Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Thirteen

Well today was extra special because it was hubby’s birthday!
I had a special day planned in Kyoto for him.

IMG_4047Last time we were in Japan we really messed up because when we went to Kyoto, we didn’t have any idea what we were going to see. We just hopped on a train and got here and really saw nothing.
Everyone raves about how beautiful Kyoto is so I really wanted to make sure we saw something in the small amount of time we had.
I researched self guided walks in Kyoto and came across a site that had 11 points of interest in the Higashiyama area. Click on the link to read more
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/higashiyama-area-walking-tour-2454.html

So I’ll just name the site we were at and add a couple of photos I took there.

1) Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art

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Just outside this museum there was a market happening.

So many people!!!

And so many really interesting goods and foods on sale.

We couldn’t even get to what we wanted to look at because there were just too many people.

2) Shoren-in

 

3) Chion-in Temple

4) Gion District

We went here during the day – It comes alive at night!!! Very interesting place though.

5) Yasaka Shrine

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6) Kodai-ji Temple


We then walked up hill for quite some time passing glorious shops and women/girls dressed as geisha’s. This was the best part of the walk for me!

7) Kiyomizu-dera Temple

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8) Kawai Kanjiro Memorial Gallery

This looked closed so I only took a photo of the front.

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9) Kyoto National Museum

Saw this sign in front of the museum… and there really has been a LOT of police about these last few days.

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10) Sanjusangen-do

11) Kyoto Tower

And just before we got to the Kyoto Tower, we passed the side of Kyoto we saw last time we were here… and you may understand why our impression was not so good..

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After that we explored Kyoto Station which is quite an interesting building. So much to see!! And there is a peaceful garden on top. This is really really high!! High for a building you don’t expect to be high. You can get to the top mostly by escalators and I think if you have a fear of heights it might unnerve you a bit.

 

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And seeing as I write about food, here are pictures of what we ate today!!

First a “sandwich” at Tully’s. It was a bit disappointing. Three slices of bread with a bit of stuff inside. It was nice and fresh though, I think I just wanted more.

For hubby’s birthday dinner we went to Hard Rock Cafe and got some nacho’s to share a couple of burgers and more Sangria!


While this has been our most pricey meal, it was really good!! And the service was pretty amazing too!!
We had been sitting there a little while and one glass of Sangria had already been drunk. I said to hubby “Honey it’s your birthday, you can have whatever you want!”
“Oh now you tell me” he replied, “We’ve already ordered!”
Whoops

On the way back we had to stop at Hommachi station. I was busy trying to work out the ticket machine and trying to work out how much it was going to cost us to get from Osaka to Hommachi. Hubby was still trying to work out what our route was going to be. He came up to me and said “Hommachi”? I said “180 yen”
I thought he’d said “How much?”
And as he normally does make that kind of joke, I really thought he was being clever but he was genuinely just confirming what station we were getting off at…

And to finish off this entry, have a look at the cute little socks I bought here!
I feel adorable with these on!


Tomorrow, we’ll eat local, I promise!

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Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Nine

Our last full day in Tokyo.

IMG_3847One thing that continues to surprise me is that hubby wakes up every morning and puts the television and AND watches it, even though there is nothing on but Japanese TV.

There’s nothing on in the English language.
I understand some people have it on for comfort or background noise, but he sits there and watches it.

Every morning I’ve been going for a walk first thing in the morning and every morning, even on weekends, I see most of the men dressed in black pants and white shirts. Often they’re in full suits. Where are all these people in business attire going?
imagesThey’re just walking down the street in this non business district so why are they dressed like that.
In fact often hubby and I will just look at each other and say “Where are all these people going??”

When you think about it, it’s not surprising as it first seems as there are millions and millions of people here. They all have to be somewhere!

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Our first stop today was Yokohama. As I write this, today is Tuesday and that means that a lot of places we wanted to visit in Yokohama were closed.

As we left the train station  was again impressed at how everyone keeps to the left of the escalators. Why can’t they do that in Adelaide!!!

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We exited the station in Yokohama and went through to the Nissan building.

Hubby was very impressed!

From what we saw as we left the station, we thought Yokohama looked newer than other parts of Japan that we’ve seen and it was almost like a ghost town! Where were all the people? Even the footpaths were clear of biked rushing past!
It almost felt wrong.

We walked past the amusement park and eventually found ourselves in a shopping area but really, there were hardly any people around.


We went into that building on the top right above. Hubby had to keep watching where he was walking as many ceilings are just not built for his height.

One of the places we went into had a food court. They really really really love Hawaii here!

I was enticed by a picture from one of the food places but unfortunately, it didn’t come out like the picture and I felt disappointed when we got our food.

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After this we walked to China town and I was EVEN MORE disappointed that we’d wasted our time eating in the “Hawaiian” mall.

There were so many good foods everywhere. Hubby and I had these honey sesame balls. I was too late to take a photo!!! But they were delicious and I had that sesame taste in my mouth for a while.
There was food everywhere including roasted chestnuts on most corners.
I read that this China Town in Yokohama is the largest in Japan and from what I saw today I’d have to believe it! It was huge!


We even saw a place that advertised “foot massage”. But what it was, was similar to what I’ve seen in Bali where you put your feet in water and have those little fish come up and nip at you. Apparently your skin is nice and smooth after that!


We walked around a bit more and eventually found ourselves at a familiar sight!
Hard Rock Cafe!!
We were quite “thirsty” so it was a given that we’d go in here for a drink and I’m glad we did!

We met a nice server who was happy to practice his English with us while I enjoyed a Sangria or two..

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I’m glad we made the trip out to Yokohama today even though the “Noodle Cup Museum” was closed. That would have been interesting to see!!

One thing that made us giggle seeing an “Eggs and Things” place. We had seen these all over Honolulu when we were there and there was ALWAYS a huge line out the front. One day, curiosity got the better of us and we lined up too. We wanted to see what the fuss was all about. Once we’d eaten there, we didn’t understand the obsession. We just didn’t get it. The food was average. What’s the attraction?
Anyhow, in this Eggs and Things place in Yokohama, there was also a line out front!!! Seriously!

Once we got home we picked up some food locally…. some chicken fried things, spring rolls (so oily!!), rice and noodles all to share.

We’ve been to this place many times this week as it’s close to home so it’s very convenient. I wonder if they’ll miss us when we’re gone?

Tomorrow we leave for Osaka which is a food lovers paradise!

I’ll just leave you with this sign that we saw close by the Hard Rock Cafe in Yokohama.

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Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Eight

Another beautiful day in Japan today! I love that we’re experiencing gorgeous warm weather. I think I might have to move here during the Winter months in Adelaide!

One thing I don’t understand is how the majority of people seem to be slim when their food is so processed and fried. The supermarkets are full of ready to go meals. Most of them are fried.
There are so many places that sell those delicious looking pastries and cakes and they all seem to be so highly processed!
You won’t easily find diet soda’s here and in fact there aren’t many “soft” drinks around. Actually it’s not really that hard to find it, especially as the West continues to have an influence, but it’s not as common as you’d find back home.

IMG_3817Hubby and I are almost out of ideas for what we want to do.
This morning we decided to walk to Ueno, have another look around and then maybe, eventually, make our way on foot to the Tokyo Metropolitan Building.

We stopped for a coffee at Starbucks. See that pic on the right? That was in their cake display. Alongside the delicious looking cakes they had a meat pie!!

We sat there enjoying the scenery in Euno park. It was very relaxing!

 

Next stop was Harajuko. I seem to get these places mixed up. I just didn’t remember going to these shops before!
Hubby says it must be wonderful being me, it’s like I’m experiencing it all for the first time every time I go there…
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We walked down Takeshita Street again and this time I noticed the huge Candy Canes!

Can you see it on the left?

It doesn’t look as big in her hands as it did when a four year old was holding one.

There was a huge line to get these as well!

We’ve been noticing a few places here that do Kebabs. I can’t imagine that they would be like “our” kebabs but today curiosity got the better of us and we had to get some.

 

One Beef and one Chicken.
They actually tasted not bad!

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I don’t know if you can notice the meat as it’s cooking.

Chicken on the left and beef on the right.

This guy was quite busy too!!

And alongside him was a place that was selling fries…

Moving right along…
After walking past the high end stores of Harajuku again, we decided to walk to Shinjuku.
I have to confess, I really love saying it. Shinjuku. There’s just something about that name!

IMG_3825We walked past the Meiji shrine and were amazed at how close it was to the station. Last year when we’d come here we’d gone via another station and walked a few kilometres to get to it.
The more you walk, the more you realise that so many stations are so close to each other that you probably don’t have to take the train as often as you think.

I found the display of the old wine and sake barrels very interesting.
Hopefully you can read the information in the pics below.

 


I just LOVE the Metropolitan Government Building.
Firstly, because it’s free to go up it!!

 

There’s great views of Tokyo from there and on a good day, you can even see Mt Fuji.
Today was not one of those days but we did see Fuji last time we were here.

 

Secondly, I like coming here because there’s a couple of gift shops and a restaurant.
Yes, the gift shops are slightly over priced but there’s not many people around and while hubby goes to have a coffee in the restaurant, I can take my time and really look at everything they have for sale.

I came away with a few goodies that are now tucked safely in my suitcase!

 


Another thing we love about Shinjuku is Brooklyn Parlor!!
We stumbled across this place last time by accident and this time, sought it out.

There’s just such a great atmosphere here!!! Hubby and I were definitely the oldest ones in there though.
We had a couple of drinks and shared some fries while giving our feet a bit of a rest.

As we made our way back I couldn’t help but wonder what side of the road we’re actually supposed to walk on. They drive on the left so you’d figure when walking on paths you should keep left. This is especially true as you share the path with so many bikes!!! Yet people don’t tend to keep left. I don’t think they stick to any side actually!

At the train station they have signs keeping you to keep left or right. Sometimes it’s left, sometimes it’s right.
When riding escalators, everyone keeps to the left… or right… (I love how they do that!!!) Leaving the other side free for people that want to race on by.

I was too late to take pics of our dinner but dumplings and rice made another appearance (not surprising)
I do like the food here but I’m not one who says I LOVE the food. I kind of miss having different vegetables and fruit. While you can have those things here, a lot of them tend to be very expensive and I don’t see them as a common thing being offered in restaurants.
I could be wrong, just what I’ve noticed in the short time we’ve been here.

Tomorrow is our last full day in Tokyo… I’m not sure what that day has in store yet!! Time to plan.

Darwin – Day 1

Diners I hope you’ll enjoy these next couple of entries where I share hubby and I’s first visit to Darwin.
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Seeing as we were only going to spend a couple of days, we just wanted to get a feel of the food and culture of the CBD area and didn’t get a car. Next time, we’ll definitely get a car and really go exploring!

Our trip began with a business class ticket on our Qantas flight. It was hubby’s birthday treat to me!
I’ve never traveled anything but economy class so this was a big treat!

Apart from the extra leg space, we were treated really well and offered some tasty food! As we were on a morning flight, our meal was breakfast and we had a choice of bircher muesli, or bacon and poached egg with mushrooms. Hubby wasn’t quite sure which one he wanted and was told he could have one of each if he wanted. Wow. He just took the eggs. Apart from that though, we had whatever we wanted to drink, fruit salad, zucchini and walnut muffin and probably lots more things that I’m forgetting. They do make you feel very special!

I really loved my bircher muesli. At one point hubby brought his spoon over to taste some.
“NO, NO!!!” I exclaimed in horror.
“But you have to share” he replied while dipping into my muesli
“But it’s my birthday!” I protested weakly.
I only mention this as this conversation was clearly heard by the other business class passengers….
Later I did try to taste one of the mushrooms on his plate but he just growled so I backed away slowly.

We got to Darwin and were immediately engulfed by humidity. People seem very nice here. Laid back and friendly. I’d always heard that and got to experience it for myself.

Walked Mitchell st because everyone says everything is in Mitchell st and started looking at the different cafes, restaurants and bars along that road, trying to figure out which one we were going to go to.
Up to now, although it had been humid, it hadn’t rained.We decided to go into the Ducks Nuts for a drink and while we were there, a huge torrential rain occurred. It was over ten minutes later though and you wouldn’t have known it had happened!
Unfortunately we never got to go back to the Ducks Nuts for a meal. I really would have loved to as it seems like a really cool place.

Kept on walking along the esplanade and eventually found the wharf area. Had to stop for a Sangria at the Hot Tamale

Food prices seem slightly cheaper than Adelaide. Although I haven’t seen the size of the serves yet but that’s my first impression.

img_8162We went back and to our hotel and checked in. I wanted to check out the gym and pool area as I was hoping to utilise at least the gym area.

What you’re seeing in the pic on the left is a look of pure joy as I discovered that the hotel gym, really was a pretty good gym!

Not only that, but no one was in it so I decided to go a few K’s on the treadmill and build up my calorie bank in preparation for dinner tonight.

After resting and freshening up in our room, we ventured out into the humidity once more to see where we were going to go for dinner.

We were told the streets were quite empty because it’s “off” season right now. We knew we would be visiting in the Wet Season but we still wanted to have a look. There were still plenty of people around, enjoying their surroundings and doing whatever they like to do.

We found ourselves back on the Waterfront and I just couldn’t go past another Sangria so we went back to Hot Tamale, this time for dinner as well as a drink….


I commented to hubby that the people you think are going to be friendly and nice haven’t really been, and those you don’t expect it, go out of their way to be nice and friendly to you.If it was hubby’s choice, we wouldn’t have come back here but I’m just a sucker for Mexican food and it was my birthday after all so he obliged.

I decided to go for a Chili con carne. Hubby was pretty undecided. When we had been here earlier in the day he’d wanted to split some nacho’s but I didn’t want to waste calories at that point. Now, for dinner, I told him if that’s what he felt like, he should get them for dinner.
We asked the waiter if it was enough for a main and he said they were even too much for him. He was not a slender bloke so we trusted him and ordered the nacho’s for hubby’s main.

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I think they make the corn chips themselves. They were ok. They had a strong oil taste to them and felt a little like prawn crackers that you get from chinese takeaway stores.
They weren’t bad, just not what I was used to.

I don’t think it’s a serve that’s big enough for a main meal though.

What I did love about this place was that they had Latin music playing the whole time. You just can’t be sad when Latin music is playing!

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My Chili con carne was pretty good.

It was not a huge serve but as I wasn’t running as much as I normally do when I’m home, that was ok.

At one point I looked at my dish and I looked at hubby’s dish and noticed there wasn’t a great deal of difference between them.

We both had braised beef and homemade nacho’s as the main elements on our plates.

After dinner we strolled back to Mitchell st and joined other locals enjoying some live music as “Wisdom”

These guys party like there’s no work tomorrow!

We arrived back to our room with a few naughty snacks and fell asleep while watching some movie playing.

It was a good first day!

Stay tuned for “Day 2” out tomorrow!

Panacea

Today on the Dining Diaries….

Latin music transports us,
Wonderful flavours “wow” us and
We interact with passionate staff who treat us like old friends.

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Diners today we were at Panacea at Marion.

I must admit, this was the place I was most interested in when the Westfield Marion addition/development was revealed.

I just love the look of it!
Lots of red exposed brick, wood and iron giving it possibly and industrial look? I’m not up with decor but I do know what I like and what makes me feel comfortable and at ease and this place does it for me!


We were greeted but lovely staff, handed some menus and went to take our seats.
The choices on the menu were a little different to what we were used to but they did seem really good and we had a bit of a hard time deciding what we were going to go with.

In fact out lovely waitress came and went a few times while we were still trying to decide what to eat and drink and that’s not usual for us! She was patient and answered all the questions we asked about both the restaurant and the food.

Finally we decided to start with Meatballs – pork & veal cooked in a rich tomato sauce,  as suggested by our waitress, and also a serve of Patatas Bravas – crisp fried potatoes with fresh salsa & sherry vinegar.
For main I chose the fish of the day special  – Atlantic Salmon – and hubby, much to my surprise, went for the Gnocchi. Unfortunately, I didn’t write down how it appeared on the menu and it’s not on their online menu so I can’t tell you exactly what it came with, only that it had cauliflower and cream in it as well.

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The first plates came out fairly quickly.

How good do those potatoes look!!!

The salsa doesn’t look like much but it gave those potatoes such a unique flavour.

I wish I was experienced enough to tell you what herbs and spices were used, but whatever it was, it was just a magical pairing.

The potatoes were crispy on the outside yet soft on the inside and that salsa was sweet and just so delicious!

I was so glad we’d chosen this…. and equally glad I had taken my half and put it on a separate plate before hubby got his hands on it…

fullsizerender3Our second starter was the Meatball dish as suggested by the waitress.

Again this dish really impressed.

We had four good sized meat balls on this plate and they were as tender as you can imagine and full of flavour.

What I loved most of all though was that sauce!! The tomatoes were so fresh and sweet. It was so lovely to eat and the bread they brought out with it was crispy and toasty warm. I wish they’d given us a bit more bread actually!
It was a wonderful way to start and I was super excited to see what would be coming out next….

I’m pretty sure my choice was the best out of our two mains.

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That salmon could not have been cooked better. The skin was crispy and the inside was just perfectly cooked. It looks like a small piece of the plate but it was really deceivingly substantial. I was really hoping hubby wasn’t going to ask me for more (I did let him have a teensy taste)
fullsizerender1The potato rosti was also a great accompaniment.
I’m not a huge fan of hollandaise sauce myself as I usually find it too thick and too creamy but they had a generous amount on here for those that do.

Because I loved this so much I thought I’d show you another picture of my dish from a different angle. See how big that serve is?

Again the herbs and spices used were just perfect. I’m not a big fan of coleslaw but if you do like it, you would have loved what was on my plate. It was very creamy and I felt my hips widening just looking at it!

Hubby’s Gnocchi looked interesting .

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It was a little bit deceiving because he would go to get what he thought was a gnocchi, and it would turn out to be a piece of cauliflower.
He too said the flavour combinations were amazing. Pairing gnocchi, caulifower and walnuts is probably a brave thing to do but it really worked, especially when covered in that gorgeous creamy sauce.

One thing I was disappointed in was that I didn’t notice the Sangria on the drinks menu until we were well into our mains!!
There are also a good selection of pizza’s on the menu and I’m curious to see how they taste.

When I went to pay the bill, I told the server that everything was really good, the owner heard and came to tell me about some of the other food  items on the menu and to talk about his personal favourites, and then the chef came out too to hear what the feedback was about the food. Their passion really shines through and I loved seeing that!

Panacea, I will definitely be back and this time it will be for Pizza and Sangria!!

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

Till next we chow…