits. It was forecast to rain all day so that’s why we picked indoor activities.

We got on the train and went all the way to Nagoya. When we were trying to exit the gate, we kept getting a message that the wrong ticket was used. We went to the counter and the guy said we couldn’t use our JR pass, that we had to now spend another 5800 yen  (times four as that was a one way ticket for one person) to pass the gate. So 5800 times four is 23200 which is about $306 AUD.

We left that counter and told the guy “we’ll come back”. Went to another counter and the lovely lady there explained we had a JR West pass and we were not at a station that covered the JR West area. Too bad they hadn’t explained that clearly when we bought the pass!! Or maybe they did and we just didn’t understand.

In any case, we got back on the train without paying any extra fees, and went back to Osaka. From there we got on a bullet train to Kobe.
Although we didn’t actually go into Nagoya, we sure are getting our money’s worth with these bullet train rides.

It was pouring with rain in Kobe as well.


If you don’t know, there was a big earthquake in Kobe in 1995 that brought down overpass freeways and caused immense devastation. You can read more about it here
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Hanshin_earthquake

This is our third time in Kobe and every time we’ve gone, we’ve ended up having lunch at the Fisherman’s Wharf. It’s a buffet style lunch and the restaurant is on the harbour. You just can’t beat it.!
Here’s a few harbour pics. Still pretty even though it’s raining.


And the view from our table


I took a few pics of the food but there really was a lot more. These do not capture how good this place is!


With full bellies we wandered over to the Maritime Museum and Kawaski Good Times Museum. We’ve tried to come here before but it’s always been on a Monday and that’s when, we’ve later learnt, the museums are shut.

We weren’t allowed to take photo’s in the Maritime part but hubby and I found that section a little boring anyhow. I guess if you’re into ships and boats throughout history you’d like it. Most of it was in Japanese so that made it hard for us to get into as well.

The Kawasaki part was excellent!! Lots of English, lots of interactive exhibits and workers on hand to talk to you about what you were looking at. I just loved it in there!

I’ll just post a few pics of what I saw. I tried to include the dates with the motorbike pics so you know what era they’re from.


They had a replica for the first bullet train in there so I took some pics of that.


And some helicopter as well.


And a robot display.

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It was still raining when we got out. So disappointing. I wanted to walk around but hubby especially didn’t want to walk while it was raining even though it was a fairly gentle rain.

Before going back to our apartment we finally did walk through the Shinsekai area. It seemed pretty dead. Probably because of the rain although there was one section that had a few people in it. I’m glad I walked through there anyhow.

Tomorrow is our last day in Osaka. Hubby and are a both a little sad about that. I feel like we haven’t spent enough time here. The time has just one by too quickly.  I think I actually prefer Osaka to Tokyo. It’s just more laid back and I love the food here.
Speaking of, we still haven’t had an okanomiyaki!!! Hope to rectify that tomorrow!!

For now, Oyasuminasai and hopefully the rain will stay away tomorrow!

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Dubai or Don’t I? – Day Three

IMG_9516A sometimes frustrating thing is that when crossing a road here there can be up to four sections. So you’ll have a separate pedestrian sign for each section. It can be fine for you to walk the first three then STOP! It’s also a little dangerous for us as we’re not used to seeing it. We’re used to looking at what the sign is at the end of the walk which often is not the same as the sign closest to you.

If you haven’t noticed it, the first sign in the pic to the right is don’t walk! but how easy would it be just to step out because the other two are walk!

Hubby was up early this morning to watch a Hockey game. I tried to sleep but it was impossible so at 6am I hit the gym. It’s a really nice gym! Lots of equipment and three treadmills. When I walked in two of them were being used. Awkward! But it was OK and it felt so good to move at a good pace rather than the slow pace we use when being tourists.

We left as they were coming to clean the room. It was a bit strange yesterday when we came back in, the cleaners had even put some of our stuff away. For example, we had some charging cords on the counter and they put them in the drawer beneath that. There were a few little things like that. I’d never experienced that before.

 

 

Today we were smart and bought a day trip pass. This allows us to catch and bus, train or tram on the same ticket all day. It doesn’t include the monorail though which is a shame as that ticket was almost the same as the day pass.
The pics above were from today’s trip. We were going to try to get to Jumeirah Palms again today.

When we got to the ticket booth, we were disappointed to find out that they don’t take credit card. It’s cash only. Not only is it cash only but the nearest ATM was pretty far away.
Hubby went to check for a cab service but the first guy who approached us gave us some ridiculous price. On the way back through (We were going to make the long trek to the atm) a security guard stopped us and said he would give us the 60 dirham we needed for a routine ticket on the monorail. He said there were ATMS on the island that we could use so we could pay him back when we came back.

Sounds too good to be true right? I mean he was risking losing his 60 dirham but if, as I believe is the case, most people are honest, he will likely be making some good tips doing it this way. I know we tipped him well when we came back. It was so nice of him to offer and we were beyond grateful.

So we got on the monorail to the amazing Atlantis hotel on Jumeirah Palms and sat as close to the front as we could. Here are a few snaps I took along the way.

 

 


Once there, we had a coffee then took a look through the shops of the Atlantis hotel.

Here’s a few pics inside.

 

 


IMG_9606Those cakes are from the Starbucks. We didn’t have any but they looked good.

You’ll notice Gordon Ramsey has a restaurant here. The bottom right pic is from inside there. We stopped and had a couple of drinks. The drinks were about $24 each and we only had a wine and bourbon. Very expensive for what we’re used to but it was a good experience.

Oh and look (left) I found Jason Mamoa here too!! Or more correctly, Aquaman!

We took a stroll on the board walk..

 

 


Then headed back on the monorail. Here’s a few pics from the way back.

 

 


IMG_9625We stopped at The Dubai Mall for a walk and a snack. We’re  going to a river cruise buffet tonight so we didn’t want to eat too much.

On the train we saw this sign that separated the women from the men. We walked in without realising, then when hubby saw it, he retreated to the other side of the line.

If you can’t see it, he has little kangaroos on his shoes.

IMG_9627So the river cruise was an experience!!!! We had no idea what to expect. We contacted the company from a brochure that was left in the hotel. I couldn’t find the name of the people operating the tour, or a website, but there was an email address so I contacted them. They confirmed the price (so many tours list one price but charge a higher one when you go to book) and that pick up and drop off was included.

Hubby and I had been waiting in the hotel lobby for a while when a dishevelled looking kid came in and asked if I was the person waiting to be picked up for the tour. I must admit, from the way he was dressed and his manner, I almost wanted to say no.

But I said yes and hubby and I went to his vehicle. I was expecting a minivan type thing used by the tour operators but no, it was his own personal car. He said there was another group of three waiting to be picked up too. That made me feel a little better.

Hubby is 6’7” and  has a frame to go along with that so it was funny when, after picking up the new passengers, the driver tried to squeeze hubby in the middle of the back row, with people either side of him. I just couldn’t stop laughing and finally the driver said actually, you can sit here and moved him elsewhere.

When we got to the boat he asked for the money for the river cruise. Up until this point I hadn’t paid and it felt weird to be giving him the money. We gave him the equivalent of $80AUD and walked towards the boat. He said he’d be there to pick us up at 10.30pm.
Hubby said “he ain’t coming back”

 

 

We got onto the rickety boat (a dhow) and thought what the hell have we gotten ourselves into!!
The boat started to move away from the dock and five minutes later, another boat caught up to us and let a few more people on. Hubby said “here are the guys coming to take our wallets”

But we were so wrong to be afraid. We had a FANTASTIC night!!

Here’s some of the views we enjoyed

 

 

 

 

Once everyone was on board the entertainment started. First with this…

I loved the music and everyone just got into it!! Especially the kids.

 

 

After this, a spinning guy came out. He twirled and twirled and twirled for ages! How did he not get dizzy!!!! And those discs he’s holding multiplied as he went round and round. He was so good!!

It was just so much fun. Later on, while we were waiting for our driver, another woman who I had been on the boat with but hadn’t spoken a word to, motioned for me to come over (she didn’t speak English) because she wanted a photo with me! How sweet is that!! She made me feel so special.

It was a fantastic night that we are going to remember for a long time and if you haven’t worked it out by now, our driver DID come back for us!!

Good night!

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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

In search of Cherry Blossom – Part Six

Thankfully the weather wasn’t as brutally cold today! I left our little apartment just before 7am and it was quite comfortable to walk around.
I managed to walk down to the Dotonbori and took a pic to prove to hubby that I’d been there!

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When I got back hubby and I had some breakfast then headed for Osaka station. We were going to Kobe today!

When the conductors come into your carriage on the train, they bow, walk through, then bow again before leaving the carriage.

It wasn’t long before we got into Kobe. Hubby had looked at a few things he wanted to do there. One was the “Kawasaki Good Time” museum and another was the Shin-Kobe Ropeway up past the Nonobiki waterfall to some Herb Garden.
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But first, Starbucks.

I’m beginning to hate this chain as hubby can’t seem to function without it.

This Starbucks was in an interesting building (left) in an interesting area of Kobe.

We saw a few things in this area that I guess were relating to tourists?

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I only took a photo of the Sherlock Holmes one but there were more.

I’m sure if I searched online I’d find out the story behind this area.

After his coffee hubby was back on getting to the Rope Cars.

I just wasn’t into the rope car idea.

I hate the thought of being suspended like that.

I did really want to see the waterfall though so I persuaded hubby to just walk up there. I thought it would be a peaceful way to get up and enjoy… well enjoy the serenity!

 


There were a few steep bits but mostly it was a pretty mild climb up.

 

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We were able to see the waterfall from a few different levels. The sound of the water rushing past was also quite loud. I really loved it here. It was just so peaceful. I could have stayed there a little longer but it was time to move on to the next thing.
Here are a few pictures I took from a few different viewing areas.

 


What I love about Kobe is they have these beautiful hills on one side, and the water on the other. Kind of like Adelaide but even closer together than Adelaide. Really, it’s such a beautiful city.

Last time we were in Kobe, hubby and I lunched at this buffet place. It must have made a big impression on us as we found ourselves gravitating towards there again today.
There really was a great selection of foods from Japanese staples to Italian food and things like fries. It was lovely and familiar.
I’m just not adventerous when it comes to food and was really really craving pasta today.

The views from our table were pretty special too! I thought I took some photos but I can’t find them. Here are a few from the Observatory Tower that we went to earlier in the day and some while we were out and about.

 


We’ve seen a lot of naked women statues in Osaka and there were more in Kobe.

 


After lunch we were in search of the Kawasaki Good Times Museum. We saw it in the distance!

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But what we didn’t know is that it’s closed on Monday’s… argh!!! Will have to research that one better next time.

We decided to wander the streets a bit more and found ourselves going through China Town where hubby made a friend with one of the stall holders who really really really wanted to be Australian just like us.

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Sadly we did all we could do in the few hours we were there and were soon back on the train back to Osaka.

We found ourselves back at the Umeda Sky Building and went up again.

 


Riding down those escalators BETWEEN buildings at such a great height is really something!

 


IMG_5709We stopped for a drink and watched the suited people rushing by to get wherever they really needed to be.

This place was cute because it seemed none of the workers spoke any English. Hubby pointed to the drink he wanted (they had bottles behind glass).

It took two workers to understand what we were ordering.

Two minutes later they come back to us saying “sold out” and they were both holding four bottles each from which hubby could make his second choice.

They are just so accommodating here!

So sad that our trip is quickly coming to an end. How did that happen?

I’m leaving with a picture for an ad that I saw today. I don’t know what this is advertising. Perhaps you have an idea?

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