FROM THE VOLENDAM
Well Murphy’s Law strikes again! I’m on a cruise ship between China and Korea; I get an email from American Express asking me to verify I bought gasoline in Canada. After a thirty-five minute satellite telephone call (which they said they will reimburse me for the charges), they issued me a new card making the one I was carrying invalid. Good thing I had another card. Moral: carry two.
The final night dinner I spent with two people from Australia, one man from Vancouver and an American-Japanese lady from Los Angeles who kindly offered to show me around Kyoto and Osaka. Don’t know whether that will transpire, but a much appreciated offer.
Disembarkation went smoothly and three buses of people from the cruise headed for a tour of Kobe before going to the airport. Nice city of over a million people. Cherry blossoms everywhere! The first stop was at the peak of Mt. Rokku overlooking Kobe and the view was fantastic even through the slight overcast. We took a cable car back down the mountain and met the bus; then to the Sake Brewery Museum where I witnessed the complex procedure of turning rice into sake. I was obliged
to try their product, of course. I wouldn’t want to insult them. It was OK, but beer is still my drink of choice. We then got on the highway to the Kansai International Airport, built on reclaimed land in the harbor. The airport is only 19 years old and now I’m there but still need to get to my hotel in the middle of Osaka. The girl at the information desk said the best way to get to my hotel was the bus, but I had nearly a six hour wait for that, so I opted for the train, a little more adventurous for me, but that’s what I wanted. I got it. The train required a ticket through a vending machine, but all the directions were in Japanese. A JR (Japanese Railways) representative helped me out so I boarded the train. Clean and smooth, I was among five passengers in my car. First stop, many more got on and by the third stop people were standing. Everything was going good; announcements were made in both Japanese and English. I knew where I was and where I was going. I had to get off at one stop and transfer to
another train. I was in trouble, but I asked one of the JR representatives for directions and got on that train. However, the announcements were only in Japanese. I got off, thinking I was on the wrong train, but I found out I was on the correct train and had three more stops. I got there, walked out of the station and what a beautiful sight. The hotel was in sight and I was glad to get there. The trains are very popular and economical. It cost me about $14. From the airport to my hotel; a taxi would have been $140.
This hotel, the Hotel New Otani Osaka is very classy. Modern and welcoming. I was hungry since I hadn’t had anything since a light breakfast on the ship, so I checked out their restaurants. Expensive. There must be some neighborhood places I thought, let me go to my room and deposit my bags. I told you this place was classy, I have a bidet! Went outside and walked a little; found a McDonald’s, Subway, Pronto, etc., but I wanted something more. I discovered a 4 story mall with several local choices and selected one. I asked the
FROM MT. ROCCO
waiter if he spoke English. “A little”, he said. He was correct! But we got through OK. He understood beer and I pointed to something on the menu which looked appealing to me. Best as I can describe it is a close cousin to a Western omelet. Very good and reasonable. Back in the hotel and the complimentary internet is working well. Tried out two bars at the hotel, both expensive but the 18th
floor bar has a great view of the Osaka Castle and at night the lighting is spectacular.
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