Thursday, April 9, 2009 ;
Shinkansen station at Nagoya. Journey time to Kyoto is just 37min. But the fare was 5600 yen per adult. Fortunately kids 6 (and not in Grade 1 yet) and under are free. Phew. ds1 just made it. Good timing for our trip to Japan.
Y says for Mic, who is the same age as ds1, and who starts Grade 1 on Apr 6, from Apr 6, all the 6 yr olds in Japan have to start paying bus and train fares. So ds1 really cut it close! yay!
2 different types of shinkansen. Our train is this one coming into the station. Cool.
After the shinkansen ride, both ds were too tired (no nap), so we took a cab from Kyoto station. Kyoto is more expensive than Nagoya. Cab fares start at 640 yen (US$6.40), while in Nagoya it was about 400+yen.
But the ryokan I booked was nearby, so it cost us about 1000yen.
Both boys fell asleep in the cab, even though it was only a 15min ride? I shook ds1 up, and he woke up enough to stagger into the ryokan. He continued sleeping at the lobby while we checked in, then woke up just to walk into the elevator. Wherever we stopped, he would sleep as he leaned against the wall. He must be really exhausted, since he woke before 6am... haha.
Ok, why did we choose ryokans? We usually like to experience the place's culture and way of life. When we travel, we like to find out more about the locals and what they do. Kyoto has lots of hotels too, but they are the normal kind we see everywhere in the world. We wanted to try the Japanese old houses... and the old guesthouses are fun!
This place, Sugicho, was converted into a semi-modern ryokan. In really old and traditional ryokans, you can't even wear your shoes into the lobby. You have to change into their slippers. And most will not have attached bathrooms or toilets, and instead public baths.
Since I am those sort who still can't bring myself to use a public bath, I chose ryokans that are renovated. And the rooms we had all had attached shower/ bath/ toilet.
The location was also very central, because transportation is expensive in Kyoto and we don't want to be in far flung places and spend a lot of money getting to the attractions each day.
I love sleeping on the tatami mats. It'd be great for babies/ toddlers since we would not need any bed-guards. The only thing is, I think it might not be practical in places with a lot of dust/ grime. Because I'd be sleeping directly on and around the dust, and it would require a lot of effort to clean the mats thoroughly each day.
The kids wanted to fix the Toyota cars at once. So while waiting for our dinner to be served (in our room, yay!), they played together.
Oh, for both ryokan, they have dinner and breakfast included, like most traditional ryokans. That makes it somewhat like a Bed & Breakfast?
Only thing, the dinners and breakfasts here are sooooo sumptious, so exquisitely designed, so beautiful!
Initially we felt the accomodation cost was expensive, but when we saw the meals, we both felt it was actually very reasonable. Dh especially enjoyed and looked forward to each meal. Look at his happy face and everyone will know he thinks it is well worth it.
ds2 was more interested in the car than the food. Which is why I did not order any meals for him. Good thing! Cos the kids' meals are so huge too, and even though both shared the meal, there were still leftovers!
2 staff members arrived and brought our meals in. The presentation is just so neat and inviting.
Still waiting for more components of the meal to arrive. The TV is very small. We didn't use it much in the end.
They put the big container of rice, the green tea, miso soup and fruit together in the same tray.
More green tea, and the Kyoto traditional snack - cinnamon cookies.
I don't know half of the things I ate, so I don't have names for these food stuff here. I just appreciate the beauty and the arrangement of the individual food item.
The lavish kids' spread. Fried ham rice in the omelette, lots of tempura, sukiyaki beef, salad, miso soup, fruit.
I am "cooking" the beef in one pot, and the pork in another. The soup base and ingredients are different in each pot. Interesting. The staff who served us know no English, and so the lady kindly showed me what to add to what, and what goes with what, using purely actions. She did speak in Japanese, but it could be Greek to me, cos I didn't understand a word, but I understood all the actions.
The black soup bowl with lid always contained the miso, but the gold one always contained some interesting soup or dessert item. And the pic also shows the tofu, salad and tempura.
After about 1hour, the staff will come and ask if we are done. We said yes, and they cleared the table and moved it aside for us and then laid our all our bedding (futon, blankets, pillows...)
Wahhh, so gloriously comfy! ds1 did his own bedtime reading, so I lazed around and didn't do anything but relax. yay.
Once again, even though there was no heating in the room, the blankets worked very very well. We were warm and comfy, and I slept like a log.
rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow