Kobe day 2
Today approximately 1000 will leave the ship, but another 1000 will take their place. Our friends Bobby and Judith head home to North Carolina today. They are very nice people and we promised to stay in touch.
Today we’re up bright and early. We have a light breakfast and start walking into town. It’s really so easy here to walk around. We’re going up Flower Road first. Oh my goodness you should just see this place. There are water fountains and walkways with water under foot complete with fish. The smell of the flowers is just amazing – I really wish I could capture the smell and bottle it. It’s a wonderful bright day and it’s a holiday week here “Golden Week” and people are out and about just taking in the nice weather. The Cherry Blossoms are out in full bloom and it’s renewal time for Japan. The Cherry Blossoms mark renewal and Spring time and it’s taken very seriously with banners of all sorts hung on light posts and shop windows.
As we walked along the main road we wondered about all the structures with elevator symbols on them – later we found out that people can take an elevator from the main street and go underground to shop and there are hundreds of little stores underground. In many instances 2 or more people actually share one shop. So if you buy something on one counter of the store and something on another counter it’s actually 2 different store purchases.
There’s a maze of stores underground. What may appear to be a little shop turns out to be a huge complex inside.
For lunch today we ventured into some of the more local restaurants well away from the main streets (typical us). As we walked by one little such place the wonderful aroma of food wafted out. This was the place we figured to have something to eat. We opened the little door and ventured inside to the tiniest little restaurant I’ve ever seen. The complete restaurant including kitchen, complete with dishwasher, fridge, freezer, drink machine, dishes and utensils and 5 stools up by the bar/eating area was a whole 8 feet long by 6 feet wide. It was just amazing. Not one single millimetre of space was wasted. Even a little TV hung by one of the ceiling tiles.
Thankfully the owner/waiter/dishwasher spoke some great English. He’d lived near Greenwood Subway Station and attended school to learn English for about 6 months about 2 years ago. We asked him to cook us something traditionally Japanese and we were not disappointed. He started with a type of pancake batter, added shredded cabbage, added an egg, more pancake type batter, stirred this up and placed it on a hot plate in the shape of a pancake. As it cooked he added bacon for Pat and Shrimp for Gerrit. He then turned the pancake and let it cook some more. About 5 minutes later he added some soy sauce type liquid (with a big brush) and then turned and basted it again. By the time it arrived on our hot plate our mouths were watering. It just just amazing. This is a local and very popular dish and we could definitely understand why! It was filling, it’s served and eaten with either or both a type of mayo and a sweetened soy sauce (with something like honey added). It was just wonderful. Cost of this was 1500 Yen or $14 Cdn dollars (total).
After lunch we took the City Loop Bus. It wasn’t what we expected – I guess we expected a guided tour but it turned out to be a commuter bus that went between various shopping malls and train stations. We took the bus across the city and decided to get off at the Harbour land venue (a) since it was fairly close to the ship/port area (40 mins walk) and b) Gerrit had seen a store he needed to visit again (electronics)).
Gerrit had hit the mother ship of electronics stores. At the Harbour land Mall a store call Ha Re has approximately 70,000 square feet of anything and everything electronics. Pat actually had fun looking at all the latest gadgets. Needless to say we spent a few hours in the store just looking at prices and deals. It’s a pity that the Mini Netbooks had the Japanese operating system on it as prices are very tempting. Camera prices are very comparable but Gerrit couldn’t justify buying yet another camera lens.
When we were in the Memorial area yesterday we’d noticed small tents being erected and today the area was alive with people. All sorts of eating places were being showcased. We aren’t sure if it was related to the Golden Week festivities but the little food stalls were just amazing. People shouting out to passer-by’s to try their food. The air was just electric with activity and of course the aroma of food was amazing. You guessed it – we partook in sampling many of the varieties of food available. Some we figured out, others we just let our senses take over and enjoyed the flavour and texture.
While we were eating we noticed a helicopter in the area – well off we went to investigate. As part of the Golden Week festivities they had put on a helicopter ride for people. I managed to persuade Gerrit to take a helicopter ride and take more photos (cost of ride 4000 yen or $40US) . So off he went, I took a video with my camera – he said it was just amazing. (I just kept praying for him to return to me :-)).
As we giggled our way back to the port we marvelled at the lights and water fountains in the whole area. For a predominately port area it’s alive with activity. The neon lights coming on just transformed the area in a fairly land. This is just a wonderful place.
As we got back on board, we took some tea and sat on the stern of the ship looking at the lights. The people obviously take great delight in their city. It’s spotlessly clean and Spring is a great time to be here as the flowers are coming alive.