Travel Journal Days 5 & 6

Day 5, our last full day in Kyoto. It went by so fast its hard to believe that we have already spent 4 whole days here, but we are so exhausted from all the walking and sights that it made total sense at the same time. Today we didn’t have a set plan because we found out last night that a majority of restaurants and shops are closed on Sundays. You’d be surprised at how few places have their hours on google maps. So, we didn’t want to plan a whole day and then find out that stop after stop is closed. We decided to have somewhat of a lazy day. We didn’t get out the door until close to 11:30 to ensure that all the restaurants that were going to be open would be, and started walking up the street to one of the several restaurants close by that the hostel staff recommended. The first three we tried were closed, but finally, we came across a curry place that was open. 240 Curry was a punk rock-themed restaurant with wall to wall posters of local punk bands and festivals. You could sit there for a few hours just trying to look at all the posters, and you’d stay for a few more for the food. Their curry was delicious and authenticly spicy. We got the 4 meat special curry that came with chicken, fish, beef, and one other meat that we weren’t quite sure what it was, but they were all delicious. That might have been the fastest we have eaten a meal here (that also may be because we were using a fork/spoon).

After lunch, we headed in the direction of the Nishiki Market. There was a French bakery a few blocks from the market that we passed on the first day. It smelled so good we took a picture and wanted to try it before we left. Sadly when we got there today they were closed. Not to worry though because in Kyoto there is a bakery or sweets place on just about every street, so we just kept walking until we hit the next one. The bakery we went into was selling a famous Kyoto dessert. It is a perfectly cube-shaped cinnamon sugar bread with a dollop of cream cheese icing on top. That might have been one of the best loaves of bread we have ever had, the only thing that could have made it better is if we got it hot and fresh out of the oven, but we definitely see why it’s famous here. After our sweet treats, we headed into the market to look for some gifts for family. Since they might be reading this post, we’ll leave it up to their imagination if and what we might have gotten them.  So, fast forward to after the market. We are feeling a little tired and cold so we went in search of a coffee shop. We googled coffee shops near us and Haley found one that looked nice and they do the hearts of cream in their cappuccinos so we set off in that direction. We were walking for about 10 minutes when google maps told us we arrived. We stopped and looked around, to the right of us is the back wall of some sort of shop and to the left is a parking lot; we figured we must have made a wrong turn or something. However, upon closer inspection, we see a small group of people standing around in the back corner of the parking lot and we figure its worth a shot to see if, by chance, that is the coffee shop we are looking for. When we get to the back of the lot we see a small cut out in the wall with nothing but a counter to order at and a single bench for 2 people to sit at. The doorway was open with vines and flowers lining it and the bench. It was so cute and quaint looking, especially for a shop posted inside a parking lot. We ordered two cappuccinos and stood while we waited because the bench was already taken. As we waited, at least three more groups of people walked up. We were surprised that all these people found this small, hole in the wall shop. The coffee was delicious and the heart was expertly done. Now that we were warmed up and had some energy we decided to walk home and take in some more of the city.

After getting back to our hostel we laid down for an hour or so just to rest and recoup from the week. Around dinner time, we walked up the street to a casual bento box restaurant where we got some pork and chicken don-katsu and brought it back to the hostel. We hung out and ate our dinner in the common room watching Japanese cable and chatting with the other guests. After dinner and some beers, it was time for bed because we had to pack up and leave the next morning.

 

Day 6 and our stay in Kyoto is officially over. We got up early, packed up our backpacks, and started walking to the train station. We hopped on a short 10-minute train for Nijo station to Kyoto station where we had 20 minutes to get to the next train that will take us from Kyoto to Nagoya. That connection was easy, it is the connection in Nagoya to Odawara that has us worried. The train from Kyoto to Nagoya got to the station at 11:55 and our next train to Odawara left the station at 11:59. While on the train to Nagoya, we were kind of freaking out about being able to make that connection because the English signs are helpful but it usually takes us well over four minutes to figure out where we are going. Luckily Haley has an app on her phone (HYPERDIA for iPhones) that lets you look up train times so we could find out before we got there what platform we were going to be arriving at and what platform the train was going to be leaving from. To our pleasant surprise, we were getting in at platform 14 and our next train was leaving from platform 15, but we weren’t completely out of the woods yet. We didn’t know if they would be right next to each other or if we would have to go downstairs over to the far side of the terminal and then back up. As the train pulled into the station Haley and I were the first ones at the door with our backpacks all buckled up ready to run. The doors open and we charge out only to realize that platform 15 is just on the other side of the platform 14. We didn’t need to go anywhere, so we unbuckled our backpacks and chuckled at ourselves in relief. Once on the train, we had an easy two-hour ride to Odawara and then we had to catch a bus up the mountain to Hakone. Thank goodness they had a person there to help you find our bus stop because there were eight bus terminals all with only Japanese signs and schedules. The attendant pointed us to the fourth terminal. When we got to the terminal there was probably seven or eight people in line for the bus, but by the time it arrived there were at least 30 people all with luggage trying to get on a city bus with no overhead or undercarriage storage. This might have been to most cramped we have felt in a while. Our seat was over the wheel well so we had no leg room and we had to put our backpacks on our laps, and that’s how we sat for the 45-minute ride up the winding road to our hostel.

After our uncomfortable bus ride, we got off at the Sengoku stop and walked 10 minutes to our hostel. Once we arrived we got a very in-depth introduction to the area which included a video of all the major attractions and transportation. After the video, we were shone to our room where we unpacked and decided what we wanted to have for dinner. We chose a restaurant that offered traditional Japanese home cooking splashed with some American favorites. We ordered gyoza, fried chicken, garlic prawns, fried potatoes (french fries), and yakisoba. They were all super tasty and very reasonably priced. After dinner, we walked home and turned on the T.V. in our room. We watched some Japanese cable until it was time for bed.

We are very excited to get up and explore the mountain town of Hakone tomorrow!

Until next time,

Justin and Haley

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