Kyoto Day 2

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We decided to walk to the Kyoto Railway Museum this morning.  It was supposed to rain but we planned to arrive before the rain started.  We succeeded.

There were several school groups there this morning,  but we really enjoyed it.  There were several different trains to look at and explore.  The museum also had several hands on exhibits with buttons and levers.  Clarissa was able to pretend to drive several different trains.

Clarissa lasted longer than Tim though.  I think it is a great choice for families with young children.  Teenagers might get bored quickly.  The price was great.  Adults pay 1200 yen (about $12). Clarissa is 3 so we had to pay for her as well,  but only 200 yen ($2).

There were 3 floors of exhibits in the main building,  two sections of trains outside,  and two additional smaller buildings.  I enjoyed the ability to go under a train to see what the motor and suspension looks like from below.


The third floor had a great view of the shinkansen train (bullet train)  if you paid attention to the schedule when they were to pass by.


The second floor also had a play area for kids to build train tracks on their own with several small trains as well. There was also a model train set up  for kids to crawl under so that they were eye level with the trains.

We thought about visiting the Kyoto Aquarium as well since it was right next to the railway museum.  But it didn’t get great reviews and was expensive for the size.  It was 2000 yen ($20) for adults.  So we decided to skip it.

We walked to the mall for lunch and then headed across the street to the train station.  We wanted to see Nijo jo (castle).  Honestly,  we were not impressed.  The Osaka castle was more ornate and easier to get to.  Nijo jo was a much larger complex and right off the subway.  However,  it was gravel everywhere which was hard to navigate with a stroller.  Parts also had large steps without ramps so we would take turns going up to take pictures.


We were all tired and cranky and it was starting to rain,  so we decided to head back early.  This time,  we got off at a different train station because Tim wanted to see what we could find on the way back to the hotel.

We had a very relaxing afternoon in the room.  I was able to finish reading my Kindle book so I need to work on a review for that because it was a very encouraging read for me.

We decided to take it easy and eat dinner across the street at Royal Host.  We got Clarissa in to bed pretty close to the normal time this morning.  But I will say that a two year old on vacation was way easier than a three year old on vacation…

Tomorrow we head up to Tokyo by Shinkansen (bullet train).

Just monkeyin’ around in Kyoto 

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It always takes me a few days to get into a groove with the conversion rate.  In Korea,  7,000 won is about $7.  But 7,000 yen is about $70! But three days in,  I have a better idea of what I am actually paying.

We woke up at a better time today which meant we had a better schedule.  Our first destination was Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama.  We had to take three different trains to get there, but it was so worth it! The third train was a single electronic trolley car that went through the countryside. It reminded me of a Studio Ghibli movie.

We arrived at Arashiyama and walked down a street of cute little shops that I decided I needed to check out on the way back.  There was a great pedestrian bridge that led to a mountain and I was thrilled.  This was the side of Japan I had been dying to see last Christmas.  Traditional houses,  boats, countryside.

We followed the signs to the monkey park where it said to park bikes and strollers.  Then we walked up some steps to a shrine and were a little confused. The entrance to the monkey park was off to the left.  Adults pay 1,100 yen (like $11) but 3 year olds and under are free.

The sign said it was a twenty minutes hike to the monkey park.  It was mostly uphill and some of the path was paved.  It wasn’t dangerous,  but Clarissa definitely didn’t walk the entire trail.  I was impressed though because she walked at least half of it.  On this hike,  we decided that we do need to bite the bullet and buy an ergo or something because I know I want to do the Great Wall of China next year and we can’t bring a stroller there either.  It would have made the trip easier to wear Clarissa on my back.

But it was so worth it when we got to the top!  There were a few monkeys hanging out.  Then we went inside a cabin that has cages on the windows. You can pay 100 yen (about $1)  for a small bag of peanuts,  apples,  or bananas to feed the monkeys.

Clarissa had a great time!  We ended up doing all three different foods.  Clarissa was able to feed 4 different monkeys,  including a baby monkey.

Since it is on top of  a mountain,  you can look out and see most of Kyoto from up there.

 

I pretty much carried Clarissa the whole way down the mountain.  We ran into a few families with small children and I kept encouraging the moms that it was worth it to go all the way up there.

After our hike,  we went back in to town for some shopping.  I found some fun placemats with a cat that looks like Mittens.  We had awesome sushi for lunch.  We had ice cream too.  Clarissa and I chose vanilla,  but Tim went with green tea.

We took a few trains to Yassaka Jinja Shrine.  Along the street, we bought a small geisha doll for Clarissa and a magnet for me.  We also found Kanji (Japanese)  signature stamps for all three of our names.

The shrine was clean and not super crowded but not spectacular. It was also not very stroller friendly.  There were several sets of steps and no ramps.

Tim was more excited to visit the Fushimi Inari Shrine because of the many gates it has.  This shrine was massive and has gates that go all the way up the mountain.  It had a few ramps for the bottom buildings but there was not a place to park the stroller to go up the mountain to see all of the gates.  Clarissa loved the wolf statues though.

It was supposed to rain so we headed to the new Aeon mall which is right across from Kyoto station.  We ate yummy Indian curry and Naan for dinner. Then Clarissa and I went to check out the Steam Locomotive Cafe which had Thomas and some other Japanese model trains set up.  They sold drinks and hamburgers as well as train merchandise. Tim visited a few electronics stores but wasn’t impressed.

Tonight was the first time we made it back early enough to catch the hotel shuttle home.  It was packed!  But it is nice to have Clarissa in bed before 10 for a change.  I think we will have a more cooperative girl tomorrow.  Hopefully the weather man is wrong and it won’t rain the entire day.

Our day in Osaka 

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We slept later than I thought we would this morning.  Tim’s normal weekend alarm went off at 9 AM to wake us all up.

It took a few extra minutes in the morning at the train station because I needed another pass.  But the rapid train to Osaka only took about 30 minutes.

Our first attraction was Osaka jo (Osaka castle).  When we arrived near the park,  it was packed.  There were long lines for something (we eventually figured out they were all there to see Nissy,  a Japanese pop star).  We decided to have a quick sit down lunch.  We ordered from a kiosk and it was very good.

Then,  we headed to the Castle.  The outside was quite ornate.  There was a mote around it and a park with beautiful trees.  We started later than we wanted to today so we gave Clarissa the choice of going inside the castle,  or going to the aquarium later.  She chose the aquarium.  There were plenty of steps,  so getting inside with the stroller wasn’t going to be easy anyway.  (You do have to pay to go inside the castle.)


Our next stop was Den Den town,  an electronics area.  Tim had a list of places he wanted to check out.  He did find something on his wishlist,  a psp go.  They have been discontinued so they are harder to find.  Clarissa found a Japanese fish toy she really likes.  I was excited about the prospect of retro toy stores.  But they were Japanese toys and not the 80s toys I remember.

We had some Burger King for dinner and then headed out to Osaka Aquarium. (Adults pay 2,300 yen which is about $23, 3 year olds and under get in free.)  The aquarium was really nice.

Clarissa especially loved the Finding Dory area.

There was even a fish tank with the same fish as the dentist office in the first movie.

The best part of the aquarium was the touch tank.  I got to touch sting rays and sharks!  Clarissa touched the shark but was afraid of the sting ray because they were so big.  I was surprised because the rays were very smooth,  but the shark felt quite rough.

After the aquarium,  Clarissa lost it because she wanted to “keep touching things”  and didn’t want the shark to miss her.  She was upset until we passed a soft serve ice cream shop on the way back to the subway.  Tim thought it was the best soft serve he had ever tasted. Clarissa and  I enjoyed it as well.

It was another late night of missing the shuttle.  But we decided to walk back today since we knew where to go.

Learning curve on our travel day 

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When we were looking at flights from Busan to Osaka,  the price was great but there weren’t a ton of time options.  We basically had to choose between 8 AM or 5 PM.  The airport is a 90 minute drive,  so we chose the 5 PM flight. 

A friend drove us to the bus station about noon.  We went to buy tickets for the next bus to Gimhae airport.  It was leaving in 2 minutes.  But we made it. 

The bus wasn’t even halfway full,  so Clarissa and I moved to a different row so that she didn’t have to sit in my lap the entire bus ride. 

She did very well on the bus. She played with her tablet and looked out the window.  I was actually able to read a book on my Kindle that I started on our trip to Suwon in May.  

We arrived to the airport about 2 PM.  We checked in for our flight and then went upstairs to have some bibimbap for lunch.  After lunch,  we headed to security. 

Before you get to immigration,  there is a really cute character statue.  Clarissa loved it so we decided to take her picture with it.  About 10 feet after the statue,  there are signs that say no photography.  But we didn’t notice those until security yelled at us,  confiscated Tim’s phone,  and deleted said picture.  Oops. (He did get his phone back) 

We had Dunkin Donuts while we waited for our flight.  Clarissa started to get antsy so we walked the length of the terminal,  stopping to look at every plane or bus out the window. 

The actual flight was uneventful.  They fed us a sandwich for dinner which was unexpected since the flight is only about an hour. 

Clarissa dropped her new Nemo cup on the way to customs and it broke.  I tried to ask the immigration guy about a trash can and showed him the cup that was leaking orange juice.  But I don’t think he understood me because he handed me a roll of toilet paper. 

We eventually found a trash can after we retrieved our bags,  went through customs,  and exchanged our money.  At this point it was about 7 PM so we grabbed subway (and French fries for Clarissa)  for the train ride to the hotel.  Clarissa finished her French fries long before Tim came back with our train tickets.  We decided on the 2 day Kansai thru pass since we will heads back to Osaka tomorrow. 

We then boarded an express train Kyoto.  It takes a little over an hour.  The Shinkansen office was still open so we bought our tickets to Tokyo for Wednesday. 

Then we headed outside.  Our hotel has a shuttle that goes to Kyoto station.  But the website wasn’t specific about where exactly it was.  So in our search, we got to see the Kyoto Tower.  

The fountain also had a light show with music playing.  Clarissa loved it! 

We couldn’t figure out where the shuttle bus would be so we looked at a big map on the wall of a building.  A kind Japanese girl called the hotel and found out that the last shuttle bus was already back at the hotel. 

So about 10 PM,  we took a taxi to the hotel.  The driver was nice.  The suitcases fit in the trunk but the stroller had to sit up front near the driver.  

The hotel is really nice.  When we got to our room,  I realized that I lost my 2 day train ticket.  It was in my pocket,  which wasn’t a problem until I took a picture of Kyoto tower and put my phone in my pocket.  It probably fell out when I took my phone back out of my pocket.  Hopefully someone finds it so they can ride the train for free tomorrow! 

Clarissa didn’t get to bed until 11:30, so it will be interesting to see if she still wakes up early tomorrow.  I don’t want to sleep too late though,  or we won’t have enough time for everything on our list for Osaka.