Today we were off to Nara, the old capital of Japan.Despite being a separate city to Osaka our train was the equivalent of a suburban route.
Nara was gorgeous. We walked around the numerous temples and shrines and through Nara-koen (park), finishing up at the world's biggest wooden building in the Todaji temple complex. It houses giant buddha and kannon statues.
As soon as we purchased some of the special biscuits from a vendor we were set upon by the deer that live around the temples and parks. The tried to eat my pants, B's coat and even the map of Nara!
We ended our tour of Nara wandering through the old houses of the Naramachi district before catching a train back to Osaka.
The real highlight of Nara were not the temples, wildlife or old buildings. It was the cherry blossoms. I now understand why the Japanese worship them so. They are graceful and delicate, a snow of petals falling to the ground. Beautiful.
Today we decided to stick around and explore Osaka. We splurged unwisely and purchased Osaka Free Passes for 2000 Yen. They include free entry to a number of attractions and small discounts for others, along with free travel on the subways for the day. Waste of money in the end.
We started off at Osaka Aquarium and that was well worth the admission fee. B said that it was the highlight of her day. Sea otters lounging on their backs, dolphins playing with ropes, seal liones gliding through the water, penguins posing. There was a whale shark cruising through their big tank, along with tuna, rays, sharks and many other glittering schools of fish. I loved the ethereal jellyfish, glowing in the light and the alien spider crabs from the deep.
Sitting in the lobby of the Hotel Shin'Osaka. Finally got internet access working, but I'm too tired to write much. Both flights were pretty good, although there was a bit of turbulence descending into Kansai International.Exchanged our JR passes and caught the train into Osaka. Got lost, but a kind lady directed us - domo arigato gozaimasu.
So hungry, but the local places were either too forbidding for addled brains or closing for the night. Ended up in Lotteria at the JR Shin-Osaka station eating shrimp and fish burgers and chips. Disgustingly gaijin of me and really I would have preferred local food, but it tasted great!
Hotel room is small, but quite nice and with a bum washing seat warming toilet and strong hot shower. I'm happy with it.
Okay, battery running flat and if I don't sleep my awful cold will never disappear.
Woke up at 5am - way too early - and caught the shuttle bus to the airport. I think that the cold tablets that I took must have woken me up. B was asleep on her feet.
As we wandered the terminal I admired the other aircraft, including the Asiana's 777 which we caught on a previous trip and the Virgin Atlantic A340 which just looks damn good. I think that we exited through the same gate (37) as the flight I caught down to Melbourne to watch Revenge of the Sith. at check in the ground crew were happy to seat us further forward than originally booked in 30A and B.
Meal served 45 minutes into the flight by a male steward who speaking with a true strine accent, mate! Mango passion Ski yoghurt (just like I buy for B), Light'n'Tasty triple berry cereal (sultanas and honey - yuck!), milk, water and a warm sultana roll, served on a plastic tray. Ended up just drinking the milk and water as none of the other items were to my taste. Fortunately I had already treated myself to a very naughty breakfast of hot chocolate and a couple of Krispy Kreme donuts at the airport.
I had hoped to have a quiet start to our holiday. Instead I found myself desperately attempting to setup the work wikis and to clean up the house. Somehow we did it all, but it was 6pm.
Dinner was a walk down to our local McDonalds. Then at 7pm B's brother and wife drove u down to the hotel. So much for surprising my wife!
We have often driven past the Stamford Sydney Airport at night on the way from the city. It's in the middle of a light and airport-related industry area, fairly self contained. Seemed like a good place to start the adventure without distraction.
I got a great deal off their website, much less than 4 star prices. Not the broadband however - 55c per minute up to $29 for 24 hours. That why I'm typing this on dialup (90c local call).It's a comfortable room, big bed, soft armchair. Views towards the city rather than the airport, unfortunately. I watched a couple of planes on descent, trying to get into the mood.
It's Friday night, only two more days before our Japan holiday begins. Work has been terribly hectic and I'm still not finished. I promised a big report on our intranet before Monday and the only place I've written it is in my head. Got to setup some wikis as well. I'm excited, but I'm also sick, which hasn't helped progress.
All is not lost, as it looks like we should have internet access in both Osaka (Hotel Shin'Osaka) and Tokyo (Shinjuku Prince Hotel) through our hotels, though things would be better if I could get VPN on my Zaurus C3100 to work properly. I have a feeling that I need to configure the routing table properly.