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Everything posted by natefish95

  1. That post actually posted surprisingly easy, so let’s get some random thoughts out of the way. Loved Sendai and Hakodate! Aomori and Kushiro are definitely tinier without much to do (that I’m interested in). The ship offered shuttles to Kushiro from the port for $20 (like in Sendai) and they were definitely necessary. We docked in a very industrial area far from any transportation. (You could get by without the shuttles in Sendai if you don’t mind walking a know how to use public transportation in Japan) Garden Cafe buffet has been better than when I sailed last year. Tsar’s Palace service either has a good night or a bad night. Some nights I’m in an out in 40 minutes, other times it’s 90 minutes. I went to O’Sheehans for lunch today for the first time and they were struggling. Took 45 minutes just to get food and it came out lukewarm. Never saw the waiter after he took my order. I’ll try again another time and see how it goes. I do love those nachos… La Cucina and Le Bistro were excellent. The filet at La Cucina with the blue cheese ravioli is incredible. I tried the chicken cacciatore this time and will go back to my filet. (Sidebar-the woman at the table next to me ordered spaghetti carbonara and then got mad when it didn’t have meatballs and meat sauce. Maybe read the menu next time?) I haven’t done Le Bistro in awhile and it was delicious. I may go again this trip. I’ve been randomly deciding to try new things this cruise and decided to get a $30 glass of Veuve Cliquot and came to the conclusion I can’t tell the difference between good champagne and crappy champagne. Maybe I’m just trashy haha. It was still good though. Haven't been to many of the “activities” but I’ve heard from a few they’re not enjoying them, but that might be because of the international participants not fully understanding the activity. Personally haven’t been a fan of Renan as CD. I sailed with Tahani twice on Jewel before and loved her. Renan definitely isn’t as communicative and isn’t as engaging when he hosts activities. All just my personal opinion and in no way negatively impacts my cruise. Last (but certainly not least) the thermos spa is sooooo worth every penny. It’s so nice to have a quiet, not crowded area to relax in. I’ve been spending a lot of time there reading my Kindle. The spa staff has been super nice overall!
  2. Hi all, as expected wifi onboard during the crossing is prettyyyyyy terrible. We finished day 2 of the crossing and are repeating Tuesday April 16th tomorrow. So far seas have been good , but should get a bit rougher as we get closer to Dutch Harbor…where it’s supposed to snow on Friday…we’ve been mostly fogged in the past two days with the exception of one hour of actual sunshine yesterday afternoon. Outside temp is probably in the 30s (and the interior of the ship is also very cold even for me. I’ll try and post a thorough review recapping what I’ve missed when I get back to stable WiFi.
  3. After looking around for kaisendon, I found a place in a fish market. The machine gave English as an option, but the dish names didn’t translate. I asked for help and got my kaisendon for 1600 yen.
  4. Hello! Docked in Hakodate about 10am today. I spent the morning relaxing in the thermal suite before heading ashore. I took the tram up to Goryokaku Tower. Tram was 230yen and the tower ticket was 1000yen. Pictures below the Sakura ice cream was 450 yen. I’m keeping a running total of price’s because NCL shore excursions were ridiculous and this is all doable on your own.
  5. If you search enough, you can find onsens that are tattoo friendly. I went to Thermae-Yu in Tokyo and they offered adhesive patches for smaller tattoos.
  6. Wednesday the 10th, took the JR line to the ship and got on about an hour after I got there. The process was a bit strange and surprisingly unorganized. The ship still looks great and just how I remember her. We had a very large solo traveler group of about 35, which was really surprising. Solo host right now is Caio from Brazil. Today we docked in Sendai. The schedule had us actually docking in Ishinomaki (contrary to port schedules). Turns out NCL is wrong and the port schedules were right—we docked closer to Sendai. They offered a shuttle service to downtown for $20 which took about 40 minutes each way. We docked a bit late around 10:30 and back on board was 4:30 so not an ideal port stop. The NCL shuttle dropped off at Sendai station about noon and then I went with another solo to get the local favorite of beef tongue (gyutan) which was surprisingly delicious! Walked over to Jozenji-Dori to take pictures and hopped on the shuttle around 2:30pm. gyutan, barley rice, and oxtail soup
  7. What’s up party people did I forget about you? Yes. Am I enjoyed this trip? YES Is the wifi bad on the ship? YES!!!!!! To quickly summarize, my day trip to Mt Fuji was great even though we couldn’t see the mountain. We saw (and smelled) all the sulphur from where the hot springs water originates and took the Hakone ropeway and a short cruise on a lake. the next day the weather was terrible. I took the subway to Shibuya, but it was monsooning so I noped out of there real quick and went to an onsen. Then I did a really fun walking tour around Shinjuku.
  8. Oops, first picture was my sushi dinner at Chojiro Hazenshi. So good!
  9. Greetings from the shinkansen! I'm being rocketed through the Japanese countryside at 200mph on my way to Tokyo! I've taken many of trains before, but nothing is as quiet and smooth as this one! I opted to do "green class" for $130 for a resreved seat and including space for an oversized bag. I booked seat 1A thinking that I would be on the left side to see Mt. Fuji, but turns out I was wrong. 1D gets the view on the left side this way. Oh well, I'll be at Mt Fuji tomorrow on a tour. So back to my Kyoto tour. I booked the tour linked below called "Kyoto Top Highlights Full-Day Trip from Osaka/Kyoto" We met at Nomba OCAT and left on-time at 9am. It was about a 40 minute drive to Kyoto and we stopped at the Fushari Inari-taisha shrine where we were able to see the thousands of iconic red gates. I've seen these in pictures, so it was nice to finally see them in person with a million of my closest stranger friends. It was by far the most crowded of the places we visited. There is definitely more to explore in this area, but I was a bit pressed for time, and the guide made it very clear they'd leave if we were late. Japanese punctuality! Next we went to the Kyomizu temple and kyomizu stage. We had about 2.5 hours to explore on our own here. Leading up to the temples, there is a large shopping street, including stops for food. The shopping street was SO CROWDED, but once you got up to the stage and down into the gorge, the crowds thinned. When I booked my tickets, I decided to have lunch included. Tun-red out, only me and one other person did this option. It was a heavy tofu lunch and I would have been better suited to find a restaurant there for lunch. Third stop was a quick stop at the golden pavilion. Very beautiful. Not much to say about this. fourth and final stop was at the Arashiyama bamboo forest, which was my favorite. Our guide walked us into the bamboo forest a bit, and then gave us several options of routes we could take. I opted to take the long route, which he said takes about 45 minutes, but I did it in about 30. This was the least crowded stop, which is so nice! I was getting very peopled out with the constant crowds. This stop also had a large shopping area. On the bus ride back to Kyoto we hit traffic for about 90 minutes, which was less than ideal. If I could do it over again, I would maybe spend 1 night in Kyoto and see the sights from there instead of bussing to Kyoto from Osaka and back OR just take the train to Kyoto. Once we finally made it back to Osaka, upon recommendation from my food tour guide, I went to a conveyor belt sushi restaurant called Chojiro Hazenshi and it was probably the best sushi I've ever had! You take a number when you walk in and wait for it to be called. I waited about 30 minutes or so. The staff was all very kind and spoke some English. You order via ipad or you can just take things off the conveyor belt. I did a combo of both. What was very helpful is that at each seat, they had a "how to" guide of how to use the iPad, what each plate color costs, and how to call the staff at the end. I had probably 5 plates of sushi and plum wine for $19. It would have easily been $50+ in the US (plus tip...) An exhausting day, but I was able to cram a lot in for 1 day. For a bus tour, I still did nearly 25,000 steps.
  10. Morning all! Taking the bullet train back up to Tokyo today. While I’m on the train, I’ll post about my day trip to Kyoto. if you’re coming to Japan, I’d recommend staying in Kyoto for a few nights instead of taking a bus tour from Osaka. Traffic was a mess last night. The tour was good and I saw a lot though.
  11. So now for the food tour last night, first things first, here is the tour I booked for $88 and would HIGHLY recommend. A very fun environment all around where we learned about the food of course, but also culture, what it’s like as an American living in Osaka, and even how to curse in Japanese. our first stop was at Johnny’s karage, which was probably my favorite stop. The decor was all 80’s, so the vibes were obviously very right. We tried 5 different types. I don’t remember them all, but my favorite was the Nampa karage, which had mayonnaise on it. The plum wine on the rocks was also very refreshing and could be dangerous. If you like sweet drinks, get it! I think we had yakitori and tempura next? I forgot pictures. Oops. Next up was Takoyaki Ichiban (which means the number one Takoyaki). It’s an interesting texture and flavor. Not my favorite but the atmosphere was so fun. The lemon sour drink was also very good! After that, we had gyoza after that it was maybe kushikatsu and sake? There was definitely sake. Overall, amazing tour for a great value. The owner messaged me our group photo on WhatsApp this morning and was so helpful when I asked for recommendations for dinner tonight. I think this is a smaller company, but they really go the extra mile.
  12. Oh absolutely not! These are the most high tech toilets I’ve ever seen! Thankfully no squattty potties to be found!
  13. Go in blind and just know you’ll get surprised no matter what!
  14. Good morning! It: about 7:40 here in Osaka and I’m about to go meet up with my tour to Kyoto. Yesterday, taking the train to Nara could not have been easier. The online schedule was correct and of course everything was perfectly on-time. From Namba, I was able to take the Kintetsu-Nara line which is about 40 minutes to Nara. The train was packed and I had to stand the whole time. Each way was about 650 yen and I was able to pay with my IC card, just like the metro. Once you get out of the station and walk straight ahead, you will immediately start seeing deer! It’s just so crazy how they aren’t afraid of people. I bought some deer crackers for 200 yen to feed them. They will even bow at you, and if you’re not feeding them fast enough they’ll bow more aggressively and closer. One bit my jeans when I couldn’t unwrap the deer crackers fast enough. You could definitely smell the deer poop, but it wasn’t awful. Overall I spent about 2 hours walking around. I had originally booked a walking tour through Viator but decided to cancel and I’m glad I did. It was nice to just wander around at my own pace. I’m sure I missed some context and fun facts, but I still had a great day there. IMG_8161.mov
  15. Send me an email! Would like to connect with a NoVa neighbor. Is there a way to DM on here?
  16. I’ll tell yall more about Nara and my Osaka food tour tomorrow. I would highly recommend both. If I forget to link the Viator tour, someone remind me!
  17. Spent a few hours walking around Nara and it was awesome.
  18. My train to Nara should be arriving at 9:43. Very glad the signage has been so clear (and in English).
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