Heading back from our visit to MAS, we stopped off at Grote Markt. Things were quite festive here as there was a children's festival....at least that's what I think it was, going on.
As we walked back to our apartment, there was a bit of unfinished business to take care of. We'd been in Belgium for a while already and I still hadn't had any frites. This was easy enough to resolve as Frituur No. 1 was right at the top of the street we were staying on, Hoogstraat.
I stood in line with the combination of locals and tourists and got my frites......with curry mayo, which I really didn't care for. The frites were decent, nothing amazing....in fact the Missus was totally unimpressed. Not light and crisp enough on the exterior...lacking that richness and not quite fluffy enough inside.
Still, I finally got some frites, right?
Frituur No. 1 Hoogstraat 1 Antwerp, Belgium
One thing we loved about our street was that there seemed to be a lot of local traffic on it in spite of being one of the streets leading to Grote Markt.
We could get meat, vegetables, bread, a few steps form where we were staying.
On our last evening, we decided to just relax....I used the kitchen, which like the rest of the apartment was amazingly set-up with pots, pans, seasonings, dishwashing liquid....you name it. The place is called Apartment Ahome Awayfromhome, and rightfully so. The owner Gis was so easy to deal with and all the details were just perfect.
From the De Koninck to the laundry detergent the place is probably among the top 4-5 apartments/residences we've stayed at....totally worth it, even with the 55...yes we counted them; steep steps to climb. In case you're wondering; you can find more info about the place here.
Anyway dinner was simple......ingredients from right up the street.
After dinner we took a walk. Things had kind of settled down......
We took a nice stroll, then returned to the apartment.
I watched the news, the Missus caught up on emails....I did a post, then we set out again. Like I've said many times, Antwerp is very relaxed and easy to enjoy....though it kind of gets you itching for more and I could tell the Missus was ready for a change. This was perhaps a bit too sedate for the Missus.
There is quite a diversity to the city. We especially noticed it at night. As groups of young men...and women of all ethnicities headed to their favorite watering hole.
And still, things were quite calm. The music on the street ended by 10pm. I had my Floreffe Tripel and watched the news on the television while the Missus went to sleep.
Tomorrow, we'd be back at that beautiful train station; headed to our next stop.
We left Hiroshima for Osaka fairly early in the morning. Somewhere along the line, the Missus said, "Kobe is on the way, right? Why don't we stop in Kobe......." I took little convincing (you know why, right?). Admittedly, we had done no research (on sights) in Kobe, so we just winged it. Japan is one of the most convenient countries we've visited. We got off at Shin-Kobe Station, found the information booth, were recommended a couple of sites, got directions to storage lockers and were off.
Now, it was explained that we should catch the subway to Sannomiya, where Kobe's city center. But if you've read enough travel posts, you know the Missus....."it doesn't look too far on the map, we can walk there." And it really wasn't. We wandered about, taking some time to check out the Kobe location of Tokyu Hands...no it's not what you think. Tokyu Hands is a chain of Department Stores. You haven't lived until you visit a couple of department stores in Japan, it's quite an experience....and if you're a guy, shopping in one of those packed by the square inch places will make you wish you were dead...like Matsumoto Kiyoshi in Shinsaibashi, but that's for later.
A short way up the street from Tokyu Hands was this shrine, Ikuta Jinja.
Here's the sign with the history and story.
Soon enough we started getting hungry. Because of the rather impromptu nature of this stop, I had to dig through by ever fading memory and come up with something. Along the way, I saw a sign, and I knew we were covered.
We'd lucked out, this, along with Wakkoqu were the only two places I could remember.
This location of Mouriya had just opened for lunch and we were the first customers of the day. The place is obviously aimed at tourists, but I was fairly certain we'd be able to get what I wanted here.....
There was a brief discussion....well not so much a discussion, as I explained to the Missus that it was "A-5, or we might just as well leave." After all, when would we be back in Kobe? Here's more information on Kobe/Wagyu Beef than I could ever hope to include in a post.
I thought a 150 grams, about 5 ounces or so per person would be more than enough....it's rich stuff, not "all you can eat prime rib."
While the chef prepped the teppan, we had a Kabocha Bisque...
And a green salad, which the Missus, missing green salads inhaled.
And then it was the star of the show.
We selected one sirloin(the Missus) and one rib (Me).
Good lord, look at all that marbling. When asked about doneness we queried the chef. He said for A5 medium is preferred, except for certain parts of the sirloin....too rare would be like eating "all fat". So we left it up to him.
Each piece is divided up by section, leaner pieces get trated a certain way, the fat another, the mega-marbled yet another.
Watching $100 pieces of meat being cooked in front of you is quite mesmerizing......
Sauces were provided, but I can't tell you what they were since I never used them. The Missus and I swapped as we saw fit; the very rare pieces of the sirloin came to me.....just buttery, beefy, and almost sweet. The Missus also gave me the seared fat cap, telling me, "you can't say I don't love you now, can you?" Oh my.....oh my.....the term melts in your mouth is over used in my opinion, except in this case. That wonderful flavor of beef fat as it melted on my tongue is unforgettable.
As we left, the place started filling up......mostly tourists as far as I could tell. I hope they appreciated the treat that was in store.
I couldn't help but think that this is why the Missus and I work so hard.....for these 3-5 weeks of the year, when we get to explore and enjoy what the rest of the world has to offer.
Mouriya 2-1-17 Shimoyamatedori Chuo-ku, Kobe, Japan
As we left the restaurant, the Missus told me, "okay fat boy, let's burn off some of those calories....."
I'd seen "Nankin-machi" on the map.....Chinatown. I have fascination with Chinatown's across the world, so of course we had to go and check it out.
We found people in Japan to be ever so polite if not especially warm. Folks in Hiroshima and Osaka were even more so to us. Twice when we stopped to look at our map, folks came up to us to point us in the right direction. One of the people who stopped to help us, smiled, pointed, and said, "Daimaru.....Daimaru". And yes, it right across the street from Daimaru.
It was quite fascinating......that Baozi place above was doing some major business. There were street hawkers inviting you into their restaurants.
It was also a heck of a lot cleaner than just anout any Chinatown we've visited.
The Missus enjoyed checking out the various menus......though I don't think we'd want to partake.
The most interesting business we saw was this one.
Love the section under system:
- You can touch owls and take pictures in our cafe
Ok, so this might be really cool for you....for me....not so much.
Well, I think this was a sign that we needed to head back.
So we walked back to Shin-Kobe.
I was surprised to see a Honolulu Coffee location in Kobe!
We had a fun time in Kobe, but it was time to head to Osaka....and take a nap!
After our stop at The Chocolate Line, we did a short backtrack. We stopped at Wapper Sqaure and took a look at the Rubens House, the former residence of Peter Paul Rubens. In the end, the Missus really wasn't feeling much like visiting places like these so we headed back to the Grote Markt area.
We were getting hungry, it was time for lunch. We headed past the square, near the old meat hall.....I had thoughts of stopping at Hofstraat 24, but the Missus decided to try somewhere else.
On the street named Zirkstraat, the Missus found the place where She wanted to have lunch. It was named A La Ville. When the Missus asked me what that special was; Parmentier de Carnard, I told Her it was like a duck shepherd's pie.....She was sold. The Missus wanted a break from the hearty, somewhat heavy food we'd been having, so this Mediterranean - French Bistro just seemed to fit the bill.
The menu seemed very French, the hostess was quite nice, not overly friendly, but quite accommodating. The interior is the basic white and black, with concrete walls. Behind those black curtains is quite a large dining area; I guess for dinner and such.
The Missus of course, got the Parmentier de Carnard, which started with quite a sizeable salad. Dressed simply, topped with a quail egg, after days of hearty, hefty, meals in the Czech Republic and Antwerp, was something She really enjoyed.
The parmentier was without a doubt the highlite of the meal. Nicely flavored shredded duck confit, quite a bit of it actually, mixed with nicely seasoned mashed potatoes, It was the exterior was nicely browned and crisp.
It was quite rich and filling.
I ordered a couple of items, starting first with Bone Marrow and Escargot.
The sauce, which was beef based was nice and light, the bone marrow rich and buttery, and the snails were much more tender than I expected.
I also ordered the Leek with Duck Bacon and Quail Egg.
This was probably our least favorite dish; the cured duck was quite bland and dry, the leek was fine, but this is like something I'd make at home and really didn't seem to be worth 14 Euros.
As we ate, we noticed several older couples arriving. The Servers seemed to know them all, I guess they're regulars. It was kind of nice......something we don't do here in the States. Enjoying a nice leisurely lunch is a lost art it seems.
Overall, a nice meal and good counter-point to all the Czech and Flemish meals we'd been having.
A La Ville Zirkstraat 37 Antwerp, Belgium
After lunch, the Missus wanted to check out the view from MAS, the Museum aan de Stroom - "Museum on the River" for the views of Antwerp. Thing was, She wanted to walk through the short Red Light District.....a strangely quiet, kind of seedy couple of blocks on a pedestrian street. The Missus didn't even know we were passing through when I told Her to check out the, ahem, "window displays". Some of those women looked pretty tough.....like they could probably body slam me if I made a wrong move. The Missus suddenly realized that all the other folks walking were men......and a few, rather scantily clad women..... For some reason, the vibe just gave me the creeps.
Located on the site of the old dockyards, the Museum aan de Stroom is quite impressive looking. It celebrates Antwerp's history as a major maritime center. For more about MAS, check this out.
We had come to check out the views. Just take the 10 story escalator ride up to the viewing deck.
You can see Cathedral of Our Lady in this one.....
And here's one of the Scheldt River. That castle is called t'Steen and is the oldest building in the city.
We were having a very relaxing time in Antwerp.....
Funny, the Missus says that my demeanor changes as soon as I get off that plane and the island humidity hits me. Something happens. I'm able to fall right back into my "old self", relaxed, laid back...and then the pidgin starts!
Of course, the next thing we're looking for is poke. Like I've mentioned before, I'm a "townie"....to me there's only one decent place to get poke in the Waipahu/Ewa Beach area and that would be a place i've posted on several times before....
Tanioka's Seafood and Catering:
We always visit a couple of times.......
Much has changed over the years....the question used to be, "limu or shoyu?"
Nowadays, it runs the gamut....
Not the prettiest presentation....Styrofoam and sauce "all ova' da' place."
But it hits the spot.
Tanioka's Seafood and Catering 94-903 Farrington Hwy Waipahu, HI 96797
We also hit a place around my old neighborhood. Usually it's Ono Seafood, but the Missus wanted some smoked marlin, so here's another I've posted on before.
Man, I remember when this was Pizza Hut!
We actually prefer the smoked seafood and stuffs like taegu tako to the poke here.....
Antwerp was proving to be quite interesting.....relaxed, laid back, even more so than Brussels. There were less tourists, it had more of a urban-local feel, even though we were staying close to the Grote Markt, there were businesses like a meat market, bakery, produce stands, that served the locals.
The Missus wanted to take a nice walk on our full day in Antwerp....to the train station, which I wanted to see anyway, then back. So we set off from Grote Markt, taking some of the back streets.
We stopped at places the interested us along the way, like the very Baroque looking St Charles Borromeo Church. The most popular local citizen, the famous Baroque Painter, Peter Paul Rubens, was raised in Antwerp and spent a good part of his career in Antwerpen. Even this Jesuit Church displays the influence of Rubens who supposedly designed the decorative façade. In fact, there were 39 ceiling paintings by Rubens that were destroyed in 1718 when the church was struck by lightning.
There are wisps of Rubens everywhere, even on this plate. From what I can find, Dr Lazarus Marcquis was on of the physicians who treated Rubens, who died of heart failure due in part to chronic gout.
We eventually found ourselves in front of the beautiful train station....but first, I was distracted by this.
I have a thing about Chinatown's, whether in Lima, SF, Portland, Toronto, Kobe, or even pseudo-Chinatown's like Brussels, I just can't help myself. So I just had to check it out.
And of course, I could not resist the temptation to check out the at least one Asian Market....just to see what was being sold. Markets like this one stocked everything from Sriracha to Datu Puti and Silver Swan. And some of the prices were no joke....sheesh.
We also checked out the various menus; here are a few in case you're interested.
Chinatown is barely a street or two in Antwerp, but it's all interesting to me.
We took a turn and walked back toward the train station. At one of the streets parallel to those of Chinatown I saw one of my favorite signs. Folks, don't even think about "wildplassen" here, ok?
The Antwerpen-Centraal railway station itself is probably the grandest, most impressive train station I've ever seen. Hard to believe that this structure, finished in 1905 was once considered for demolition.
A look inside and it's quite easy to see why they call this structure the "Railway Cathedral". The restoration job on the place was completed in 2007 at a cost of 2.7 billions dollars. The glass ceilings, intricate work, marble, and stone makes a truly impressive sight.
There's actually a level which links the place to the "Diamond District" and 30 diamond shops.
It's easily my favorite site in Antwerp. I've never seen anything quite like it. When looking at my photos I still stop at the one's we took at the train station.....
We walked down the Boulevard named De Keyserlei, arriving at a large street named Frankrijklei. This was where the city walls of Antwerp once stood. Across the way you could see the beginning of the "Meir", the major shopping street of Antwerp. Here you'll run into a statue of another of Antwerp's favorite son's, the Artist Anthony van Dyck, who was a favorite of England's Charles I.
You'll pass many....well, let's just say shops we know quite well on the Meir...... H&M, Forever 21.....H&M and Zara are everywhere in case you need something in a pinch.
But it's this ornate, but rather discreet portal that caught our attention. Through this passageway is Stadsfeestzaal, which is one heck of shopping mall.....let's just say it makes South Coast Plaza look like a trailer park.... Tons of gold inlay....there's actually a champagne bar! Yikes. I understand that this was originally built as an exhibition hall completed in 1906. It was destroyed by fire in 2000. Being a historic monument, it was rebuilt using the original plans and reopened in 2007. It is something to behold.....not sure about the shops in the place, the Missus wasn't moved; but with a grand staircase and such you can't help but admire the beauty of the place.
We our way through the place until the Missus became bored (I was already there) and walked back out into the sunshine of the Meir.
Back out on the street we quickly noticed a place whose name I recalled. Dominique Persoone is a Belgian Chocolatier, whose rather audacious approach to chocolate, along with his self coined handle as the "Shock-o-latier" has earned him quite a following and reputation. He owns The Chocolate Line with shops in Bruge and Antwerp.
You really couldn't help but be impressed with the upscale boutique look of the place....my goodness.
And when the Missus saw the play on upscale shoes....well we just had to take our time in the place.
And while it's easy enough for me to dismiss the rather seemingly kitschy chocolate lipstick and edible chocolate facepaint, along with his nomme de guerre. The chocolate "snort" made me stop and reassess.
And while some of the creations like the various chocolate sculptures and such, were obviously done to impress in the name of commerce.
A snort of chocolate, hmmmm.....what would that do to my already ravaged grey matter? Perhaps I'd change my name to Cadbury? Or perhaps start a campaign to save the "chocolate bunnies"? Who knows, as my train of thought was interrupted with the Missus telling me; "ok, I've got some chocolate, let's get going. Aaaand, I didn't buy any of those chocolate shoes.......can you imagine, shoes of chocolate, like feet and eat them, ick...." And so my Chocolate Gandhi moment was permanently interrupted.
We had bought some to add to the collection for my MIL and had a few that seemed interesting ourselves.
Interesting, but we enjoyed what we got from Pierre Marcolini and Yuzu in Ghent more...... But not being a "sweets person" who's to say, right?
After lunch at Kazuchan in Okonomimura we walked back to our hotel, the Granvia in Hiroshima Station. We took our time meandering through various streets and shopping arcades.
Fairly close to Hiroshima Station I noticed a photo menu....which looked quite interesting.....it had dishes both the Missus and I love. We headed down the alleyway. The place was closed, but we managed to speak, well that's not true either as the really nice young man spoke no English. Somehow, we got to understand that the place opened during the evening and yes, they served what we saw on the menu.
We took our much needed afternoon nap. When we awoke it was dusk. Time to find our little alleyway restaurant. The Missus had Her doubts, but I have a decent sense of direction and we found the place.
We found the place and headed down the alleyway. We entered the restaurant, but through sign language and my really bad Japanese came to find out that the place was booked solid. The woman then lead us the 2 yards across the alleyway and found the one young man who actually spoke a bit of English....about as much English as I spoke Japanese. Anyway, we could eat here, same menu, same drinks.
It was also mentioned that there were "appetizers" served with an automatic charge of 500 yen.....ah yes, tsukidashi...so this was an honest to goodness izakaya.
They seemed very concerned and wanted to make sure that we knew how the drill goes. It was of course, no problem. I actually think of it as a charge in lieu of a tip...since tipping is not done in Japan.
We were both quite happy to find a place like this....it was homey and comfortable, the staff was very nice.....the head bartender spoke a few words of English, not much, but enough. And of course there was a liquid refreshment. I went with a Miyajima Draft.....the Missus wanted something sort of local, so She had some sake from Saijo, which was really nice....clean, slightly sweet, easy to drink.
And then the fun really began. The Missus could make out some items since She could read Kanji. And I spoke really, really bad Japanese....except for some food.
Some of this was easy.....but some of it was plain hilarious...the bartender seemed to have fun....the Missus would point to something and he'd point to a part of his body, or the Missus would say, I think this is tendon and I'd say "suji"? And we'd get a grin and a nod and end up with a really tasty dish like this.
It was the photo of this dish that got us to come in. Classically flavored, sweet-soy, tender beef tendon and meat.......who could ask for more.
This was the spiciest thing I had in Japan, pickled chilies that brought some nice heat.
The Missus pointed to an item and said, I think these are onions....so I asked "Rakyo"? Which they were....
The Missus pointed to an item and the guy pointed to his abdomen......I asked "horumon?"
Nicely grilled intestine, chewy, well flavored....good stuff.....
Meanwhile, the Missus had another sake and was just beginning to hit Her stride it seems.....
Because when She pointed to the next item on the wall, the young man grabbed his ear! The Missus and I looked at each other and instantly knew we had to have this.
Now, I've had my share of pig ear, and while this isn't the most photogenic, I have to say it's among the best I've had. The pig ear had been simmered to where the external tissue was soft and sticky, it literally melted away on your tongue. The internal base piece was still slightly crunchy making for a fantastic textural contrast. The seasoning was plain, just a dip in salt and pepper, but it just perfect....especially with alcoholic beverages.
By now, the little ten seat bar was full....they actually had 6 reserved seats. So the anatomic charades were up. We had the bartender order something for us.
Which turned out to be a typical yakiniku, bulgogi like beef dish.
I was glad we arrived early. We would have not been comfortable taking up the bartender's time once things got busy.
It seemed like everyone at the bar was ordering the chicken wings; so I had to try the "teba".
A bit over battered and under seasoned and definitely not as good as the ears and guts......
The Missus and I had a blast here...it's our kind of place. I only wish I knew the name and address.
Update: Our FOY and fellow Food Blogger Kat did some sleuthing for us and seems to have found the place:
After dinner the Missus and I decided to take the tram to....well, wherever. We got off at random spot to have a bit of a post-dinner walk.
Things were lite up brightly as we walked through the various shopping street we passed earlier in the day.
Along the way we found a Don Quijote. I enjoyed walking around and looking at prices. The Missus had to use the restroom which was in the basement.
This area was were all the arcade games were......while the Missus "did Her thing", I took a walk around and looked at some of the "games". I thought the claw crane games the oddest....one had plastic food as the prize, another instant noodles. It just seemed so odd to me.....
We left Miyajima before the hoards of tourists arrived and took the tram to Hiroshima Station. We were staying at the Hotel Granvia in the station. We dropped off our bags and got back on the tram for the Peace Memorial Park.
It is a sober reminder of the destructive potential of mankind.....
As we wandered the grounds of the park, we could hear the sounds of children singing. This lead us to the Children's Peace Monument, which commemorates the young victims of the bomb. Growing up in Hawaii, I had heard the story of Sadaki Sasaki and the story of "A Thousand Cranes" many times. Her life, death, and story was the impetus for the creation of this monument.
We watched as various "classes" came up to pay their respects and drop off their folded cranes; accompanied by a speach and a song.
It was quite touching......
We can debate justification and all that stuff all day and all night long......but the collateral damage was without a doubt horrible.
There's quite a lot to be seen here. You could easily spend the whole day in the park. The chest in the Centograph stores the name of every known victim of the bomb. As each Hibakusha passes on, their name is added to the list. On the opposite side of the pond resides the Flame of Peace which was lite from the eternal flame in the Reikado on Mt Misen.
We decided to walk our way back to Hiroshima Station, winding our way through shopping arcades, stopping to browse and window shop along the way.
In the back and across the street from Parco Shopping Center is a four story structure which holds Okonomi-mura, basically "okonomiyaki village". There are no less than 27 okonomiyaki stands in this building. I was told that each vendor has a different riff on Hiroshima okonomiyaki and all the stands use a special sauce made especially for businesses in the "village".
The big questions was....which one to choose? While a handful of stands were fairly busy, most were empty at this time of the day. We started on the top floor and startedworking our way down.....
Eahc one seemed to have a theme as well..... I liked the "classic rock and roll" theme of the stand called Kazu-chan, after the owner who is a big rock and roll fan. I loved the photo of the Ventures on the wall and all the old Japanese rock and roll album covers.
And so the lunch process began.... I ordered the pork and shrimp; the Missus natto.....
Hiroshima style okomiyaki is notes for the use of noodles...... it's quite a pile of food.
It did kind of bother me that parts of my okonomiyaki were pre-made...some of the crepe like portions were already prepped. The Missus's natto version was made form scratch though.
Nice of moist and fresh shrimp though and the base protion was made fresh.....
I thought the Missus natto version was much better, but both were surprisingly lighter than versions I've had in the states which weem much more doughy. They do like their scallions on these....and all those noodles, man, what a carb bomb. We would later have Osaka style okonomiyaki which were just plain amazing....perhaps we should have worked a bit harder to find a place....but hey, who can refuse four stories of okonomiyaki? You gotta try it....at least once.
After walking around the Grote Markt area we headed down South. Stopping at various shops in the Fashion District, finally heading down to the area called T'Zuid, which basically mean "South".
This gentrified area is now a very trendy part of Antwerp. Eight avenues extend from Marnixplaats - Marnix Square. The statue in the square is named Schelde Vrij - Scheldt Free which commemorates the settlement with the Dutch that allowed free passage of ships on the Scheldt River.
Stopping here, we took a nice leisurely stroll back to Grote Markt via various side streets.
The weather was a bit strange, passing clouds would make it seem like rain was on the way, then a few minutes later the sun would be out. This pattern kept repeating itself the whole day.
Before we knew it, dinner time had arrived. There was a place I'd heard about, right across the street from Den Engel.
I don't quite remember how this place ended up on my list, but it did. Located on the main square, I had my doubts, but this pub/restaurant, ended up being pretty good.
There's a bar area and an attached restaurant, which looked rather rustic. The menu had a few Flemish specialties along with stuff like salads and spaghetti....spaghetti?
The Missus was overjoyed to be back in Belgium and be able to order stuff like the Oude Geuze Vieille, which She thoroughly enjoyed.
I just loved my draft Tripel Karmeliet, which seemed much lighter than here in the states. The was a definite spice-pepperiness to the flavor and it was much more carbonated and fizzy than I recalled. It was a heck of a glass!
What did the Missus get? Well, that was quite predictable...Sausage and Stoemp of course. This version came with Flemish style bacon, which was delicious.
It arrived in a nice sized pot. The flavor was nicely beefy and the sauce was pretty good...definitely beer in this one. Loved the texture of the braised chicory and the sweetness that cooking it this way brings out. The beef had kept shape but was spoon tender.
The meal came with frites, which I wasn't really impressed with...and mayo of course.
We must have been hungry as we polished off this very hearty meal.
I celebrated being back in Belgium with another beer; this time a draft La Chouffe, which was bit more hoppy than I recalled. Like the Karmeliet, this seemed really light for an 8% ABV brew. I was definitely enjoying being back....
De 7 Schaken Braderijstraat 24 Antwerp, Belgium
Dinner done, we headed west to the Riverfront....there's really not much to see here, parking lots and such.
Actually, the view of the Grote Markt area from here is much nicer.
One thing we quickly noticed about Antwerp. There were more folks riding on bicycles than anywhere else we'd seen on this trip.
The Missus quickly got into the habit of taking photos of bikes parked around Grote Markt. Here are a few from Her collection.
That little splash of color just makes them look so cheerful.....
While walking back to our flat, I noticed this beer store. I talked the Missus into taking a look. I love the collections some of these places had. While looking in the back of the store a name got my attention......well, it actually screamed out at me.
If you're a beer nerd, it would do the same to you....though probably more intense that what I experienced.
For some, the Westvleteren 12 is the holy grail of beer. It is often mentioned as being the "Best Beer in the World". I asked the clerk behind the counter about this and he sheepishly looked at me and said, "yes, it is the twelve.....have just come in today and I have not put away." He immediately grabbed the case and put it behind the counter. But not before I got a bottle. I was interested because I had worked this beer into a part of our itinerary later on during this trip.
So later in the evening, I opened the bottle.....and my goodness....now I like quads, but this was really boozy and bready....with sweet tones.....it was a bit much even for me. Needless to say, I started having doubts about what I had planned.
Still, we were enjoying our time in Antwerp. It was not overly touristy, the folks rather relaxed, the food decent.....there was nothing to not like.
There was a certain kind of stillness as I looked out our window in the morning.
This was Miyajima before the throngs of tourists arrive....the quiet of the streets...you could almost hear the falling leaves hitting he ground, or at least you thought you could.
We had chosen a Japanese style room at our hotel, Yamaichi Bekkan. While small, the rooms were comfortable in this tiny four room hotel. One of the amenities was of course, a tea pot. We'd bought some Momiji Manju, a manju in the shape of a maple leaf, which is the local specialty. As a whole, I don't have much of a sweet tooth, this was fine.....
After some tea and manju, we headed downstairs. We told the very nice owner that we'd be coming back later for breakfast which was included in our room package.
There was one reason I booked a night on Miyajima.
And no, it wasn't to frolic with our four legged friends.....
Rather, it was to visit what is now one of the Missus's favorite sights.......the "floating torii" of Itsukushima Shrine. I had planned being here even when it wasn't "floating". You see, at low tide, you can actually walk out to the gate.
Having seen it during high tide, this seemed quite impressive in its own right......
We'd seen a large group of kids arrive the night before. They were having a fun time. We recognized an older couple. I'd tried to give them my seat on the tram from Hiroshima Station the day before. They gave us a smile and a wave. Ah yes, the island was indeed getting smaller.....
We hadn't actually visited the shrine yet....I'd kinda saved it for the morning....less crowds so we could enjoy things a bit more.
I mentioned a bit about the history of the island and shrine in my earlier post.
This is one of those places that just doesn't take a bad photo.
It was fun watching the "classes" take photos...."say cheese!!!"
We exited on the otherside of the bay. Taking a seat, we could sit and absorb the whole scene.
And do our parody of the ultimate Asian "selfie peace-sign shot".
I sent this out to friends, and "TFD" mentioned that she had never seen the Missus look so happy....
It was time to head back. We decided to cross the "bay area"....after all, this place is covered by water a good part of the day, so couldn't get nice shots like these without getting into a boat during those times.
We walked back via Omotesando Street...basically the shopping arcade which was not ready for prime time at this hour.
Here's a bit of trivia....I was told that the "Shamoji" the rice paddle was "invented" on Miyajima. According to various stories a monk named Seishin had a dream the product of which became the traditional rice scoop. And, in case you're so inclined, you can find the world's largest rice scoop here on Miyajima.
Arriving back at Yamaichi Bekkan, it was time for breakfast. We had a choice of a "Western" or "Japanese" breakfast. You know which one we chose, right?
I'd had my share of what I call Japanese breakfasts. The basic is what I would call "tamago meshi"...which we had at home. Hot, fresh, rice, natto, green onions, with a raw egg cracked over the mess. What I had at Fukagawa reminded me of growing up...before the days when you'd want to "Leggo my Eggo".
Here it was a much more formal breakfast.
And totally wiped me out. Good thing it was still early. I was able to head up back to the room and take a 20 minute nap!
Soon enough we were on the ferry, leaving Miyajima.
I could tell by the Missus's body language that She really enjoyed Her time here.
And if I were a betting man, I'd say that we'd be returning someday........
As we left Yakigaki-no-Hayashi, we could hear applause coming from the shopping arcade. It was for a wedding procession passing by.
We couldn't help but follow....drawn in by the tradition and romance of it all. It just seemed so wonderful. Until I later saw the posters and pamphlets for "theme" wedding packages.......procession and costume included. Sometimes it's better not to know.....
Oh well, we had to come past here anyway. Walking thru Momiji-dani Park to the ropeway up Mount Misen.
I was more than happy to take the ropeway up. as a matter of fact, I wanted a two-way ticket, but the Missus wasn't having any of that.
After getting out at the ropeway station, it's a rather short walk to the top of Mt Misen. The views as you can imagine, especially on this post-Typhoon Vongfong days were spectacular.
A short walk from the summit is the complex that includes Reikado (Hall of the Eternal Flame). This flame, which is said to have been lit by Kōbō-Daishi has been burning for almost 1200 years. The fire is considered holy and water boiled by this flame is said to have curative powers.
From there it was downhill all the way....literally as the Missus decided we were to do what they call the "Daisho-In course" which ended at Daisho-In
In spite of my creaky ankles and my totally out of shape quads, the uneven steps and paths downhill....I was fascinated by what we saw. There are indeed some rather eye catching sights, but it was those rather discreet and rustic looking statues that caught my eye. It had me wondering the significance of them. You'd be hiking down the path and notice a cave, or some shrubbery, and then looking closely you'd see various figures..... I wish I knew what they represented......
At the end of this downhill hike is Daishō-in, which turned out to be one of the Missus' favorite places in our visit to Japan.
You could just tell the Missus just loved the place....I think it had to do with all the various images and statues.....
There are of course those areas that were sobering; Mizukake Jizo, seven images in place to redeem the spirits of deceased and missing children, and the kind of spooky Henjokutsu Cave, lit only by lamps with the icons of the 88 temples in Shikoku.
I could tell the Missus really didn't want to leave, but it was getting pretty late in the day. It was time to head back to our hotel and actually check in.
Of course there was the requisite stop along the way.......
I swear....She could stare at that "floating torii" all day long......
And then there were the deer. Man, these guys are aggressive. This young lady thought they were so cute until they started ripping her bag apart looking for something good to eat.
This little guy almost butted the Missus into the bay when She got his way...... He then came for me. I stopped crossed my arms and went "HA......" and growled, just like I would to Sammy or Frankie. Stunned, he backed off and made a sound I never heard from a deer before "mee-mee-mee-mee-mee...." Not that I've been around a lot of deer.
We waited until the sun dropped past the mountains, went to check in, and freshened up. By this time, things had gotten really quiet, except for a group of what seemed like students who had just arrived on the island.
We wandered around the back streets, found a little market and got some fruit and other things. We tohught we'd ask him for a recommendation for a place ot have dinner as most shops were either really expensive or were closed. He gave us directions to this place.
It was actually close to the water, but the customers seemed a combination of locals, many of them having drinks and Japanese tourists.....
The unfortunate thing for me was that the only seating available was traditional floor seating. Oh man, twice in a day.....it also answered a question I had floating around....not even the locals sit this way!
Good god, the sound of my joints sounded like saplings snapping as Sasquatch stepped on them. Anyway, the menu was full of comfort style and tourist style dishes. What really cracked us up was the disclaimer "the picture is a imagination" next to every photo!
Unfortunately, the place was out of the Missus' first two choices, but the Missus did enjoy the Kaki Oyakudon.
To us, Miyajima oysters were much better after some heat was applied.
I enjoyed my Kaki Curry - Fried oysters with curry.
While the oysters weren't quite as good as lunch; they were still moist, nicely breaded, and had a decent flavor.
This wasn't a bad meal. The real challenge came post dinner as my right foot had totally fallen asleep....there was no way I'd be standing up without doing a good amount of damage to my surroundings.....it was time to order another Miyajima Pale Ale...which was not bad, light, slightly fruity, easy to drink.......
After moving my foot around for a while, I managed to restore circulation and we were able to leave the restaurant intact.
Obviously, it was time to head back and call it an early night, right? Well, not so fast Kemosabe....... There was one stop the Missus had to make. Yep, you guessed it.
Miyajima at this time of the day was very quiet. So hearing some rustling a few feet from you gets your attention. Until you realize it's those deer settling down for the night or digging around for some food.
Man, we were really tired. My body had still not gotten used to all this walking. My only consolation was that the Missus was just as tired. Our room was Japanese style, which means sleeping on the floor. Not a problem for me as I had slept on a futon on a regular basis as a teen.
Looking out the window at the street below us. One filled with tourists during the day, I couldn't help but be happy for the Missus, who had been able to visit a place She'd always wanted to visit since seeing a photograph years ago.