In search of Cherry Blossom – Part Seven

One thing I haven’t talked about yet is the amount of bicycles here. Everyone rides. They are more likely to get on a bike than in a car. In fact, you’ll see “bike parks” more often than car parks and they’ll be full. A lot of the bikes aren’t even locked because that’s just the way they roll here.

The one thing I still can’t get used to is how the bikes will just whizz past you on the footpath. There is no right of way. There is no “keep left” or “keep right”. They will just come wherever they think they will fit and they go first. Walk at your own peril. I’m just so amazed that we haven’t seen an accident yet. Whatever the law is, it doesn’t matter, bikes rule and that’s that.

This morning I again walked down to Dotonbori. I really love being out first thing in the morning and now that the weather has warmed up it’s just so beautiful.

Hubby and I were debating whether to travel to another town by train again or just go to the Aquarium which is somewhere I really wanted to go. I couldn’t see the sense in being on the train for a couple of hours to travel somewhere when there were still things here we hadn’t seen. I couldn’t justify losing a minimum of four hours for a return trip to somewhere.

So off we went, bound for the Aquarium! I was pretty excited!!

We got off at Osakako Station and passed by signs for Legoworld.  We didn’t go in but we DID see this giraffe which was pretty cool… There’s also a huge Ferris Wheel here.


There were quite a lot of people, even given the fact that it was a Tuesday afternoon.

As soon as you walk in, you find yourself  walking through the aquarium with fish swimming above and alongside you. It’s pretty freaky!


And you follow a path that takes you through to different sections. Marine life from different areas of the globe. There is lots of information in English so that was good!

The penguins look so cute right!!

There were quite a few of these crabs in the tank and they just looked like huge ugly spiders!!! I was NOT a fan! I have to admit though, they may be ugly but they also look pretty magnificent.

The Jelly Fish area was pretty amazing!

We got to an area near the end where we were able to touch the fish (and sting rays) in the tank.  I did it too and it was so yucky slimy!!
They had a few warning signs up but I don’t know that I’d be comfortable letting young children just put their hands in the tanks

 

 

I did take tons more photos but don’t want to bore you all. We had a really good time in there and I’m glad we ended up going.

IMG_5810Next stop was Universal Studios!
Well, not Universal Studio’s itself but the Universal City walk next to it.
We found a free ferry to take us over which was handy because if we were going to go by train, Google Maps was telling us to allow over an hour!

The ferry ride was only a few minutes and if you look close enough at the pic on the left, you might see it on the left hand side of the picture.

The exit/entrance for Universal Studios looks out onto this walk and there are a lot of American Chains here.

I even got to sit on Forrest Gump’s bench!

We had a very late lunch at this Italian place. I’m pretty sure it’s a chain here. Hubby wasn’t happy with what he ordered (I tease him that he always orders the wrong thing) but I was pretty happy with mine!! Especially that Dori! Geez that stuff’s good!

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By the time we left this area it was getting towards 6pm and we’d been walking for most of the day. Hubby really want to go to Cosmos square Station. I’m not sure why because I hadn’t seen what he was looking at for this area but I trusted him…

We got there, and it looked pretty barren. He led us to this “interesting” building. It seemed like there were a lot of Government Departments there… There was also an International Ferry station. He kept trying to build it up but I wasn’t fooled. The best thing I found there was a Daiso Store.

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It was pretty light when we entered but a short time later it was dark. We took a few photos of this interesting area outside.


but there weren’t many people around and it just seemed like we shouldn’t be there. Nothing was happening..

I was so glad to be on the train back home…

And in case anyone doesn’t know, I’ll leave you with instructions on how to use a Western Toilet. Handy information.

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Rostrevor Pizzeria

Today on the Dining Diaries…

A Surf n’ Turf is really a Turf with a touch of Surf
Boiled veggies  (including cabbage) in water constitutes Minestrone and
Wonderfully welcoming staff and great aromas over promise food quality expectations.

FullSizeRender[4].jpgDiners today we found ourselves at Rostrevor Pizzeria. I used to live in the area but have never been here before! In fact, I’m not even sure I knew it existed and that’s why I was further surprised to learn that they’ve been around since 1988!
Since that time their restaurant has been featured in some local newspapers and they’ve won a few awards which they proudly display on one of their walls.

Hubby and I parked and as we approached the restaurant, we could already see the staff inside, eagerly looking out at us. It was like they couldn’t wait for us to come and try their food.  We opened the doors and immediately the gorgeous smells hit us. Pizza, tomato, garlic, basil…. everything you identify with Italian cooking.
I’m also pretty sure everyone that was working there greeted us! It was such a lovely welcome! It made me feel like these guys have a good working atmosphere and they’re proud of their food and what they produce and really want to share it with their customers.

I really, really, really wanted to like this place. I really really did.

We sat in the dining area which is separate to the “take away” area. We were first in the dining room but there were a few other tables of people by the time we left.
I asked the server a few questions about the menu and she was pretty knowledgeable.

Because I wasn’t too hungry and it was cold, I decided to go for the Minestrone and a serve of bruschetta.
Hubby chose the Surf n’ Turf.
Maybe if we’d chosen pizza’s this review would have been completely different but we’d had pizza just recently and didn’t particularly feel like having it again….

They did have one of my favourite wines on the menu so that was one thing I enjoyed!

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The restaurant is pretty comfortable to sit in and had a bit of a modern feel.

Not really very Italian and in my opinion, an Italian restaurant should always have Italian music playing.

This one didn’t have any music playing and the lack of background noise was quite noticeable.

The description of the Minestrone on the menu says “Thick Italian Vegetable Soup”
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Honestly, I wanted to like this sooooo bad. It wasn’t thick. It says “vegetable” so I wasn’t really expecting beef but I always put a bit of beef in my minestrone soup. There was no pasta in this either. Instead, what I got was some boiled veggies, including cabbage minus salt.

Ok, no time for tears, I really love bruschetta and was looking forward to this one as the server has confirmed that it was just toasted continental bread drizzled with olive oil, with tomato and basil on top. Perfect. Just as a good authentic bruschetta should be.

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The bread was nice and toasty but sadly that’s where the compliments end. I couldn’t taste the olive oil although I think I did see that some had been drizzled on there. The tomatoes weren’t “sweet”. In fact they barely had any taste but that could be a seasonal thing.. but the most unforgivable thing was the lack of fresh basil. I just could not taste it. I could see green flecks of something on my tomato. Was it just not fresh? Not basil? I don’t know!! But again, I was really disappointed and it’s such a shame as the service was pretty good.

Now onto Hubby’s Turf with a touch of Surf.

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Now it’s not like we order this regularly so maybe our expectations are wrong. See the two little prawns on top of the meat? That was the “surf” part.
The meat was ok. Beautifully tender in parts and full of gristle in others. I didn’t mind the taste of it but the heavy garlic sauce on top was a bit of a turn off.

I couldn’t see any pizza’s coming out from where I was but there was a fairly regular stream of people coming in to pick up pizzas. Maybe that’s where we went wrong… maybe we really should have had a pizza…

Unfortunately, even though there is obviously a lot of history here and the staff were so very lovely, I can’t see us ever going back to try any of the pizzas but please, if you’ve been here and have a different experience, I’d love to hear it!

Have you been to Rostrevor Pizzeria?
What did you think?
Let me know in the comments below!

Till next we chow….

Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Twelve

We definitely got our steps in today!! And enjoyed a gloriously sunny day in beautiful Osaka. There is always something to see and do (and taste!) here.

 

I was a bit annoyed because we were going to the downtown area and hubby wanted to take the train. I wanted to walk it.
We ended up taking the subway and it was probably just as well because when we got to the downtown area, hubby decided he really really needed a Starbucks coffee.

IMG_4016We walked and walked and walked and walked. We walked more than if we’d walked from our apartment directly to the Starbucks in the downtown area.

We asked at an information booth and were given vague directions… we tried to find it using google maps but who knows what floor it was directing us to. We couldn’t find it.

Finally we looped back and found one in the Hep Building (where the giant rollercoaster is located) but it wasn’t open until 11am so we had to wait a little while.

Was it worth it? Well it was nice to sit down for fifteen minutes or so!!

After Starbucks we continued higher in the Hep building and found ourselves on a floor where we had no idea what was going on.
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There were pictures of girls on the wall and some kind of sign saying two girls were ok.

(I wish I’d taken a picture of that one!)

On the right is a picture I DID take while we were up there….

Oh and while we were walking around on those streets outside, we passed a guy who was actually using a rechargeable shaver as he walked! That’s being time efficient I guess.

I said in my last post that I didn’t want to eat local today. I could have been swayed but hubby and I walked past this Italian place that we didn’t get to go into last time we were here. The line was just too big!! Today there was no line although it was quite busy inside.

I’m glad we went there as we got a decent amount of food and it was not bad.

I was quite proud of myself too as although I couldn’t understand what the server was saying, I knew what she was saying and was answering accordingly. The only time I was stumped was when she tried to tell us that we could help ourselves to Miso Soup and water.
There was a nice gentleman sitting in the table next to us who translated (his English was very good!)

Hubby got some hamburger steak dish and I got pasta. We also got a small salad and “pizza” and a 250ml carafe of house wine. All of that came to 1700 yen!! (About $21 AUD) What a bargain!

 


I felt like I’d eaten quite a bit after that!
Hubby let me try some of his meat and it was really nice!
I asked in a quiet voice “Do you want to try some of mine” and he said “Rest easy, I’m not interested in yours”
He knows me well…

Next stop was Osaka Castle. I was surprised when hubby said to put it into google maps, to see how far it was. Usually that means he’s considering walking it. As it was about four kilometres, we did walk.

I love walking because I just think you get to see more. You see more of the local and not tourist areas and you see people doing whatever it is they do in their every day life.

 

We didn’t go inside the castle but we did get some delicious soft serve icecreams and had a rest under the shade of a tree. There are so many places you can get soft serve icecream from here!!!

IMG_4043As we were sitting there, we saw a guy all of a sudden drop to the ground. He seemed to be stretching. Hubby was just about to say “Look at that guy stretching on the ground. Why would he do that there?”

It seemed odd as he was in the hot sun.
Moments later a woman came up to him and asked if he was ok.

We couldn’t hear what he said but it seemed like he was saying he’d had a cramp. His shoe was off.

This woman proceeded to massage his foot and calf!!

I couldn’t imagine doing that to a stranger. He didn’t seem like he was in pain but I guess he was? I had to take a picture.

They walked off in different directions so they were definitely not together.

From Osaka Castle we walked back to our apartment near Namba Station. Yes we’ve done a lot of kilometres today!!

I decided I’d try to cook in this little kitchen in the apartment tonight as every time we go to the supermarket I see that beautifully marbled meat and I just wonder what it would taste like.

Unfortunately by the time we got there it was after 9pm and there was no nice marbled meat left… So we just got some pork and some other things and I still cooked but it was boring and not special so no pictures…

To finish things off I’ll just post a few pics and signs I saw about the place today.

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Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Ten

Today we made our way to Osaka and I was again reminded how different Tokyo and Osaka are. More of that later!

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We got on the train and again noticed people sleeping.

In fact they nod off so deeply it’s not uncommon to have someone leaning against you – fast asleep.

Somehow though they manage to wake up just as they reach their stop.

I think this will never cease to amaze me.

While I’m on the train I LOVE looking at the ads and trying to figure out what they’re for!
I’ve seen some beauties..

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IMG_3905We arrived at our Air BNB in Osaka and were really happy with it!

It’s in a fantastic location, just near Namba Nankai train station and a hop skip and a jump by Dotonbori.

Hubby and I spent a lot of time here last year and now that we know what’s around, we’re doubly excited!

Osaka is known as the food lovers Paradise of Japan and I just can’t wait to get in there and try some things. I don’t know how these people stay so slim!!! Every day it’s a wonder!

IMG_3907It was raining quite heavily when we got here so we had to do most of our exploring under cover.

We walked along a covered mall looking at the shops, the food, and the people.

Lots of tourists here too.

While in Tokyo, the men mostly seemed to be in suits, here they seem to be more relaxed. They certainly are mostly dressed well but it wasn’t all suits.

In Tokyo, you could probably bank on someone having at least a few words of English but here in Osaka it’s less likely.

People are still very eager to help you though and we even had one guy pulling out his phone to use google translate to help us. Honestly, these people are just so nice!

 

We walked past this place that was selling a sweet with custard filling. How could we say no?
We got a chocolate one and a plain custard one and they were so delicious!! The custard they make here is just so light and sweet. Not gluggy but it also doesn’t run everywhere. I really like it!
The pastry… or whatever it was that was around it, was crunchy and really delicious too. I was sorry we’d only bought one each.

We saw lots of local places that we could have eaten at but I just don’t fancy sitting around a square that faces the kitchen, eating in front of other people. I like to have my own table. I guess I just wasn’t in the mood for it so as we walked past “Wendy’s First Kitchen” we allowed the Japanese guy to entice us in and got Japanese, American burgers AND pasta… And chili fries which I’m sorry to say were a disappointment.

 


We walked around a bit more trying to find a supermarket to get coffee supplies for our apartment. It turned out to be way more difficult than we imagined and as it was still raining quite heavily, we didn’t want to go out exploring too much.

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We ended up going to a local 7/11 and buying a few things that we needed… and again, were enticed by the quick food they have on sale there.

The guy behind the counter said it was pork (isn’t every meat here pork?)

And it might have been a “cheap and nasty” bit of food from a 7/11 but it was actually alright.

Either that or we were still really hungry!!

Tomorrow we will be braver and will eat something more interesting!

It finally stopped raining and by this time hubby and I had taken a look on google maps (Our best friend) and found a decent supermarket about 800 metres from our apartment. Yay! I could spend hours in the supermarkets over here!!!

I took a few pics to share with you guys.

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What even is this stuff??

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According to the packaging, this is “salad mariage”

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All those foods above are sitting on a shelf. Not refrigerated or anything… just out in the open for people to breathe and sneeze all over.
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I guess the fish head is for broths? Either way… gross

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Lots of cheap (in comparasin to Australian, highly taxed, alcohol) alcohol available in all sorts of places from drugstores to supermarkets.
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I’m not sure if that’s sake above, but it’s in cartons?

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What is that above???? What??

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Sadly apples are quite expensive… but I’ve been eating one most days. They’re pretty delicious!

Can’t wait to see Dontonbori tomorrow!!

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!