20100414 [Nagoya and Nara]
Flickr set: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fractos/sets/72157623764969227/
I woke up refreshed and deciding never to get that drunk in Japan ever again, or at least that hungover. The lady who runs the hostel recommended a good place nearby for breakfast and she was absolutely spot on. Komeda's Coffee house is just around the corner from the hostel and does the most amazing toast and jam, with a hard boiled egg on the side. Completely delicious.
Has been closed for two years. Thanks, Rough Guide.
Atsuta shrine, Nagoya
20 minutes walk away from the hostel, along the busy Otsu-dori and Atsuta-dori roads, lays the second biggest shrine in Japan. It's a magnificent bleached wood structure with a surrounding park land, including a pond with terrapins (or maybe turtles) basking on rocks, massive carp, huge chickens and one of the most pleasant looking buddhist-stuff shops I've seen so far. There wasn't much to see there apart from that, so I walked back to the hostel to pick my stuff up and headed to Kanayama station, then to Nagoya and onto the shinkansen once more... much less hungover this time. However, I still managed to get on a train headed in the wrong direction and had to change at its first stop to get back to Nagoya. Doh.
bullet train to kyoto
Tried reserving a ticket in the smoking carriage for a change. I don't recommend it to be honest. The air made my eyes itch. The journey took us past some more ridiculous mountains, bridges and agricultural areas.
nice people guiding me to the right train for nara
Completely unexpected. Arrived at Kyoto to change from the shinkansen to a normal train for Nara, found one, sat on it, and started looking at the directions to the guesthouse, and checked the list of stops on a poster above the train door, when a guy who must have been about 80 asked me where I was going. He then pointed out that this was a local stopping service which would take me a massive amount of time to get to Nara, and that I should instead get the Rapid service, even going to the trouble of asking the guard at the back of the train. He was completely right and I was so touched that he would take so much trouble to help me. Nice people here :)
nice people guiding me to the right place in nara
The rapid service wasn't all that rapid to cover the 35km to Nara, but we got there eventually. After that, I changed again for a local stopping service to get to Kyobate, where I immediately found the directions to the guesthouse to be pretty useless. I stopped in front of a shop next to the station and asked a woman on a bike, who went and asked the woman inside the shop, meantime a guy on a motorbike was going into the shop and asked directly if I was going to the guesthouse, then he went inside the shop as well, and came back holding a laminated map showing where we were and how to find the guesthouse. Turns out, it was a straight line from the station along the street. Nice people here too :)
Naramachi Guesthouse, Nara
Very very very traditional, shoes off, slippers on, not quite sure whether I can drink this beer in the common room, kind of place. Met a nice guy called Maurice, from Cologne who is staying here also, we went out to get some food and for me to become orientated, roughly with the layout of the town, versus where the guesthouse is. Now I'm back at the guesthouse and sitting, after a brief period of conversation with a nice but batty Italian lady, in abject silence as I type furiously away, drinking potentially forbidden biru. It's some kind of Asahi blend, he said, looking askance over at the can while still trying to type. That's kind of showing off but, well, never mind. Someone's just picked up the guitar from the corner of the lounge and is playing a ridiculously good version of Stairway To Heaven. Fully jazzed up and everything. Impressive.
There's countless empty cans of beer in the recycle bin. Joy!