Shopping Trips

04/09/2024 Shopping Trips

We had a free morning, at least time wise, but we are determined to find our home souvenir. During our travels abroad, we have bought a cuckoo clock from Germany, brass and glass lanterns from Venice, Italy, an African mask from Zimbabwe,  place mats from South Africa and Peru, hand painted tiles with our name for our house from Spain, spoon holders from Turkey, and a hand tied Egyptian rug from, you guessed, it Egypt. Today we headed off to a stone quarry store where they make stone lanterns for gardens, Buddha statues, and gravestone markers, to find a lantern for our garden. After a 2 mile walk, we finally arrived at our destination.  We perused the selection and opted for the less expensive and portable option that will be a nice addition to our butterfly garden.  (We decided against the $560 lantern which required shipping, more than doubling the cost!)  We are sure our children will have the time of their life cleaning out our home, wondering what the heck were we thinking, after we pass. The store owners made sure it was safely wrapped with lots of padding and fashioned handles for us to use to carry it on our travels. The lantern will not be transported in the luggage hold, but hand carried from Kyoto, Japan to Lockport, NY.  Feeling accomplished, we raced back to the hotel to drop if off before walking another 1.5 miles to Kyoto Station to begin our afternoon tour to Nara. Bonus, we got our exercise heart points today!

The tour with Sunshine tours started out chaotic and confusing. When we checked in, we were given stickers indicating we were to be in “Bus #2”. We followed our guide who said “Bus #2 this way.”  We got on the bus.  Then, they said we were on the wrong bus and so we got kicked off the bus.  The staff took a few minutes to figure out what to do before they told us to get on another another bus.  The guide there called off names, but not ours, so she kicked off that bus, too.  The staff could not figure out how to rectify the fact that our names were on one sheet, but not the sheet that the guide had for that bus and her bus was full.  They finally got us on a third bus which apparently was the charm. Finally on our way, we settled in for the 45 minute drive to Nara. Nara is home to both a Shinto Shrine and a Buddhist Temple and famous for its “friendly” deer. The deer mill about, waiting for a cookie from the tourists who delight in feeding them.  It was kind of like a large, unfenced petting zoo. Kathy opted to buy some cookies to feed the deer. Completing the obligatory bow to the deer (who bow back like good Japanese), she fed a deer. She then turned to feed a different smaller deer when the big brute bit her on the thigh.  Chicken that she was, she just tossed the rest of the cookies to the deer from a distance and vowed to NEVER FEED THE WILDLIFE! Learning her lesson, she instead focused on viewing the beautiful shrine lined with its ancient stone lanterns.  What made the area different from the others we had visited were the 1000 stone lanterns covered by moss, as well as the ancient cypress trees.  Since the time that the shrine and temple were built in the 8th Century, no trees have been cut in the area and hunting the deer has been illegal.  We then began our journey back to Kyoto on the bus.

For dinner, Kathy and Dave tried a new restaurant called the Royal Host.  Stepping inside and getting seated, we had the sensation of being at a Denny’s restaurant in America.  Even the menu was Denny’s-like and we ordered the “meat and green” meal, which was some roast beef on top of a thin layer of mashed potatoes and a salad.  It was good comfort food.  The piece de resistance was the strawberry “sundae”, which had the teenager in the booth next to ours very jealous.  Finally sated, we went back to the room to get ready for our last train ride of the trip.  We were heading to Hiroshima the next day.

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