kyoto – part 1

06Oct08

oh man. kyoto is gorgeous. there’s about a million temples and shrines to visit, we only got through a few. so our journey to kyoto begins with taking the wrong train from Osaka. well it wasn’t “wrong” it was just the slower one… instead of taking the bullet train we took the the one that stopped along the way. it wasn’t terriible, we got a chance to see the country side! trained, subwayed, and then heavy humidity later we arrive at the westin miyako hotel. yes, we stayed at the westin – it’s my birthday!

the hotel.
i love starwood. ever since i decided to join, it has been nothing but amazing. great customer service, great hotels, great everything. the location was a tiny bit further away from the city life but dude, we’re in kyoto, who wants city life? we had a great view of the lush green mountains behind us. not to mention a great hotel cafe with a very yummy caesar salad.

Nanzen-ji Temple.
we couldn’t quite check in when we first got there so we wandered to the closes temple. this was my favorite one of the whole trip. set up against the mountain – like most of them – it had lots of little alleys and paths attached that led to a mini shrine or a meditation all or garden or ninja house?! i made a small donation, said a prayer with some incense and took some photos with my 35mm.

gion district at night.
well i was very much disappointed. dusk is apparently the time to find geishas running around gion going to their appointments. well we were a tad late… by a few hours and ended up roaming the super quiet streets of gion with not a soul around. it was actually really creepy. there were signs that were reminiscent of kings cross but not a person in sight. well that’s because the “entertaining” was already going on behind those closed doors. we had dinner at a sushi place with lots of plastic food out front and headed to bed right after.

the sunburn.
the next day we decided to hit up as many temples and shrines we could. we ended up walking about 13 miles. or it felt like it. and in that walk we got sunburned because it was a very very hot day. we started down Jingumichi street near the hotel and ended up at the Heian Jingu shrine. it was okay, we agreed the nanzen ji was better. then we ended up going back towards the hotel and then hiking around the backside of that mountain. this was not intentional. after about a good 45 minutes going the wrong way, we hopped in a cab to take us to the Kiyomizu-dera temple. Yes it was definitely on the other side of the mountain. we climbed the tiny street leading up the temple and enjoyed the fabulous view.

lunch was the worst meal we had on the entire trip. mainly because vini had a raw egg in his cold noodles. my noodles were okay. after lunch we walked around gion district again. walked down Shirakawa Minami Dori which is said to be the most beautiful street in asia (according to lonely planet). we made our way to sanjo keihan (a subway stop) and had a little break at this cafe called Starbucks. hey, they closed all of the ones in Sydney down so this is all i get! it’s weird because people actually hang out for hours there.

the market.
in the city we made our way to the Nishiiki Market. OH BOY. i was a happy camper! it was about 4 blocks of food venders selling tofu, fruits, veggies, candy, and fish… lots of fish. i got yelled at for taking photos and pointing at everything i saw but there were so many food things! there was also a very famous knife store there, i can’t remember the name right now but i can’t bring a knife through customs so… no cookery for me.

the imperial palace park.
to conclude this long day we decided to try to squeeze in one more sight. we made our way to the imperial palace. unfortunately my legs were ready to collapse and the palace had a gigantic park surrounding it. when we finally reach the palace, we realized we don’t think you can get in and it was about 5pm. we laughed at the kids running laps for school around the palace and decided it was time to go back to the hotel. we had dinner at the hotel but i saved room for a late night room service snack. they had nachos on the menu! well they were not nachos, they were nacho flavored dorito’s for 10 bucks. oops!

to be continued…

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