Archive for August 2018

2018 Barcelona & Bilbao Spain   1 comment

Presenting the latest episode of
“Hawaiians in Spain”
Starring: Lari & Mary Kadooka
April 23 to May 8, 2018

Mary asked me if I could go with her to Barcelona and Bilbao. Although I had been to Barcelona twice before, I always wanted to go to Bilbao, so I said yes. I booked Haw Air to NY and United from Newark to Barcelona. Mary booked our hotels and tours for our trip. It turned out that almost everything we did in Barcelona, was new to me, so it was thoroughly enjoyable. In New York, I spent time with Yvette and Marlowe and visited her preschool to tell the kids a story. Then I took the subway to Williamsburg, Brooklyn to check out my old stomping grounds from 2004 when Yvette, Erik and Noakai lived there. It has totally become upscale and pricey! First I visited Grandma Gina then walked up Bedford Ave and saw a new Apple Store and a new Whole Foods along with new restaurants.
When I arrived at Barcelona airport, I had to wait a bit for Mary’s flight to arrive. Then we both took a cab to our hotel close to the La Sagrada Familia, so we could walk there for our tour. We went up to the top of one of the towers and really enjoyed the architectural genius of Antoni Gaudi.

La Sagrada Familia by Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona

Coming down from the top of the tower in Sagrada Familia

Gaudi created blue stained glass from the east and yellow orange from the west

I captured the western sunset light coming through the stained glass inside Sagrada

The next day, we toured another Gaudi marvel, the wavy condo building called Casa Mila. His architectural design was amazing and wonderful, and people still live in Cas Mila. We took a bus to Park Guell and enjoyed all the beauty there and returned to Casa Mila for our night show tour on the roof top.

Casa Mila has owners that live there in unique design by Gaudi. All spaces have natural light.

Beauty on the rooftop of Casa Mila.

Gaudi’s Park Guell

On Sunday, we took the metro to Placa Catalunya and walked the Ramblas. We had lunch and were disappointed that the Boqueria Market was closed on Sundays. Then we walked to the end of the Ramblas where we found that we could go up to the top of the Monument Colom of Christopher Columbus. We enjoyed the views of the city and the waterfront from up there. That evening, we enjoyed the Los Tarantos flamenco show and paella for dinner.

Monument Colom of Christopher Columbus at the bottom of the Ramblas

View of the Ramblas from the top of Colom of Christopher Columbus

Flamenco dancers

The next day, we took a tour to Monteserrat, a bunch of jagged mountains outside of Barcelona with a cathedral nestled in the mountain. After the short visit to the Cathedral, which housed the Black Madonna, we took a funicular up the mountain and hiked back down. After returning to the city, we decided to check out the Boqueria Market, then we had a tapas dinner.

Monteserrat

Monteserrat

View of the Cathedral at Monteserrat from funicular

Hiking down Monteserrat

Boqueria Market just off the Ramblas

We checked out of our hotel and took a cab to the airport for our flight to Bilbao. In Bilbao, our rental apartment was right across the street from the famous Guggenheim Museum. Right in front of the Guggenheim, we saw ‘Puppy’ a dog 12 metres high, made of flowers. We enjoyed the view of the Guggenheim at sunset w/some wine on the terrace of our apartment building.

Puppy, made of flowers at the Guggenheim in Bilbao

Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim at sunset from our terrace

We took a bus to the town of Bakio and had to walk 4 miles to reach the parking lot for San Juan Guztelulgatxe, [ɡas̻teluɡatʃe] comes from the Basque gaztelu = “castle”, “fort” and gaitz = “difficult”. It is an islet on the coast of Biscay and is connected to the mainland by a man-made bridge. On top of the island stands a hermitage dedicated to John the Baptist that dates from the 10th century. After walking 4 miles, we had to walk 2 more miles downhill to get to the foot of the islet. Then up 241 steps to reach the hermitage on the top. Walking back up those 2 miles to the parking lot was a killer! I almost died! At the parking lot, we caught a ride back to the bus stop so we didn’t have to walk the 4 miles back. We rewarded ourselves by having a wonderful seafood dinner right next door to our apartment at Mazarredo.

San Juan Guztelulgatxe

Mary walking up 241 steps up to the top of San Juan Guztelulgatxe

From the top, we look back at the long 2-mile walk down on the mainland side and 241 steps up on the island.

Thursday we went to the Guggenheim Museum and enjoyed seeing Frank Gehry’s architecture from the inside and all the modern art displayed there. We took the tram to Ribera Market in Old Town where we had a tapas lunch.

Fabulous architecture by Frank Gehry inside the Guggenheim.

Outside the Guggenheim in front of one of many outdoor sculptures

Friday morning, we got up early to catch the metro to San Sebastian, a seaside resort. We caught the bus to the other side of Kantxa Bay and rode the funicular up Mount Igueldo for gorgeous views. We enjoyed tapas in Old Town. The tapas bars were amazing!

The view of the San Sebastian bay from the funicular

Painted walkway tunnel in San Sebastian

Fun at a tapas bar… look at all the choices we had! Delicious!

On Saturday, we took the metro to Getxo just north of Bilbao by the sea and walked along the marina and enjoyed the lovely mansions along the promenade. Then up the famous Transporter Bridge, where we took the elevator up one side, walked across the bridge and down the elevator on the other side of the river to Portugalete. Another way to cross the river is by gondola, which can carry 6 cars and dozens of people.

Bizkaia Bridge

The gondola goes back and forth across the river, suspended from the bridge

Mary and I crossing the Bizkaia Bridge

The next day we flew back to the US, me to NY and Mary to DC. Back in NY, I did some shopping and watched Noakai play ping pong at his school. We celebrated my 75th birthday at Wagamama for dinner. I flew back home the next morning.

Celebrating my birthday at Wagamama in NYC with Yvette, Noakai, Marlowe and Erik

Mary’s Top Six:

6. Monserrat – hike and view

5. San Juan de Guztelugatxe – exhausting, yet exhilirating view of stairs and scenery

4. Casa Milo and Park Guell – more amazingly creative stuff

3. La Sagrada Familia – inspiring connection to nature

2. Guggenheim Museum – architecture and even the modern art exhibits

1. Pintxo’s (tapas) at San Sebastian bus depot and all the Basque food

Lari’s Top Six:
6. Going up to the top of Colom of Christopher Columbus
5. Tapas meals, seafood and paella
4. Transporter Bridge in Getxo
3. La Sagrada Familia
2. Guggenheim Museum inside and outside
1. Casa Mila Tour by day and by night

2018 Springtime in Japan   Leave a comment

Presenting the latest episode of
“Hawaiians in Japan”
Starring: Lari, Yumi, Yvette, Erik, Noakai, & Marlowe
March 21 to April 8, 2018

It was Yvette’s family’s turn to get treated to Japan by Mom. Last year, I treated Ryan’s family. This trip, I went ahead of Yvette’s family and stayed a couple days after they left. I flew into Osaka and took the shinkansen to Iwakuni. Yumi (my friend from Tokyo) rented a car and met me at the train station. We drove to the famous Kintai bridge and took the ropeway up the mountain to the Iwakuni Castle.

Famous Kintai Bridge in Iwakuni

Then we drove to Oshima Island crossing over the green bridge. First, we visited the Hawaii Emigration Museum where they have records of all the families who left Oshima island to settled in Hawaii. We met my relative, Hitoshi Okabatake, who took us to see the plot of land where, our grandpa Kimura lived before emigrating to Hawaii and also to see the grave where the Kimura ancestors are buried. It is amazing how he learned where the Kimura grave is located on the island, from when Kazu visited in 2016, but that’s another story. We enjoyed a fabulous dinner with the entire Okabatake family, Grandpa and Grandma, Hitoshi and Mariko, and their son Kota and Yumiko with their 3 children.

Green Bridge to Oshima Island

Hitoshi Okabatake showed me where my grandpa and his family lived, but now it’s an empty lot.

Kimura gravestone on Oshima Island

The next morning, Yumi drove us along the coast with lovely views of sea and mountain. Yumi makes me laugh because she drives so slowly that cars piled up behind us. Every so often she pulled over to let them pass! We went back to the Okabatake home and Mariko took us to pick oranges from their orange grove and Grandma took us to pick shiitake from her shiitake posts.

Grandpa supervises picking oranges.

Grandma shows Lari how to pick fresh shiitake

We took the ferry to Matsuyama on Shikoku Island. Yumi’s friend picked us up from the ferry station and took us to Matsuyama Castle where we enjoyed the sakura-cherry blossoms blooming. Matsuyama is the largest city on Shikoku and the capital of Ehime Prefecture. The next day, we took the tram to Dogo Onsen, which is 3000 years old. After Yumi left to catch her flight home to Tokyo, I went to a ryokan, Hotel Okudogo, outside of the city. This ryokan has several outdoor pools.

Matsuyama Castle with Yumi and her friends

After checking out from the ryokan, I took a 3-hour train ride to Takamatsu. It is a city on the northern coast of Shikoku island. I visited the Takamatsu Castle ruins and the lovely Ritsurin Garden. Then I went to Busshozan Onsen. The next day I took the Mariner 1-hour express train to Okayama. I walked around Okayama city before catching a train to Itami Station to stay with Ibaramoto grandma. We used google translate to communicate with each other. She made a wonderful dinner for me.

Ritsurin Garden in Takamatsu

Mrs. Ibaramoto in Itami City, Osaka is Yumi’s mother in law

On Thursday, I went to Kansai Airport to meet Yvette, Erik, Noakai and Marlowe. They were so happy to see me as soon as they came out of customs. We took the train to Namba Station in Osaka and had difficulty finding our AirBnB apartment. It turned out to be very cramped and unsuitable for children so we moved to a hotel with a large family room that Yumi found for us. We took the subway to Osaka Castle and it was glorious with all the sakura in bloom.

Osaka Castle

On Saturday we took a train to Minoo Station and walked up to Minoo Park. It was a lovely, leisurely, nature walk along the Minoo stream. We stopped at the Insect Musuem and did not go all the way to the Minoo Falls. Instead we turned back and went to Ooedo Onsen Monogatari Minoo, which was a wonderful family facility with restaurants, game rooms, resting rooms, toddler areas, ping pong room, massage rooms and more. We stayed all afternoon into the evening enjoying all the amenities.

We visited a temple along the Minoo Stream

Marlowe and Noakai by Minoo Stream

On Sunday we traveled to Nara to visit Todaiji Temple with the deer park. The kids went through the hole in the pole. The next morning, we went to Koriyama Castle Festival. On Tuesday we took the train to Kyoto.

Before going into a temple we cleanse ourselves.

Todaiji Temple in Nara with a very large Buddha inside.

Wednesday we took the old-fashioned open air Romantic Train along the Hozugawa River with sakura blooming everywhere! Then we rode down the Hozugawa river in a flat-bottomed wooden boat all the way to Arashiyama. It was fun going over some small rapids in the river. In Arashiyama, we hired two rickshaws to take us to the Bamboo Forest. After lunch, we took a small local train to Toei Kyoto Studio and enjoyed the Trick Art museum there.

Old-fashioned Romantic train ride up along the Hozugawa River

Hozugawa boat ride was so much fun!

Rickshaw ride into the bamboo forest in Arashiyama

Samurai actors at Toei Movie Studio Park

Trick Art Museum at Toei Movie Studio Park

On their last day, we went to Fushimi Inari Shrine with 1000 red torii. That night, they took a bullet train to Osaka to stay at a hotel near the airport for their flight back to New York City.

Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto

I spent the next couple days in Nagoya, staying with Naoto and Yuko and their son Taisei. We all went to an onsen up in the mountains nearby, shopping and to Shiratori Teien Garden. Then I returned to Osaka to catch my flight home.

In Nagoya, Kats, Kazuyo, Naoto and Taisei took me to lunch.

Yuko and I are enjoying a cold one at the onsen.

 

Noey’s Top Five:
More favorites: deer, trick art museum, giant Buddha
5. Hozugawa River boat ride
4 train stations are really clean and modern and huge
3: the sakura in bloom
2: the onsens
1: the food is amazing and high quality

Yvette’s Top Four:
4. My birthday brunch buffet at a fancy hotel
3. Onsens
2. Hiking in the forests-Minoo, bamboo, Fushimi Inari
1. Going around with Lari

Marlowe’s Top Five:
5. Bullet train ride
4. The toy with the bento
3. Slurpy noodles
2. Cherry blossoms
1. Hozugawa boat ride

Eric’s Top Five:
5. Japanese toilets (came home and ordered a toto)
4. Koirala Bento Lunch-sakura special only $8
3. Giant Buddha temple at Todaiji in Nara
2. Hozugawa Boat ride
1. Onsens and massage

Posted August 1, 2018 by lariyasui in Asia

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