Day Out: Shibuya, Omotesando, and Harajuku

Today, I went to the Shibuya area. Shibuya, Omotesando and Harajuku to be precise. Some of my coworkers had suggested to go eat Turkish food on Sunday at Omotesando.

Before I went there, I had to find some more souvenirs (my life is forever looking for souvenirs here) at the Mugiwara Store at Parco part 1 in Shibuya. It’s a good store for One Piece manga. I bet fans would go crazy here. I like One Piece (though not verging on otaku-ness), and I wanted to buy the whole ship plastic models collection. I had wanted to take my picture here, but I was too embarrassed (I was walking around alone) so I just took a photo of the front of the store. There was some other dude walking around with an iPad taking photos all inside the store.

Then after that I went to Marui Jam, and saw my first love shoes again. I really wanted it >_< but I left before I could let the devil take over (my wallet). I took the Hanzomon subway to Omotesando and waited for my coworkers there.

While waiting, some Indonesians passed by and plopped their butts next to me. I was kinda dreading they would see me and talk to me. They did. Well, they asked me directions for Kiddy Land in English. I was just, a little bit offended -____-;; Did I not look Indonesian? I gave them the directions, but realized 5 minutes later that I had given the wrong ones. Oh bad me!! So I just fidgeted and hoped that they wouldn’t come back my way.

Anyway, my coworkers came, and we went straight for dinner (at 5 PM, so early, eh?). We went to a restaurant called Alaturca.  They do belly dance shows on Fridays and Saturdays, so we were out of luck today. We ordered a lot of food.

First we got some white cheese wrapped with smoked salmon from the chef. Then we ordered appetizers and salad. We got ekmed (Turkish bread), Sigaraboregi (Turkish spring rolls filled with cheese), and Peynirli Salatasi (salad with onions, white cheese, tomatoes and various greens).  For the main we ordered Tavuk Sis Kebap (marinated cubed chicken kebab) and Koskonmaz karides (big shrimp with asparagus and mushrooms).

One sentence. Freaking delicious! Even the tomatoes were delicious. And I HATE TOMATOES.

After that, we walked along Omotesando and stopped by H&M. I met several Indonesians too here. Then, my coworkers suddenly decided to have coffee time. At first we were gonna have coffee at the Godiva Cafe across the street from H&M. My coworkers jaywalked. And I thought only Indonesians do that.  But since it was already closing time, we didn’t eat here. Oh T^T

We drank coffee at another place around there, at Tokyo Apartment Cafe. It was just okay. After that, at 9:30 PM we all went home. And now after eating like crazy, I am officially hungry, again.

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Europe Trip: Bratislava

20 April 2012.

Today we will be moving from Budapest to Bratislava. We had breakfast at 7 with the usual food: eggs, sausages, hams, milk, juice and salad. Oh, and bread. Tons of bread. One which I thought was a hash brown turned out to be bread. A really chewy, almost rubber-like bread *tosses it*

Anyway, at 0850 everyone was already sitting in their seats on the bus, and thus at 0900 we began our journey to Bratislava! Of course on this day, we will be border crossing to Slovakia. I don’t know much facts about the country, sorry ^^a Actually, while we were moving city to city, the tour leader would tell us the facts about the country. But like I said, since she was talking in Japanese, my ears just wouldn’t cooperate. After 3 hours, we reached Bratislava!

We immediately headed to the restaurant for lunch. But since it was located inside the city center, the bus wasn’t able to drop us off right at the front, so we walked a little from the drop off point. The name of the restaurant was Alize (I think it’s closed now, though, too bad). Since we were early (it was just 12.15) the restaurant was empty. The interior was modern and had many windows so it was bright. Lunch was vegetable soup, turkey breast filled with cheese and ham and crepes with raspberry ice cream filling :3

vegetable soup

turkey with ham and cheese filling

crepe with raspberry ice cream

Since the food came out quickly and everyone was apparently famished, lunch only took 40mins. Because of that, when we got out the restaurant the guide wasn’t there yet. So the tour leader said we could wander around the nearby places before meeting time. We got an English speaking guide, but I still couldn’t hear because I was still herding people at the back.

Anyway, it turns out that the restaurant was really near St. Michael’s Gate. So we started from there and walked to St Martin’s Dome. We didn’t go in to any tour attractions, just saw some from the outside and did a lot of wandering around by ourselves.

St Michael’s Gate

There were a lot of bronze statues like this all over the old city

St Martin’s Dom

After that, we boarded the bus again heading for Bratislava Castle. It was located on top of a hill, with similar color scheme with St. Martin’s Dome. I love the colors. So warm and pretty.

Bratislava Castle

view from the yard

view from the yard

This is Bratislava Castle and the view of the city from the yard. The interior is still under renovation but the exterior is done. Most of the people were just hanging outside enjoying the nice (but steadily becoming unbearably hot) weather. Actually, this castle could be reached from St Michael’s Gate with this mini train. It just feels like being a really tacky tourist though ^^a

mini train

After visiting the castle, we went to the hotel to check-in. When we reached the hotel, suddenly the sky went dark. When the porters were rolling our luggage in, heavy rain suddenly fell!! I was relieved that my suitcase was already in the lobby when the rain started. It wasn’t waterproof XD

After check-in, we all went to our rooms. Upon opening the door, I felt that the curtains on the window were a little crooked, so I had this unexplainable urge to straighten it. I stepped on a table to get near the window (don’t ask why I did this). And just then, the table surface kinda broke off and I fell with an almighty CRASH.

I instantly panicked. I was going to be fish food if the hotel found out about me breaking a table! But fortunately, all the parts could be put back together again (without anyone noticing it was forcibly separated). I just hoped that the tour leader (which was in the room next door) wouldn’t hear the crash (fat chance). I was so lucky I fell in the room… and not out the window. It was 8 floors high >_<

The bathroom was crazy big, I could’ve fit a table and chairs and have a tea party inside (but that would be absurd).

At 6, I went down to the ground floor to have dinner. The main course was finally fish (I was getting sick of meat)!
The broccoli soup and fish was really good, but the cake was ugh.

broccoli soup

broccoli soup

fish and potatoes

fish and potatoes

cake

cake

I have to admit, today wasn’t too eventful, but tomorrow will be Prague 😀

Europe Trip: Budapest

So second day, 19 April 2012. Still in suburbian Vienna. It was breakfast time and I was anxious to approach the clients in my group. Say hi now so it would be easier to ask them about their opinions on the hotels and services later on. I caught two in my net and asked them some stuff, and then after they finished eating, they left. After that, I looked around for some other preypeople. I found another couple, the Koike(s). Truthfully, I could never understand what the husband was saying because it was slurred (I think it’s due to the fact he has no teeth left). And the wife, was just hilarious and entertaining. I liked them very much. Throughout the tour, I ended up sitting together a lot with these two for breakfast 🙂 This morning, they gabbed my ears off about the difference of toilets here (in Vienna) and in Japan for about 15 minutes. I must agree, Japanese toilets are state-of-the-art with their gazillion buttons O.o

At 08.50, everyone was already piled on the bus even though we were scheduled to depart at 09.00. The driver introduced himself and told us that he would be our driver for the next 6 days. He seemed pretty nice. We then departed for Budapest.

I was still trying hard to ask questions for the report. I was very nervous and sitting rigidly in my seat, just right behind the driver. I couldn’t fall asleep even if I wanted to. 3 1/2 hours of fidgeting nervously in my seat, we arrived at Budapest. Lunch at Szeged restaurant was scheduled at 12.30.

Szeged Restaurant

Szeged Restaurant

The restaurant was quaint and seemed homey (for me) and the food tasted pretty good. We had a three course menu featuring a Hungarian specialty, paprika. First course was some vegetable soup, the main was chicken with paprika sauce with a touch of sour cream and gnocchi, and dessert was a big slab of ice cream cake. I loved all, except the gnocchi. Bleeeh, gnocchi.

Vegetable Soup

Vegetable Soup

Chicken with Paprika and Sour Cream Sauce and Gnocchi

Chicken with Paprika and Sour Cream Sauce and Gnocchi

Ice Cream Cake

Ice Cream Cake

After lunch, we met the guide in front of the restaurant. She was a local citizen, but she spoke Japanese very, very fluently. The group was amazed by her. And she was very stylish and pretty too 😀 Well, because she spoke in Japanese, my mind turned off (it does that whenever someone drones in quick Japanese) and I hung at the back of the group, like a collie herding the sheepgroup.

From what I heard when the guide was explaining at the front of the bus, in the past Budapest was actually 2 different cities (Buda and Pest) that was separated by the Danube river. Buda was the older part of the two. In the Buda part of the city, there was the Royal Castle, Gellert Hill, Matthias Church, Fisherman’s Bastion and so on. In Pest, there was the Parliament, the Central Market, Szent Istivan Basilica and so on.

We were first dropped off at the front of the stairs leading up to Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion. At the top, a friend of the guide took a photo of us as a group at the front of Matthias Church. I got a copy of the photograph free of charge (thanks to my tour leader). Lucky!

However, the interior of the church was still being renovated (at that time), but we still got to see the exhibitions inside the church. The stained glass was very pretty. After that we walked around the bastion and had a great view of the Danube and Pest.

Matthias Church

Matthias Church

Fisherman's Bastion

Fisherman’s Bastion

view of the Danube and Pest

view of the Danube and Pest

Afterwards, we drove through Chain Bridge (the first permanent bridge to connect the two cities) and made straight to Szent Istivan Basilica area. We were then brought to a souvenir shop specializing in embroidery nearby. I didn’t buy anything (it was all so expensive!) but there was a table with Tokaj wine and confectionery in the back of the store so I popped some in my mouth and sipped a little wine. I didn’t think the wine would taste so sweet O.o It was a little like cough syrup.

Tokaj Wine and Candies

Tokaj Wine and Candies

After everyone had gathered outside again, we went in the basilica. The interior was awesome.

Szent Istivan Basilica

Szent Istivan Basilica

Inside

Inside

We then drove to Central Market. We had 15 minutes of free time, so I wandered alone looking at the stalls. It was quite big place and I was kinda afraid of getting lost ^^a And that ended the sightseeing session. We then headed to the hotel for dinner and a little break before later going on a night cruise on the Danube river.

For dinner, we had goulash soup (another local specialty), pork steak topped with sliced salami (I think), and cheesecake. The goulash soup was so so delicious. I still have a hankering for it time to time. It’s kinda hard to find a place that serves one here in Indonesia. I’ve only eaten a close enough copy of it at Spinelli Coffee. The main course was enormous and I couldn’t finish it. There wasn’t even enough room for dessert! But the cheesecake wasn’t really good.

Goulash Soup

Goulash Soup

Steak and Fries

Steak and Fries

Cheese Cake

Cheese Cake

We then boarded the bus again to take us to the dock for our cruise. I was excited for this cruise because I think the night view would be really good. And I was NOT disappointed. It was awesome. We had the boat all to ourselves because it was chartered. The only thing that ruined that night was myself, because I hadn’t dressed warm enough for the night. The wind was really cold T^T But the awesome view was enough to make me forget about the chill for brief 15 minutes (well, the free drink I got helped too).

Chain Bridge

Chain Bridge

Parliament

Parliament

After an hour, we headed back to the hotel to call it a day.

Next up, 20 April 2012, Bratislava.

Day Out: Ikebukuro

Last Sunday I met with a friend from the university. I think we were kinda confused on the best place to meet, so we ended up visiting Ikebukuro, a 30 minute train ride from my apartment.

We met at Ikebukuro station at around 12.30. She brought a friend. We first decided to eat, since we were all starving. I  thought we could go up to Lumine Ikebukuro. I had wanted to see 300yen shop there since another friend of mine said there were some nice things that looked a little better than 100yen stuff (doh). This Lumine had 2 floors of restaurants, the upper for the buffet restaurants and the lower for the other type of restaurants.

The thing was, we arrived just in time for lunch, so everywhere you looked people were waiting in line. We decided to skip the buffet floor and went around the lower one. There were lots and lots of restaurants, like a Spanish restaurant, a Korean restaurant, a doria restaurant, a restaurant that specializes in chicken… I was practically rooted to the spot for the Spanish one XD Paella~~

In the end, we decided to go to the restaurant that specializes in chicken called Keishoan. We waited for around 20 minutes for a table.

I think the restaurant mainly focuses on oyakodon.Even the preview dishes have so many varieties of oyakodon. See now, I don’t really enjoy oyakodon, but there were some other menus so I ordered that.  Here’s what I ordered:

First, the appetizers from top left to bottom center, a bowl of collagen soup (refillable!) and a fresh plate of green salad. Even the salad was delicious. And no tomatoes! Yeah!

Then for main course:

A bowl of steaming hot rice, a plate of chicken katsu sprinkled with miso sauce, chicken karaage and pickles. It was such a monster meal. Even at my hungriest state I couldn’t finish it T^T I was so happy although I had difficulty walking after XD

Here are us with our plates still full:

After that, we went to the 300yen shop. It was nice! I wanted to buy so many things but I felt that it wouldn’t fit in my suitcase so I clamped my wallet shut. And then after that, we went around looking for Don Quijote store. It’s like a super big store selling a whole bunch of things, from food, cosmetics, electronics, household things, suitcases, imported things… whatever. I used to really rely on this store when I was an exchange student XD

It’s kinda hard to walk in Donki (that’s what the Japanese call it) and leave empty handed. I know I never do XD But it’s a little overwhelming, cos it is like walking in a packed closet. But it was fun.

Pino: Dark Chocolate

So I bought 4 boxes of my favorite ice cream a week ago. You might say that’s too much, but hey there’s only 6 pieces in it, so it’s fine.

Why did I buy 4 boxes, you say? Simple. They were on sale. Usually they’re like 120-130ish, and at the time I bought it, it was only 69 yen per box! I bought three flavors, but here’s the first one (I just opened the first box).

Even the box looks tempting, no? The regular version is filled with vanilla ice cream with regular chocolate coating. But I love the dark chocolate coating with chocolate filling version.

It’s usually round and cone-ish, but there’s one shaped like a star in the bottom corner. I wonder if the other boxes are like that too.

Look! And they melt so nicely in your mouth! Oh gooey chocolate goodness…

Did I succeed in making your mouth water? 😉