Road to Sapporo Yuki Matsuri in EZO 2010 → Day 9

On Saturday morning, we were sure to wake up at a decent hour so we could still enjoy the onsen before checkout. We made the tail end of breakfast in the dining hall, where I remembered that Japanese-style breakfast at places like this is always incredibly disappointing. I wish I could describe it better... it's always a collection of really weird Japanesey things that you don't see very often (a lot of mysterious slimy seaweed things), things that I wouldn't consider breakfast food (like one specific tofu dish I can't remember the name of which is good but would be way tastier as a side dish to a more substantial meal), or things that are just plain gross (remember when I told you about shiokara???). As a big fat Americrainian, I demand copious amounts of sugar first thing in the morning, and the closest thing I could find to something sweet was toast. Partway through eating, I started feeling kind of gross, and at first I thought it was just because of the disappointing breakfast selection, but then at some point I realized that I was incredibly dehydrated. Surprisingly, spending a lot of time in various bathtubs and drinking a lot of alcohol while drinking very little water will do that to you. I stocked up on fluids as best as I could (asbestos), because we wanted to relax in the tub in our room for a little while before it was time to check out.

After leaving the hotel, we had several hours to kill before we could check in to our next hotel, so we took a bus towards Hakodate Station. On the way, the combination of being dehydrated and the fact that the bus felt like it was a thousand degrees inside, I suddenly felt incredibly nauseous and we had to get off the bus. It turned out it wasn't a very long walk anyway. But that's when we discovered that even though there wasn't as much snow on the ground as there had been in Otaru and Sapporo, there was a thick covering of incredibly slippery ice on every surface in the city. We carefully made our way to the train station and stashed our stuff in a coin locker, then roamed around for a while checking out the town until I felt too gross to go on. We then found a cafe and looked at the guide book that Miwako had purchased and made a rough plan for the rest of our time in Hakodate.

By the way, at some point I took a picture of this alley because it was really neat looking. Then I realized what I was actually taking a picture of, and made sure to get a good shot of it. Can you guess what kind of meat the shop in the left side of this picture sells???

Don't worry, it's okay to hate the Japanese for the horrible things they do.

At some point in the afternoon, we were able to check in to our hotel, so we walked back in the direction from whence we came and checked into SUPER HOTEL. Considering it was incredibly cheap, it was actually really comfy, and had all kinds of good things going for it (like a wall of pillows in the lobby where you can select a pillow based on your personal preferences). The weird twin-sized bunkbed above our queen-sized bed was a little weird, though. After a much-needed nap, we headed back into the town. We took one of the street car things that prowl Hakodate and made our way to the red brick district. Like Otaru, there are a bunch of old brick warehouses that have been converted into shops and restaurants and such. Just like Otaru, most of the touristy shops were pretty ridiculous, but it was fun walking through the maze of buildings, and the night illumination was certainly pretty.

Miwako's guidebook had a number of recommendations for food, so we ended up settling on a place called "The Very Very Beast" (we both thought it was "Bistro", but boy were we in for a surprise when we got there. Miwako had omurice and I had hambagu, both of which were ridiculously tasty. Thanks, guide book! The restaurant itself had a weird 1950's America theme going on it, so I'm not sure what the "Beast" was all about.

After dinner we walked up a big hill with that was all lit up and had an awesome view of the waterfront, as well as being incredibly treacherous to walk on from all the ice, and made our way to the Hakodate Ropeway, which took us on a ride to the top of Mt. Hakodate. From here, we had an amazing (and cold) view of the entire city squished in between the ocean on both sides. Hakodate turned out to be a lot bigger than either of us expected. What was also interesting was seeing the lights of civilization spread along the coast for a very long way in either direction. It was also neat walking to the other side of the observatory and seeing the lights from Aomori across the ocean or channel or sea or whatever.

When it got too cold, we made our way back to SUPER HOTEL and relaxed, buying beer on the way (naturally). We even saw a little of the opening ceremony for the Olympics.


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