Thursday, 6 November 2008

Kyoto - Day 1

I'm finally off!

I have just been given a packet of Pokichocs (or Mikado as we call them in Belgium) and a bottle of water from the I-think-I'm-so-funny drinks cart guy in the TGV.
Already a taste of Japan and some rehydration. Perfect!

An eleven and a half hour flight awaits me, enough to fill any smoker with dread if you ask me, but I've done a bit of research and I get my own screen in the plane, along with a choice of at least 12 films to watch.

Before take off, I get my first glimpse of a Japanese newspaper.

Despite a really long delay on board before take off, the flight was OK. Way too many films to choose from, I only manage one before opting for a sleep enhancer and some shut eye. Only to wake up an hour later for some pot noodle (the main meal was as expected, inedible) and some Häagen Daaz. A nice surprise. A couple of hours sleep later and Voilà!

We meet up with our guide at Kansai Airport, a man made island in Osaka Bay. We head over to the train station to make our way to Kyoto about one and a half hours away.

I am amazed at how clean this place is.

And we get our first sighting of Japanese gadgetry. The seats change direction depending on which way the train is travelling. How cool - although I think, like me, most people don't really care if they are travelling backwards.

This trip is not one of those bus tours, thank god, so all our travelling is done on public transport, and after a metro ride we finally arrive at our hotel in the center of Kyoto. We will be based here for most of the holiday so it is nice to get to the room and unpack. A quick shower later and we meet in the lobby to go for a stroll around the neighbourhood to get our bearings.

To be honest, as excited as I am, my heart isn't really in it and I'm finding it really hard to stay awake. And once we get back to the hotel, the hard part begins. It's only 5.30pm local time and going to bed now means a certain wide eyed wake up at 4am tomorrow morning!
My long flight, 3 trains and metros have my bodty thinking i'm on a boat , i really need to be immobile for a couple of hours.

I take a pew on the terrace of the Starbucks in the hotel and do some writing. I know it is not the best coffee in the world, and definitely not Japanese (apart from the fact that none of the staff spoke any English at all) but I love my coffee and this was a perfect place to sit and watch the world go by. It became my solace during the next days and allowed me a great place to relax and write during my stay in Kyoto.

A few of us head out to a restaurant nearby for some food. Our guide suggested a nordic inspired place serving salades and pasta, to which we all cry out that our first night in Kyoto we really would prefer some Japanese food. (Reminds my of a certain conversation about the Majidé contestant wanting pizza.)
We end up in a great little place serving food on a hotplate built into our table.
I discover that customer service here is going to be quite different to Belgium. There is a bell on the table in case we need to call a waiter. Didn't need to use it once as the guy was around and actually looking to see if we needed anything. After some Japanese tapas style food, some bland, a couple absolutly delicious, I head back to the hotel, and can stay up no longer.

The schedule is all mixed up it seems and instead of spending the first 4 days in Kyoto, tomorrow we are off to the country to walk in (among others) Tom Cruise's footsteps.
Himeji - one of Japan's 12 surviving feudal-era fortresses about 55km west of Kobé.


Anonymous said...

Woohoo day 1! Looking forward to the rest!

AMC said...

yeah, get a cup of coffee....

It is only half written atm. I'm getting there!

Anonymous said...

Day 2, or year 2?

AMC said...

I know ... :(

It's coming - waiting for the holidays.