Another early morning start today as we headed back to Kyoto after 2 fantastic nights in Hiroshima. Both cities are amazing, and from what we have seen of this country so-far these guys know how to live with one exception: food. They are so wide of the mark on that one it is scary..!
We got a taxi to the station to start our day, and how good was that? All the taxi drivers here wear white gloves, a suit and cap and drive huge, immaculate Toyotas which are covered in lace from top to bottom inside. Like being driven to the embassy in 1917! Anyways, nostalgia over, we jumped on yet another very fast, very smooth train and almost immediately (figuratively speaking! they are not that fast!) arrived in Kyoto where we once again stayed at the station hotel.
For those of you who have never seen true fear etched on a mans face, I'll tell you how to achieve it. Walk into this hotel with 9 bags (yes, I did say NINE bags!) and just check out the look on the bell boy as he runs for a trolley. PRICELESS! Anyway, we'll condense them later, and I'm sure the bell boy's back will be OK again in a few days time! And all for no tip too. It's an affront for them to get one here apparently. Excellent, I say!!
Our morning was spent at the amazing Golden Palace which is essentially a palace covered in gold. A bit garish, you could be forgiven for being distracted and dislocating a knee there or something (private joke. Sorry!). After walking through the surrounding gardens we then walked to the most famous Zen garden in the World. Thank goodness this was a good one, because it was RUBBISH. Dread to think what a poor example would have looked like! 15 stones placed in 5 groups in a 'field' of gravel. No plants! Hello!! What's that all about!?! (Apologies to any Zen fans out there. I'm sure we just didn't see the inner beauty)
[BLOGGERS' NOTE: Sorry for the lack of pics of the above. Battery disaster number 2. Will upload the ones I took on my phone when I can get them transferred to the computer!]
After lunch in a nice cheap coffee house we found (cough, cough) we headed off by bus to another of the cities temples, Kyomisu-dera which was again built on a hill. Yes, a hill. Roasting hot again, another hill! Once we got to the top and were revived by yet another vending machine bottle of water, the sights were impressive and the views over the city were excellent. The souvenir shops here were pretty good too, adding bags number 10 and 11 to our count!
A torrential downpour and taxi ride back to the hotel later, we needed to relax and so headed to the hotel swiming pool. HOLY SMOKE! What a weird experience! First of all you had to sign an agreement to use it (including bizarrely that you must have no tatoos?! Why?!) and secondly, once in you had to wear a swimming cap at all times! This was wrong in my book, but the worst was yet to come.. After doing a few lengths, I went into the male changing room to dry off and ready myself to go to my room for a shower only to find 3 middle aged men sitting at a row of mirrors at a dressing table chatting while blow drying their hair!! AAARRGGGHHH!! I ran out of there pretty quick!
Horror over we went for a nice relaxing Italian dinner (honestly, Japanese food is rotten!) and are now ready for our trip to Hakone early tomorrow morning. As we are staying in a Ryokan there (a traditional inn) there won't be any blog until we reach Tokyo. Apologies for the tremendous disappointment this will no doubt cause!
More to follow..
L & A