Every holiday has it’s one day where not everything goes to plan. As I write this, I hope that today was the one and that there are not worse mishaps ahead.
The morning started with us packing up and ready to check out. As planned we had our cases out in the hallway when we knocked on Neil’s as scheduled at just gone 9.30am. He wasn’t ready. In fact it was about 20 minutes later he finally met us down in Reception. We then started the 15 minute walk to Namba Station dragging our cases behind us. Once there we purchased our tickets to Shin-Osaka on the Metro line and via Escalator & Lift made our way down to the platform. The journey was relatively smooth although we couldn’t find the lifts back up to the Shinkansen station and so Neil & I had lug the cases up some series of steps. We then went to get the bullet train tickets to Tokyo.
Thats when the fun started. We could only find 2 of the JR passes. Karen’s was missing. Now I can remember having all 3 in our room last night so I have to take responsibility but there were only 2 in the safe place in my rucksack. We then stood on the concourse going through all of our luggage and pockets to no avail. I wanted to go back to the Hotel but could have been a 90 minute round trip so we decided to try and phone them instead and ask if they could look for us. £10 of call credit later and they said they couldn’t find it. We therefore had no choice but to buy Karen a ticket to Tokyo, at a cost of £102.00. Through gritted teeth I got the tickets that the JR pass would have covered for free and we made our way to the platform and caught the 11.43 express. Given the distance is greater than London to Edinburgh, it took us just over 2 hours before we pulled into Tokyo which is quite impressive.
At least there were no arguments or blame being apportioned. I can absolutely remembering having the passes and we think one of them may have slipped down behind the desk in Hotel. I must have seen there were 2 passes and wrongly assumed that Neil must have had his. All very annoying as the 14 day passes for Karen & I had cost over £300 each and were not replaceable. My only consolation was that we had probably already had that value out of the lost one.
We then had more fun trying to locate the correct subway to get us to our Hotel and with a lengthy walk the other end it was 3.50pm before we were able to check in the Hotel. A quick refresh in the room meant that at 4.30pm we were outside again but realised by now it was too late to go to the Temple we had planned to visit as it closed at 5pm.
So we had a quick rethink and decided to visit Electric City instead and see it all lit up. As it was a lovely day we thought we would walk in the sunshine the 2.3km to get there. We passed some interesting shops and bars, including a Hedgehog cafe. It seemed you were given white gloves with your food and drink and invited to play with the little hogs including putting onto a hamster wheel. There was a cute albino one crawling along the window ledge as we looked in. We thought that this seemed like a cruel way to look after the hogs and not in their best interests.
Eventually we came to Electric City, which is so called as there are dozens of electrical goods shops and a myriad of neon advertising hoardings. It was a really strange place and actually quite tacky. Like Piccadilly Circus on drugs.There were lots of amusement arcades, shops where you trade gaming cards, food stalls and worryingly young girls dressed in maid costumes trying to entice you into their cafes. Almost every other business was just an arcade full of what we would call machine grabs. All very strange. The streets were also lined with Gacha machines where you put money in and get a plastic ball with a small toy inside. The Japanese seem to love these as well.
We went into a couple of shops. The first was a large electrical store selling everything you could possibly want and everything you possibly didn’t know you wanted. We had a wander around the toy area on the top floor and chuckled at things Japanese versions of things we recognised and wondered at the things we didn’t. Just inside the shop it was another sensory overload. A store we actually bought things at was Don Quijote which is the souvenir outlet shop. Just the 7 floors this time of stock piled floor to ceiling. We just bought some snacks for the next few days to keep us going. We were tempted by the vacuum sealed octopus to take back for Barry but weren’t sure we would be allowed to take through immigration. I was not also allowed by Neil to buy a face mask so I could fit in with the 20% of Japanese who wear them all the time. We have kind of got used to it now but it still seems strange, but I suppose it doesn’t hurt anyone.
By now we were hungry but we hadn’t done on research on where to eat in this area and so decided to try a real Japanese tradition - KFC. Apparently they love it. Once we had decoded the menu we realised it was more similar to a UK one than USA and I think we all enjoyed a 'dirty greasy' meal for a change.
Rather than walk back we decided to take the train, but finding the correct station took us longer than the journey itself. We then went back to the Hotel via the 711 opposite, stocking up on some some sandwiches for our excursion tomorrow.