Friday, April 26, 2013


A weekend excursion to Cromer meant we had a relaxing stay at Felbrigg Hall (NT) in the self catering Stable Apartment. As well as a tour round this property we also visited nearby Blickling Hall and also had time to enjoy the Bure Valley Railway and take a cruise around the Wroxham Broads. Along the way we had fish and chips in Cromer, watched the sun set on the East coast (?) and enjoyed a night at the cinema to watch Iron Man 3. 

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Japan 15

April 06

Our last full day in Japan and we started with coffee and a leisurely look around Shinjuku. After meeting back at the Hotel with the others we all jumped on the train to Disneyland to enter with a starlight pass. Unfortunately there was very little starlight but plenty of rain. Whilst this meant the fireworks were cancelled it did mean that many people left early and allowed us to get on all the rides we wanted. By 9pm we were soaked and headed back to the hotel.

April 07

On Sunday we left Shinjuku and caught the train to Narita. Whilst every other journey we had made during our 2 week stay was perfect, our return leg started badly when the NEX got held up. After which our flight was delayed and we missed our connection in Paris...

April 08

..So after a night in Roissy, we eventually left Charles de Gaulle, landed in Birmingham and arrived home via taxi a mere 36 hours after we'd started.

However, this did nothing to diminish what had been a truly amazing holiday!

Friday, April 05, 2013

Japan 14

April 05

On our last day in Kyoto we got an early start and walked from our hotel, through a local park towards Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum. The turntable and roundhouse act as a central point for the 19 engines on show.
To the North we walked past the local fish market and caught the subway back to Nishiki Market. After exploring some more and buying some souvenirs, we picked up a Bento Box from Sushiden and caught the Hikari Shinkansen back to the Tokyo. We checked in at the Washington Hotel and this time we all had rooms at the front of the hotel with views out to Shinjuku District.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Japan 13

April 04

Today we ventured South to Nara, Japan's first capital city. Nowadays the central park is home to hundreds of deer and encompasses the shrine at Kasuga Taisha and Todaiji Temple. Kasuga Taisha is famous for its lanterns which can be found hanging from its buildings and lining its approaches. Todaiji's main hall is the world's largest wooden building. The massive structure houses a 15m tall bronze statue of Buddha and at the back of the hall visitors can attempt to squeeze through a column with a hole that is the same size as one of Buddha's nostrils. Apparently this is a good thing!

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Japan 12

April 03

We managed to rouse ourselves and get going by 10am and headed South East to Fushimi Inari Shrine. The restored paintwork is very striking and the hundreds of torii gates that lead up the mountain provide lots of arresting views.
We then headed North towards the Heian shrine and gardens filled with weeping cherry trees. After leaving there we walked South under the immense torii gate that spans the road and continued on into Higashiyama. The 'old style' streets and alleyways were filled with locals in traditional dress and tourists keen to enjoy the sakura season.
Turning West we moved into the Gion district via the Kenninji Temple complex and continued on to the Nishiki market: a covered network of streets with hundreds of small shops, boutiques and outlets selling food of every description.
By the time we'd walked through the market it was getting darker, so we decided to try the floodlit viewing at Nijo Castle. The trees looked wonderful but surprisingly difficult to capture on camera.
To end our day we headed back to Porta and found a very nice sushi restaurant where we could sit at the counter watching the chef prepare our nigiri sushi. Absolutely delicious (and the home-made wasabi was to die for!)

Whilst we did all this the others went to Miyajima and Hiroshima.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Japan 11

April 02

The weather today was less favourable and the forecast predicted rain, but this did not deter us from heading West to Arashiyama and the Sagano Scenic Railway that cuts through some of the mountains surrounding Kyoto.
We strolled through the groves of  towering bamboo and admired the river gorge spanned by Togetsukyo Bridge before climbing 160m to meet the the monkeys; they live on a fairly large reserve atop a mountain with wonderful views back across the city.
After descending we caught a local train to Kitano Hakubaicho and quick marched towards the Golden Pavilion (Kinkakuji) before it closed. By now the rain had set in so we decided to make our way East to treat ourselves to another Freshness Burger at Kitaoji and the subway back to the hotel where we ate Donuts and played Ticket to Ride.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Japan 10

April 01

Today promised to be a nice sunny day so we headed North on the subway to Imadegawa and then walked East to meet the top end of The Philosopher's Path. Along the way we had a late breakfast courtesy of an artisan bakers before going to explore the Silver Temple (Ginkakuji) and gardens. Although a little crowded, the grounds are truly stunning with beautiful vistas at each turn of the path.
Heading south along the Philosopher's Path we admired the cherry trees in full bloom, occasionally taking a detour to see Honen-in Temple or a ceramics shop, or bookstore or even a shop dedicated to rabbits!
At the southern end of the path we reached Eikando and Nanzenji temples, and after exploring them a bit we headed back, via some secluded back streets with very desirable houses, towards central Kyoto and a lovely tempura restaurant in Porta.