Kyoto Snow Patrol
I have been looking forward to visiting Kyoto for months but I was never really sure why however today I discovered what all the fuss was about!
First stop however was a 7/11 (remember them) for what turned out to be a truly lousy breakfast and taken like a tramp in a bus stop…. sorry I know this is Facebook and I should be showcasing my best life but this blog is real OK !! 😐
Our first stop of a packed day 9 itinerary was Saga Arashiyama which is a 30 minute bus ride from the centre of Kyoto. Something I have not mentioned as a tip for travellers is to buy a “Suica” card – it’s the equivalent of an Oyster card which you top up as necessary and use on trains and buses – it’s great and using this we rather surprisingly safely navigated another potential calamity and found ourselves at Saga Arashiyama, it’s gardens and it’s monkey park.
Now I have always wanted to see the snow monkeys and was worried the term “monkey park” with an entrance fee of about £10 may indicate they were caged but after a lung bursting 30 minute mountain climb we reached a plateau and found a colony of about 50 wild snow monkeys… given my love of wildlife I was in heaven although after the climb both Dom and I could easily have been mistaken for a snow monkey given the colour of our faces (not our bums!).
Bamboo Forests & Nature Galore
Our descent did not take long and we then wandered across the scenic river to discover various different areas that contained temples, quirky charismatic little shops and restaurants, gardens and in particular we headed for the bamboo forest which was packed with selfie obsessed tourists. This is a really great trip to the outskirts of Kyoto and I would highly recommend it especially during Autumn for the seasonal colours or during winter for the snow monkies…
We got back to the hotel and had a short break although Dom went for a swim where he was asked to wear a cap in the pool, we guess to cover the hair but with no hair on his head and a beard it was kind of well ….about face!!?
Research is everything....
A visit to Kyoto is not complete without a late afternoon visit into town for some amazing shopping, a sunset wander along the riverbank and through the little backstreets of the Gion area which is home to the incredibly elusive Geisha.
Extensive research which Dom will claim was done by him – it was – told us that between 1730 and 1800 if you lurk around Shijo Avenue you could see a Geisha arriving in an unmarked taxi after which they scuttle off to their appointment in a local restaurant.
Now Dom and I work well as a team and the task of lurking in dark streets for a pretty lady is not a practice we are unfamiliar with so this challenge was right up our street – literally!
Geisha - like London buses...
Sadly however, after a couple of hours it seemed our luck was out so we started walking to the nearest bar when suddenly Dom screamed “Geisha”!! Like a rabbits caught in the headlights Dom froze and I fumbled with my camera and promptly sprinted (yes really) ahead of her so as to get the money shot. In the blink of an eye and just as we had been told she was gone.
We reconvened to discover Dom had a photo of the pavement and my camera failed to go off so I only had a photo of the back of her head….our chance to picture this once in a lifetime moment was gone but we had seen her and red faced (again) and sweaty we headed off to the bar ….only for “the spotter” Dom to scream again “Geisha”…..FFS these Geishas are like London buses !!
This time I ran to a corner and managed to use my phone to picture her. I followed her to the door of the restaurant where I got my big lense out (?) and photographed her through the window…. such a funny 10 mins and yes we saw not one but two beautiful mystical Geisha girls. Was such an amazing moment however neither of us will be applying for a job with the Daily Mirror as a celebrity snapper!
After this we went for that beer and the best dinner of the trip at the incredible Kyoto Gatten before heading to the Pig and Whistle pub where we met some hilarious Irish, French and Aussie rugby fans – good times after a magical day!