Osaka accommodation

IMG_5018.1The train to Osaka was supposed to be around 500 Yen according to a website but the two hung-over gaijins probably took a more expensive train than we should have since we ended up paying little more than the double. Well, compared to what were spent on yesterdays drinking binge I guess we will survive. We went to an internet café at the Osaka station, and after realizing that they had wireless for free I downloaded some information about Osaka. Taking the not as cheap as in Tokyo subway we headed for Shin-Imamiya station which supposedly had some budget hotels.

While searching for these rumored hotels a old japanese drunk (which isn’t a common sight by the way) stopped us and asked if we were swedish. We found that the hotels where lumped together and after five ‘no rooms, sorry’ our hopes were getting down. Specially since the last hotel asked for how many nights, and after that said they didn’t have any rooms. We spotted a Bikklu vendor (one of our favorite soft drinks) and said things would get better after this. The very next hotel down the street did have rooms available and the clerk actually understood phrases such as ‘rooms available?’. They didn’t have internet here though but I guess we can manage 😉 It was 2400 Yen for a twin room which is really cheap.

There’s always a catch and when opening the door to our room we realized that the twin room wasn’t that big. It’s not possible to place the two mattresses in any way in the room without overlapping e.g. In fact you can see three of the four possible walls on the photo on top of this page. The view was quite nice though, we are at 9th floor and the thickness of the outer wall is approximately 4-5 cm which I guessed seemed safe at some time. After writing this I guess we will try to check out the local area, get some food and so on. We can’t enter the hotel between 00 and 06 so I guess it will be a long night or a calm night today. We will see, Ulf’s been sleeping now so perhaps it’s about time for some Shochu again.

Kyoto walking by night

The club Metro was quite lame, music could have been good but it seemed like they played only the intros of some minimalistic electronica. There was no entry fee though and the drinks were decent, so I ordered them in pairs. We were talking with the other backpackers from the party but almost no locals where to be seen so we all left for another club which supposedly would be better.

This is where those double-drinks and the Shochu starts to kick in I assume. I took a little power nap when we got the other place, this is as we have witnessed before not like in Sweden where they will throw your drunk ass out of the club if you gasp a little too long. Or at least that’s what I’ve heard.

When I woke up, half of the crowd had left and Ulf was hammered. This was kind of an interesting situation; imagine that you wake up in a bar you don’t know how you got to and the place you call home is located on the other side of the city. Then add the fact that road signs and most maps are written in a language you do not understand and the average level of the locals’ english similar to a 12-year old swedish kid’s.

Since Ulf had, according to him, taken care of me while I slumbered like a baby I decided it was now my duty to guide him home. We could do it the easy way and order a cab but that wouldn’t be much of a challenge, now would it?

So we get out form the club, have no clue at all which direction so we just started walking. I guess one of the guys from the hostel was just outside because someone said to us in english ‘you’re going in the wrong direction’. Since I’m a man I replied ‘We’ll manage, thanks anyways’ and kept walking. After a few turns there was some locals our age that I asked for directions to ‘Nijo jo’ (Nijo Castle, once again living next to a landmark proved invaluable). They didn’t speak any english (I still get surprised by this every time, at least basic english I thought would be common) but after some conversation I understood that they said I should wait until the subway opens and then go by that. This was not an option so I explained that we would walk. They laughed and gave us the direction towards Nijo Castle.

We walked, and walked. And walked. Now and then asking locals to be sure that we were on the right track. Ulf, as always when a little tipsy, wanted to stop for getting food now and then as well. Eventually we started to recognize the streets and I felt the sense of victory. I was so enthusiastic so I was almost a half block ahead of Ulf when I went up the stairs going for my bed. I undressed and lay down. Why doesn’t Ulf show up?

In my boxers I open the door to the staircase on the outside and look for him in the street. I can see that he has passed our hostel and keeps on walking. I scream but he seems oblivious to my attempts to get his attention. So I do what I have to in order to guide my friend to safety. I run down the stairs, out on the street to get him. Now I don’t see him though, was he that fast? I run along the street, still wearing boxers only to find him exiting a convenient store with another package of food. He looks at me and wonders what I’m doing out here in my boxers. I got some interesting looks by the locals that where heading for their jobs I can assure you.

Back to bed around 6 and this time I woke up 40 minutes before check-out at 12 feeling just a bit to good. We all know what that means, the hung-over hadn’t started yet.

Kyoto – City of walking

IMG_4995.1We arrived in Kyoto without any further mishaps. It struck as as a good idea that for the first time ask for internet at some kind of information desk and we were pointed to the 9th floor of the station mall. The escalators where put in a long line which was quite nice since you could get quite a view from the 10th floor down. We found the tourist information office and could get internet access there. Armed with some alternatives for accommodation we left the impressive station.

A map just outside the station explained that one of our alternatives, ‘cheapest inn in kyoto’ would be quite close since ‘Nijo Castle’ was only three streets away and this was close to our stay. After some walking and not reaching this castle we were a bit confused and checked another map. Nijo Castle was not on these maps, had we simply missed it? Some inquiries told us that we were on the right street and just had to keep walking. Which we did. After nearly two hours on the same lovely street we finally got there. The streets on the first map was probably districts. How fun. We did have the fortune to get beds at our hostel when we finally got there though.

After a well needed shower we went out for food and a local bar. The local bar was just like the ones we prefer, only locals with severely limited english skills and the guests looked like regulars. We ordered Shochu on the rocks as usual and it took a bit longer than usual to get our order straight, which was explained by the fact that the middle-aged woman serving us was quite drunk. And her husband didn’t walk straight either. Some jokes on us by the regulars and some conversation about Shochu took place and when we ordered the second round the waitress wasn’t tight with the Shochu by any means. We then left happily and realized that we left my quite expensive camera but it was still there when we got back, I guess you can’t have bad luck all the time.

When we got back to the hostel we slept like a couple of corpses until somewhere around 11. It was time to get the culture dose for today. We found that the Nijo castle would be our first stop since we lived more or less next to it and then some famous zen garden consisting of 15 rocks sounded cool. We also thought we should pay the imperial palace park a visit as well.

The Castle was impressive, the ‘nightingale floors’ inside creaked like nightingales (well with some imagination, but it sounded really cool) when you were walking on them. This was in order to prevent some evil ninja sneaking in. But since ninjas can fly we didn’t understood why this would help. The gardens surrounding the actual castle building were really nice as well.
After walking the tour we thought we would go for that zen garden which was called Ryoan-ji. Wise from yesterdays walking we thought the local buses would be a nice way of traveling.

Since the bus didn’t go all the way (at least that’s what we thought at that time) we jumped off of what we considered to be a station in close proximity of the zen garden. Using the locally placed maps we found it after some walking. It was really nice, perhaps a little more green moss where the rocks where placed would had been nice, photos at the garden showed that this had been the case at some point though. The japanese people really do have a sense of creating beautiful things. It may be railway stations, gardens, clothing or rituals, the all share the same elegant design. And complementing with their manga and always bizarre sounds of course.

We took the bus back to the imperial park and sat there reading and blogging (Ulf had some catching up to do) until sunset, which happens around 19 here. We thought that a calm night at the hostel with some checking up hostels and traveling before we left for Osaka would be nice. Then the devil, or actually a canadian girl, said the words ‘I’m going up to finish my drink’ when we just got back. Apparently there was a party on the roof of the hostel. After some quick thinking we joined with freshly bought ice and Shochu. We were to go clubbing later on as well.

The club Metro was the destination for reasons unknown to me, it was located on the other side of the city. But since we hadn’t done much walking in Kyoto already we thought this would be a nice walk.