Wednesday, August 11, 2010

August 7, 2010: Goodbye Sapporo, Hello Noboribetsu

We had breakfast in the hotel’s buffet style restaurant again. Such pleasures as packets of seasoned seaweed, tamago (omelette), and miso soup awaited. After this we went to the nearby Chisun Hotel which is associated with the Chisun Inn and used their wireless Internet. Then we went in search of the Ferris wheel on top of the building that Bill rode on before. After some time in the humid midday heat we decided to stop for lunch. We ate at Via Brera, lovely Italian restaurant with talented Japanese chefs. It was much better than many of the Italian restaurants back home and our lovely waiter and another gentleman who worked there were able to explain the menu to us and point us in the right direction for the Ferris wheel.

Norbesa building has a large Ferris wheel on the rooftop which gives the rider a breathtaking view of the Sapporo skyline. After this we went down one floor and there was an American 1950’s style ten-pin bowling alley complete with disco balls and interesting animations between players turns. “Missu” and “Gutta” were common phrases heard by Bill and April as they went for one game of bowling. One floor down from there was an arcade where Bill showed April a strange play along on a drum game which April sucked at.  After this we searched for the store with the cute puppies in fish tanks that Bill saw before but found ice cream instead. Then we went to pick up our luggage from the hotel that we had checked out of earlier.

Then it was off to the train station to catch the 15:07 train from Sapporo to Noboribetsu station. We boarded without much incident other than figuring out where to put our luggage. We ended up putting the bags above us on racks and the one large suitcase at the back of the car behind someone’s seat. We later found out there were luggage racks for larger suitcase in between the cars where you can exit the train.  We arrived right on time at the Noboribetsu station after a pastoral romp of about  one hour and five minutes. We knew when to get off because they put the stops in Japanese and English. At the Noboribetsu station it was pouring with rain and we disembarked and packed our luggage up two flights of steps and then down two flights of steps. April and Bill have vowed to packed lighter next time. Then we caught the bus from the station that departed about 14 minutes after we arrived. The bus ride was about ten or twelve minutes up to Noboribetsu in the mountains. Then at the station a nice gentleman was able to give us an English map of the town and point us in the right direction to our hotel the Park Hotel Miyabetei. We overshot the hotel lugging out bags uphill because we thought it looked farther than it actually was. Another gentleman on the street pointed us back in the right direction and we arrived hot and sticky at the hotel door only to find out that we had to go to a different door. A gentleman greeted us there with our name correct. I guess we must have looked like Hepburns. The check-in was pleasant and the gentleman was able to explain the ins and outs of the hotel, its baths, and the dining schedule.

We had a cool shower and then had some tea in the tatami room in our room. This hotel is much larger and luxurious. It was worth the extra money. Our room is palace compared to our last room. The bathroom is still small but not quite as closet like. Our room has two single beds and then a tatami room where we have been sleep on tatami mats with an open window listening to the river that flows by the hotel.

We had dinner at the included buffet. It was a feast of everything from sashimi and miso soup to crab legs and fresh corn. After dinner we decided to go down to the mineral baths that are in our hotel. We put on the kimonos in our room and headed down to the lobby to hand over our room key to the front desk. The gentleman who checked us in laughed in horror at the length of our robes and gave us the extra long robes and urged us to wear those next time. I guess we were showing a little to much leg. The baths are segregated. There is a ritual of leaving your kimono and bath towel in the upstairs room, walking downstairs with your hand towel, and rinsing off at the taps. Soap and basins are provided. Then you can choose whichever bath you want to sit in. They vary by size and temperature and mineral content. You can see the white sediment from the gypsum and smell the sulphur in the air. After a relaxing hour and a rinse off we reconvened and went upstairs.

We then tried to fathom how to make up the tatami mats with the strange fitted sheets provided. We ended up with a sad tatami fort that the cleaning lady probably laughed about the next morning. The pillows are Japanese style and filled with strange plastic bits. Not good for stomach sleepers but not bad if you keep to your side or back. Not a bad sleep with the open window and the sound of the river. This town is like Whistler with hot springs and the smell of sulphur in the air. It is a very relaxing place to be.

Good looking person on a Ferris wheel
All star bowler

Fought off the bear at the Noboribetsu station

Dinner: tasty

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