Japan 2018 – Nagoya & Kyoto

Wednesday 27th June 2018

Waking up earlier than we really needed seem to be the way things were going to happen this morning. Sadly it looks like sleep patterns may be off because it just did not go to plan. Instead we bummed around in the room trying to keep ourselves on a relatively normal fashion. Today’s plan was to go for a walk this morning to get some breakfast, then head out to a museum out of town and then who knows what the rest of the day.

So we rolled out of the hotel (which we were really liking so far) and started to walk out of the neighbourhood. We followed the railway lines up towards Nagoya Station and our chosen spot for breakfast. Located in the depths of the surrounding areas of the station was a lot of different, i guess you could call them strip malls. They were rows of shops and restaurants for all differents kinds of things. In amongst this haven of deliciousness was our intended destination. We wandered streets till we found Chapeau Blanc.

This little cafe had a fantastic deal. For the cost of a beverage (490 Yen) you would also get all the pastries you can eat. So for $5 you can have pastries and the drink of your choice, that is a bargain. Don’t get me wrong the pastries may not have been the best you will ever eat, but the iced coffee was good, the pastries were decent enough (we went back a few times) and they throw in hard boiled eggs too. What more could you ask for?

All filled up we walked back through Nagoya Station to get our bearings, book some train tickets for the rest of our trip and head out to our destination for the day. We were to jump the same train we took to our hotel last night but this time go all the way to the end. Which we did, via getting stuck in some railway works. It was interesting to see how the city differed from the small amount that we had seen so far. You went from very commercial, to very industrial relatively quickly.

Our destination was the end of the line and the museum right next door, the SCMaglev Railway Park which is the JR Central museum. It mainly covers the Tokaido Shinkansen along with also the new Chuo Shinkansen being built (the Superconducting Maglev). It was an amazing museum with so many things to see and thankfully not crowded at all. We explored all kinds of trains and I had been wanting to come here for quite some time. Although I did not win the lottery draw to drive the Shinkansen simulator, I did get some time driving a normal train (I did good, or at least that is what the lady said).

We both enjoyed the museum a lot and we even managed to have an old train to ourself for lunch. That is right… for lunch. They sell Ekiben’s at the museum (because of course you would) and you can eat them outside, in an old train that is air conditioned. We had our lunch in there and at one point, we were the only ones inside! We both tried not to purchase everything in the store before leaving and we headed back to the hotel to rest a little bit as we were both feeling a little jetlag.

After a couple of hours of resting we walked back up to Nagoya station but this time in a different direction. We checked out some stores in the station area before jumping on a subway over to Sakae. From there we had dinner at a Japanese Curry house (CoCo for anyone who cares) and did some more wandering through shops. We cut things early because I wasn’t feeling good and hadn’t been for a good portion of the day. We got back to the hotel around 730ish and i was passed out in bed by 8pm.

Thursday 28th June 2018

This morning we were heading south to Kyoto. After another pastry breakfast (this time from the 7-11) we headed off to the station. I was definitely not feeling well at all so Heidi made the decision that when we made it to Kyoto I was to ask the hotel about seeing a doctor. We made it back to Nagoya Station with plenty of time and waited for our train. While waiting on the Platform almost six Nozomi trains came through in the small 20 minute or so window. Those trains are really constant! Our train rolled in and we scrambled on with our bags. Soon enough we were in our seats and cruising out of Nagoya towards our next stop of Kyoto. Since this was Shinkansen we didn’t have long to wait.

We pulled into the Kyoto Station and found the nearest taxi rank (on the opposite side to I remember using last time) and we headed on our way to our hotel, the Ritz Carlton Kyoto (thanks work!). Upon arrival we were met by almost 4 staff and quickly sent off to our room. One staff member got a quick hand off of documents from the front desk and we were whisked off to our room for check in. Almost 6 staff helped us from the moment we got out of the taxi, amazing!. We had a beautiful room and even though it was on the floor above the lobby, it didn’t matter. We had a view of the river and it was quiet and peaceful.

After a site inspection with the sales rep, we headed off to get information on someone to go see to get me fixed up. With an appointment made for 5pm, we found the local 7-11, grabbed some lunch and then headed off to Inari station (took 2 subways and a train). After exploring the Fushimi Inari area with the million other tourists who were there, I left Heidi to explore on her own around the mountain while I headed down towards the town to explore. I found a cat cafe, the prices were cheap and included a free ice cream, so I was sold.

I spent a little while there (around 30 minutes or so) before walking off to meet up with Heidi. After heading back to the hotel for a little bit, we jumped into a taxi to head to the doctors. Low and behold after what felt like the quickest doctors visit ever I was given a prescription and then spent more time waiting for drugs than I spent with the doctor! We start to wander the streets after this in search of some dinner and found an Ippudo, however the wait was long, so pass on that! Around the corner from Ippudo was a good looking ramen place, with no wait and plenty cheap too. So we went in there! They had an english menu but we didnt need it because pointy talky ordering worked well.

After a stumble back to the nearest subway station and two trains and a walk back to the hotel, we flopped into bed to rest up before a big day the next day.

Friday 29th June 2018

Today was our big tour day of Kyoto. We were planning on getting in as much stuff as we could. We had arranged a tour guide with the Good Samaritan Club and they would help us get around the city. Our guide was due to meet us at 9am in the lobby of the hotel and we would head out from there. When we got down to the lobby it was full of guides waiting for their groups, so I guess a lot of people do it! Once we met up with our guide Nao we headed off on the subway. Umbrellas in hand today because the rain looked pretty nasty.

This morning we visited the Nijo-ji castle and the Imperial Palaces. The first being the spot where the Emperor would meet his guests and the second being his places of residence. Both were outstanding to visit and not that crowded thankfully. The rain was on and off all morning though so that was annoying. After the morning of the old reign of Japan we headed down to Nishi market for a stroll through and a look at all the tasty morsels on offer. I snagged a croquette for 100 Yen and ate it as we walked (although my guide was shocked since we had lunch upcoming but it looked so good!). After that we bought him lunch around the corner from the market at a place that had Curry Udon. I had a cold ramen dish with plenty of vegies and sesame dressing. It was delicious!

After lunch we jumped on a bus and headed out to the Golden Pavillion. This is where there were tourists and lots of them!! It was beautiful and stunning but holy crap it was like shooting fish in a barrel. From there we headed over to another temple which had less people. By this time we still had some time left with the guide so we headed off to explore a very little known perk of Amex cards in Japan. Apparently there is a VIP lounge inside one of the temples. The guide knew of the temple, but had never seen the lounge before we we headed over. It wasn’t much but it gave free access to a temple and some privacy away from the rest of the city. It was a good way to wind down and finish our tour.

After finishing the tour we headed back towards the city and it started bucketing down. Thank god for hotel umbrellas because we needed them! The rain was coming down hard and fast so we took refuge in a store that had over 300 different ice cream parfaits on offer! Yes please! With that as our early dinner we stopped by a store on the way home for a sandwich and a drink and soon enough back at the hotel after being gone all day. Tomorrow we would be leaving Kyoto and moving on. No doubt we will return.

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