Monday, November 13, 2006

#193 Day 12: Aomori to Hakodate

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The Road to Hokkaido Tour 2006
Day 12: Aomori to Hakodate
Distance: 27 kms

In Aomori we stayed at Hotel Universe. It cost 8580 yen, including the carpark. It was pretty similar Toyoko Inn except it was older, had less facilities, and the rooms were smaller. We were leaving I had a quick check under the bed to make sure we hadn’t forgotten anything and I noticed that it was filthy. Hmmm. 3 stars.

We went out to forage for food and were surprised at how lively the town was. Maybe it was just because it was a Saturday night. There seemed to be hundreds of bars in the few streets we walked down – although most of them were hostess bars.

We ended up going into this place called Hanbey because it looked cool from the outside. It turns out it was a chain and they have one in Shibuya – but I’ve never been there. I liked the posters and hats on the wall, the atmosphere and the enthusiastic staff. But I didn’t think much of the menu – except for the fact that the otoushi was all-you-can-eat cabbage and miso. I love cabbage and miso.

When we were packing up at the hotel this morning, it started to snow – the first snow of our trip. Luckily we bought the studless tyres last night. Good timing.
We were booked on the 2:35 ferry so we had a bit of time to do some sightseeing in Aomori.

There were a few museums including the Aomori Museum of Art. I was thoroughly impressed by the building from the outside and walking into the foyer. We had a coffee and that was great too.

My vote was to go inside and look at the art. But I lost out to the other option of going to the place next door to see old stuff from 5000 years ago, which I wasn’t too enthusiastic about at first because I’m generally not a big fan of traipsing around big museums to look at stuff like broken old plates.

But this turned out to be really good. I definitely recommend it.

This place is called the Jormon Jiyukan. They have stuff displayed that was dug up from the Jormon period. And replicas.

I learnt some of the language. This means I’m going to the sea.
Aba watani iduguribumu. Essential study if you have a time machine.

I tried out some of the tools they used. This thing was cool. It started smoking.

There was a wall of screens and they played a short movie to give us an idea of the Jormon way of life. It was really well done.

I think the Jormon people had a great sense of style, and I liked their clothes and the designs of their pots. Their houses were pretty stylish too.

We had lunch at Capriccosa (カプリチョーザ). This restaurant almost got five stars for its tasty food and great service. The staff said “bonjorno” when people walked in the door.
But it lost a few points for playing disco music. 4 and a half stars.

After lunch it was time for the ferry. It’s a four hour trip and we had a car – so I thought it would be really expensive. But when we booked the tickets last week, I was surprised at how cheap it was.
Then when I saw the boat I started to understand why.

I definitely wasn’t what I was expecting. It’s so small. Where are the windows? Looks like it’s going to sink. Are you sure this is the right boat that one over there looks better ...

Not that I was expecting the Titanic with glass chandeliers and Lionado DeCaprio – although that would have been nice. I was imagining something along the lines of the Interislander in New Zealand or Noryosen in Tokyo.
A simple restaurant or two, a movie room a souvenir shop, maybe even a bar ...

I certainly wasn’t expecting it to be as simple as this.
There weren’t even any staff directing us what to do.

We got a bit lost walking through big trucks with their engines still running and the drivers inside - scary - and eventually found these dirty old stairs.

It turns out all there was ... was this. A small room with no windows, a dodgy carpet, a TV, two vending machines, and posters of wanted criminals.
This sign told us to report dubious strangers, dubious items and other things strange.

At least we didn’t have to stress over the choosing from the great selection of entertainment options.
There was a spare plug behind the TV so I plugged in my computer and did some editing until the boat started to lurch around so much that I felt sick and decided to sleep instead.

We arrived in Hakodate at about 6:30.