JAPAN AND NORTH PACIFIC RIM CRUISE – APRIL – MAY 2019

OUR ITINERARY:

 26th April – fly to Tokyo

Champagne drunk and nails done!!

27th April – arrive in Tokyo

So first photo from Japan is a toilet! No end of wash and blow dry options – even in public toilets!

Funny things – 1/ Recorded bird song in tube. 2/ Number of people wearing surgical masks (its like being in an operating theatre!!)

I’ve eaten (and loved) RAW tuna and I’m slowly mastering chopsticks. 

Then we saw these lovely things!

Senso-ji temple complex
Tokyo Sky Tree

Step count -19248

 

28th April – Tokyo

The day started with a wedding. I think we enjoyed it more than the bride!

Then fun and games at the crazy crossing at Shibuya.

And then an attempt at a selfie at the hilariously named and unbelievably crowded Takeshita Street.

A few nighttime photos.

Step count 28682

29th April – travel to Takayama

At 9.33am precisely our bullet train shot out of Tokyo Station and whizzed us to Takayama. G-force not exactly as strong as when http://@_katepotter JUMPED OUT OF A PLANE yesterday but it did feel pretty fast. The train took us to the ‘Japanese Alps’, travelling at times along the ‘Japanese Rhine’ (some questions about the imagination of the people who named these places.) which was all very pretty.

Had an amazing sushi meal upon arrival –

Wandered around the old town – beautiful.

Even found some late blossom!

But declined the hotel sauna where ‘No swimming costume is allowed’!!

Step count – 10088

 

30th April – Takayama

Cycling Tour Day! – woke to torrential rain. After a massage from our inroom massage chair, we bravely headed out! After we had donned our waterproof coats and trousers, the rain, thankfully stopped! This was our cycling group …

The boy is the champion swimmer in butterfly stroke in this area! – but not brilliant on a bike, as it turned out!

Some views from the trip …

 

Blossom – just slightly irritated at the number of times people have said the blossom was amazing just 3 or 4 days ago.

Temple in Takayama

Funny notice in hotel room bathroom – only for the Valued customer, though!

Part of festivities to mark the end of an Era and new Emperor tomorrow!

Fireworks on the river

1st May – travel to Kyoto

New Era of the new Emperor – everybody in the whole of Japan was out and about today!

Bullet train to Kyoto – pretty amazing.

Bullet train

And then a visit to Fushimi-Inari- Taisha Shrine, which exceeded expectations …

Until the moment at dusk (closing time), surrounded by signs warning of the dangers of wild Boar and monkeys, when we realised we had somehow come off the path and were actually lost! Quite scary. Needed several beers to recover from the shock.

Step count – 20160 (and that’s with 4 hours sitting on the train!)

2nd May – Kyoto

So, yesterday was all about the orange shrine gates and today was all about bamboo (and quite a few temples). They seemed to continue endlessly in every direction. Only outnumbered by the thousands of Japanese who joined us for our walk! – It’s Golden Week after all. Thanks to the polite, gentle nature of these people we all rubbed alone quite nicely.

Some pics ….

 

 

 

I’m REALLY not pregnant!

Golden Temple
Also saw loads of beautiful gardens.

Step count – 22189

3rd May – travel to Kawaguchi, Mt Fuji

Another trip on the bullet train – old hats now. Today was dominated by the majestic Mt Fuji. It was an unusually clear day. Taken literally hundreds of photos of the old Mt but I think this is the best –

Staying in traditional Japanese Ryokan …

With a footspa on the roof …

Fuji side
Lake view
And a little bit of dressing up, thrown in for good measure.

And then to dinner, served in our room ….

By magic, the room then converted to a bedroom!

Step count – only 7796

(because of train, bus, footspa!)

Just finished reading – Tangerine by Christine Mangan.

Currently reading – Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.

4th May – return to Tokyo

Amazing morning! Ian decided to get up at 4.30am to look at Mt Fuji and then forced me to get up at 5.30am. This is what we saw ….

5.34am
6:00am
6:12am
6:21am
Interlude in hot olsen – 7:05
8:07am
9:48am

Our amusement at toilets continues!!

View from outside our room in new hotel in Tokyo.

Steps – 13301

Currently reading Water for Elephants, Gruen.

5th May – board Viking Orion. https://www.vikingcruises.co.uk/oceans/ships/viking-orion.html

Well, I can’t sit for 2 minutes without someone asking me if I want anything to drink!! Warm toilet seats have been replaced by beautiful recorded birdsong.

Spa and hot tub
Ice room, with real snow!

Step Count – 5716 (because doing too much sitting (and eating)!)

Still reading Water for Elephants.

6th May – Tokyo

THEY HAVE INDIVIDUAL TEAPOTS IN THE RESTAURANTS!

Food, food, food – so much delicious food, available at all times!

Bad thing that happened – I left my phone on a tour bus 🙁

Good thing that happened – the phone has been found but I won’t get it until the next port.

So, we left port this evening!

Having fun with selfies!!
Look!!

7th May – at sea

First day at sea = food, reading, sleeping, food, gym, spa, food, walking around, jigsaw, food and a rather good Abba Show!!! – none of which photograph well!

Currently reading – Water for Elephants, Gruen – page 179/414 – I’m not loving it, might give up on it tomorrow.

8th May – Sapporo, Japan

Most of the day at sea. Flat calm seas and warm sun.

Morning position
Afternoon position – beer and ice cream!
View from afternoon position!
A spot of afternoon tea.
Approach into Sapporo (Famous for winter Olympics 1972)
Night view over the city

 

Finally reunited with my phone. Huge relief all round. Annoying ammunition for Ian.

Finished Water for Elephants and really enjoyed it, even cried at the end!

Currently reading The Quiet American by Graham Greene – too early to give an opinion.

9th May – Sapporo, Japan

Very early tour of Sapporo (And I didn’t leave my phone on the bus this time.)

Found some blossom ..

Yay!!
And a Blossom nymph 🙂

And some other lovely things …

Step count – 10180

Currently reading – A quiet American by Greene – so far so good!

10th May – Korsakov, Sakhalin Island, Russia

First landing in Russia! Strange place.  A very old soviet era feel to it.

Russia!!
The port
Our ship from the port.
Obligatory Lenin statue
And monument to soldiers (from some war or other!!)
Very touching statue, built by Korean people who Japanese brought over as worker when they owned the island and who were then forgotten when the Russians took over. This marks the spot where the Koreans would keep watch to see if Korea was sending any ships to rescue them.

 

Currently reading The Quiet American – beautifully written.

Outside temperature = 3 C

Time = GMT + 11 hours

My current weight ….. oh my goodness, what am I thinking of!!

11th May – at sea

Day spent recovering from our 5 course meal with paired wines, followed by after dinner drinks …

Reading and sleeping.

Lobster for dinner!

Currently reading The Quiet American – good, but maybe a bit clever for me.

Outside temperature = -1C

Time zone = GMT +11

12th May – at sea

Sea a little rough today. Saw these things as sailed past …

Finished The Quiet American by Greene. It’s a well written book (obvs!) and I learnt about the Vietnam war with the French, before the Americans became involved. But it was not really a book for me.

Outside temperature = 3C

Time = GMT +11 (I think!) 

13th May – Petropavlovsk-Kamchatka, Russia

Woke to this scene today …

There is so much to see at this place. Here are a few things that we saw ..

Outside temp = 4C

Time = GMT +11 

Currently reading – The Beach Hut, by Veronica Henry – Chick Lit, but enjoyable and quick! Writing is ok (V Henry is a scriptwriter for The Archers, Heartbeat and Holby City, apparently!)

Steps – 7345

14th May – at sea

Very calm seas and so very pleasant ‘day at sea’. Food, food, food – and a trip to gym to make space for the next food onslaught –

Currently reading – The Beach Hut and enjoying it.

Outside temperature = 4C

Time – GMT +11

Went to bed and the next morning, would you believe it  …. it was Tues 14th May again! – who’d have thought it! Here we are at the 11am ‘Crossing the International Date Line Ceremony’!!! –

Time (on the 2nd May 14th) = GMT – 12 …. just so weird.

15th May – at sea

Thankfully the calendar turned overnight, so we have a new date and normality (of sorts) has been restored.

Exhausting day, lying on lounger overlooking a flat calm Bering Sea, looking for whales! Saw a few blows (as we say) and a few fins but no leaping, dancing whales – so only slightly exciting. Even the dolphins didn’t do much  jumping. Oh well, still a few more days to go!

The best picture I’ve posted of me so far (courtesy of Snapchat) Not sure why it says Kate on it!

Step count – 821!!

Outside temperature – a balmy 7C

Time – really complicated but I think GMT – 9 (or maybe 10)

Currently reading – The Burning Chambers by Kate Mosse – only 30 pages in, but starts well.

16th May – Dutch Harbor, Alaska

Today was dominated by American Bald Eagles

Seals (far to quick to photograph) and flat, still solid LAND!!! Such a beautiful place –

Outside Temperature about 7C

Time – God knows!

Currently reading – paused the Kate Mosse as I had insider tips that my next bookclub one is quite long so I thought I’d better get started on that – The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton (for some reason the ‘r’ in his surname is printed backwards on the cover??…)

17th May – at sea

A day of not doing much, except eating, reading and celebrating Norwegian Constitution day (Obvs).

Flat calm north Pacific Ocean, and some sunshine!

18th May – Kodiak, Alaska

Only in Alaska do you say ‘Oh here comes the seaplane. I hope the seal moves out of the way in time.’

View when we woke up this morning …

Walk through a national park ..

Highlight of the day – watching a grey whale and cub doing whale stuff …

No job vacancies, sadly.

Steps – 12,432

Currently reading – The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton  – not made much progress as doing so much sightseeing/wildlife watching!

Time Zone – GMT – 9 (possibly)

19th May – Seward, Alaska

Another day another view ….

This morning’s –

Then to the glacier. 

This is how far it stretched in 2005

Steps – 18388

20th May – Valdez, Alaska (of Exxon Valdez fame (or infamy))

Sunshine!!! Beautiful.

Sea Otters viewed from the ship and Orcas at dinner time! (Not to eat.)

Steps – 13867

Temperature – up to 9C

21st May – Scenic Cruising: Yakutat Bay

Quiet day at sea. Just this glacier to see… It’s 400 feet high. 

 

22nd May – Icy Strait Point, Alaska

We’re going on a bear hunt. We’re going to catch a big one. What a beautiful day! We’re not scared.

94% of bears are out (are they taking some sort of register?)

This is my best (and only) bear pic …

……………..

Never mind. Weather was warm and sunny and this place was beautiful.

AND, I saw an Orca jump completely out of the water.

23rd May – Sitka, Alaska

This morning’s view ..

Day of Totem poles and walking around this lovely place.

 

 

24th May – Ketchikan, Alaska

This morning’s view from my balcony ..

This place has the third highest rainfall of any city in the world (apparently – the Americans like these kind of statistics) – no rain today though. But more totem poles …

Then a pleasant few hours just wandering around ..

25th May – Scenic Cruising: The Inside Passage

In the interests of decency (I imagine) they started calling this the Seamoore Narrows!

It was pretty amazing …

Even saw a few whales ..

Humpback whale tail!

 

26th May – Vancouver. End of the cruise.

View from my balcony this morning …

Vancouver

Very sad to leave the ship. This little guy greeted us at the harbour –

A little sightseeing –

And then dinner with this special Lady, which brought a smile back to our faces.

Christine

27th May – Seattle

6.30 am train from Vancouver to Seattle. But worth it for the views –

Then a bit a sightseeing on an unusually hot sunny day –

Spelt wrong – but still excited!

Forgot to tell him to hold his tummy in and turn his cap around!

Steps – 10,192

28th May – fly home.

Sad day.

Clocked up 14738 steps before heading to the airport!

That’s all Folks! Thanks for reading!

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