Finding Beauty with Imperfection

Category: Japan Page 2 of 52

Yebisu Beer Land

Dave and I have a trip to Osaka planned for next weekend. After doing my own research and working with the travel agency, I realized it would be cheaper for me to book the hotel and buy Shinkansen tickets myself. Buying Shinkansen tickets is super easy and can be done the day of travel. However, I wanted to take care of the details in advance. Plus, Katie needed to purchase Shinkansen tickets as well. We decided to head to Shinagawa to purchase tickets and investigate hotels we both might consider using over Veterans Day weekend. After completing our requirements, we were ready for lunch. We took the Yamanote Train Line to Yebisu Station. Dave and I have been to this location several times. Mainly for lunch at Pizzeria da Michele and also to see holiday lights. I decided to share my favorite pizza in Japan with Katie. Check out the guy over my shoulder laughing. I wish we could have understood the joke!

After lunch, we had plans to visit the Museum of Yebisu Beer. Or as we came to call it, Yebisu Beer Land.

The museum was free to enter and only charged ¥400 for a glass. The beer menu and the food menu was on a board as you approached the counter. You used the machine to change your yen into Yebisu coins. The coins could be used to purchase both food and beer.

I sampled the Yebisu Meister and Katie had a glass of the Perfect Yebisu. It was interesting to watch the bartender pour the glass. To get the perfect Japanese pour, there is a small nozzle on the side to add foam.

We also ordered a small snack plate. A little crunch as we sipped our beer. They all had interesting flavors. The dried peas were pretty tame. The large goldfish crackers were drizzled with honey. The fish jerky was surprisingly pretty good. They croutons were probably my least favorite. They had a strange smoke flavor.

After our refreshments, we were ready to complete the museum tour. Yebisu is one of the seven Lucky Gods of Japan. He is the God of luck and always portrayed with a fishing pole and holding a fish.

After our Yebisu Beer Land adventure, we started working our way home. We made a few stops along the at, enjoying the journey. It was a productive rainy day of trip planning, gathering research, and appreciating good pizza and beer!

Menkake March

This past weekend when Dave and I were in Kamakura, I saw a flier for a Menkake Procession being held at the Goryo Jinja Temple in Hase. Dave obviously had to work today and couldn’t join me. Fortunately, Katie was free and accompanied me on this interesting adventure. The parade wasn’t until 2:30pm. We decided to meet earlier and enjoy lunch by the beach. Katie suggested a cute little cafe called Cocomo that she has been interested in visiting. It was adorable!

The view was spectacular! We had a seat directly in front of the large open window that overlooked the beach. It reminded me of the Belvedere in Virginia Beach.

The food was delicious. I ordered the margherita pizza and Katie ordered the shrimp and avocado salad. We highly recommend both!

After lunch, we went to the Goryo Jinja Temple. We wanted to make sure we knew where to go and have time to see what was happening. Upon arrival, we found a huge crowd gathered around the traditional music being played. It was beautiful to listen to as we walked around the temple.

We decided to walk down to the beach and wait for the procession to begin. We were lucky to catch the Enoden train as it passed by the Temple.

It was a beautiful beach day! The day was full of faces. We passed a man making a face in the sand. Kawaii!

Once it was closer to the time of the procession, we walked back to the Temple. While we were waiting, I did a little research so we could better understand the significance of the Menkake Procession.

According to my research, the legend goes something like this. The samurai leader, Yoritomo Minamoto, impregnated a girl of a lower house. When the girl’s family would come to visit them, they wore masks to conceal their identities and poorer backgrounds. The Menkake Procession includes ten masked men. The masks they are wearing are over 200 years old. This is a special celebration and can only be observed in Kanagawa. As a result, the procession has been designated as a Intangible Cultural Asset by the Prefectural Government of Kanagawa. There was a good crowd viewing the procession and the street was very narrow.

With a little persistence, I was able to get a few good photos of the masked men.

Also part of the procession was a masked pregnant woman wearing a kimono. The crowd was encouraged to touch her belly. Her pregnancy is a symbol of good luck and good harvest. The mask in front is of Fukurokuju, one of the seven lucky Gods.

As with all Japanese parades, a Mikoshi was pulled. The Mikoshi is a Shrine for the God to be transported during the procession.

We enjoyed the afternoon. Especially, lunch and beach time. The procession was fun to observe. There are so many interesting and small events in Japan. I feel fortunate when I happen to find out about one in time to enjoy it!

Pay it Forward

When we arrived in Japan, July 31st, 2016, Dave’s sponsor, Ed, provided us with an amazing laundry basket full of essential items, candy, and snacks. I remember taking a picture of it and writing a blog about it. Unfortunately, that was one of my “lost blogs”. With respect to the care package, Ed told us to pay it forward for the next person. I also remember waking up at 2am that first night, starving, and diving headfirst into the laundry basket. Jet lag is no joke when you cross the international dateline! Keeping with the tradition and gratitude, Dave and I made a “welcome to Japan” laundry basket for his relief and his wife. It had multiple layers and a mixture of American and Japanese snacks and puppy snacks.

I have a feeling you will have many questions. Yes, Dave’s relief has arrived. Dave also has his orders. We will be leaving Japan in January 2019. We are heading to Naval Station Great Lakes where he will be the CO of TSC. Right now, we are in the stage where we are:

  • Making lists of everything we need to see and do in Japan before we leave.
  • Host a few more visitors! (My favorite!)
  • Eat as much sushi and ramen as possible.
  • Looking forward, we are eager to see our family and friends when we return in 2019. We love you and miss you so much every day. Kanpai! To moving and more importantly to reunions!
  • Tokyo Fish

    Katie saw an advertisement for a goldfish (Kingyo) aquarium art exhibit called, Art Aquarium, being held in Tokyo. We compared our schedules and booked tickets for Monday 9/10. The exhibit was held in the Ginza area of Tokyo. It opened at 11:00am. We arrived shortly after the opening and received our tickets.

    The ceiling of entrance contained glass fish bowls with mirrored sides. As you walked underneath the bowls, you could see the goldfish from many different angles.

    The exhibit was contained in two large rooms. Music was playing throughout the exhibit and the lighting was constantly changing colors. Overall, it seemed on the smaller side. Especially, with so many people! Even on a Monday morning!

    Along the back wall was the Aqua Gate exhibit. The exhibit consisted of several large prism shaped aquariums stacked on top of one another. The lighting added a dramatic visual element.

    Smaller tanks in another area contained very interesting looking Kingyo with large sacks under their eyes.

    At the back of the room was a huge tank full of Orange Kingyo.

    In the center of the room was a ginormous fish bowl with large carp. I took several pictures to give you a size perspective.

    The front wall of the room had a very cool exhibit. At first I thought they were screens with projections. Then I realized they were fish tanks with Kingyo and projections. Plus, constantly changing lighting.

    Here is a short video of the projections.

    The final exhibit in this room was the Floatingrium. The cylinder gives the impression there is little separating you and the highest quality carp, Nishikigoi.

    The second room had more goldfish and even more people. We couldn’t get over how excited everyone was for the entire exhibit. The final display with the sword and fish reminded me of Dave’s and my visit to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa!

    This last one was my favorite. It looked like a bubblegum jar filled with goldfish.

    After our art experience, we stopped at the cafe and enjoyed a fish beverage. Don’t worry, the floating fish was only candy!

    The next place to visit in Tokyo during our Fishes of Tokyo Day was Platinum Fish. Dave’s niece and her son watched a train special and sent me information about a cafe in the middle of two railway tracks. I saved it on Google Maps several months ago. When Katie and I were planning our day, I realized it was very close to the area we would be visiting. It was a cute little cafe. The waitress was unfriendly and unhelpful as we tried to order food. Finally, we gave up ordering food and just ordered a beer. As we sipped, we waited for the trains to pass.

    Katie used Yelp to help us find a place for lunch. To our surprise, we were right next door to a craft brewery. Hitochino Nest Beer is one of Katie’s favorite Japanese micro breweries. We were thrilled to enjoy a tasty craft beer. The bartender was super friendly and very helpful with our order. We had a modest pork cutlet sandwich for lunch!

    When we came out of brewery, we wandered around a bit more taking in the sights in this part of the city. Before too long, it started to rain. We decided to work our way back to Yokohama on the train and enjoy dinner at the station. We stopped at Luke’s Lobster for a lobster roll before heading home.

    It was a fishy and fun day in Tokyo. Tokyo is always an adventure. You just don’t know what will happen or what small little gem you might find. Thanks for reading!

    Sunday & Monday in Izu

    After a surprisingly restful night sleep on our futons, we woke to intense thunderstorms over the water. This curtailed our plans to walk to the 7-11 for coffee. Another interesting thing about the Ryokan, it only had green tea available. We sipped green tea with each meal. We had to wait until after breakfast for our coffee. Breakfast was another interesting experience. Our dining time was 8 am. Again, when we arrived, the table was already set and the dishes were prepared for us. I counted five different dishes with fish. Including the one on the grill! Even the salad had fish on it!! Plus, rice and tofu.

    At breakfast we were able to see the beautiful view of the water and islands from our dining table. Breakfast with an assortment of fish was very different. Surprisingly, the grilled fish was actually pretty good. It was a little tedious to pick out the bones, but it had great flavor. Needless to say, our chopstick skills were tested this weekend!

    After breakfast, we went out for coffee and a walk. The rain had let up a little bit. We walked up the hill so we could see the hotel. Our hotel was the pink one. You walked into the lobby on the fifth floor. Our room was on the second floor. We had to take the elevator down to reach our room from the lobby. The restaurant where we ate was on the fourth floor. It made my head hurt each time we went to the elevator! I took a picture of the hotel map to help the layout make sense.

    Before too long, it was raining again. We had planned to take a boat ride to explore the caves. However, the continuous rain showers deterred us. Instead we relaxed, ate sushi lunch, and soaked in the hotel onsen. The hotel provided yukata (summer weight kimonos) for guests to wear to the onsen and to dinner if you liked. We did wear them to the onsen, but picked our clothes to wear at dinner.

    Before dinner, we went out to watch sunset. We were amazed with the spectacular sunset. I suppose the rain was worth it!

    Before leaving for dinner, I took a couple more pictures of our room. Aren’t the leg-less chairs adorable?

    Our dinner Sunday night was a little less intimidating than Saturday night. There was a lot of sushi, appetizers, crab legs, soft shelled crab, tempura vegetables, bone soup, rice, udon soup, cabbage, and more sushi!

    About the only thing difficult to stomach was the sea whelk. Not my favorite. In fact, after Dave told me it was worse than sea urchin, I passed.

    Before they brought over the three soups, they asked us if we wanted them. No, thank you. We were so full! Instead, dessert was served. Yum, fresh fruit! My favorite!

    We returned to our room to find our futons setup for us.

    We couldn’t help but laugh at the distance between them! We moved them closer and again added a few more futons, comforters, and our own pillows. Ahhhhh. Much better.

    Monday morning, we had a chance to get out for coffee before breakfast. As we walked and talked, we both discussed how delicious an American breakfast sounded. Instead we had more fish. This time, only three fish dishes, a cold poached egg, tofu, squid, rice, pickles, a salad with tiny croutons, and seaweed soup. Plus, a great view!

    We loaded up the car and checked out of our room. We made the trip back home safely and without issue. We also agreed to enjoy a few traditional American meals this week. It was a great weekend. We had fun relaxing and exploring when we could. The biggest adventure was definitely the meals!

    Izu Peninsula Roadtrip

    Dave and I planned a road trip to the Izu Peninsula for Labor Day weekend. We left Friday afternoon and drove to Shimoda.

    Friday night we stayed at the Shimoda Prince Hotel. The hotel came highly recommended by a couple friends. Honestly, I was a little underwhelmed with the overpriced dinner option and the dated accommodations. The room was plenty big for the two of us. The separate twin beds are pretty typical in Japanese hotel rooms. Fortunately, it was only for one night.

    Saturday morning, we were hoping to catch the sunrise over the water. Unfortunately, rain and clouds prevented much of a view.

    Originally, I planned for us to visit a near by nature reserve with 7 waterfalls. The rain made us rethink those plans. Instead, we decided to make our way to the other side of the peninsula where we would be spending Saturday and Sunday night. We kept our fingers crossed for sunnier skies on the other side.

    We stopped at a marina along the way. The rain had let up a little and the view was lovely.

    At the marina gift shop there were a lot of wasabi products. This area is known for growing wasabi. We purchase some wasabi, wasabi salt, and wasabi ginger dressing. In case you didn’t know what a wasabi plant looks like, I snapped a picture of the sample they had on display. The edible part is the root. The leaves resemble the leaves of elephant ears.

    We finished our drive over to Dogashima and parked at our Ryokan. A Ryokan is a traditional Japanese Onsen (hot spring) Hotel. Ryokans are very popular in this area because of the thermal vents near Mt. Fuji. The view from the parking lot was spectacular! Plus, we managed to get away from the rain!

    We arrived before our permitted check in time. This gave us time to grab lunch and do a little exploring. We opted for a sushi lunch. The squid was the best I have tasted!

    At lunch, we noticed a poster we saw during our walk. We inquired about the Nishiizu Beach Candle Night. It was scheduled for Saturday evening. The restaurant owners said the event was about a 10 minute walk. However, it was weather dependent. We kept our fingers crossed for good weather!

    After lunch, we walked around the town a little more and explored some of the cliffs. This area is considered one of the top three beautiful viewpoints in Japan. It was stunning and on a clear day, I’m sure it would be even more lovely.

    After our walk, we made our way back to our Ryokan. We checked into our room. Dinner and breakfast were included for each night. We were asked to schedule a time for both. We selected 7 pm and 8 am. We were also allowed to schedule time at the larger private hotel onsen. We picked 8 pm for Saturday night and 4 pm for Sunday afternoon. After arranging our itinerary, we were then escorted to our room. It was clearly marked. The room was very spacious. The floors are covered with Tatami mats. No, I didn’t forget to take a picture of our bed. It wasn’t set up yet!

    The room also had a small balcony with a private onsen. Our view was incredible.

    At one point as I was taking pictures, my phone slipped from my hand and fell into the onsen!! I immediately grabbed it. And to my delight it still worked. Dave suggested I use the hair dryer to make sure the charger and headphone sockets were completely dry. I can’t believe my amazing luck!! Here was the last picture I took before I dropped it and the first picture I took after I turned it back on. Whew!

    The weather seemed to be holding as sunset drew closer. Dave and I decided to walk down to se if the Beach Candle event was still going as scheduled. We were excited to see everything being set up!

    Soon, numerous volunteers were lighting the many candles. As the sun faded, the glowing candles became even more beautiful.

    We made our way back to the Ryokan for our dinner reservation at 7 pm. We walked into the dining room and found our table already set! I had never seen anything like the it! The spread was incredible. There had to be 15 different courses!

    Several types of sushi (including lobster), a grill for steak and vegetables, salad, pickles, small appetizers, soups, rice and so much more!

    The most shocking experience of the evening was the live abalone (sea snail) being cooked on the small grill in front of us. I honestly wasn’t prepared for this. I was grossed out and mesmerized watching it cook.

    I did try it after it was completely cooked. It wasn’t my favorite. It was very chewy. Fortunately, they gave us a knife and fork so we could cut it into bite sized pieces and didn’t have to use chopsticks! Dave ate the remainder of what I couldn’t eat. This meal (and the three others) included many Japanese delicacies. We didn’t have an option of ordering food. The table was set and the food was prepared before we arrived. It was a culinary experience like nothing we’ve ever experienced. We were treated with wonderful hospitality. It was a wonderful opportunity and experience even if it pushed us outside our culinary comfort zone.

    After dinner, we returned to our room. While we were at dinner, housekeeping setup our futons for us.

    After our huge dinner and soak in the onsen, we were ready for a slumber. We did modify the futons a little bit. We brought our own pillows and placed a couple extra futons underneath us. Surprisingly, we slept pretty soundly.

    I’ll share our Sunday adventures next time. More to follow tomorrow!

    2018 SRF Bon Festival

    On Friday, August 24th, SRF-JRMC held their 2018 Bon Festival. All week there was discussion about how Typhoon Cimaron might disrupt the festivities. At one point, it looked like the Typhoon might be a direct hit over the Tokyo area and cause the festival to be canceled. The good news, the storm weakened and made landfall further south of Tokyo. Our area had wind and rain during the day on Friday. Fortunately, by the time the festival started, only the wind remained. The warm and muggy wind felt like hot breath as we enjoyed the festival. But, it was better than no wind at all! Dave and I dressed in traditional attire again this year. I wore a summer kimono known as a yukata. Dave wore a Gin-be.

    My friend, Saori, helped me go shopping for my yukata. I really loves the colors; especially the yellow.

    I invited my friends, Atsuko and Manami, to be my special VIP guests for the evening. They enjoyed the opportunity to experience a Japanese cultural tradition on the Navy base.

    During the week, Dave and I attended dance lessons during lunch time. The traditional six dances are performed as a group in a circle. The steps and rhythm are repetitive. Theoretically, they should be easy to learn after a few sessions. I felt pretty good going into the evening to perform the dances. Then I learned the dancing was at 8pm. After I had a couple of chu-hai. We gave it a shot anyways. I obviously needed more lessons. In this picture Manami took of Dave and me, I’m clapping when I should be digging!

    In the end, it was a wonderful night. This was our third and final Bon Dori Festival. It made me a little sad to think about missing the party next year. Maybe Dave and I can be creative and figure out ways to incorporate our favorite Japanese traditions and holidays into our life when we return to the US next year. Who doesn’t love a party!?! Perhaps without the dancing!

    Sunrise at the Summit

    Please grab a cup of coffee or glass of wine and settle in for the yarn I’m about to spin. It’s a pretty epic tale.

    Thursday morning, I picked up our rental car at 7am. After that, I met up with Marianne and her son, Anthony. We were on the road to the Fuji Hokuroku Parking lot by 7:30am. We arrived just before 10am. So far, everything was going according to our plans. We were all a little bothered by the clouds as we approached, but choose not to acknowledge them. Before catching the bus, we changed into our climbing gear, bought our round trip bus tickets to the 5th station, and had a small lunch snack. Please notice the clouds covering Mt. Fuji in the background.

    We boarded the bus by 10:30 and we were leaving 5th station to begin our ascent by 11:30. Thirty minutes ahead of our estimated schedule.

    All was looking good. Until about 15 minutes into our hike, it started to rain. By the time we reached the 6th (45 minutes later) we decided we should donn our rain gear.

    And so it began. The ascent to Fujisan Hotel a 4-5 hour climb in the rain. Oh, wait. I forgot to mention the wind. The wind was ridiculous. Several times I thought one of us was going to be blown off the mountain. It was intense.

    The rain created another problem, too. Several of the lower stations would not stamp hiking sticks when it was raining. Talk about insult to injury! We were really bummed at the first couple stations. Fortunately, the rain let up a little and the number of hikers thinned and the stations further up would take the time to dry our sticks before stamping them. This picture was at the first station that would stamp our sticks. We were so happy!

    As we climbed, the weather remained our enemy. There were several times when we were all ready to quit. We were cold, wet, and exhausted. Personally, I had to have some serious internal conversations with myself to “be cool” and “you got this” and push through step by step. I felt so badly for Marianne and Anthony. They were so excited for the climb. It’s hard to remain positives down motivated when you’re walking through clouds.

    Finally, we made it to the Fujisan Hotel. We were all at a breaking point. But, there was no time for that. It was time for dinner. Curry and rice. I’m not sure I’ll ever eat Japanese curry again and not think of that meal.

    After dinner, we were given instructions on where to change our clothes and then escorted to our beds. Our beds were interesting. It was like a huge slumber party with 100+ people we had never meet. But, it’s also Japan, so it was really quiet. The three of us decided to crawl into our bunks to warm up (the hut wasn’t heated). I realize now, I forgot to take pictures of the set up. Forgive me, I was in survival mode. The three of us were snuggled together with another group of hikers on either sides. We were on the lower bunk of a huge room with bunk beds on either side. There were no dividing lines between your bunk and your neighbors. Each person had a sleeping bag, heavy blanket and pillow. It was up to each individual to be respectful of your neighbor’s personal space. Marianne and I made an Anthony sandwich. My biggest surprise was how much and well I actually slept. I attribute it to the exhaustion, cold and nightcap. Marianne and I enjoyed a beer and discussed the day’s harrowing adventures before turning in. Before heading back to our bunks, we went out to check the weather. The wind was still blowing and gusting as strong as ever, but it had stopped raining!

    Knowing we had a 2am wake up, we were falling asleep by 7pm. I woke up once and Anthony and I used the toilet. Oh, I haven’t mentioned this yet. The toilet is outside and adjacent to the hut. Plus, you have to pay ¥200 ($2.00) per person each time you use the toilet even with reservations! And did they ever stink! Ugh. What an experience. Anyways, I did wake several times during the night to someone snoring or talking, but each time I fell back to sleep quickly. Fortunately, I didn’t hear the person puking from altitude sickness – Marianne told me about that in the morning! By 1:30am I was awake and ready to go and so was Marianne. We began our preparations to finish the ascent to the top! Breakfast was awful. Cold rice with mystery meat. I opted instead for the yummy pancake I brought with me.

    We were on our way to the summit by 2:30ish. It was not raining just very very windy. Horribly windy. I honestly thought I was going to blow away a couple times. I found myself grabbing onto the rocks for support!

    But, we made it. And so, without further ado, here are my favorite sunrise pictures from the summit of Mt. Fuji. I think you’ll agree, they were worth the wait and effort.

    After sunrise, I was ready to begin descending the mountain. I was yet again in survival mode and just wanted to get out of the wind. As the sun continued to come up, the day became more and more beautiful. The trek down the mountain was breathtaking.

    Thursday we couldn’t even see where we were going to climb. I took this picture looking up at the trail Friday morning. From this perspective, Mt. Fuji looks pretty flat. Trust me, it’s not!

    Just so we are clear on the difference between the two days. I took the same pictures on each day. Please notice the difference in weather.

    Day 1

    Parking Lot

    Station 6

    Day 2

    Parking Lot

    Station 6

    I did suggest to Marianne and Anthony that we should walk back to the 5th station, refuel and then hike it again. Since the weather was good… they gave me a “hard” NO!

    This was my third and yes, final Mt. Fuji climb. Our hiking sticks are full of stamps, I’ve climbed through all kinds of weather, with a wonderful husband and great friends. Now that I have seen sunrise from the summit, I can officially say I have no unfinished business with Mt. Fuji. This trek up Mt. Fuji was a lesson in patience, persistence and perseverance.

    “It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” -Sir Edmund Hillary

    From Fiji To Fuji

    It’s true. From the Fiji Islands to the Mt. Fuji summit, this land was made for me to see.

    I’m climbing Mt. Fuji for a third time tomorrow (Thursday). This time, I’m climbing it with my friend, Marianne, and her son, Anthony. To prepare, I read my post from the previous two years. Here is the link from when Dave and I climbed in 2016. Also, the link from when Sonia and I climbed in 2017. I’m glad I took the time to read through both posts again. I’m mentally preparing for rain. My fingers remain crossed for sunny skies. I also find it funny that in both posts I talk about not hiking it again. Famous last words.

    Perhaps you’re thinking, why would you climb it again, Julia?!? Excellent question. I’m a sucker for a sunrise photo opportunity. I really wanted the chance to see sunrise from the summit. In order to do that, we need to climb during the day and spend the night at the Fujisan Hotel. The Fujisan Hotel is located at the original 8th Station (3360m). The summit is 3776m and about an 80 minute climb from the original 8th Station.

    Here is a clear picture of the map for reference.

    This could be considered the ultimate Julia Tour. We rented a car and I’m going to drive us to the base of Mt. Fuji. At the base, we have to park the car and take a bus to the 5th Station where we will start our trek. I think it should only take us about 4-5 hours to climb to the Fujisan Hotel. At the hotel, we will receive dinner and then sleep on a mat in a large room with many other climbers. From what I read, we will start hiking to the summit at 2am Friday morning! If all goes as planned, we will see a breathtaking sunrise from the top of Mt. Fuji. (Fingers crossed)

    I managed to squeeze all the essentials into my day pack. My hiking stick has no more room for stamps, so I’m going to carry Dave’s. Having your stick stamped is a fun part of the climb.

    I’ll let you know how things go once I’m home Friday night. Please keep your fingers crossed for sunny skies! Because I’m definitely not climbing Mt. Fuji next summer!!

    Fiji Continued

    Let me pick up where I left off yesterday. Tuesday, 8/7, was my birthday. I love watching the sunrise any chance I get and even more so on my birthday. Dave did a quick reconnaissance mission the day before to find where on the island we could see sunrise. Turns out, it was just a short walk around the end of the island. Despite it being vacation, we set the alarm to ensure we were awake. Sunrise was at 6:30ish. The quiet of the morning and the beautiful sunrise was a perfect way to start the first day of my next trip around the sun!

    By the time we returned to the resort, it was time for breakfast. Instead of my normal order of scrambled eggs, I splurged extra today and ordered the eggs Benedict with salmon. It was delicious! I still can’t get over the beautiful view we enjoyed at every meal!!

    While we were waiting for our breakfast, I decided to do a little taste test. Being so close to Australia and New Zealand, Fiji has a lot of tourists arriving from those destinations. To make everyone happy, both peanut butter and vegemite were available on the buffet.

    Even though vegemite looks like it might taste like chocolate, it doesn’t. It’s very salty and very ?. I preferred the peanut butter side of my toast much more!

    Fortunately, my eggs Benedict were much more delicious! And I washed it all down with a strong cup of coffee and tropical fruit juice. Ahhhhh… vacation meals are so good.

    After breakfast, we set ourselves up for a great beach day. Lots of walks and lounging. I hope you’re not getting tired of this view. To me, it was like walking in paradise.

    Eventually, we dragged ourselves from our beach chairs and got dressed for dinner and another beautiful sunset. That night for dinner, I ordered more reef fish!

    The staff at the resort provided amazing customer service. We truly felt like VIPs. They quickly learned our room number and our first names. Dave and Julie. ? I reminded myself I was on vacation and they could call me whatever they wanted. It just didn’t matter. Even my birthday cake had Julie written on it. Honestly, after the entire resort staff sang me happy birthday and then came by to shake my hand and wish me a “long life,” I wasn’t bothered in the least. I was very touched and felt very fortunate.

    Wednesday morning was perhaps the lowest tide we had seen all week. We were able to walk out so far. We saw fish, sea cucumbers, sea stars, and shell fish.

    Wednesday was also our final full day on this island. Of course we enjoyed more beach time. I’m pretty sure I could have stayed on this beach forever. It was so peaceful and beautiful.

    For dinner this evening, the resort invited all the guests to a traditional Kava ceremony.

    Here we were presented with Kava and wishes for a long healthy life. Kava is a traditional Fijian drink. It has a peculiar taste and makes your mouth a little tingly. Lucky us, we were given two servings! After the Kava ceremony, the locals performed traditional dances and songs. It was like a Fijian version of a Hawaiian luau. It was fun to experience local traditions and meet some of the other resort guests.

    Thursday afternoon we headed back to Port Denarau on the Fiji mainland. We enjoyed every last minute of the beach before our boat departed.

    Before leaving the resort, the staff came together to sing us a beautiful fair well song. It was so touching. I’m not really sure what they said, because they sang in Fijian, but it was so special. Then each person came and gave us hugs goodbye. Their parting phrase was “I hope to see you in the future.” Yes, I had tears in my eyes as we left. I was pleased to have my sunglasses.

    The boat ride to Port Denarau was about an hour. Fortunately, it wasn’t on that tiny little boat!

    In Port Denarau, we checked into our hotel, did a little shopping, and then enjoyed a nice dinner as the sun set.

    Friday morning we headed to the airport to catch our flight back to Narita. I hope you enjoyed the recap of our trip. I’ll be happy to share more details with you the next time I see you / chat with you. It truly was a wonderful week. Dave did an amazing job planning this once in a lifetime holiday for us. I’m truly grateful. It was incredible to be together in paradise with no agenda. I will forever cherish our memories. Thanks for reading!

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