Last few days…

When it’s holiday season Tokyoites go to Kamakura/Enoshima for a day trip. However as we are Australian we go for a few days before we head home. Yes… this means taking our luggage on board trains and taking up most of the room!


Official Start of the slow tour of Noto.

This tour started at Tokyo station. Our bikes are fully loaded with one S-bag each and two panniers. We will spend seven days riding around 300 km. This is the first time we’ve taken Bromptons on a multi day tour. It will be interesting to see how we cope with each other, the bikes, and the lack of clothes.

Here is Helen jumping for joy at the thought of riding 300 km with me.

Repeating history, but with a different cast

Roads and bridges…

Driving in New Zealand has proved to be interesting.  So far, at least on the West Coast we have passed over many bridges which are only one lane in width.  

Drive around Hokitika

This means quite often you have to give way to traffic coming the other direction!  One bridge we went over near Greymouth was also used by a train, which cars have to give way.

West Coast NZ

From the photos above you can see the sign next to the bridge, and the smaller arrow refers to the side who has to give way.  Surprisingly enough it does work… But pleased we have not come across a large truck or bus!

A funny thing happened at the check-in counter…

Today has been one of those hot and sticky days.  When you walk, the sweat is literally dripping from you – okay I was pulling a couple of bags but I have never sweated so much.  I will acknowledge now, I will never move to a location with humid weather.

After enjoying a Japanese breakfast, repacking the packing from the previous night replacing the suitcase and wandering around Coredo (building and shopping complex highlighting traditional Japanese fare), enjoying lunch and saying goodbye to Gaku, we bought another small suitcase – sorry mum I hope it’s going to fit in the car.  We then lugged the suitcases (two large bike cases and two smaller cases), and the bike bag on three trains, up and down escalators after 1.5+ hours we made it to the airport checkin.  Hooray.

After a short conversation about our bags (yes the air is out of the tyres, and we do have one fragile item in a bags) we were regretfully informed the flight was full, and we have had our seats changed – to business.  She hoped we didn’t mind.  Given the pulling of the bags, we are more than happy to take the upgrade – thanks Qantas!

See you the other side of the pond. 


Eki stamps…

if you have ever travelled in Japan, you will be familiar with eki stamps. 

eki stamp

Every JR train station across Japan reportedly has a stand somewhere with a stamp, an ink pad, some paper or flyer.  Eki stamps are a great way to remember where you have travelled.  On previous holidays I have attempeted to get a stamp from every train station we’ve visited.  They even have them at popular tourist sites – a great memory!
On Tuesday we travelled from Nagano to Matsumoto… this is where the eki stamp got me in trouble.  We were early to the train station, purchased lunch for on board the train, and decided to go and wait on the platform.  Our bags are kind of bulky and we wanted to get there early. Before we headed down I noticed the eki stamp stand. Put everything down and stamped my book – ah there is nothing like a stamp (okay… It’s a little nerdy, but so Japanese).  We purchased a drink from the vending machine next to the stand, then headed down to the platform.  We waited there for about 20 minutes or so, train was ready to board so we hopped on and got organised.

Sometimes, you just have a feeling something is missing -I had this feeling for about five or so minutes but everything seemed to be present so I ignored it.  I had nearly finished a katsu sandwich (crumbed fried pork – I hadn’t had one before so I thought I should try them at least once).The train had about five minutes to go, I thought I would get out the green travel pass and our seat reservation tickets so we could enjoy lunch without the flurry of searching while the conductor waited for the tickets.  Seat tickets, check. Travel pass….  Now they are kept in the brown travel wallet…. Along with our passports……hum which was…..I didn’t know! Quick scramble through all the bags.  No travel wallet.  Kym was doing the usual, what are you looking for, and me in my mild panic replied the passports, the travel passes..!  Where the heck are they?  Insert typical short argument about ones memory, then my statement , we need to get off the train.  So mad scramble occurred.  It was at this point I really thought our suitcases were heavy as we took them out of the only luggage holder we were occupying and proceeded to dump all luggage, lunch bags etc onto the platform in a most untidy fashion.  It was at this point as Kym carried the plastic bags and food items, camera and phone, that his phone fell from his hands on the edge of the platform for a half a second and fell onto the ground near the train lines. We had a terse conversation about one of us going to find someone to assist.  I then remembered where we stopped and where the travel wallet was – the stamp stand.  I ran up the stairs, along the corridor, in between passengers, ran across the central section to the stamp stand.  The travel wallet wasn’t there, I ran over the stand selling items stand saying “have you seen a brown passport wallet”, making opening movement with my hands.  She said, yes, yes come me and we ran over to the train office where he handed me the wallet.  Of course I bowed deeply and said, oh thank you, thank you.  I ran back across the central section, corridor down the stairs again to where Kym was standing looking quite unhappy and sorry for himself.  The rest Kym has said himself.

We may of missed the 1pm train to Matsumoto, but on the bright side we did catch he the 2.04pm.  Let this be a lesson – make sure you have a procedure/system for all necessary items when travelling… And don’t leave anything at the stamp stand!

The older traveller..

Gets a few perks. They can jump a queue, get us into the Qantas lounge given we are travelling as a family (thank-you!), avoids stairs in lookout towers by using lift to all floors, seat on the bus, and friendly chats by air hostess. Okay, so you need to have grey hair and use a walking stick.

14 hours…!

Apparently the title of this post is a complaint… Or so Kym tells me. Maybe it is, but to me it is more of a “I can’t believe I’m going to get into a plane for that length of time”, sigh.

Here we are again in a lounge waiting to board, Kym is downloading magazines and I am will check out an ebook.

The holiday has been fantastic. We’ve been a little short on posts due to wifi limitations… So expect some more posts, and photos to be uploaded on the other side of the pond and over the weekend!


Easter Island from the air


7 hours and 29 switchbacks

That is all it takes to cross the Andes from Mendoza to Santiago.

The road to Santiago!

We took an Andesmar bus, one of the more respected private bus companies in Argentina. There are hundreds! They are a very efficient, we easily bought our tickets online in Australia and were lucky enough to score front row seats on the top deck. I was pretty excited… But when the bus turned up at Mendoza station, our front window was covered with that horrible holey stickers that are used for advertising on Adelaide buses. There should be a law against this. You can see the impact on the photos through the front window for yourself.

The road to Santiago!

Fortunately many great photos were taken from the side window.

The road to Santiago!

The road to Santiago!

Entertainment was provided with a number of action films, including Robocop and Three Days to Kill. Oddly the sound was in English with Spanish subtitles. Food was provided a glass of coke with sandwich and some fine biscuits with tea/or coffee.

The road to Santiago!

The road to Santiago!

All up for less than $40 each, the value is pretty good. Especially given the roomy seats which are wider than economy class on plane and more legroom!

My only complaints are

1) The anxiety you feel when you get told the bus will leave from one of the gates 16-22 and the bus not being listed on the departures board. To be fair, it turned up with 10 minutes to go. It was loaded up and left before 10:40 not too bad for a 10:30 scheduled start.

2) The strange process of being lined up like naughty children in front of desks at Chilean customs. We became the audience as some poor travellers were admonished for trying to smuggle in too much wine…

The road to Santiago!

The road to Santiago!