30 May Day 1: our arrival in Japan
Konnichiwa! We had made it to Japan and were ready to get off the plane. We joined the enormous line for immigration and then collected our luggage. We made our way to the JR ticket office and found another long line. Thankfully Fletcher was ok waiting. We handed over the necessary documents and were presented with our ICOCA cards and tickets for the Haruka train. Now that we had our tickets we headed straight for the train platform. We got confused about whether we were at the right platform but had nothing to worry about as the Haruka express soon approached. Fletcher fell asleep sitting on my lap and I enjoyed the view out the window for the next hour while we made our way to Kyoto.
Getting to our hotel
From Kyoto station we walked 1.5 km to our hotel. We could have taken a subway and gotten closer but we had our all luggage. I had already planned for us to walk, and had printed the map as well as looking on google street view prior to our trip. I am glad i did because I was able to identify the way we had to go once stepping out onto the street. We crossed the street and passed Kyoto Tower, from here it was a straight walk until we spotted a McDonald’s which was our key to turn left and find our hotel just up the street. The 1.5 km seemed to go on forever, it was a struggle to handle everything all at once. Our suitcases were difficult to drag along and the bags on top of them kept falling off. We finally arrived at Citadines Karasuma-Gojo, our accommodation for the next 4 nights. Check-in was 2pm and it was still only morning, but we were able to have them store our luggage for us. They also gave us our WiFi unit that we ordered and had sent to the hotel. We sat in the lobby and opened our package to find the WiFi unit completely flat. We had brought a battery pack with us, so plugged it in to charge.
Waiting to check in
We decided to go outside and walk around the area a little. I had planned on visiting Nijo Castle but with no internet we couldn’t figure out how to get there and weren’t really in the mood for trying the bus system at this stage anyway. I had thought I remembered from planning that it was the same distance from the hotel as Kyoto station. I thought perhaps we could find our way walking there, we looked on a large area map on the street but couldn’t find it. Turns out it’s actually 3 km away so that’s probably why. We strolled around some more and then walked back to Kyoto station and had lunch in what I think was a pasta franchise. We chose it as we were too tired to look around and it was easy to order, as well as having enough space so that we could push the stroller up to the table. It was very average but filled our tummies.
After lunch we left the station and walked back to the Citadines to check-in and have a rest.
Our room was a studio queen and it was clean and simple. The above photo was taken before checking out. As you can see there was one area with the bed and the other area was living/ dining. To the right was the kitchen which had a bar fridge, sink, microwave, toaster and a hotplate. On the left was the vanity and basin. Next to that was the bathroom and toilet. It was small for a studio apartment but we found it was enough space for us. We were able to store our luggage under the desk and push the table and chair aside to create floor space for Fletcher to play. We frequently shopped at the 7-11 across the road and also got supplies from a nearby grocery store. We were able to use a bus stop and 2 subways within walking distance and as you know, we also walked to and from Kyoto station. The staff would always acknowledge us when leaving and arriving, I wasn’t sure what they were saying but it sounded friendly! We really couldn’t fault the Citadines during our stay.
After resting a little we thought about visiting Nijo castle but it was getting close to last entrance time, so we decided to walk to the Nishiki market. We had a little trouble finding how to actually enter the street that holds the market, but eventually worked out it was running parallel to the street we were standing on. The market was crazy busy and I had to be careful not to hit anyone with the stroller. Referred to as “Kyoto’s Kitchen” the place was packed full of people doing their shopping. We slowly made our way along, trying to look at the stalls but not wanting to get in the locals way. One old man was quickly making his way through the crowd with his shopping bag on wheels, stopping every few stores to make a purchase. There was fresh seafood, vegetables, sweets and heaps of pickles.
After coming out of the market, we found that the sun had gone down. Coming from Australia in daylight savings, the darkness made it seem really late but it was just after 5. We strolled along back to the hotel, enjoying the night-time lights.
We got some take away from McDonald’s and took it to the hotel. There was a sign out the front with a picture of a burger that I thought may have been a prawn burger I had read about online. Tim went inside to order our food and experienced his first language barrier, I think the problem was the burger I told him to get was a new limited edition. It wasn’t the prawn burger. I’m not sure what it was, maybe carbonara? There was a creamy sauce and some pasta in it. It wasn’t bad just…odd. That night we were all asleep by 7:30.