Not only was I treated to splendid weather and cherry blossoms at near bloom while in Japan, but the Imperial Palace grounds and gardens were open for touring, a rare event that not even many Japanese have experienced.
“Sakura” means “cherry blossom,” and by good fortune the timing of my visit to Japan. This day thus, was all about the blooms. We began with a lovely champagne brunch in a Ginza restaurant high atop Tokyo to put us all in good blossom-viewing spirits (it worked!). JF, the Kawagoe friend and I brunched with another of JF’s friends who will be relocating to Vienna, so we had much to chat about.
This was my second visit to Japan. On the previous visit in 2008 the four of us spent 12 days divided between Tokyo and Kyoto, and with day trips; so on this holiday my itinerary was a little more free-flow. JF had suggested Kawagoe to me and it sounded appealing, so off the three of us (one of JF’s friends, as well) set on my first full day in Japan.
So much for Spring. Light snow was falling as we finally caught up with my Seoul Friend for a tour of Noryangjin Fish Market, where one can select their dinner and then take it upstairs to be cooked. We, though, just came to ogle these National Geographic caliber creatures of the sea.
This crab had other plans…
Winter was clinging to the breezy and cold Korean peninsula, so it was our parkas we donned for this sightseeing day. Compared to the attention-to-detail-to-a-fault of young Korean women (some might call it vanity) we felt woefully underdressed and certainly under K-cosmeticked; however, we were warm.
Incheon International Airport’s new Terminal 2 opened in January of this year, in time for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It is sleek and pretty and calm and soothing. What it is not, is near to Terminal 1, from where the express train to Seoul Station departs.
The clock was ticking on our final full day and there remained several “Heritage” and self-identified “Really Should Try to Eat” foods still to conquer. “Coffee Hut” at the Berseh Food Center was where our food day began. Two orders of “Kopi and Toast” were placed; amusingly we were handed one of those paging devices and motioned to take a seat. Except, no one else was at the stall.
Not surprisingly our order was ready quickly. Just two bites into the toast, slathered perfectly with the Coffee Hut’s own Kaya spread, we understood. In fact, we requested a second order of Kaya Toast, we liked it that much. The Kaya spread was not at all what we were expecting, especially for Tony, who in general despises coconut. Now, the hunt is on to find this product in Vienna.
What wonders a restful night can bestow upon a traveler. My eyes popped open around 0500, and I luxuriated on the terrace with a coffee, scanning news highlights and posting enviable photos on social media to shivering friends in Vienna. The hotel offered a complimentary breakfast we enjoyed on just this first morning of yogurt, fruit, and the horribly dry national toast with strawberry jam, though on the following morning I would beg forgiveness for berating the humble bread when the goodness of Kaya toast touched my lips.