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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Day Out: Shinjuku + Koishikawa Korakuen + Akihabara

Last weekend, I went out every day. For me that’s a bit tiring -___-;; So I went to Shinjuku on Saturday, and Koishi Korakuen + Akihabara on Sunday.

I went out to buy souvenirs and stuff for people at Shinjuku. I went to Yodobashi Kamera and Tokyu Hands. I got the tablet thingy my bf had wanted, and lugged it around everywhere. I think I made a mistake in buying that first. So heavy.

Anyway, I LOVE being in Tokyu Hands. There’s so many interesting stuff there. I found cute straps like food samples like this:

?????

If I had more money, I would’ve bought everything I liked XD But I don’t so… After that I hung around at Kinokuniya next door. Oh so many books I want to buy… But I went back home empty handed cos I KNEW I didn’t have any more space in my suitcase.

On Sunday I went to Koishikawa Korakuen. Why, you ask? I saw on late night weather forecasts that this place was filled with irises! It was so pretty. I actually wanted to go the previous weekend (before this one), but it rained. And I was lazy to go out in the rain.

It’s located in between Iidabashi and Suidobashi (near Tokyo Dome). And the website boasted pretty flowers and sakura. When I got there, there were a lot of renovations and most of the irises were gone. So sad. But I was my fault that I went when everything was out of season. The hydrangeas outside the park (how odd) were in full bloom though!

Here is the pics for the inside of the park:

And here are the hydrangeas outside:

At least I got to see pretty hydrangeas! After that I went to Akihabara to find remaining souvenirs. I was looking for Gachapon. I got several cute things:

I got lots, right!! Hahah. There was a funny story, while I was putting all my coins in the One Piece gachapon machine. One of my coins got stuck. When I put in some other coins… the gachapon didn’t come out! So I asked the store guy to fix it, and then he said “This is your coin. Pick what you like.” Damn right, I’m picking what I like! 😀 I don’t have to meddle with luck anymore! I picked out two Luffys and one Nami. No Zoro, boohoo.

After that I ate takoyaki for.. lunch and dinner, and then went home :3

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.

Europe Trip: Hello, Europe!

I know I’ve written about this trip in my previous blog in Multiply, but I wanted to include it here. And rewrite it too. So here goes.

April 2012 was the first time I ever set foot in Europe. Now that I think of it a year later, the whole trip still felt like a dream. I couldn’t say it was THE best time of my life, but it certainly ranks one of the top ten best moments.

I work in the travel and tourism industry, so I guess a chance to visit parts of the world would come eventually. I got to follow and observe a Japanese group touring Central Europe (which included Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Czech Republic and Germany) for 10 days. It sounds like I was on a business trip (sure, I had to write a report after that) but it actually felt like I was vacationing with these additional people 😀

My departure was set to be around mid-April, and the whole process to get the Schengen visa started from mid March. It was really hectic and frustrating, and I remember breaking down and crying a couple of times (I’m a very weepy person) because of the stress. Anyway, due to help of very many people around me, I was able to receive my visa a day before my departure date on 17 April 2012 to Vienna.

I flew with Singapore Airlines on the 17th. The flight, of course, was non-direct, stopping via Singapore and Frankfurt. When I was about to leave for the airport with the shuttle bus, the most horrible rain started and I was worried that I would be late for my flight. Even the slightest rain turns Jakarta roads into a crazed up gridlock. Luckily, I was able to arrive at the airport with plenty of time for my flight.

The person at check in desk was very kind to offer me an earlier flight, so I would have a little bit of more time for transit at Singapore. At first, I was worried my mom, who accompanied me to the airport, would be left alone waiting for my brother to come and pick her up. But in the end I took the earlier flight, because I couldn’t risk being late for the connecting flight to Frankfurt. I felt really really bad, but there was nothing I could do.

15 hours later, I arrived at Frankfurt and it was so … overwhelming. I have been overseas flights alone before, but this felt different. I was kinda scared and worried something would go wrong. I quickly looked up my flight and saw that it was scheduled to be in Terminal A, Gate 1.

Imagine my horror when I found out that A1 was just a default for flights that weren’t assigned gates yet. When I asked the attendant at the A1 gate, why the flight there wasn’t mines, she told me that my flight was at Gate A30. It was so, so far. So I ran the whole way ( with the help of travelators, of course) and got to the right gate with time to spare. Phew!

So after about 17 hours of flight time, I arrived at Vienna on 18 April 2012 at 1 in the afternoon, local time. Since the group I was supposed to follow would be arriving at 4, I decided to just hang around at the airport instead of going to the city for a little alone (but I assume would be a very hurried) adventure. So I ate a late lunch at McDonald’s (I know it’s not very creative, but hey, you can’t blame someone looking for a little familiarity in a foreign country).

Anyway, it was 4 in the afternoon before I knew it and the group arrived. They were all elderly people, with a total of 26 people with 1 tour leader. I introduced myself to the tour leader, and then we all headed for the bus to take us to the hotel after buying some food at a bakery inside the airport. On the journey to the hotel, the tour leader introduced me to the group; where I worked, the reason why I was following accompanying them, and for how long I would be staying with them. I think they were really tired after the long flight, so they just nodded in silence.

Hotel am Samsegang

After we arrived at the hotel (am Samsegang in the suburbs of Vienna) and checked-in, everyone all hurried up to their rooms to get a rest. I got a room with a balcony in it. Since I was also very tired that day, I too decided to rest, but first run a bath and then lie down while watching TV. But since the blanket was so, so warm so I eventually fell asleep around 6 PM ^^;;

Cozy room

Next up will be 19 April 2012, Budapest.