Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Squealed!



Three weekends in a row found me on one isle or another. This time I was on a man-made island called Hakkeijima Sea Paradise, which is a combination of an aquarium and rides.

The weather on Sunday wasn't ideal to spend a day at a theme park, but I figured we could always change plans when I picked my friend up. He was OK with heading to Sea Paradise, which was good since I had to renew my year pass anyway. So armed with an umbrella and a couple of compact raincoats, off we went, hi ho hi ho. We got there just as the park opened so I didn't have any trouble finding a parking spot and the line to get his ticket was short. I had to go to the office to hand in the paperwork to renew my pass. With that done, we started off wandering about in the main aquarium.

Like I said, Sea Paradise is a combination of an aquarium and rides. There's the main aquarium, a dolphin aquarium, an open aquarium and a new attraction called Ocean Farm, where they have pools split up where they're breeding fish. The rides include a roller coaster that juts out over the water, 351-ft free fall, a few motion-sickness-inducing rides that go in circles, a few water rides and one where you can enjoy the view in panorama.

Even tho you know that they're behind a thick layer of glass, it's not all that comforting to see a set of huge sharp teeth swimming towards you. But my friend was pretty fascinated in seeing the sharks and manta rays swimming in the main tank. Looks like the caretakers dropped a bucket or something in the polar bear enclosure since it was playing with something blue, which usually isn't there. We laughed out assess off watching a penguin with a serious case of itchy butt. It was frantically rolling this way and that, trying to get at the itch with its flippers, but it was just out of reach and that was one hilarious sight! LOL  We also saw all the pretty little fishies in the smaller tanks and huge crabs. Them crabs were pretty active that day.  In the dolphin aquarium, the dolphins were playing with a bouy and there was a mola mola swimming in the round tank. Them's one funny-looking fish, looking like someone forgot to attach a body to the fish. We went over to the open aquarium and saw dolphins and belugas playing with balls, a penguin running away from their caretakers and a walrus standing in the water napping with its head propped up on its flipper. They brought out a couple of penguins to let the visitors pet them, and one tried to make a get-away by jumping out of the cart. That brought out a few chuckles from the audience.

After we got our fill of fish and other ocean creatures, we went on a ride. One ride can get you really wet if you're not careful. If you catch the waves at a certain angle, the waves will totally splash you from behind. But, I brought a couple of compact raincoats just for that purpose. We got splashed a little but not that bad. Then we went on the roller coaster and the girl behind us was totally freaking out! LOL I wanted to go on another water ride after that, but wasn't inclined to wait 50 minutes so we went on a ferry boat ride that took us from one side of the island to another instead. That took us to the free fall ride. I did mention it was 351-ft high, right? I wasn't all that thrilled to go on it, but he seemed keen so I tagged along. As we were going up higher and higher and higher, he mentions that he doesn't really like heights. I'm like you tell me that now??!!  Holy Shite!! We get to the very top and man could we see vast and far!! Then we hear 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . . schwoomp! We were dropped a few feet and the ride stopped! WTF??!! And before we could collect our wits, the ride dropped us the rest of the way. AAAAHHHHHH!!!! OMFG!! My friend SQUEALED!  He was really enjoying himself on the roller coaster, but he actually squealed on the free fall ride!  LMAO!! We got on a tame ride that gave us a panorama view of the area then had a late lunch and ice cream for dessert. When I asked him if there was a ride he wanted to go on again, he didn't have a specific preference so I suggested we go see if we can get wet. He opened his mouth but nothing came out. Hahaha! We went on the splashy ride and made it out without getting too wet. His boots caught some of the splash, tho. We got on the roller coaster again and called it a day.

Man, I did NOT appreciate my alarm clock at all the next morning!!  My friend had the day off so HE got to sleep in. Hmph!! It was a busy but fun weekend.

Sakura sakura



Saturday found me in Roppongi Hills with plans to meet up with a gal who I've been chatting online with. She usually lives in Germany but said she was in Japan for the art fair in Roppongi and asked if I could join her. She also said a gal pal of mine is joining so I agreed to mosey on up to the big city. I caught my gal pal online and we set up a meeting place before we headed to where we were supposed to meet the other girl. She told us she'll be in black with pink Nike sneakers. When we got there, we couldn't find anybody that fit that description, so we waited . . . and waited . . . and waited . . . 30-40 minutes passed and still no girl in black and pink. Hmmm? My gal pal went to check out the outlets on other floors, just to make sure that she wasn't waiting in the wrong place. Now in a time where we're tethered with electronic leashes, not having a cell phone really sux in cases like this. She didn't have one to use in Japan and she didn't rent one at the airport either. Even if she had a laptop, not many places offer free WIFI in Japan.

We figured we waited long enough, so we abandoned the mission and went shopping. My gal pal sent her an email explaining how we waited but couldn't find her so we decided to leave. Neither of us heard from her since. Banana Republic was our next destination since my gal pal was in need of new outfits. There were cherry trees lined up along the street that ran next to Roppongi Hills, so we took quite a few pics of the canopy of lovely light pink blossoms. There was some event going on at the little park but since there was such a huge crowd, she led me through a less crowded path. Before we got to the store, the smell of cinnamon was in the air! Is that a Cinnabon outlet I see? YES!! Of course, we can't pass a Cinnabon outlet without getting one! *drool*

She found a couple of things she liked at Banana Republic and announced that she needed new shoes to go with her new outfits. So off we went to Ginza where there was an ABC Mart she frequents. Like there was none in Roppongi??!! Apparently not. She found a pair of ballet shoes she liked. I saw a pair of sandals that I thought were cute, but considering that my closets for my clothes, shoes and purses are overflowing, I figured I'd hold off til go through my closets and start throwing a few things out, whenever that's gonna be. LOL

We then had dinner at a place that specialized in grilled beef tongue. She was wanting dessert, as usual, so we went to a family-style restaurant for cake and coffee. I ordered an orange-mousse cake with vanilla ice cream. I plopped the ice cream into a coffee cup and poured espresso over it, making myself an affogato. She had a breakfast date and I had a date too, so we called it a night and caught the subway home. SHE only had a couple of stops to go, but I had to head back to the boonies. I made it before it was tomorrow.

Here are some pics of the cherry blossoms I took in Yokohama and Tokyo. Just as they're in full bloom, the weather gets all windy and rainy . . . go figure . . .




Sunday, March 10, 2013

Little isle off an isle


Spring was in the air, or temporarily, the temperature being in the 70s. It was a nice day to walk around under the sun.

My BFF of 30 years and I went to Enoshima, a small island off the shore down in the Shonan area, which is a swanky beachside resort along the coast in Kanagawa. There's a highway that runs along the coast, which tends to have bumper to bumper traffic all day long on the weekends if you're unfortunate enough to be driving there between 10am-5pm. The traffic is lighter in the morning and eases up after dark . . . usually . . .

I wanted to have brunch at Eggs 'n Things, a pancake place from Hawaii with outlets in Yokohama and Tokyo. Little did I know that they didn't offer parking and the lots around the place is outrageously expensive, even more than Tokyo (which was hard to believe!!). But my friend knew a lot where we can park for the entire day for a reasonable rate. It was a bit far from the restaurant, but the weather was nice and the sights were interesting.

Eggs 'n Things is still popular so if you get there after 10am, you'll be standing in line to get in and the visit time is limited to 90 minutes. The place is known for pancakes with loads of whipped cream piled on. I opted for a waffle, so the pile was not as high, but enough to turn into a Leaning Tower of Pisa and eventually collapse. My BFF ordered the crepes so we can share sample each other's orders. The kona blend coffee wasn't as good as we hoped, since we both know what good kona blend tastes like (the coffee at McD's in Hawaii is pretty awesome!).

The walk around Enoshima was appreciated after the filling brunch. Enoshima is a little island where the goddess of music and entertainment, Benzaiten, is enshrined and the island is said to have risen from the bottom of the sea back in the 6th century. There's also a botanical garden at the top of the island that is another tourist attraction. There were enough stairs to get to the shrine and wasn't inclined to climb more stairs up to the garden. The day was hazy so the view wasn't all that clear. On a clear day, the view of Mt. Fuji would be magnificent. The parking lot was next to the harbor and there were people fishing off the path that's along the edge of the island. It felt good to just sit there, drinking in the warm sun next to the sea, enjoying a comfortable silence in between yakking that's shared by people who've been friends for a long time.

My BFF mentioned a park that has a tiny zoo that sets above one of the most posh neighborhoods in the region, complete with security gates, which is pretty rare on this isle. We got to the park, which is up in the hills and had birds, bunnies and monkeys in cages and the peacock was strutting his stuff and showing off. Pretty cool sight. The main attraction of that park is the monkey cage, but I don't like monkeys all that much so I wandered off to take in the view. Like I said, it was hazy so the view wasn't as clear as I would've liked, but still it was nice. Just too bad that Mt. Fuji was nowhere to be seen.

We finished off the day with dinner at a steakhouse with a salad bar. Great way to end a great day! :D

I spend Sunday being totally lazy, even tho I should've been doing the taxes. I need to tackle that task before the week ends :-S

I had a great weekend. Hope ya'll did, too! :D