Sunday, October 9, 2011

Japan - Day 8 - Off to Hakone

The day started bright and early at seven fifteen.  We left the Citadines bright and early to get to the station with plenty of time to spare.  Along the way we stopped by a Mister Donut for breakfast.  We were a little sad they didn't have the bear donuts we had seen on some other trip reports.  Theresa got the biggest surprise.  What she thought was a fruit tart turned out to be an onion and maybe seafood tart.  Along the walk to the train station we even saw a cat hotel where they have cats sitting around in a room and people pay by the hour t play with cats and buy them treats and trinkets.  No time to stop though.  We've got reservations for a bullet train.

It may look complicated but it was surprisingly easy to get around on. 



Glad we packed light cause we've got a little bit of traveling to do.

We took the train over to the bullet train that would take us to Oduwara.  It was just a quick twenty six minute ride on the bullet train to get out of the city to Oduwara. 

Once there we bought our Hakone free passes to use for the rest of the day.  Our plan was to leave all our bags at the station and only take an overnight bag out to Hakone.  We found lockers and were able to fit all our bags into one.  There was also a nice staff member who saw us looking at our map after we got our free pass and made sure we knew where we were going.  He waited for us when we packed up our stuff for the locker, helped us get change, and told us where to go, and all in pretty good English.  Another instance of the Japanese being very helpful. 



We then boarded the train for Hakone-Yamote.  It was just a little crowded. 


Once we got there though, a train to Gora was just leaving and it was absolutely packed (think white gloved staff members shoving people on the train).  The next train wasn't for thirty minutes but luckily we were one of the first to board so when it did come we all got seats.  The train really started getting full just a few minutes before we left with just one more person squeezing in, then just one more person again.  Little did we know that this was going to be the start of a lot of waiting today.  It was a twenty six minute ride to the cable car.

Unfortunately everyone else was going to the same place we were, so the line for the cable car was really long.  I think we waited around 30-40 minutes to take a 10 minute cable car ride up. 




After the cable car, we were at the top of a mountain with some cool views.

Unfortunately we were right there with a bunch of other people all waiting to get on the skyway gondola.  It ended up taking 50 minutes to finally get on.


Some very good advice.





We took an 8 minute ride up the mountain and went over some sulfur pools. All this time we've been looking for Mt. Fuji, but haven't had much luck.  It's been pretty cloudy over in that direction.  We're really hoping we'll get a chance to see it since we've heard stories of other coming to Japan and never seeing the mountain.


Once we got to the top, this was a transfer point.  There was a small lookout point here plus a restaurant.  It was also a giant bottleneck because everyone who came up is also trying to continue.  We had to get in another line to get the rest of the way.  That line took about an hour. 



So after an hour wait, we're on our way down the mountain.  Mt. Fuji was still covered in clouds, so still no luck seeing it. 


15 minutes later, we were at the lake where we just missed the pirate boat.  The next one would arrive in 30 minutes.  Are you detecting a theme for today? 

At least we were one of the first to board though and were able to get a place right at the front of the ship. 







There were two stops along the way.  We were really glad they didn't make everyone get off the ferry at the first stop and let us stay on the boat the whole time.  We didn't want to wait in line again.  The skies were blue, the water was calm, and it was just a bit chilly due to being at the front.  Not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon. 



The leaves were just starting to change as well.  If only we'd been here two weeks later.

After a while, we headed down to where it was warmer.  Unfortunately it wasn't quite tall enough for Jacob and Ruston.

We never did get a chance to eat lunch since we were waiting in line so much.  We only got to snack, so we decided to walk to the town and see what food was available before catching the bus to the hotel.

We saw an ice cream place with all sorts of interesting flavors that we decided to try after dinner.  There were 30 different flavors! 

Which kind would you try? 

We browsed a few menus and eventually we found a traditional japanese place where we took our shoes off and sat at a low table.  What's with all these restaurants serving curry?  I had a fried pork cutlet with curry and rice that was fried nicely and tasted great.


Unfortunately after dinner the ice cream place was closed.  That just goes to show you, you should never wait to get ice cream.

We got back to the place where the buses were loading and hopped on one.  We showed the driver where we wanted to get off and sat down.  Part way through the trip we here "Theresa, Theresa" from the back of the bus.  Ruston was sitting in the back of the bus and got a glimpse of Mt Fuji peeking from behind the clouds.  We'd been looking for it all day but it was just too hazy and cloudy.  We were all pretty excited to finally see it.

After a few more stops we got up and asked the driver about our stop.  Turns out he'd forgotten and told us we needed to get out and transfer.  We got out and eventually figured out that we were about a mile past our hotel.  Good thing the Hakone free pass we bought lets up hop on and off buses.  The next one was there shortly and we made it to the hotel.


Check-in was easy and they even walked us up to our rooms.  It is an older hotel and it shows.  It was pretty clean though.  The rooms we had were non smoking and smelled fine though the hallways and most other places smelled like smoke. 



We went over to the 3rd floor hotel balcony and tried to see Mount Fuji but it was covered in clouds again. 

We went up to the 6th floor roof to get a view of the sunset and valley instead.  All of the sudden Theresa was yelling "hey hey hey."  The clouds had passed and we had another good view of Mt Fuji.  We took a few photos in front of it and then headed in for the night.



After a quick shower and then some japanese baseball, it was time for bed.  It was only 9pm but it feels like it's been a long day.  Tomorrow we're going to Kyoto. 

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