Sake to me Baby – Japan Day Four

I’ve just realised that before today, we’d spend two and a half days in Japan and were yet to use chopsticks!! Shame on us. And that’s not that when given a choice, we chose a fork, it’s that we haven’t really eaten any Japanese food. That changed today.

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Today we went on a tour to Mt Fuji!! I was so excited as for all the times we’ve been to Japan, we still hadn’t gone there.

We were up early to make sure we made the departure time which was going to be from a hotel in Shinjuku.

We spied the Metropolitan Government building close by and made a plan to go there later, after we got back from the tour.

We got to talking to a few people that were going on tour with us. It’s nice talking to people from around the world and hearing about their experiences in Japan.

Our tour guide, Taka, was just so cute! I could have listened to her talking all day although it did take a bit of concentrating as her accent was strong at times but she was so lovely.

I took a few pics from the bus. We drove past some gorgeous towns along the way. So green and lush and picturesque along the water. Unfortunately the highway mostly had a barrier up so I wasn’t always able to take pictures when I wanted to.


And then sooner than I expected, we saw Mt Fuji in the distance!!!
It was soon covered over with cloud again though so I was worried about what we were going to see when we got to the fifth station.

I didn’t realise how high we had driven until I started to see we were above the clouds! How did that happen!! And how gorgeous are the clouds. I felt like we were in a plane and flying instead of driving.


There were loads of people up the top!! So many tour buses!! AND, more importantly, Mt Fuji was visible. I have to admit though, I found the other side, with all the clouds, much more interesting to look at.

 


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Our guide Taka told us a story of a guy who kept climbing up Mt Fuji right up until his death at 105 years of age.
He was Masashi Toyoda, from Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture.

There’s a statue of him inside one of the stores at the Fifth Station and we posed in front of it because, well, that’s just what you do!

For lunch we were taken to a restaurant where a buffet style meal was prepared for us. There was a great array of food. Some of it Japanese and some was a little more Western but it was all really really tasty AND I got to use chop sticks for the first time on this trip! Took me thirty seconds or so to get used to it again. I just don’t understand why people persist with chopsticks when we have INVENTED AN EASIER WAY. I mean when we discover something that works better, we usually adopt it! But whatever. It’s fun to eat with chopsticks and it definitely helps the waist line because for me, it takes longer and I can’t pick up every single last morsel.


The grounds/gardens outside the restaurant were really pretty too. We had that view from our table.

After lunch we were back on the bus and our guide Taka taught us how to make an Origami Japanese warrior hat.
She was like a parent not wanting to disappoint a child who clearly is not doing well with me. She said I almost had it right then fixed it up expertly.

Our next stop was Lake Ashi where we were going to take a cruise. We had about thirty minutes in the store there before the cruise and I found a couple of interesting items.

What you see below, is a vending machine that sells HOT food!! Like chips/fries and burgers. Can you believe that!! Only in Japan I say!

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Of course, if you don’t want your fries hot, you can also buy them like this.
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Would you be game enough to drink anyone of these drinks?


No wasabi and no sweat for me thank you very much.

The views out of the lake were so breathtakingly beautiful. My photos do not do it justice at all!

And a couple more photos from the catamaran as well.


We were dropped at Hakkone and took the ropeway up to the top.
Now this seemed like a good idea when I was booking this tour. I didn’t realise how high it was going to go!!
First, a few pictures.


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And then we were in the clouds and I was freaking out a bit!!!

I definitely made a mental note to NOT sit at the front on the way back down.

 
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Our tour was just about over.

All that was left was to take the bullet train back to Tokyo.

Even though hubby and I have been here many times, we were yet to ride the bullet train so were really looking forward to it!

Turns out, it’s just a train that goes pretty fast. When you’re sitting in it though, it’s quiet so you don’t really notice how fast you’re going. I’m sure if you were standing outside and it whizzed past you, it would knock you around a bit and be impressive but apart from reaching our destination a little quicker, I’m not sure that I’d use it again.

Once we were back at Tokyo, we went back to the Metropolitan Governement building. We really wanted to see the view from the observatory and seeing as it was getting darker, thought it would be nice to see it at night.
When we got there, there was a line that went out through the door AND it was closing within thirty minutes so we missed out again.
There’s always tomorrow.

Instead we walked around Shinjuku


We even went to the “you must see this” Robot Cafe!

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That is, we went outside it. The inside will need to be explored another day.
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Finally, I found my wine bar again. I had first seen this place a few trips to Japan ago.

This is the wine bar that is dedicated to all Margot’s around the world but especially me because I say so.

It had just been such a long day and our time here is not over so we can always go back.

I feel like we saw a lot of things we have wanted to see in Japan today and we met some really nice people and made some nice memories. Thanks Japan!

Just to finish up, I’ll leave you with this signboard that we saw in a cafe. I just love Japanese English!

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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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I do, I do, I do, I do – Day 1

This morning the alarm went off cruelly at 4AM. I jumped out of bed… literally! I had to because hubby has this habit of kicking me out of there when he needs the mirror, whether I’m done or not.

We had the obligatory fight about what time to leave for the airport. He always wants to leave later and I like to get there with plenty of time to spare.

IMG_9256Hubby grabbed a coffee with the twenty minutes we had before boarding.
I thought I’d wait until we were flying because, surprise, he’d scored us business class tickets!
How nice to have that extra room!!

The extra attention is pretty nice too.

Oh and look at what we got for breakfast on the plane – Egg White Omlettes with Mushroom and cheese, kale and tomatoes on the side. There was also a yoghurt which was thick and creamy. Lots of coffees and juices too. They were only too happy to serve.

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We decided the best way to get into the city was to go via SkyBus so while hubby waited for our luggage I went to buy two return Skybus passes.

 

 

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On the way to our apartment

It was a short walk from the Sky Bus terminal to our apartment and while we were too early to check in, we were allowed to leave our bags there and now it was time to explore!!

We decided to check out the factory outlet stores where the Sky Bus terminal is.

While we were there, my mum called. She was in Melbourne too today!
She’d been on a cruise that had just docked today and was spending a few hours in the CBD.

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So we caught up over a coffee and then did some shopping together.

Nobody gets around Melbourne like my mum.

She will hop on and off trams and go here and there like nobody’s business!

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Hubby was looking for clothes.
He was taking ages in one of the dressing rooms so I said I was going to put my camera over the door and take his picture.

This is what I saw when I looked at what I’d taken.

We walked to the Victoria Market and hubby insisted he buy me a new handbag because he hates the one I use right now (even though I DID buy it in Italy!) I don’t mind my bag but when we came upon a store that had this beautiful black, leather bag that was wonderfully crafted, I couldn’t say no! It was at a really good price too and the South Korean man who sold it to us was just so lovely we couldn’t say no. Thanks honey!!

We went for lunch somewhere near the Victoria Market. Every food outlet had a “cash only” sign our front. Hubby and I just don’t carry cash anymore!

After lunch we started walking back down Elizabeth street and went past a place that had pide and gozleme. Even though we’d eaten we had to get one. Look how good they look!! Even nutella ones!

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I still didn’t have my walking shoes on so we caught the Free City Tram back to our apartment

They’re iconic but not entirely comfortable and geez, I had a hard time getting on and off it, how do the elderly manage??

We got into our apartment and you know, after a bit of rigmarole, it’s actually pretty nice!! Spacious and has a kitchen that I will NOT be using.

We freshened up then went to check out the gym. Look at the handle on the door to get into the gym area (Below) I mean is this a gym for giants or something??
The gym looks good though! Looking forward to using it tomorrow.


We went walking and stopped at a place that was doing happy hour cocktails
Nice views from our table!

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So good we had a couple more…

We I was getting pretty giggly after a cocktail or two. Hubby was disappointed because he would have rather had a cider, and then we noticed that cider WAS on the menu.

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But hubby said there was no way in hell he was asking for it and I had to ask for it.

Lots of jokes and innuendo.

Well, lots of jokes and innuendo by me.

Hubby sat there unimpressed.

But he did like the cider and I was amused so all’s well that ends well.

We passed a Miniso store and I just HAD to go in and buy some cheap junk stuff.
This store has EVERYTHING! Including breast massagers, nipple covers AND an electric toothbrush tester. Try before you buy.


Miniso I WILL be back before this trip is over!


We walked down to DFO. Look at that bike path on the left there. The cyclists just fly through there!

Just a few more pictures of our walk. From DFO we went to Crown Casino then walked along the river to Federation Square.


I managed to find Melbourne Central and we had a stroll through there too but by this time I was getting really tired and just wanted to get back to our room to sleep.
I know though, that hubby has FOMO when it comes to restaurants.

So we walked and walked and walked. We couldn’t find one place to eat at. We got back to our apartment and bought some drinks from the IGA near there.. Then kept walking and walking, this time laden with groceries. Hubby said he was going to order pizza from a place near our apartment but changed his mind when he saw they had no customers.

IMG_9312We walked through the Harbour town outlet mall to the Food Court. Finally, FINALLY, we stopped at this place called Urban Alley Brewery. I was just bone tired!

I convinced hubby that this would be a good place and he reluctantly agreed then as we were walking in, we saw a guy get up from his table and take his plate back to the kitchen.

Argh!! I knew hubby didn’t like it but I was just too tired and said “It’ll be ok, I’m sure”
And it was ok. There was nothing wrong with what we ate/ordered but we did feel the need to pick up some fries to eat on the way back to our room.


It was a good day and I loved sharing with hubby, some of the places I’d been to when I was here last September.
Can’t wait for tomorrow!

 

Perth Day Three

Sorry that this entry is coming after the fact but between the Wine Tour that we did today and travelling back home, this is the first chance I’ve had to write and upload.

1Today, Friday the 5th of January as I write, is my birthday and not only is it my birthday, but it’s a milestone birthday too so I knew hubby was not going to say anything when I wanted to get up extra early to exercise.

The gym at this hotel is quite good and if you go early enough, there’s no one in there so I get the whole place to myself!
Perfect way to start a birthday!

We took our picture before heading out! (left)

The Wine Tour we were booked on started from Elizabeth Quay so we walked down there from our hotel and had a coffee at the Riverside Cafe. No champagne this morning though as I was anticipating a heavy alcohol day!

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We met our friends and boarded our boat.

It was such a relaxing cruise down the river!

We had coffee and muffins to start off with but it wasn’t long before the wine tasting started.

Here is a picture of the wine’s we sampled on the right and a few from the cruise below.
I forgot to mention the tasting plate of local cheeses that were also provided. Each tray was for two people so it was quite a generous portion!


Unfortunately I can’t remember the name of the first stop. I think it was next to Sandalwood Winery? Beautiful spot anyhow and they had the BEST cider here!! It tasted more like a sparkling white than a cider! Soooo delicious but unfortunately they don’t bottle it yet so we couldn’t buy any.

The food we had was also exceptional. Unfortunately I was too overwhelmed with the place to take pictures of the food but here are a few of our surroundings. By the way, the whole time we were there having lunch there was a line of people waiting to get in!

From here we travelled by coach to another winery.  This time I took a pic of the sign outside so I know it’s Windy Creek Winery. This was another gorgeous spot!!

I tried pretty much every wine they were offering and surprisingly for me, really loved the whites. I don’t normally drink a lot, if any, of white wine.

We were a nice group and by this time, were starting to talk to each other and were getting pretty happy! I took a few pics inside and out. So gorgeous here!

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Hubby is not a wine drinker so I ended up having a few tastings on his behalf – not that you can tell by this selfie on the left…

You can imagine where this is going to lead can’t you?

Back on the coach now to our next spot.

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As per the information from our driver, this tree had been struck by lightening, but continued to grow anyhow!

It was just outside our next stop and quite interesting to look at.

So now we’re at Twin Hill Wines and I’m feeling decidedly happy. Again, I liked the whites more than the reds (surprisingly) but not as much as our last stop. This is a family run winery though and the history behind it was quite interesting. They also provided a very tasty tasting plate for us!
Here are a few pics from our time here. By the way, the ladies behind the counter are mother and daughter.


Next stop was a brewery – Mash Brewing. They also provided us some nibbles and we were able to pick one beer from their list complimentary.

I’m not a beer drinker but it seemed like an interesting place.


I’m not sure you can read it but the pic on the right shows the beer choices we had.

We had one more stop to come and I was quite excited for this one! We were going to Margaret River Chocolate Company and were going to be sampling a few chocolate liqueurs also!

Here are a few pics. Luckily, hubby took them as I was not in any state to be taking photos at this point and was happy to be wandering around about the chocolate. We bought a few things to share later.


Not sure if you can see the interesting clocks bottom right. How cute are they!!!

The chocolate liqueurs ended up being a bit disappointing. We sampled four different kinds and they were all wine based. Although I like chocolate, I wasn’t tempted to buy any of them.

Our tour came to an end and we were dropped off back into Perth CBD.

IMG_5216We had dinner at East Village.

It looked like a really interesting place and the food wasn’t bad, but there was just something missing that I couldn’t put my finger on.


We ordered some wings to share, hubby got a burger and I had a Lamb Greek salad which was ok. The bread was probably the best thing about this. Still warm from the oven!

I had been jokingly saying I still wanted birthday cake and I wanted to see the city lights from Kings Park at night. Hubby, mostly always ready to please, began hatching a plan.

We went to the store and bought some cake. He also got some matches, candles and some sparklers. I still had no idea what he was going to do with these as we couldn’t light the sparklers in our hotel room could we?

I won’t bore you with the whole story but we never made it to Kings Park with one thing going wrong after another and eventually we just walked back to our hotel. Hubby still made it special for me by singing me happy birthday and lighting the candles on my cake!


Sadly our time in Perth was now pretty much over.

I do want to share one last treat before I finish this entry.

Hubby organised for us to fly back on the A330 in Business Class. Oh my!! Look at all this room!!! We could even lie our seats flat like a bed.
The bad thing about this is that you never want to travel any other way again!!!
Thank you Qantas and thanks for reading about our few days in Perth.

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Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Seven

We spent a good part of this morning trying to decide what to do.
We’ve looked at day trips out of Tokyo and River Cruises but nothing really appeals within the time frame we have.

So I went online and found a market area that is supposed to be really popular with tourists and better yet, it was in “walking distance” from us (It’s all relative)

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The Nakamise market was a couple of kilometres from us.

As we approached we saw a whole lot of bicycles parked.

Everyone rides a bike and you’re constantly looking over our shoulder to see if one is about to whizz past you!

 

I really don’t know how there aren’t more accidents with them here.

 

 

 

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Before we shopped at the market we walked through Senso-ji Temple which adjoins the market.

 

 

 

There were some food stalls along there and hubby and I tried some of the Crab Meat on offer

 

 

(At least, I hope that’s what it was)

 

 


You would have a hard time being here if you don’t like crowds. Wherever you go there are just crowds and crowds of people. I found myself getting anxious a few times but you just have to go with the flow.

There are soooo many shop stalls to look at and we didn’t really get to look at everyone but we did spend a lot of time there.

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I had read about the many themed cafe’s here and one I particularly wanted to visit was based on Alice in Wonderland.

It was called “Alice in an Old Castle”

 

Unfortunately no one was around so I just took a few photos (it was really dark in there) and then left back through the winding staircase.

 

 

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It looked like a pretty cool place so I was sorry we couldn’t even just have a drink there.

 

Maybe next visit…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We wussed out at lunch time and went into an Italian place.

I seem to think we’ve eaten at this chain before but hubby says we haven’t. I love the message on their napkins!

 

 

Then it was time to walk around Ikebukuro.
There’s a department store there called Seibu and on the basement level, you will find all sorts of food that will be wrapped, packaged, then packaged again for you to take home.

 

 

The pictures I took were mostly of the desserts/cakes because that’s what we were after but they had lots of meat and savoury products too.

Hubby and I got a large share of cakes and snuck off to find somewhere to eat them.

One thing about Japan is that you can be hard pressed to find public seating and rubbish/trash bins!  Yet it is mostly always clean. We haven’t seen litter apart from the odd cigarette butt, but there are no bins around.

We walked for a bit then found a sunny spot that we thought was behind a walkway. We sat down and started greedily devouring our goodies when all of a sudden, people started rushing by.

Turns out we were in a walkway through the train station.. Whoops. So much for trying to be discreet.

But that’s ok, no one knows us here….

We walked around some more and spoke to a few locals that approached us speaking English.

So many things to see. There is always something happening.

Hubby and I often look at each other saying “Where are all these people going???” because it’s like a major rock concert or something has just let out and everyone is rushing to go home.

But in Japan it’s just another regular night where crowds, loud electronic music and dress ups are just part of everyday life.

I think today was the first day since we’ve been here that we didn’t have dumplings! Who would have thought that there is a limit to dumpling love.

I can hardly wait to see what tomorrow is going to have in store for us!