Jeremy's Home Japan Trip Travel Log Day #8
See also: Drive to Kyoto Pictures, Kyoto Room Pictures
Amazing. Two days in a row now we've actually witnessed the Sun. As I write this, we're in a van on our way to Kyoto, which is southwest of Tokyo (if memory serves). We're cruising along at about 115Kph, listening to Garbage's Version 2.0 CD and enjoying our air-conditioned view of the various metropolitan areas and mountains we've been passing.
Just now (literally) we emerged from a tunnel and saw the ocean off to our left only a few hundred meters away.
(Pause) I just took a break to open one of the massive van windows and shoot a couple pictures with the digital camera. I'll get those on here later. Now I'm looking off to the left, over a small part of the Pacific Ocean, at a small mountain ridge. Too bad it isn't a little less cloudy. But I won't complain. We do have Sun and that's more than I can say about our first week here.
Japan is cool indeed.
I should point out that before I wrote the above sections (while the pooter was secure stored on the seat next to me), we drove past Mt. Fuji. That's one really big mountain. I say that having been to the Rocky Mountains more than once in my life. The top of it was obscured by random clouds, but you could easily get a sense of how large it was.
It was only about ten minutes after that when I realized that I should have my camera nearby. Duh.
We're back to ducking in and out of tunnels and seeing the Pacific Ocean. This is fun.
Heh. There's even a local water tower with a Mt. Fuji and a bunch of kids painted on it. It's time to put the laptop away and get the camera back out, I think. More later.
Upon arriving in the Kyoto area, we exited the highway and became lost. We spent the next hour or so driving around and trying to figure out where we were going. Eventually we managed to compare some landmarks (like the river, train tracks, and such) with the map and we were on our way.
Unfortunately we decided to follow my navigation. Scott and I each had one map, and I had the better map of southern Kyoto, so I attempted to get us within a block of the hotel (Holiday Inn, if you must know). While attempting to follow some small streets that we Americans would probably call alleys we got a bit lost again. While I was blamed for this little mishap, when I got the chance to compare with another map it was quite clear to me why we had gotten a bit messed up. My map showed a street going mostly straight, but the other map (the more accurate one) showed how messy the area we were in was.
In any case, we eventually found the hotel. I knew where it was, but getting there was a bit of fun. I should point out that we were doing this during rush hour in Kyoto.
We got to the hotel, checked in, and dumped our stuff in the rooms. Soon after, we all realized that we were rather hungry. There was a little display in the room that pointed out a few places in the hotel we could eat. One was a Chinese place that appeared to have a buffet of some kind. So we ventured down to the 2nd floor (our rooms were on the 7th, the top floor).
After being seated, we were presented with menus by our waitress (who spoke little English) and we quickly got the idea that there was no buffet. Worse yet, everything on the menu was quite expensive. I mean each dish was in the 2,000 Yen ballpark. So we ordered three dishes between the five of us and made do with that. Oh, and one of them had shrimp in it. (Since I've made a point of eating shrimp wherever possible on this trip.)
When the food arrived, we were surprised by two things:
The meals were supposed to feed 2-3 people ended up being just about enough for one person. So we ate what they gave us (without rice--apparently you have to order that separately and pay too much for it) and walked away still a bit hungry. It cost us over 5,600 Yen and we basically ate the equivalent of an appetizer.
Since we mostly struck out on the dinner, we decided to check out some of the other festivities. There was a "Rooftop Beer Garden" advertised. We followed the signs. It was closed. Strike #2.
Our next attempt was to visit the local bar. The hotel literature and signs advertised it as a "casual bar" and we just wanted to grab a few drinks and hang out. We arrived at the entrance to the "casual bar" and looked around. It looked a little fancier than we expected. And the prices on the drink menu were quite a bit higher than we expected. Strike #3. We headed back to the room--drinkless.
Our last resort was the vending machines. The vending machines in Japan serve beer (and coffee, both hot and cold). So we grabbed a few cans of beer from the vending machine and headed back to the rooms. Five hundred Yen for a big can of Japanese beer isn't too bad.
We were still a big hungry, so we broke out some of the snacks that we had brought with us: Oreos, pretzels, and so on. We filled up on snacks and thus completed our quest to find dinner.
If you're interested in an inside joke, ask one of us what we wanted to "drop" out the 7th floor window. You'll only be amused if you have a particularly sick sense of humor, though.