Sake to me Baby – Japan Day Nine

cant-drown-if-you-dont-swim.jpgToday I was coming back to our apartment after an early morning walk and was waiting for the pedestrian light to change green when an older Japanese man came up to me.
“American?” he said with a thick accent. “No Australian” I said.
All of a sudden his eyes lit up and he started saying “Australian, swimming, swimming” and he was doing a swimming action with his hands. He was so cute! He ran back to his friends, pointed to me and was saying “Australia, swimming” to them.
I’m assuming it was all complimentary and I hope he didn’t think I personally was a swimmer (because I can barely float let alone move in the water) although I’m happy to take whatever adulation he felt on behalf of my country.

31zftk.jpgThis morning we went to Shin Osaka station to find out about tickets for the Shinkansen (The bullet train).
We wanted to go to Hiroshima and found prices around 9710 yen to get there by bullet train. That works out to be about $128 AUD. Hubby thought that was a round trip ticket but turns out, that was a one way ride. When the lady put the sale through for the two of us, the price was 38840 yen. That works out to be about $512 AUD. For some reason, hubby looked at the price wrong and thought he was being charged 3840 yen which would only be about $50 AUD. We’re walking away and he’s grinning to himself and all I can think is shit, that’s a lot of money for a trip to Hiroshima.

When I said “Did you know it was going to be that much?” he replied “What do you mean? it’s way cheaper than I thought”.
“Over $500 is cheaper???”

And then the penny dropped for him. He went to another Shinkansen ticket office and the lady was kind but explained that was the cheapest price. We left and were walking down the station corridor with everyone else. We were about 400 metres away when we hear someone trying to get our attention and it was the lady from the ticket office. She brought us back into the store and said we could purchase a JR pass which would be way cheaper (available for tourists) and we could use it on other JR lines.
How stupid are we. Our fifth time in Japan and we’re only just finding out about the JR pass.
Anyway how nice was that lady? To come after us and hunt us down like that! So sweet.

So she refunded the original tickets and got us the pass for 29000 yen or about $380 AUD. We can use that ticket for the rest of our time here in Osaka on any JR line including the bullet train so guess what we will be doing over the next few days…


I could not believe how fast that train went!!! We had barely blinked and we were already in Kobe.

IMG_0878It actually took just under 90 minutes to get to Hiroshima. Our passes allowed us to get on the red sight seeing busses so we hopped on one and went right to Peace Memorial Park.

The first thing we saw was the Atomic Bomb Dome.
I could go into all the history but I’ll be way over my word limit. I DO encourage you all to learn about the history if you don’t already know.
It was a very sombre experience. Hubby and I mostly didn’t even talk. We were very emotional.

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We then moved through the grounds to the museum.


Some of the scenes in the Museum we really very graphic. There were tons of groups of school kids going through and I wondered whether they should be looking at what was being shown.

We went back past Hiroshima Castle and here’s a few pics of that. Our mood was still really heavy.

It didn’t help our mood that it was now almost 4pm and we still hadn’t eaten lunch.
We walked up and down malls and nothing much caught our eye. There seems to be less English here I thought.
Finally we saw a Saizeriya restaurant. This is supposed to be an Italian restaurant and is a fairly large chain in Japan. Hubby didn’t even want me to write that we ate here because it’s cheap and nasty and gives small serves. It’s not really “italian” either.
For some reason I like it. I love their Doria dish.
We ordered a few little things and needless to say, hubby was more than disappointed when it came out.


If we’re arguing over where to eat next time, I don’t think I’m going to win it.

And after a little more shopping and sight seeing, it was time to get back on the bullet train for Osaka.


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Oh before I finish I want to show you a pic of how big the alcohol bottles can be here! And I think these were only about $20 AUD each!

That just doesn’t sound right to me so I’m not sure about that.

downloadI also had a can of Asahi Beer today! I’m not a beer drinker but I do find this one pretty refreshing.

Lastly, it’s now a very sensitive subject, but I know you’re wondering. Yes, the television is still on mute.

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Oyasuminasai and sweet, silent dreams!

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oot and Aboot in Canada Eh! – Day Seven

This morning I took advantage of the nice weather (it’s supposed to rain later today) and went for a brisk early morning walk. I wasn’t far from home when I saw a whole heap of geese. Now anyone who knows me knows I don’t like birds in general, and some of them I’m actually fearful of (Those damn magpies!)

And I’ve mentioned previously, that I’ve heard about Canadian Geese aggression. While I was on my walk  this morning I saw a whole heap of these Geese together and honestly had to think twice about whether I wanted to continue on my walk. Especially as I saw a couple with two little baby geese crossing the road.

Take a look at this clip I found on You Tube if you want to see how they can act!

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So I did end up making it to the supermarket without being attacked, and found this little beauty.

Baileys Coffee Creamer!!
Can’t wait to have my next coffee.

I should explain to my friends in Australia, they have creamer here that they put in coffee. It’s not as thick as our cream back home, but it’s creamier than our whole milk. It tastes delicious! I wish we had an equivalent in Australia.
It normally comes in a carton that looks like a regular milk carton.

I was also looking for certain biscuits and was walking up and down the aisle looking for where they had their biscuit section until I remembered that the word I should be looking for was “cookies”
And look, they had Tim Tam’s too!! I think they’re a touch expensive here though.

 

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We went to Polo Park shopping centre after lunch and I felt like I would in any shopping centre back home.

I’ve been here so many times over the years I’m completely familiar with it and knew where all the stores where.

We drove around some then stopped in for a coffee break at, where else but Tim Hortons.


I went to the counter and asked for a couple of white coffees. The person looked at me blankly. “Two white coffees” I repeated. He said “What kind of coffee do you want?”
And the reason he was confused is that they don’t say that here. You order coffee and it’s expected to be black unless you ask for milk/creamer. So I ordered two black coffees with two “creamers”. It was delicious!

We also got some Tim Bits and a chocolate crunch cookie to tide us over until our family dinner.

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Another thing I’m having to get used to is the automatic flushing toilets.

Although we do have some of those in Australia, they have many more here and sometimes it just catches me off guard!!

And sometimes it won’t flush and I’m looking at what the heck I’m supposed to push, pull or wave my hand over to get the thing to flush.

We went to Paradise Restaurant for dinner.  When we walked in, there was a beautiful Italian cooking smell that took me right back to the seventies.
Actually it was comforting, and I really love Italian food so I was looking forward to dinner.

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This picture was of the unoccupied section. There really were people in there I promise. I loved the pictures of different parts of Italy on the walls.

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Our server brought out some bread sticks to start. They were made from pizza dough.

When I put mine on my plate my mind went somewhere it probably shouldn’t. Come on, I’m not the only one who sees it am I?????

And this was the rest of our food. We really didn’t have any complaints other than we thought the serves were a bit small. I know my fettuccine was really tasty and I loved the sauce too. I like it simple.


Sadly another day has come to an end.

Good night, bonne nuit and don’t dream of bread sticks.

 

Roman Around – Day Five

Today is our last full day in Rome.

img_2649.jpgIt’s taken me a while to realise that the letters on the taps here are different.
In Australia, there’s either a colour marker, or a “c” and “h” to let you know if that is a cold or hot water tap.

I kept turning towards the “c” one here and was wondering why it wasn’t getting any colder and then I realised “c” is for caldo – which means hot. The other tap has an “f” on there for freddo – cold.  Argh!

The beggars can be quite aggressive here. I don’t like walking around at night on my own. Most try to “do” something for your money. For example, one guy was sweeping the footpath yesterday. As we walked past he said “Could you spare some change for me. I’ve been making these footpaths nice and clear for you”. Something like that. We said we had no money. Which is actually true because we’ve been using credit cards, so we don’t have a lot of spare cash on hand.
The guy countered “yes you do” right away! Hubby then said “no, we only use credit card, we don’t have cash”
The guy said again “yes you do, you do have cash!” He wanted an argument!!

Twice I’ve seen little, very old, bent over ladies in black walking with a hand held out in front of them, asking for money then lashing out if you don’t give.
One asked hubby yesterday and he said “non ho moneta” or something like that and she started swearing!!

I took a few snaps of the streets as we walked. I’m going to miss this. Could you ever get used to it? So much history!! Old buildings, old roads… we just walk in amazement!

 

 

We walked back to Fontana di Trevi this morning because we STILL hadn’t thrown a coin over our shoulder into it. Tradition says, throwing a coin into the fountain over your shoulder means you will return. We will be back!

 

We stopped into a shopping centre that doesn’t have much in the way of shops. Well, nothing out of the ordinary that is, but it is a very interesting building.

 

Soon we were starting to get hungry and decided to go over the bridge into Trevestere again.
It’s so pretty to walk along the river.

 

 


The place we chose seemed to have cheap meals but the serves were pretty small and believe it or not, this selection of food we chose to share, cost us more than probably anything else we’ve eaten here.

 


That food plus a can of coke was 28 Euro. About $47 AUD. Although the food was good, I can’t say it was worth it.

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I’ve been drinking a lot of Monster Energy cans while I’ve been here and just today noticed the writing in Italian on the can.

 

 

When I’m back in Australia I’m going to have to check the cans there to see if they have the same message.

 


We were back at the Vatican again because we found out that you can enter the church for free so we thought that would be worth a look. What we didn’t realise is that there was a line for that too! That’s because they have to do a security check on you…. So we didn’t go inside. What a shame. I can’t remember it being this busy last time I was here. You can see from the pics how many people there are around. It’s just crazy!!! And everywhere you turn someone is trying to sell you something.

We walked back to our apartment late afternoon for a little siesta. There was NO Limoncello drunk, I can assure you of that!

Later this evening we took a walk to the Termini to check where the bus was going to come and get us to take us to the airport tomorrow. We’re going to have a very early start!
That area near the Termini is not good to say the least. So many unfortunate people. I couldn’t take photos because it’s just too sad.

Tomorrow a new adventure awaits.

Arriverderci Roma!

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Roman Around – Day Four

We have done so much walking today!!
It was probably as much as the other days but it felt like so much more because we really went off track…

36352971_10156480851687480_5418792849602772992_n.jpgWe started the day early, walking into the historic centre.

Had to stop for a coffee first and this place was kind of interesting!!! Something to note if you come here, if you have your coffee at the “bar” rather than at a table, you will save yourself at least 2 Euro!

We wanted to take a few pictures at the Fountain of Trevi during the day, and then continue on into Travestere.

We found the fountain ok, but even at that early hour it was full of people and hard to get a decent shot.
We still haven’t thrown a coin over our shoulder into it!! Must remember to do that.

36347765_10156480856152480_8660236558026145792_n.jpgNext stop was the Pantheon!! Another site I wanted to take day photos at. We stumbled upon it by accident. Such an impressive building.


I know we’ve seen these sights before but soon we’ll be gone and who knows when I’ll get to see them again.

Found this cute little sign on a wall.

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We passed through Piazza Navona again which, in my opinion, is underrated. I looked up at the apartments and wondered who lives there!! and what are they paying to live there? Do the constant stream of tourists bother them? So many questions!


We hadn’t really had breakfast so hubby and I decided to look for more “special” pizza to have. We didn’t find it right away, but we did see this. Have you ever seen a bigger piece of Mortadella!!!!

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I should have got hubby to stand next to it for perspective.

Before we knew it we were crossing the bridge over into Travestere


That picture on the left is not Bocca Della Verita but I really wanted it to be… so we went past it and continued over the bridge.

Oh my god was it so nice over this side!!!! It was quiet, and peaceful and just what you’d expect Italy to be. We also noticed the prices were much cheaper.
We just wanted to keep ordering food!! We got coffee at one place, dessert at another. I didn’t even photograph the dessert I was so excited to eat it! It was full of this delicious custard! Oh god, it would be worth the walk over the bridge to get that again!

And it was just so pretty over there. Please, if you find yourself in Rome, you MUST go to Travestere!


I really should have taken more photos. I felt so at home in this section.

Without any plan or guidance, we started walking south and it soon turned, not so nice.
Well , in fairness, it got average, and then not so nice.

I had been looking for a handbag since we were in Greece and didn’t see anything I really liked. There was this one bag from a street vendor in Greece I kind of liked but was not in the mood to haggle.

I noticed it on the street in Travestere and while hubby was looking at the price, the guy came up and said it was a super special morning discount. The price quoted was 40 Euro but he said he’d sell it for 30 Euro. I said I wasn’t interested and for that price, I really wasn’t.. but he was so desperate and he said “What price would you pay for it” and I answered honestly “20 Euro”. I thought that was fair. It’s not leather after all, just a nice big bag I can wear on my back.

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He tried to ask for 25 Euro but when I said I wasn’t going to pay that and started to walk away, he said “Ok 20 Euro” and started to take the paper stuffing out to prepare it for sale right away, as if he was scared I was going to change my mind about the 20 Euro.

I felt so bad.

He just seemed so desperate for money and there is such poverty in the streets here.

I love my new bag though!

As we continued walking we found ourselves in an area that could be anywhere in the world. Not old, not new, just neutral. We didn’t really know where we were, we just continued walking.

We got some pizza at a pretty good price! And a couple of arancini balls.

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We needed a bathroom break so ducked into the free washrooms at McDonalds and I took a photo of the menu – Not sure if you can see it. Interesting to see a familiar menu in a different language.

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By now we were pretty tired and had no clue where we were. We crossed the bridge back over to “our” side but still had no clue. Nothing looked familiar and we were on wide roads with tons of cars streaming past. I looked on Google Maps and told hubby I thought we should be heading in a certain direction, but he was sure it was another direction and off we trotted…. and we walked, and walked and walked… and finally I said “Please for the love of God we have to ask someone or check Google Maps”
And turns out, we were walking in the wrong direction… Probably on our way to Naples.
Not that we could tell what Google Maps was saying as we had no reference point.

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When we asked the guy at the petrol stop where to go, he pointed in the direction we had just come from and said “second left after the gate”

I think he meant this gate?

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It still felt really foreign and we passed all sorts of ruins we hadn’t seen before or even heard about.

I’m sorry I didn’t take pictures. I think I was just too tired.

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I promised hubby we would stop for icecream (haha) so as soon as we hit civilisation, (as we had been walking down a freeway for quite some time up until this point) I got us some ice cream.

It was absolutely  delicious!

When we finally got back to the apartment I had a glass or two of Limoncello and I was out like a light.

No more Limoncello for me ever again please!!!

IMG_7520Although we love pasta and pizza, we were looking for something different tonight.

Am I wrong in thinking there’s only so much pasta and pizza you can eat?

We walked past a million places and finally settled on this one place that seemed ok. I think we were just tired of walking and looking.

Hubby thought he might like some risotto and this place had it on the menu so in we went.
Most people sat outside but I kind of liked the interior. It was cute.

I don’t think you can see it in the picture but at the top of the wall there is a painting of different parts of Rome. It’s really well done.

I went for something light – Some bruschetta and minestrone soup and hubby had a risotto and cannelloni.


I wasn’t a fan of the bruschetta because it had rocket throughout it and not basil.
The minestrone was ok. Hubby was happy with his.
I feel like I need a change of cuisine tomorrow thought.

The supermarkets close at 10pm here which meant we couldn’t get any sneaky snacks to bring home! Probably just as well.

Goodnight and god bless.