Arriving into Osaka, after 18 hours of travelling, I suppose it was inevitable that my brain wouldn’t be working well. Collecting the rail passes went very quickly (should have seen that as a bad omen) and we set off to navigate the railway system to our base in downtown Osaka. The nice man at the ticket gates suggested the 16.02 train would take use direct to the main station, close to our hotel. At the suggestion of some Australians, we hopped on an earlier train, labelled ‘Express’ to Osaka but I think their definition of ‘express’ needs work!
Over an hour later we were still trundling round the Osaka Loop, stopping at lots of interesting stations and collecting more and more people heading home from work. When we finally made it to Osaka Central, the decision was made that a taxi would be a sensible option as google maps showed it was quite a walk. Not ideal in 30 degrees, dragging suitcases.
Nice taxi driver looked at the paperwork, said it was fine and off we went. Next time I’ll track on my google maps as I trusted his satnav and I shouldn’t have done. He dropped us off at an Ibis hotel, but just not the one we had booked! A second taxi ride finally got us there and we could actually see the station from our room……
Out for dinner, in a bid to stay awake as long as possible, we found a tiny restaurant with some English translations on the menu. Ignoring the ‘beef offal with noodles’ and ‘superior beef offal with noodles’ (!) we went for noodles with chicken and cabbage and a side dish of fried chicken, plus a few deep fried prawns. Healthy!
Next time any menu says ‘Mega’ we now know to avoid it. So much food arrived, plus the beer order got confused as well. Al ended up with a bucket of beer despite us thinking we’d ordered small. No way could we finish any of it – apart from the beer. The only consolation was they’d not been able to deliver the side dish of chips as they run out of potatoes! We needed at least a couple of rugby players with us to do justice to what we managed to order.
The quality of the plastic food examples outside restaurants is still amazing, and what we had to eat and drink for about £10 a head was great value – just left us feeling guilty about not being able to finish it all!
This morning the chaos continued as Al and I set off for a quick sightseeing trip to Osaka Castle, before we head to Kobe later this afternoon for the England game. Within 5 minutes we were totally lost, yet again. Paper maps, google maps – they just don’t match what’s on the ground, or the labyrinth of subways, shops, offices and restaurants that seem to join all this area together. It’s called Osaka City Station and it feels like a mini-city in its own right.
So we gave up, finally found our hotel thanks to a kind Japanese guy who came to the rescue of two bewildered foreigners, and we’ve decided a cup of tea and a cake might make us feel less incompetent before we brave the subterranean maze again for our trip to Kobe. There’s a few England supporters wandering about, as confused as we are, and quite a few Americans, predicting that they’ll get stuffed later today. If we can catch Italy v Canada in the fan zone in Kobe, we should, see Conor Keys make his first World Cup start. If we manage to find the fan zone……
After that, I’ll start worrying about getting us home again tonight – more subterranean wanderings I’m sure. We might figure this city out before we have to head on to Hiroshima on Sunday but I wouldn’t bank on it.
#ConfusedInOsaka – or maybe it’s just the jet-lag….