Searching for Cherry Blossom – Part Eight

It’s our last day in Osaka and I’m feeling quite sad. Although we really only saw Cherry Blossom on the first few days, we did have a great time here. I just love Japan. I still can’t put my finger on why but I love being here. I love the people, the culture, the convenience stores (haha)

Here’s a couple of pictures from my morning walk down to Dotonbori again. I’m going to miss this walk.

One thing I haven’t written about is the fashion here. In Australia, I can walk past a store and tell if it’s for younger or older women. I can’t do that here. And the fashion seems to be really really drab (in my opinion) boring suit style, or exquisite feminine prettiness. It’s all extremes! I can’t find an in between! I really really wanted to buy clothes here but even today, spent mostly at Rinku Town, didn’t yield any great finds for me.

IMG_5836For those that don’t know, Rinku Town is a discount shopping district.
We went straight to the area where all the high end brands are… Gucci, Armani, Billabong, Nike and believe it or not, Crocs, amongst many more names.

I’m not a name brand shopper so most of that part didn’t thrill me and I got a bit
disheartened.

IMG_5837Hubby had to get his Starbucks fix and while we were there, they gave us a sample of this new frappuccino that was going to start from tomorrow.

It was delicious!!!

It’s happened a couple of times since we’ve been here, that they will bring around a “sample” of something while we’re in Starbucks.

I love it.

Can’t say no to a freebie!

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After some lunch (above) hubby and I headed over to the “cheaper” part of Rinku Town and I found a few things there. I was really looking for a Winter jacket which I thought I’d find on special seeing as they’re heading into Summer and a handbag but sadly, found neither.

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Still I did find a few things so after that we headed on over to the airport and waited in line with the million other people bound for Australia.

It was a little comforting to hear the Aussie accent and to

see the flying Kangaroo (Qantas)
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Before we got on the plane we finally tried a noodle roll.

I’ve seen this around all over the place but hadn’t tried it up till now.

I mean carbs in carbs? It didn’t make sense to me however it was actually ok.

 

I don’t know that I’d have it again but I didn’t hate it.

We had a really good flight back. We made some beautiful memories and had a few new experiences.

We had a few hours wait in Sydney where I saw for the first time that there is a Qantas Heritage Museum in the Qantas domestic terminal. It was pretty interesting and if you ever find yourself in there, I’d recommend you going in! I loved seeing how the uniforms had changed over the years

Unfortunately I didn’t take a photo of that area.

In a couple of months hubby and I will be bound for Europe so I’m sure I will be updating then!

Thanks for following this blog and as always, I’d love to hear about your own experiences travelling.

Until next we fly….

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In search of Cherry Blossom – Part Five

I feel like I need to change the title of these entries as the Cherry Blossom is just about gone and as much as I search, I don’t think I’ll be seeing any more in the Osaka area.

I went out walking early this morning and although it was still very frosty cold, there was little cloud and when the sun shone on you, it was almost pleasant.


I had been reading reviews of a couple of places just south of Dotonbori. One was the Shinsekai district and the other was the Tennoji Zoo. I’m not a huge fan of keeping animals in cages and when I read the reviews of Tennoji Zoo I was horrified. It made me more curious to see it though which probably makes me part of the problem…

Before the zoo we did see the Shinsekai area. This is what I read before going there.
Shinsekai is an old neighbourhood located south of Osaka’s downtown area. The neighbourhood was created in 1912 with New York as a model for its southern half and Paris for its northern half.

I can’t say that I saw anything that reminded me of Paris or New York. It seemed like any other district that had a lot of restaurants and a few shops.
Hubby and I have been having a difficult time (as usual) finding where to go to eat. Although I do like some things, I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Japanese food. We decided to get some lunch before heading on to the zoo but walked around this area four or five times before finally going into one restaurant. We regretted it almost immediately as we couldn’t really find anything on the menu we wanted but we couldn’t just walk out…

We ended up choosing a few things.

Oh, I forgot to mention, they brought out a bowl of raw cabbage (gratis) before our food. Hubby ate it but I wasn’t a fan.
The food we had was ok, it just tastes like everything else we’ve had here. Those round potato type things in the pic on the right were the best. They had some cheesy gooey mess inside and hubby loved them!

After that we headed on over the zoo which is right near this Shinsekai district.

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It’s only 500 yen to visit (about $6.20 AUD) and we didn’t have anything else planned so hubby and I walked down there.

I didn’t think it was as bad as the reviews I’d read until I saw the cages for some of the big cats.
In any case, here are some of the photos of the animals that I took.


I felt a bit conflicted being there I must admit.

Every time we’ve been in Japan, hubby and I have visited Brooklyn Parlour and mostly it’s been a great experience. We knew there was one in the Americamura section of Dotonbori so we decided to go there for a drink.

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I normally love the atmosphere of this place. Hubby and I got a couple of drinks and watched people at tables nearby doing nothing but taking selfies for the next twenty minutes. They didn’t even touch their food and when it did look like they were going to start touching their food, it was only so they could video themselves “eating” it. Strange.

We walked around Americamura, fighting for space with the rest of the crowds.


If you like people watching, this is the place to be!!

After a bit of shopping we found ourselves being drawn to Hard Rock Cafe.
I must admit, I did like the familiarity of it all.


Lots of tourists in there!! Almost felt like I was back home.
We ordered some loaded fries. We were waiting for them to come but I needed to use the restroom. As I got up I said to hubby “If they come while I’m away don’t start eating them!” which would have been ok but an English speaking server heard me and I was embarrassed. Food ownership is serious business in this marriage!

And after a couple of sangria’s I posed for a photo.
Hubby made me do it.

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Oh and speaking of hubby, he was beside himself with excitement when we passed a McLaren dealership. The photos are taken through the glass window so they’re not the best. We’ve even seen one or two driving around while we’ve been here.


Again, we did a lot of walking today and I was glad to be back in the room, soaking in a nice hot bath.

I’ll leave you with a few more funny signs I saw today. The first one was on the back wall of a toilet cubicle.

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In search of Cherry Blossom – Part Three

I know I’m always going on about the Supermarkets here but honestly, it’s just so different to what we’re used to.
We made another midnight supermarket run last night and I took a few snaps of the food just sitting out on the benches unrefrigerated.

 


As you can see, some of the items have egg in it. Just sitting there on the bench waiting to be bought by someone. I must admit, I’ve been tempted to buy some of it. I mean they wouldn’t sell it if people got sick right?

In any case, today was Kyoto day! I tend to get up quite early so I thought I’d go for a walk and let hubby sleep a little longer. Streets in Japan can be quite confusing as they don’t follow the nice parallel lines that I’m used to however I had internet with me and google maps is always available.
I took a few snaps along the way.


One thing I didn’t know about Osaka until I visited for the first time is that it’s full of canals. It’s the Venice of Japan.

It wasn’t long before we were off to Kyoto. We’ve been there twice before and had very different experiences. Today, again, it was like we were visiting for the first time, seeing things we hadn’t seen before. This city just amazes me.

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Straight off the train we cross the river into the main part of the city. This place was so full of tourists today! All colours, all sorts of different accents.

After a little snack we headed on over to the Gion district. We had stumbled onto this section by accident last time and just fell in love with it. It’s just olden day Japan. People can hire traditional clothing and walk these streets. So many people do it! It really adds to the atmosphere.


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The Japanese are so helpful.

See that yellow sign in the picture above on the left?

Here is a close up of what it said.

And I’m glad they clarified by adding the picture of the camera.

We walked by instinct. We were searching for the  steps that had rows of shops alongside. Before reaching that area though, we came to some beautiful tranquil gardens.

At least it would have been tranquil if we weren’t sharing the space with 50 million other people. IMG_5506

And then, the steps!


Sorry those photos aren’t in order and I didn’t take as many as I thought I had. The last two are just random pictures along the way. The left one is of a sacred cemetary and on the bottom right is bamboo. We wanted to go to a bamboo forest but we didn’t plan well so when we saw this, I just took the picture to make myself feel better.

After browsing the shops full of wonders, we came to the top. I should probably know what this is but I don’t have the info with me right now. I’m so full of information right.

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It’s a bit of a climb but well worth it!

Here are a couple of funny signs we passed along the way


We decided to go back to the main centre to get some lunch. It was udon noodles today and I’m pleased to say we didn’t gorge ourselves!!

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When you go into a restaurant here, they give you a little basket to put your bag in so you don’t have to leave it on the floor.

I love that!

And although hubby told me “NO CAKES” this holiday, he didn’t fight me when I suggested to go and get some pastries. OH MY GOD they were so delicious!!!!


It was so hard not to grab one of everything!

We walked around the amazing Kyoto Station for a while. It has a department store, hotel and lots of shops and restaurants in there. Such an interesting building. It’s a worth a visit even if you’re not catching the train.
It’s such an amazing design with new things to see at every turn.


I didn’t take many photos this time as I took so many last time.

It has been raining most of today so we didn’t really want to go out walking in it again. We decided to get the train back to Osaka and continue our adventure there.
Poor hubby was wiped out and joined the majority of Japanese people who sleep on the train.

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And please let me indulge in some more supermarket talk.
I was feeling brave tonight and bought a whole of things even if I didn’t know what they were.
Amongst my purchases were the following.


The burgers on the left were 98 yen… so about $1.20AUD. We shared the brown wrapped one and it was actually ok.
Better than I expected.
Not anything that would fill you up but ok for a quick snack. The bread is really so light that you hardly feel like you’re eating anything.
We haven’t tried the yellow wrapped burger yet and I haven’t put my translate ap on it so I don’t know what it is. Somtimes it’s better not to know.

The pic on the right were pieces of pizza sold individually. They were ok too. Better than expected. Even the one with egg on it.
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I sent that picture to my mum and she said she’d rather have egg than pineapple and I’m not going to give you her contact information as hate mail is just not nice.

In search of Cherry Blossom – Part Two

I’ve woken up way too early this morning. I couldn’t sleep and thought I’d just make myself a coffee.
Coffee is interesting here. They seem to love the cold varieties… Iced Coffee. Lots of it in the street vending machines-the kind in cans. Most of the ones we’ve tried don’t seem to have sugar in them.
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When it comes to hot coffee I don’t think it’s really a thing here (Unless you got to a chain like Starbucks.)
Even in the air bnb’s we’ve stayed out, we haven’t had coffee cups provided.

Milk
We went to the supermarket last night and bought some instant coffee (no other choice) what we thought was sugar and potentially full cream milk.

When we got to the check out hubby asked the lady serving (who didn’t speak English) if this milk was good for coffee. She understood what he was saying presumably and screwed up her nose. So we said we wouldn’t take the milk and she said she’d send someone to help.

The person coming to help was going to bring us “milk for coffee”. When he came, he was holding a bag of individual milk cups. Pictured right is an example of what Milk-lakeland-whole-milk-UHTI’m talking about. The kind that is normally never enough!! Hubby and I both like a decent amount of milk in our coffees and we both said, no, give us the original carton…

But that’s Japan. Everything is packaged here. They love their packaged sugars, packaged milk, individual packages of everything!!

I can confim that the milk we bought last night was actually full cream milk but I was a little nervous before tasting it this morning!

First thing on the agenda today was walking to Osaka Castle.We’re only a couple of kilometres away from it so it was a nice easy walk.


We did start to see some Cherry Blossom but not as much as I would have liked. I suspect we’re right at the end of the season. At least we got to see some of it.

And we did see interesting sights along the way to the Castle…

 


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There were tons of people at the Castle!!

We thought we’d walk back to Osaka city and get some lunch.

I love walking everywhere.

You just get to see so much more!

After walking up and down the endless shopping and market aisles, we went into the Hep building and found a place to get some lunch. I’m not sure what we ate exactly. It seems to be a type of omlette with rice inside? At least, the one we ordered had rice inside it.
On the menu it had two sizes. SS or S. SS is super small and S is small.
Hubby and I don’t like small.
The waitress said we could also order M for medium or L for large.
Now remember, we had been walking quite a bit by this stage and we were very hungry as we didn’t really have breakfast so we both opted for large.
The waitress was visibly shocked. I should have questioned my choice right then but no, I figured I’d be able to handle it.

I was mid sentence to hubby when I saw our order coming out and I just stopped talking, stunned by what I was seeing.


That, dear readers, is the large. Consider yourselves warned!
I’m sure the servers were all giggling at us. Some of the other diners were watching us too, seeing if we were going to finish… I was so terribly embarrassed.
It tasted amazing by the way!! Although I could have done without that brown sauce which was on there. Tasted like barbecue sauce.

Unfortunately I couldn’t finish it. I really really tried but I couldn’t. We really needed to walk our meals off after that so we walked down to the Dotonbori area.

I just love this place.

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We were stopped by four people who wanted to practice their English with us. The Japanese people are too cute!

Down one of the streets we noticed a huge screen, which was showing a live feed of people walking. I just had to get myself on that big screen!! Can I say I’ve been on Japanese television now?


We have passed a few funny signs but I didn’t take a photo unfortunately. On the train there was a sign saying the train was “mildly” airconditioned. Another sign contained “hot” information. Just love the way their language translates into English!

We were checking out some stores for headphones for hubby when we saw a confident Japanese man just having a shave. Try before you buy right?

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And to finish off, we finally did find some different flavoured Kit Kat. I didn’t buy any but I did take pictures.

Tomorrow, we hope to be off to Kyoto!!

In search of Cherry Blossom – Part One

Hello lovely readers, the Spoon You Fork Me team is once again on route to Japan!

I’m so excited about this trip! We’re really hoping we’ve come at the right time to see the Cherry Blossom and although the Japanese can normally pinpoint the time of bloom generally, it’s not a guarantee that we’ll see it. Hubby and I are only here for a week!


We barely slept last night. The night seemed to go on forever. I kept waking up and checking the time. Finally it was time to get up and before we knew it we were flying high.


First leg of our trip was to Cairns and then another seven hours flight time to reach Osaka.
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I’m pretty sure that no one in the world gets more excited about plane meals than I do. It’s not that the food is so good because often it’s a disappointment. I think it’s just knowing that something is going to break up the boredom of the flight. As I write this, the food is coming!! Yay!!


As expected, it was mediocre at best and not enough for my greedy guts but it was better than nothing so although it seems I’m complaining, I’m really not.
We also got some croissants later in the flight. My hips could have done without that but I can’t say no.

One thing about travelling with hubby is that he is always most eager to talk the minute I put headphones in to listen to a podcast. Uncanny. All of a sudden I urgently need to know inconsequential things.

By the time we got to Osaka it was after 7.30pm and already dark. We spent time trying to find an ATM then trying to work out what train to catch. Luckily, the Japanese people really do bend over backwards to try to help. Honestly, the rest of the world could learn a lesson or two from these people!!

As an example, we were trying to get our bearings once we got off the train. I couldn’t quite work out the map I’d printed and we didn’t have internet yet so I couldn’t get google maps to help. We decided to go ino the nearby Mos Burger and one of the guys behind the counter saw us frowning over this map and asked if he could help (in his limited broken English)
I pointed to where we were trying to go and not only did he show us a better way to get there, BUT he also insisted on giving us a couple of umbrellas (it was raining) Honestly, these people!!

We finally made it to our aparatment and got a second wind. Doesn’t matter that we’ve been awake for almost twenty four hours…
What do you think the first thing we did after getting settled?
We went straight back out to the Life Supermarket that was around the corner. Super excited to find out that it closes at 2am!! I just love the supermarkets here. So many weird and wonderful things. I don’t know what half of them are. It’s a mystery!!!
Food that I think should be refrigerated is just sitting out on tables. Here’s a few pics from tonights supermarket run..

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We can’t tell what half the products are!!

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Personally, I find this gross…. Not big on seafood.

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I wish I’d taken a photo of something else next to these pieces of cheese for perspective. They were tiny and quite expensive for the amount you were getting. I just thought it was funny to see such a small piece of cheese for sale like that.

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Lots of pasta for sale on the unrefrigerated benches.

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Chicken too… also on an unrefrigerated bench.

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Noodle roll anyone??

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Well that’s just rude.

I’m hoping we get to Osaka Castle tomorrow in full Cherry Blossom bloom!!!