Sake to me Baby – Japan Day Four

I’ve just realised that before today, we’d spend two and a half days in Japan and were yet to use chopsticks!! Shame on us. And that’s not that when given a choice, we chose a fork, it’s that we haven’t really eaten any Japanese food. That changed today.

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Today we went on a tour to Mt Fuji!! I was so excited as for all the times we’ve been to Japan, we still hadn’t gone there.

We were up early to make sure we made the departure time which was going to be from a hotel in Shinjuku.

We spied the Metropolitan Government building close by and made a plan to go there later, after we got back from the tour.

We got to talking to a few people that were going on tour with us. It’s nice talking to people from around the world and hearing about their experiences in Japan.

Our tour guide, Taka, was just so cute! I could have listened to her talking all day although it did take a bit of concentrating as her accent was strong at times but she was so lovely.

I took a few pics from the bus. We drove past some gorgeous towns along the way. So green and lush and picturesque along the water. Unfortunately the highway mostly had a barrier up so I wasn’t always able to take pictures when I wanted to.


And then sooner than I expected, we saw Mt Fuji in the distance!!!
It was soon covered over with cloud again though so I was worried about what we were going to see when we got to the fifth station.

I didn’t realise how high we had driven until I started to see we were above the clouds! How did that happen!! And how gorgeous are the clouds. I felt like we were in a plane and flying instead of driving.


There were loads of people up the top!! So many tour buses!! AND, more importantly, Mt Fuji was visible. I have to admit though, I found the other side, with all the clouds, much more interesting to look at.

 


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Our guide Taka told us a story of a guy who kept climbing up Mt Fuji right up until his death at 105 years of age.
He was Masashi Toyoda, from Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture.

There’s a statue of him inside one of the stores at the Fifth Station and we posed in front of it because, well, that’s just what you do!

For lunch we were taken to a restaurant where a buffet style meal was prepared for us. There was a great array of food. Some of it Japanese and some was a little more Western but it was all really really tasty AND I got to use chop sticks for the first time on this trip! Took me thirty seconds or so to get used to it again. I just don’t understand why people persist with chopsticks when we have INVENTED AN EASIER WAY. I mean when we discover something that works better, we usually adopt it! But whatever. It’s fun to eat with chopsticks and it definitely helps the waist line because for me, it takes longer and I can’t pick up every single last morsel.


The grounds/gardens outside the restaurant were really pretty too. We had that view from our table.

After lunch we were back on the bus and our guide Taka taught us how to make an Origami Japanese warrior hat.
She was like a parent not wanting to disappoint a child who clearly is not doing well with me. She said I almost had it right then fixed it up expertly.

Our next stop was Lake Ashi where we were going to take a cruise. We had about thirty minutes in the store there before the cruise and I found a couple of interesting items.

What you see below, is a vending machine that sells HOT food!! Like chips/fries and burgers. Can you believe that!! Only in Japan I say!

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Of course, if you don’t want your fries hot, you can also buy them like this.
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Would you be game enough to drink anyone of these drinks?


No wasabi and no sweat for me thank you very much.

The views out of the lake were so breathtakingly beautiful. My photos do not do it justice at all!

And a couple more photos from the catamaran as well.


We were dropped at Hakkone and took the ropeway up to the top.
Now this seemed like a good idea when I was booking this tour. I didn’t realise how high it was going to go!!
First, a few pictures.


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And then we were in the clouds and I was freaking out a bit!!!

I definitely made a mental note to NOT sit at the front on the way back down.

 
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Our tour was just about over.

All that was left was to take the bullet train back to Tokyo.

Even though hubby and I have been here many times, we were yet to ride the bullet train so were really looking forward to it!

Turns out, it’s just a train that goes pretty fast. When you’re sitting in it though, it’s quiet so you don’t really notice how fast you’re going. I’m sure if you were standing outside and it whizzed past you, it would knock you around a bit and be impressive but apart from reaching our destination a little quicker, I’m not sure that I’d use it again.

Once we were back at Tokyo, we went back to the Metropolitan Governement building. We really wanted to see the view from the observatory and seeing as it was getting darker, thought it would be nice to see it at night.
When we got there, there was a line that went out through the door AND it was closing within thirty minutes so we missed out again.
There’s always tomorrow.

Instead we walked around Shinjuku


We even went to the “you must see this” Robot Cafe!

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That is, we went outside it. The inside will need to be explored another day.
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Finally, I found my wine bar again. I had first seen this place a few trips to Japan ago.

This is the wine bar that is dedicated to all Margot’s around the world but especially me because I say so.

It had just been such a long day and our time here is not over so we can always go back.

I feel like we saw a lot of things we have wanted to see in Japan today and we met some really nice people and made some nice memories. Thanks Japan!

Just to finish up, I’ll leave you with this signboard that we saw in a cafe. I just love Japanese English!

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Sake to me Baby – Japan Day Three

I want to let everyone know that I’m “sumimasen-ing” all over the place!!!  It was my phrase of the day! I’m saying it without thinking twice about it now.

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Speaking of thinking about it twice, hubby used to confuse arigato and konichiwa and now, I find that I’m confusing it also which is probably karma as I paid him out badly for it. He’d walk past someone on the street and say “arigato” then keep walking. I’d love to know what they were thinking.

This morning hasn’t started off great in that it’s been raining all night. It’s not cold. It’s pretty muggy, but the rain means we can’t go walking. The pics above were taken from our balcony. I was up early again and now can’t do anything. That’s a bit depressing.

Seeing as we were up so early, we had a second breakfast. This time courtesy of the Family Mart that’s thirty metres away (dangerous) and look at what I scored for not much more than 500 yen.

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Ahhh, you wonderful treats that delight my taste buds. I miss you already.

Tomorrow we’re going on a tour (won’t spoil it by saying where yet!) and the tour was booked online. Because I want to make sure everything  is correct and that we have the right meeting spot, hubby and I went to Shinjuku. The only info I had was that the pick up is from Keio Plaza Hotel but I wasn’t given the time. Inconvenient.

So we braved the weather. When we got to Shinjuku it was still raining.


IMG_0502We found the hotel the tour is leaving from and confirmed the departure time. All good.

Seeing as we were so close to the Tokyo Government Building and it was still mostly an undercover walk to get there, we decided to go on and see that.

Only to be met by the sign on the right.

No!!! They’re not allowed to be closed on a rainy day when there’s nothing much else to do!!!

We we went back to the station and walked around the shops. Looked at the food. Got hungry, got a little bored. Walked around in circles.
They’ve got one of those food areas where you can buy all kinds of food. Sadly, not many were offering samples. I would have loved to have tried some of the foods I saw. I didn’t even know what half of it was! So many people. And the food is packaged and packaged and packaged. Layer after layer of wrapping and packaging.


I’ve seen the restaurant “La Pausa” about the place here and was craving some kind of pasta. I would have had ramen but every place we went to had a line up and we didn’t want to wait. So, we went to La Pausa which is an Italian restaurant.
I took a pic of their lunch menu.
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IMG_0511They didn’t have an English menu so we had to try to decipher ourselves.

Because I wanted to try something different. I had the one on the bottom right.

And that pic to the left is what I was given. Look ok doesn’t it? I mean, it’s not Italian and the egg on top was cold which was a bit weird but it tasted pretty good. There was some sort of cheesy sauce on the bottom too.

There are so many Italian restaurants here!! But they’re all like this. It’s “Italian” but with a Japanese spin.

As it was still pouring with rain we decided to take an afternoon break – it’s supposed to clear up later today.
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I’m not sure if we are still a bit jet lagged (you can use that excuse for just about anything when travelling) but we lay down and when we stirred again it was 9pm. Changing time zones and 4am wake ups will do that to you!

We had a few museums and other indoor activities planned but that went out the window!

We went for a bit of a late night walk but there are no photos to prove it so did it really happen??

I’m so excited about tomorrow I’m barely going to be able to sleep!!!

Oyasuminasai

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roman Around – Day Two

Nobody tours like hubby and I tour. Now that we’re on our own we don’t have anyone to slow us down and that’s not a good thing. We need to be slowed down because we just walk to a site, see it, and then say “Ok, I’ve seen it now, what’s next”. We don’t go in, explore or get to know information about it.

In any case we walked many kilometres today and saw many things. Half the things I took photos of, I don’t know anything about. Or maybe I read a bit about it while we were at the site but I didn’t retain the information. It’s all on the internet if I want to know right?

So this is the uneducated version of someone’s trip to Rome.

IMG_7314We started the day with an espresso thanks to the machine in our apartment then hit the ground running fairly early, looking for a supermarket to get some goodies.
Everytime we go to a new country I’m so excited to see the supermarkets to see what foods they have, and how they differ to what I’m used to.

They had lots of pastries and lots of things I love. I didn’t take photos. I thought it was a little dearer than what I’m used to but we are in a tourist area so that probably has something to do with it too.

I tried to make a plan but it just doesn’t work with us. We walked and soon enough, we were back at the colosseum.
The crowds, as I had read, were just horrendous. I’m not even talking about the crowds to get in, just the crowds in general!!!

There were people trying to sell us water, hats, or just begging for money. They are EVERYWHERE! There are people trying to sell you “beat the queue” tickets. If you don’t like crowds or are even mildly agoraphobic, this is not the place for you.

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We walked past the Roman Forum and again, crowds, people and peddlers everywhere.

We found ourselves at this church. I didn’t get the name but the guy outside said “no charge” to enter and when he had enough people, he would give us a free tour.

Hubby and I looked inside and decided we’ve had our tour and didn’t wait for his guidance.
Not to say we made the right decision, just stating what we did.

More pictures as we walked along.

If you know what it all is, that’s great, I’m not going to trust my memory in fear of writing something that’s incorrect.

Oh and these guys were causing quite a stir!!! (above)They look pretty good don’t they!
If you think about it for half a second you can see how they’re doing it, but it still looks pretty impressive. Kids must love it!!! Be prepared to give a donation if you take a photo.

One of my favourite sites is Altare della Patria. The Altare della Patria (“Altar of the Fatherland”), also known as the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II (“National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II”) or Il Vittoriano, is a monument built in honor of Victor Emmanuel, the first king of a unified Italy, located in Rome, Italy. It occupies a site between the Piazza Venezia and the Capitoline Hill.

I don’t know why I like this building, I just do.

A few more pics before we stopped for lunch…


Those ‘invisible’ men were pretty freaky. As you can see in that middle pic, the guy on my left held hands with me. The one on my right was saying “oh you are so beautiful I want to kiss you” then made kissing sounds. It was a bit gross. Again, you need to leave a donation if you want a picture of or with these guys.
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We needed a snack so we got some pizza. This was just so delicious!!!

I didn’t photograph mine but took a quick pic of the display inside.
It was just a pop up type store. No seating inside, just go in, get pizza, go out and enjoy!

When we did eventually stop for lunch, we probably walked into the wrong kind of place. What we did eat was so damn good but it was small and a bit expensive.
From my limited experience here, I think the street food is so much better, more authentic and cheaper.


However again, what we did eat was just delectable!!!

We decided to see if we could find the Vatican… I think we might have been going in the wrong direction (my mistake) but we saw things and I snapped pics along the way.


In the end I had to use my Italian to ask a security guy if he could point us in the direction of the Vatican and he was so nice and showed us the way…


Again, horrendously busy here. If you want to go inside, you’d be much better off pre-purchasing your tickets.

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We got some gelato…. sooo good!! Hubby was jealous because he thought mine was bigger than his but this is an argument we have often.
Mine isn’t bigger, he just wants more than his share.

Oh and I had seen this Roma cap in a few tourist stores for about 5 Euro. I went to one place and asked how much and he said 10 Euro!! I laughed and said “no way, I’ve seen it for 5”
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He then came back with “8 Euro for you” I started walking away and said, “No thank you” and even as I was away from him he was calling out “miss, miss, 7 Euro?”

And not even 100 metres down the road I found it for 5 Euro.

The exact same one.

Don’t know if you can tell how tired I am in that pic but I was nearing the end and knew we had a long way back still.

Snapped some more pics…


OH, and we’d seen movie trucks earlier in the day. When we were going through a certain area, we noticed some commotion and some girls asked us to wait as they were filming a scene.
I took a pic but couldn’t work out what was going on.

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Hubby and I bought a bottle of Lambrusco to enjoy this afternoon. Just want to have a little relaxing time before heading out for dinner. It was just delicious!  Every wine I’ve had here so far has been so good!

We had a long late siesta and didn’t leave our room to get something to eat until after 9.30pm. I was surprised to see a lot of places were closing or about to close! We walked past the supermarket about 10.10pm and found that to be closed too.

In the end we went past a sort of cafe that also sold goods and bought a variety of yummy foods to take away.

We walked more than thirty kilometres today so even though our bed here is as hard as a rock it wasn’t long before we were fast, fast asleep!

Buona notte!

Perth Day Three

Sorry that this entry is coming after the fact but between the Wine Tour that we did today and travelling back home, this is the first chance I’ve had to write and upload.

1Today, Friday the 5th of January as I write, is my birthday and not only is it my birthday, but it’s a milestone birthday too so I knew hubby was not going to say anything when I wanted to get up extra early to exercise.

The gym at this hotel is quite good and if you go early enough, there’s no one in there so I get the whole place to myself!
Perfect way to start a birthday!

We took our picture before heading out! (left)

The Wine Tour we were booked on started from Elizabeth Quay so we walked down there from our hotel and had a coffee at the Riverside Cafe. No champagne this morning though as I was anticipating a heavy alcohol day!

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We met our friends and boarded our boat.

It was such a relaxing cruise down the river!

We had coffee and muffins to start off with but it wasn’t long before the wine tasting started.

Here is a picture of the wine’s we sampled on the right and a few from the cruise below.
I forgot to mention the tasting plate of local cheeses that were also provided. Each tray was for two people so it was quite a generous portion!


Unfortunately I can’t remember the name of the first stop. I think it was next to Sandalwood Winery? Beautiful spot anyhow and they had the BEST cider here!! It tasted more like a sparkling white than a cider! Soooo delicious but unfortunately they don’t bottle it yet so we couldn’t buy any.

The food we had was also exceptional. Unfortunately I was too overwhelmed with the place to take pictures of the food but here are a few of our surroundings. By the way, the whole time we were there having lunch there was a line of people waiting to get in!

From here we travelled by coach to another winery.  This time I took a pic of the sign outside so I know it’s Windy Creek Winery. This was another gorgeous spot!!

I tried pretty much every wine they were offering and surprisingly for me, really loved the whites. I don’t normally drink a lot, if any, of white wine.

We were a nice group and by this time, were starting to talk to each other and were getting pretty happy! I took a few pics inside and out. So gorgeous here!

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Hubby is not a wine drinker so I ended up having a few tastings on his behalf – not that you can tell by this selfie on the left…

You can imagine where this is going to lead can’t you?

Back on the coach now to our next spot.

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As per the information from our driver, this tree had been struck by lightening, but continued to grow anyhow!

It was just outside our next stop and quite interesting to look at.

So now we’re at Twin Hill Wines and I’m feeling decidedly happy. Again, I liked the whites more than the reds (surprisingly) but not as much as our last stop. This is a family run winery though and the history behind it was quite interesting. They also provided a very tasty tasting plate for us!
Here are a few pics from our time here. By the way, the ladies behind the counter are mother and daughter.


Next stop was a brewery – Mash Brewing. They also provided us some nibbles and we were able to pick one beer from their list complimentary.

I’m not a beer drinker but it seemed like an interesting place.


I’m not sure you can read it but the pic on the right shows the beer choices we had.

We had one more stop to come and I was quite excited for this one! We were going to Margaret River Chocolate Company and were going to be sampling a few chocolate liqueurs also!

Here are a few pics. Luckily, hubby took them as I was not in any state to be taking photos at this point and was happy to be wandering around about the chocolate. We bought a few things to share later.


Not sure if you can see the interesting clocks bottom right. How cute are they!!!

The chocolate liqueurs ended up being a bit disappointing. We sampled four different kinds and they were all wine based. Although I like chocolate, I wasn’t tempted to buy any of them.

Our tour came to an end and we were dropped off back into Perth CBD.

IMG_5216We had dinner at East Village.

It looked like a really interesting place and the food wasn’t bad, but there was just something missing that I couldn’t put my finger on.


We ordered some wings to share, hubby got a burger and I had a Lamb Greek salad which was ok. The bread was probably the best thing about this. Still warm from the oven!

I had been jokingly saying I still wanted birthday cake and I wanted to see the city lights from Kings Park at night. Hubby, mostly always ready to please, began hatching a plan.

We went to the store and bought some cake. He also got some matches, candles and some sparklers. I still had no idea what he was going to do with these as we couldn’t light the sparklers in our hotel room could we?

I won’t bore you with the whole story but we never made it to Kings Park with one thing going wrong after another and eventually we just walked back to our hotel. Hubby still made it special for me by singing me happy birthday and lighting the candles on my cake!


Sadly our time in Perth was now pretty much over.

I do want to share one last treat before I finish this entry.

Hubby organised for us to fly back on the A330 in Business Class. Oh my!! Look at all this room!!! We could even lie our seats flat like a bed.
The bad thing about this is that you never want to travel any other way again!!!
Thank you Qantas and thanks for reading about our few days in Perth.

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