In search of Cherry Blossom – Part Four

We got hit by cold weather today! It didn’t rain and it wasn’t overly windy, it was just frosty cold.
I went walking early this morning and was sorry I hadn’t rugged up more.

Surprisingly, even though it’s Saturday and I was out about 7am, there were still lots of men walking around wearing suits.

There’s some sort of convenience store every few steps but I can’t seem to find diet lemonade in any of them (although there’s lots of alcohol for sale there)

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By the time I got back to the apartment hubby was ready for coffee.

The Starbucks we went to was quite full.

I’ve mentioned before that the Japanese people will put their purses/phones, or any other personal item on a table to “save” it while they go up to make their order. (See this pictured right )

We saw this even in the busy city Starbucks that we were in.

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Hubby wanted to see the Umeda Sky Tower and I was kind of curious to see the Cup Noodle Museum as last time we were in Japan, we happened to visit on the one day of the week that it was closed.

We walked over to the Sky Tower first (left)

We tried to get there by going through as many underground passageways we could find as it was just so cold!

What an interesting building this is! The architecture is just amazing and we discovered that it was designed by the same person who designed Kyoto Station (we visited this yesterday – go back one entry if you missed it!)

You can go right up to Level 39 for free. If you’re brave, you can pay 1000 yen or so (About $12.50 aud) to go up another few levels to the open observation deck.
Level 39 was more than enough for us!


The basement level has an old world Japan feel. It was very peaceful (apart from when the tour group came through) and looked out onto some lovely gardens.


It’s open quite late and we intend on coming back after dark to see the city lights!

Next stop was the Cup Noodle Museum. I didn’t really know what to expect other than we were going to get to make our own ramen at some point.

When we got in we were ushered through to a section that showed the history of ramen. All of it was in Japanese and I think there was an English guide available but we really just wanted to make our ramen so we went straight through to the back to do that.

It was pretty full in there! We were lined up. When we got to the front of the line we were told we were going to personalise our cups, then go over and choose what we wanted to put in there.

We got shown to a table that had special markers on them. The instructions on the table said “Draw your own picture”
Hubby took that quite literally and started drawing a picture of himself. I drew pictures of flowers. He looked over at mine and said “Where’s your picture?” and I said “Right here!” wondering why he was even asking me… and then it hit me, he was expecting me to draw a picture of myself! I just got the giggles so bad after that and couldn’t stop laughing.
Here are the pictures we drew. Hubby’s likeness is pretty good no?


Still giggling we went on over to the back and chose the contents.

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After it comes out, you get to put it in the air locked bag which you can wear around you shoulders.

I thought we were going to be able to eat them right away but unfortunately no.

If you go to the eating area, you have to purchase the noodles from the vending machines and… well just add hot water!

So we did that but it was a bit anti climatic.

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I’m still glad we went. If nothing else, I belly laughed like I haven’t for quite some time.

Back to Osaka station we went. I really wanted to do some shopping. So many interesting things here.

I’m not sure what this thing in the bottom left pic is??

A spaghetti pie?
I don’t know if you can read it but the empty plates in the picture on the right say “Please Wait”

And I’ll just finish off with a few interesting things and signs I saw today.

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Peach coke? I don’t think so!!

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I saw this sign in a few places. I still don’t know what it was trying to communicate.

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In search of Cherry Blossom – Part Two

I’ve woken up way too early this morning. I couldn’t sleep and thought I’d just make myself a coffee.
Coffee is interesting here. They seem to love the cold varieties… Iced Coffee. Lots of it in the street vending machines-the kind in cans. Most of the ones we’ve tried don’t seem to have sugar in them.
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When it comes to hot coffee I don’t think it’s really a thing here (Unless you got to a chain like Starbucks.)
Even in the air bnb’s we’ve stayed out, we haven’t had coffee cups provided.

Milk
We went to the supermarket last night and bought some instant coffee (no other choice) what we thought was sugar and potentially full cream milk.

When we got to the check out hubby asked the lady serving (who didn’t speak English) if this milk was good for coffee. She understood what he was saying presumably and screwed up her nose. So we said we wouldn’t take the milk and she said she’d send someone to help.

The person coming to help was going to bring us “milk for coffee”. When he came, he was holding a bag of individual milk cups. Pictured right is an example of what Milk-lakeland-whole-milk-UHTI’m talking about. The kind that is normally never enough!! Hubby and I both like a decent amount of milk in our coffees and we both said, no, give us the original carton…

But that’s Japan. Everything is packaged here. They love their packaged sugars, packaged milk, individual packages of everything!!

I can confim that the milk we bought last night was actually full cream milk but I was a little nervous before tasting it this morning!

First thing on the agenda today was walking to Osaka Castle.We’re only a couple of kilometres away from it so it was a nice easy walk.


We did start to see some Cherry Blossom but not as much as I would have liked. I suspect we’re right at the end of the season. At least we got to see some of it.

And we did see interesting sights along the way to the Castle…

 


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There were tons of people at the Castle!!

We thought we’d walk back to Osaka city and get some lunch.

I love walking everywhere.

You just get to see so much more!

After walking up and down the endless shopping and market aisles, we went into the Hep building and found a place to get some lunch. I’m not sure what we ate exactly. It seems to be a type of omlette with rice inside? At least, the one we ordered had rice inside it.
On the menu it had two sizes. SS or S. SS is super small and S is small.
Hubby and I don’t like small.
The waitress said we could also order M for medium or L for large.
Now remember, we had been walking quite a bit by this stage and we were very hungry as we didn’t really have breakfast so we both opted for large.
The waitress was visibly shocked. I should have questioned my choice right then but no, I figured I’d be able to handle it.

I was mid sentence to hubby when I saw our order coming out and I just stopped talking, stunned by what I was seeing.


That, dear readers, is the large. Consider yourselves warned!
I’m sure the servers were all giggling at us. Some of the other diners were watching us too, seeing if we were going to finish… I was so terribly embarrassed.
It tasted amazing by the way!! Although I could have done without that brown sauce which was on there. Tasted like barbecue sauce.

Unfortunately I couldn’t finish it. I really really tried but I couldn’t. We really needed to walk our meals off after that so we walked down to the Dotonbori area.

I just love this place.

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We were stopped by four people who wanted to practice their English with us. The Japanese people are too cute!

Down one of the streets we noticed a huge screen, which was showing a live feed of people walking. I just had to get myself on that big screen!! Can I say I’ve been on Japanese television now?


We have passed a few funny signs but I didn’t take a photo unfortunately. On the train there was a sign saying the train was “mildly” airconditioned. Another sign contained “hot” information. Just love the way their language translates into English!

We were checking out some stores for headphones for hubby when we saw a confident Japanese man just having a shave. Try before you buy right?

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And to finish off, we finally did find some different flavoured Kit Kat. I didn’t buy any but I did take pictures.

Tomorrow, we hope to be off to Kyoto!!

Perth Day One

Well looky here we’re in Perth!
One thing I can say about hubby is that he does tend to spoil me once a year and this year is no different. With an impending big birthday, he’s arranged for a luxury trip to Perth, starting with a business class flight with Qantas.

I try to act like like this is a regular occurrence in front of the cabin crew but no matter how many times I’ve flown business (ok only once before) it still is such an incredible treat. Cabin Crew are just over lovely and my gosh all that champagne without the judgement! I almost didn’t want to get off the plane!

Hubby and I had been a bit snippy with each other all morning and that’s why it was a huge surprise when we’d been sitting on the plane for about ten minutes, one of the cabin crew asked if we were newlyweds! Wow. Well, we were holding hands… Not only are we not newlyweds, but we’ve been together for almost twenty years!

I had been to Perth a few times as a teenager but those times, I’d been driven across. As we walked through the airport to collect our luggage I made some remark about it to hubby. I said “Yeah I’ve been to Perth a couple of times but I’ve never seen the airport because we drove so this is interesting”
Hubby turned to me and said “Oh, so when you came here in 2013 with Esprit (my barbershop quartet) the pilot just parachuted you in straight to your hotel?”
Whoops… forgot about that trip! Guess I had seen the airport after all.

Our plan was to get to the hotel, store our luggage, then go walkabout through Perth CBD. We got to the hotel very early but the lovely staff said as our room was ready, we could go up there if we liked and even gave us an upgrade! Score!

Once we got ourselves settled we walked into the city and as hubby had said he wanted to get me a smart watch for my birthday, we headed straight for JB HiFi and bought me a FitBit Ionic. Do I love it? You bet!

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Hubby’s coffee addiction dictated we found the perfect cafe’ and unfortunately he couldn’t find a Starbucks anywhere so he settled for The Coffee Club.

I found these sculptures outside.

This sculpture group commemorates the 175th Anniversary of Western Australia and symbolises the business people who have built the CBD

From top left
Dutch exploration, discovery, mapping and naming of Swan River – 1697
Anglo – Celtic settlement of Swan River – 1829
Discovery of Gold – 1885-95
Post World War II European immigration – 1945-55
The Millennium Man – 2001

We walked up and down the two malls and more than a few arcades, then headed towards the wharf area. We walked past the interesting Bell Tower and the love locks but didn’t go in there.


I was dying to visit The Lucky Shag again. What a great place that is! By twelve midday it was packed in there! And the weather was just so perfect for sitting around and having a casual drink.

Hubby said “Where to next” and I said “Jacobs Ladder!”
Lucky for both of us he didn’t know what that entailed or we might not have gone that way…

And after walking up the many many steps along with the fitness fanatics, we walked through Kings Park enjoying the beautiful sights. I hope we get to see the views at night at some point on this trip.

IMG_5134We decided to catch a bus rather than walk back and I took the fact that it took us back to Hay St Mall to mean that I needed to do more shopping. Hubby is being a very good hubby so far and walked along with me even though he was starting to get blisters. Yes, he’s a trooper.

When we got back to the hotel, we recharged our devices then bravely took a couple of the complimentary hotel bikes and cycled to and through Kings Park.
IMG_5135Hubby is a lycra wearing, speed demon on his bike and while I have ridden in the past, it’s been many years since and I wasn’t so confident at first. Hubby was so patient though and really it was so much fun and quite relaxing and I was even standing up on the pedals to go uphill by the end of our ride!

Although we had a great day today, we made one critical error. We did pack it, but we forgot to put on sun screen and hubby and I are both burnt quite badly. Funny how it happens before you even realise it! Definitely will not forget the sunscreen tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Seventeen

Our time, sadly, has come to an end.

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I was excited this morning because today we were going to Rinku Town! And the thought of all the bargains that awaited me had me full of hope that I’d be filling my suitcase with all sorts of things

It didn’t quite happen that way.

Check out from our Air Bnb place was was not till 11am so as hubby wanted to stay there till 10.59am, I decided to go for one last walk.

Again I marvel at all the things I’m not going to see when I’m back in Australia.
Every restaurant (and there are many, no matter if you’re on a “main” street or a back street alley) has “food art” outside it’s doors. They’re sculptures of the menu so you can see what you’re going to be getting. I have never been tempted by any of these and usually find them quite repulsive but I guess that’s just me because they wouldn’t do it if it didn’t inspire the locals.

I see it every day, I’ve written about it but it still amazes me, the amount of people that ride bikes and the way they whizz around on the footpaths. I’ve been tending to walk close to the shops as there doesn’t seem to be a “keep the left” rule. Bikes tend to have the right of way. At least, that’s the way it seems.

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And finally we were on the train to Rinku Town!!

Look at the happiness on my face!

Of course, once we got there, we had to walk around and look for a Starbucks before we could do anything else.

I was so excited to start shopping but I had to wait!

It took a little while but we did finally find one and hubby was drinking his Venti, Cafe Latte with Skim Milk – Making sure to keep his receipt so that he could get another one later that day for 216 yen instead of 486 yen.
This has been a daily ritual that I was very happy to have ending. Life will no longer revolved around Starbucks.

Rinku Town is an interesting place. Full of outlet malls but otherwise appears as a ghost town.


We started off (at the shops near the Starbucks) and walked.
I need to explain that I’m normally not a person who likes to shop for clothes, but I had it in my head that I wanted to buy something from Japan… So I was really in the mood to find something. I had worn my clothes and shoes that were easy to get in and out of on purpose!

You need to take of your shoes when you enter a dressing room in Japan. If you’re trying anything from the waist up, they’ll give you a “breast cover”. I should have taken a photo of it as I couldn’t quite work out how it was supposed to go.
I must admit, when the first guy handed me this folded up piece of something and said “please cover your breasts” I didn’t quite know what he was on about…

We had a late lunch in the foodcourt. We were enticed by this picture

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Looks pretty good!! Yakisoba AND Okonomiyaki…

This is what it looked like when it came.

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Still looked pretty delicious.

I keep forgetting how much the sauces don’t agree with me though. Luckily we had said “no mayonnaise” but there were other sauces on here.
It was really really yummy, don’t get me wrong, but afterwards my stomach didn’t feel right and I kept seeing other foods I wished we’d eaten instead….

Oh, and a little giggle at another translation fail spotted in the food court…

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After shopping at the Premium Outlets for a few hours, I still hadn’t really bought anything.
We walked over to the “beach” outlet part. I forgot what it was actually called, and went into this cheap looking store. Finally I was picking out things I liked!! I ended up with four items and hubby, whose patience was being tested said “Can we please get out of K-Mart now”
He was offering to pay for today’s purchases so I don’t know why he was not happy!!!

It was almost time to leave Rinku Town, when I spotted the exact outfit I’d been looking for!! One thing I haven’t mentioned is that the sizing is much smaller here. If you’re an M (medium) in Australia, you’re at least a L (large) here.
It’s not good for the ego… And “Free” size means “one size fits all” but their “fits all” would not work in Australia.

So I found the outfit. It was a medium so it was tight but I really really wanted it. I went to the counter only to be told “cash only”. What? It’s amazing how many places in Japan are cash only.
So hubby and I hurried to find an ATM to get some cash out and in doing so, came into contact with an American living in Japan. He was the friendliest guy!!
He just had story after story to tell of his experience of living in Japan (for the last two and a half years) the Japanese culture (he’s married to a Japanese woman) and much more.
He came with us as we got money from the ATM, came with us as we went back to that store (so I could buy my treasured items) and walked with us to the train station, saw us right up to the platform gate! I’m kind of sorry we didn’t exchange information after all that time together. It was only as we were parting that we gave our names.
So Jacques, if by the remotest chance you’re reading this, please get in touch!

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Our flight left Osaka at 10.30 pm. We had a bit of time to kill but we were too tired to walk around and look at the shops.

This instruction made me smile.

Just the fact that there’s a need to put that kind of instruction there is what I find amusing.

People hey….
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And finally we were on the plane bound for home. We flew to Cairns then had to wait a few hours before our trip back to Adelaide.

Just thought I’d share the meal we got on our flight back.

I think it was chicken.
Funny how things always taste different when you’re on a plane.
I didn’t take an “after” shot in Adelaide but I’ll leave you with a pic from Cairns airport.
It’s been a long journey!!!
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Regular restaurant reviews will be following.
Thanks for sharing this trip with us!

 

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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