Sake to me Baby – Japan Day Two

We are still adjusting to the different time zone so were up at 4am this morning. Felt a lot better about the world once we’d had a good night’s sleep!

Not wanting to waste a moment, we decided to go for a decent walk and set our sights on Ueno Park. Last time we were here, we stayed within a few kilometres of the park.


Passed lots of bikes parked along the way.
As we were walking, we saw an interesting building in the distance and hubby said “That’s Tokyo Dome!”
Now I don’t know anything about Tokyo Dome but it did look like an interesting building so we took a couple of pics. It was still only 7am at this stage so we figured we’d have a better look once it was actually open. Have a look at that roller coaster though! OMG!


Ueno park was beautiful and peaceful so early in the morning. There were a few people around but not the multitudes that we’re used to.

Hubby spied the Starbucks (he said he’d plugged it into his internal google maps) and we went over there. There was a yellow chain across the entrance but hubby was sure they were open so he went in only to be told they don’t open until 8am.
It sounds so simple when I write it but when there’s a language barrier, and you’re with someone who thinks you should already be open, it’s an awkward and comical situation.

So we walked around some while we counted down the seconds until 8am. Most stores don’t open until 10am.

That sign on the bottom left says not to smoke while walking. What was funny was seconds before I took this photo, a man had walked over it while smoking.
And look at that murder of crows bottom right!! They’re everywhere here. Not threatening but geez they make an awful sound.


IMG_0431So far I haven’t gone inside a Lawson’s or Family Mart (I know, I can’t believe it either) I’m addicted to the bakery goods in these stores.

When we’ve been here before, I’ll go out early and get some goodies to eat for breakfast before hubby wakes up. He both loves and hates it.
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I love seeing the things they have advertised in English here.

I always wonder why they don’t get an English speaking person to double check before they make a sign.

This one isn’t bad but it’s still funny to see fries referred to as long potato.

Long potato. I guess that means just one?

IMG_0432I also giggle every time I see Calpis Soda. I mean come one. It sounds like you’re saying “Cow Piss” doesn’t it??
It tastes good by the way!! I haven’t had it yet this time but if I’m remembering correctly, it tastes like lemonade.

Diet drinks are very difficult to find here. Zero Coke is probably the most common but after that, you’re pretty much out of luck.

After our Starbucks we made our way back to Tokyo Dome City. Aside from baseball, the arena also hosts concerts etc. There’s lots of shopping, restaurants and amusements there! I wish the big rollercoaster had been going while we were there.


Oh and I’m loving seeing the “food art”. Want to order from a restaurant? Well if you don’t know what you want, the food art will tell you exactly what your order will look like!
Spaghetti pizza anyone?

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We stopped and got some goodies for an early lunch. I had to take pics. I just love this junk!! Love it! It’s not even a guilty pleasure. I’m not ashamed, I am in love with this food!! Gimme, gimme!


We stopped to get a few more things from the supermarket and I happened to notice a spaghetti cake. Now, I don’t know if that was real spaghetti on the cake but it sure did look like it!!!

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And another supermarket item. You can get these potatoes and, hot dogs bits(?),  for about $2.30 Australian.

I don’t know what they taste like (and no, they weren’t refrigerated, they were just sitting on the supermarket shelf) and I probably never will.

The bathrooms at Tokyo Dome City had make up stations in them. I thought that was pretty interesting too!

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This evening we went to Harajuku and visited the famous Takeshita Street.

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People must mull over the pronunciation of it all the time. It’s pronounced like “tah-kesh-tuh” and has nothing to do with bodily functions.

This street is just amazing!! So many unique food, clothing and people. I didn’t take a lot of  pictures as we’ve been here many times already but I did take a few.

We got a couple of those things in the bottom pics. They were nice but not anything I thought would be amazing enough to go back for.

Take a look at these handbags and purses!! OMG how great are they!! I didn’t dare look at the price.  The shoes are pretty interesting too and I was going to say “but who would wear them?” but I’m in Japan and you can find someone to wear just about anything.


We read a bit about the Monster Cafe that’s here. I’d read that it was kind of like Alice in Wonderland meets Wonka on Acid and that description is probably pretty accurate!

It took us a little while to find it.  Up the escalators we went and joined the other fifty or so people that were waiting to get in. Ok, maybe there was significantly less than fifty but it did feel like it was going to be a huge wait when we got there!

After that we walked around Harajuku a little more and started to feel peckish so, being creatures of habit, we went and got a kebab (yeah I know not Japanese) from a place we’d been to last year. It was pretty tasty too!! Not as good as The Cheeky Greek at Henley Beach but they set the bar pretty high.

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And to show hubby that I can put up pictures that he approves of even though I don’t, I’m sharing one last one of us on the escalators.

It’s been a long full day and I can’t wait to get back out there tomorrow!

For now, Oyasuminasai (oh look, a new Japanese word learnt!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sake to me Baby – Japan Day One

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It was so emotionally hard to leave Canada.

It’s always hard to say goodbye to family even though we know we will be back.

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We got into Vancouver quite early and had about five hours to kill before our next leg to Tokyo.

I had to share this pic that I took from the first leg of our flight. Yeah, that jacket shouldn’t be a problem to anyone at all shouldn’t it?

Luckily one of the cabin crew told her to take it down a  short while later.

We had a pretty good flight – no complaints. Got a great breakfast at Vancouver Airport. So good I had to share pics.

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Oh and the airport itself is huge and has lots to look at including these colourful fishies.
We should know, we’ve spent over ten hours  at Vancouver airport in the last few weeks.

 


I don’t think it really hit me that we were flying into Japan until we touched down! I hadn’t even really been thinking about this portion of our vacation time.

IMG_0396I was going through the Japanese phrases I know and I’m completely fluent in Hello, thank you, excuse me AND water. If the situation I’m in calls for more conversation than that, I may be in trouble.

The train trip from Narita airport took just over an hour.

The man sitting next to me must have had some sort of OCD as he was always opening and closing his luggage.

I saw tons of things I could have photographed while we were on the train but I felt like it could have stressed the OCD man out so I didn’t take many.

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I did manage to snap one of their well designed “stack em on top of each other” type car parks.

It’s pretty common here seeing as they’re space poor.

We found our apartment very easily and went straight on in. It’s very hard to describe it. Its certainly one of the roomiest (in terms of floor space) we’ve had in our many trips here but also one of the oldest.  As space is always an issue, we’re used to things being tight and awkward but this one definitely wins the prize. Although it’s roomy, the appliances are all shoved awkwardly into one small space.
I don’t want to say anything negative. It’s certainly clean. And some people don’t mind not shutting the bathroom door so if there’s not enough room for you to sit on the throne AND shut the door at the same time, it’s not a big deal is it? Hubby and I like to keep a little mystery in our marriage so we’re definitely going to have to work out a system there.

First thing to do was go shopping for some basics. As soon as I entered the supermarket I saw this.

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I’m pretty sure I heard angels singing.

We had to get milk as well. I’ve explained before how difficult it is because although we have that fab vocabulary of four words, we don’t read Japanese. So how do we know we’ve bought regular milk for coffee?? Is it Soy? Skim? Almond? We just wanted regular milk! I haven’t tried it yet so hopefully what we bought is ok.

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And speaking about buying things I have no clue about, I bought this drink (bottom left) because it was zero calories. I don’t know what it tastes like and I say that AFTER I’ve had some.
Have I told you before how difficult it is to buy diet lemonade here?? So this will have to do.

We didn’t buy sugar because finding it seemed to be an issue again and we were too tired to keep trying. Looks like we’ll be having sugarless coffees in our apartment.

We also bought our regular Milk Tea because, well, we are in Japan.

 


I’m pretty sure I’ve been up over 24 hours now so it’s time for this tired girl to get some shut eye.
Oh, I haven’t mentioned that this apartment, bigger floor space than most, doesn’t have one double bed, it has two beds that are slightly smaller than a double. So instead of putting a nice sized bed in the bedroom and allow for food traffic, somewhere to put your luggage etc, they took up the whole floor area with two beds. Hubby (all six foot seven of him) and I are going to try to sleep in one bed. This can only end badly!!!

So Sumimasen if I say Konichiwa.  By the way, do you know where I can get some mizu? Arigatō (gozaimasu)

 

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.

 

Girls Gone Mild – Day Four

Today we wanted to do something different and decided we’d be Cultural. Free Cultural to be specific.

The weather was not the best for walking around so we really had to pick indoor things to do.
My daughter had been looking online and really wanted to go to the Acmi Museum. What a lot of fun that turned out to be!!!

We walked down to Federation Square, shivering and holding on tight to our scarves and hooded jackets. It was cold and raining!!

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We were super excited to find out that the Alice in Wonderland exhibition was open at  Acmi!!! (not free)

Today was going to be perfect regardless of the weather!

It’s running until the 7th of October and I highly recommend visiting if you find yourself in Melbourne!

Click on the link to find out more about it.
https://www.acmi.net.au/events/wonderland/

I don’t know what it was about ACMI but it was just thrilling to be there. We went into the free museum first, looking at all the exhibits that showed us how film and telvision got to be what we know it as today. It was all so interesting!
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There were a few Alice in Wonderland related things in the foyer. Of course, we stuck our face in the hole…


There were so many exhibits in the free museum. Much much more than I expected. I’ll share a few pictures but I could write so much about each one of these exhibits. You could really spend hours here.


And check out the video that my daughter and I made in one of the exhibits. It truly was Matrix worthy!! (after a few false starts)

 

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So then it was time for the Wonderland Exhibition.

Only my daughter and I wanted to go so my mum, sister and sister in law waited it out in the cafe.

We were exchanging photos as we went along.

This was at the top of the stairs, at the entrance to the exhibition. It was spinning and quite mesmerising…. down the rabbit hole we went!

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We couldn’t help but squeal when we saw the room at the bottom of the stairs!!!
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We grabbed our pamphlets and listened to the instructions and then were left to decide whether we were going to go through the big door or little door…

I’ll share some pictures of the exhibit which are all related to the book. Perhaps you’ll recognise some of the areas?

Towards the end we were invited to the Mad Hatters Tea Party and what a magnificent light extravaganza it was!!! The pictures will NOT do it justice! It went for four and a half minutes and they just flew by! I was so sad when it was over.
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We walked into a room that had a table set with plates and bowls. Everything was white.

The walls behind us were blank.

Then the music started and things started appearing on the walls – Quotes from Alice in Wonderland.
Then the colours started happening and the walls started filling with amazing scenes and landscapes!


As you can see, towards the end it looked like there was food on the plates! We also saw ants and butterflies flutter across the table. It was so cool!!!

We were almost at the end. We got to the craft room where there were lots of activities for kids. There was also a place you could put your face into. A camera would take your picture then when you looked on the giant screen, your face would appear on a playing card travelling across the screen with lots of other playing cards.
Big kids that we are, we had to do that!


And if you haven’t picked us out, here’s a close up of my daughter and I

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And two last pictures from the exhibitions, ending with my favourite character, the Chesire Cat.


We felt like we’d been transported into another world so it was a bit weird to come back out and join the rest of our party.

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We walked down to Crown Casino, had an overpriced lunch then walked back down to the National Gallery of Victoria.

Check out this beautiful swan with her babies!! She was gathering them under her wing.

It was just so adorable!!


Again, my mum, sister and sister in law didn’t really want to walk around there so they decided to head on back into the CBD while my daughter and I marveled at the displays.


Thank you for persisting with this photo heavy entry! We had such a great day!!!
We got back to the room earlier than planned because it was just so cold.

It’s our last night in Melbourne and we’re celebrating by eating junk, watching Netflix, and reliving our experiences. I’m a little bit nervous as the weather is supposed to be just as bad tomorrow but… I’m sure we’ll make it fun one way or another!

Girls Gone Mild – Day Two

I know what you’re thinking. You’re all wondering how much Baileys is left right? And how can I call this “Girls Gone Mild” when there’s Baileys???
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Let me educate the uninformed.
When you give a bunch of women (who normally don’t drink) a shot or two of Bailey’s, it very quickly becomes a “Girls Gone Mild” night with some of us not even making it to the end of The Bachelor (save the jokes, I get it – The Bachelor would put anyone to sleep)

But the early night meant that a couple of us were ready very early for the 24 hour gym!

 

The gym has more than treadmills but that was the only thing I was interested in. It’s a nice huge area but there are no televisions. We made do with Netflix/podcasts on our phones and we definitely appreciated the gym, television or not.

IMG_7892Like any city, there is a lot of poverty around and it just breaks your heart.
Every now and then my sister especially, is moved to speak to one of them and share what she has with them.

Yesterday she met Craig who she had a little chat with and she had some left over food with her so she left that with him.

 

Yes I know there’s a whole debate about why there’s a homeless situation in the first place but I know that at the very least, this guy’s day was a little better for that moment.

 

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Today we were adamant that we weren’t going to do anything else until we went to DFO.

It was such a nice day that we decided to walk down there.

 


Snapping a few pics along the way of course….

 


6We walked along at our own place and were soon sitting in the DFO Food Court Area.

We hadn’t thought to look up the time the shops opened and were 30 minutes early.

Perfect time for a yoghurt parfait if you ask me.

My daughter, sister and I were eager to start shopping and had been counting down the seconds to 10 o’clock.

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My mother and sister in law were more relaxed and just happy to be out and about and if a bargain presented itself, all the better.

But thankfully they were happy enough to sit and wait for us while we tried on just about everything we put our hands on.

Speaking of trying this on, here are a few pictures of things we may or may not have bought…

 

With regards to the pic on the most right, in my defense, after a couple of hours taking off and putting on your jeans, if you don’t have to take them all the way off, leaving them at your ankles is fine enough. (Have you got a certain Nickelback song going through your head right now????)

11aHubby, who tried hard to invite himself but is sadly not on this trip (I don’t think he understands what a “girl’s shopping trip” means) wanted to shout us all a birthday meal in honour of my mum’s birthday. So sweet – and as we passed Sam Sam (Korean restaurant on Swanston st) my daughter got super excited and that was enough for her nonna to say “Let’s go here” and what a good choice it was!

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Some of us had never had Bibimbap (bottom right) so four of us ordered it!! And it was just so good!!!


The next mandatory stop was the Dangerfield outlet store, with a few more pics along the way. Hubby look away now because if first base is hand holding I got to first base with this guy (below). I think he was puckering up for a kiss too. Bit forward.


After a few more hours of shopping (and some fabulous purchases) we saw this sign above a store.

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Before I knew it, the words “in other words, old and fat” came out of my mouth. What I didn’t know, was that the owner of the store whose sign this was, was standing in the doorway. Suffice to say, she was not impressed.

We were getting overdue for a drink break so found ourselves in one of the lovely malls and stopped for some dessert and drinks.


We were going to stop at Hopetoun Tea rooms (pic left) but it was too crowded so we moved on. I can’t remember the name of the place but when we told the waitress that it was my mum’s birthday, she brought out a candle and helped us sing! She was so lovely.


The desserts, coffee/tea and wine were pretty good too!


And a few more pics of us because why take the pictures otherwise?


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On the way back to the apartment I was approached for money in a unique way so I gave him a bit of time.
He told me he was an Aussie legend (yes self proclaimed) and involved or responsible for the Ocean’s Eleven movie.
He said he was trying to produce a new movie that was a comedy along the line of “Shameless”.
I didn’t have any cash on me but I was interested to hear how he was going to spin this plug for money.

My mum, being mumma bear, finally had enough and got between us and said “we don’t have anything to give you” and I’m pretty sure there were curse words being spoken behind me as we walked on without him. Ah well. Who carries cash with them these days anyhow??

I’m pretty sure it’s going to be another night of Netflix and The Bachelor but we’ve had such a full day, nobody is complaining!! Plus, we have an abundance of shopping bags strewn about the apartment that are a testament to the great day we have already had!!

So please excuse me, I have some organising to do!

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