Stories from the Suitcase...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

We're introducing a new idea for Fridays here at Girl With A Suitcase.  Most people have great travel stories that they'd like to share.  We want to know the good, the bad and the ugly!  Inspire other people to see different parts of the world or share what's special in your neck of the woods.

This week Alex shares her story from the suitcase.

1.  Destination?

A few years ago we picked up some cheap 2 for 1 airfares to Japan with Jetstar.  We hadn't really planned on travelling there but the opportunity was too good.  $800 return for two people!  It was an 8 hour flight to Osaka.

We chose Osaka instead of Tokyo, just in case it was too overwhelming.

I'd studied Japanese in high school but my conversational Japanese was sketchy to say the least.  Lucky for us, all the signs in Japan are in English too.  Also, Japan is so organised and the people so polite that we had no problems finding our way around.

2.  What time of year did you travel?

We flew over in February.  It was their winter and apart from 2 days of snow, the rest were warm and sunny.

4.  Who did you travel with?

It was my husband and I and our 7 month old baby.  Crazy to take a baby on an 8 hour flight and a foreign country?  Probably, but she was great.  Japanese people fell in love with her blue eyes and blonde hair.  The school girls on the trains would squeal when they saw her.  I guess it was a novelty for them.

We took a small pram instead of a port-a-cot and she slept in that.

5.  How did you get around?

We arrived late at night and decided to take a taxi to our hotel instead of trying to navigate the trains and monorail.  Once we got our bearings, we realised Osaka is surrounded by a monorail system.  The train system criss-crosses the city.  Each day we just bought a day pass and explored the city.  The trains are busy in the morning and night but great during the day.  They even have women only carriages.

We spent a few days in Osaka then caught a train to the city of Kyoto.  We explored most of Kyoto on foot.

6.  Food?

The food in Japan is AMAZING.  I don't mean sushi.  There are small stores on every corner that sell the freshest, most delicious meals.  Ordering is easy, we just pointed to pictures of what we wanted.  We stayed away from hotel restaurants apart from at breakfast and explored the city.  Lots of yummy food washed down with cold Asahi beer.  This was my favourite meal...

Oh, in Osaka their speciality is Takoyaki...octopus balls.  Being the adventurous gal that I am, I ordered 6.  I made it through 2 before I gagged.  Oh well.


7.  Trip highlight?

There were so many, it's hard to choose!  I had fun playing with the technical toilets, the food, the service.  On the third day I was looking out the window and noticed that there was fluff falling out of the sky.  It was snowing!  We're from Australia so we rarely get the opportunity to see snow.

That was the day we also went to see a car show next to our hotel (think Fast and The Furious crossed with Pimp My Ride).

And later in the day caught the train to the city of Kyoto.  We stayed at the Westin Miyako.  Kyoto reminded me of an Alpine city but with all the historical shrines and temples that you expect to see.  The Imperial Palace is in Kyoto too.

There was a chapel near our hotel room and I had the opportunity to spy on a few weddings.

8.  Trip low point?

There really wasn't one.  Apart from putting my back out because we pushed our double beds together and I slept in the crack!  It was easy, stress free and lots of fun!

9.  What would you like others to know about your destination?

Japan is AMAZING!  I loved it.  It was so clean, organised and fun!  So much attention is put into small details.  My husband bought a piece of cake in a pattiserie and they spent 5 minutes beautifully packaging it.  He took it outside, ripped it open and devoured it on the street.  Men.

The shopping is out of this world.  There are malls everywhere, even underground.  Sizes are a little on the small side, but the quality is great.  And Japan isn't expensive.

The people are very polite and friendly.  If we were ever lost or couldn't figure something out, people were more than helpful.

I enjoyed Osaka but I fell in love with Kyoto.  It's smaller and you have the opportunity to explore the historical aspects of Japan.

I'd totally recommend that you visit if you get the opportunity.


BLOGitse January 16, 2010 at 4:41 AM  

Thank you for sharing this!
Japan - a country waiting for me! LOL!

Sharnanigans January 17, 2010 at 2:55 AM  

I so want to go to Japan now!!! Great insight

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