For the final city (June 6) before returning to Sapporo I chose Otaru. Otaru is only about 40 minutes by train from Sapporo. I wanted someplace close for that final ride into Sapporo. However, Otaru is nowhere near Nemuro. It was a 10.5 hour train trip. The first leg on a local train again, the second on a fast limited express. Not a bullet train though. I haven't done that yet. It is in the future, for the return to Tokyo from Kyoto.
It turned out to be a rainy morning for the departure. Nevertheless, I decided to walk to the station. The hotel was not across the street from the station, but only a six minute walk. The rain was only a mist by the time I had breakfast and checked out; I didn't need an umbrella. It wasn't an unreasonably early departure (8:20), but very foggy and early enough that I saw a lot of deer during the first part of the ride. Unfortunately no shots, I didn't know when they'd turn up. You can understand that, can't you?
|That train car is at the very last place on the line. Nemuro is it. I am headed in the other direction.
|Fellow travelers. I was relieved, I thought it might be full of school kids.
|Only one way to go from here.
|My hotel. I guess it kind of looks like a prison too.
|Has to be a small town.
|Somebody harvesting something.
|I'm there, 10.5 hours later...
Otaru is the first city I've been to since Fukuyama that I would call a tourist city. It was a bit of shock seeing lots of Westerners and businesses that cater to them. Refreshing in its way. Otaru had a slight San Francisco feel to me, with all those inclines and super-hip folks.
|What you see when you walk out of the train station. The brown building on the left is my hotel.
|View of the train station from my hotel room.
|Otaru, like most of the cities I went to has its own brewery. Their's is really German based.
|Styled after a German beer hall with German band music playing...
|painted eggs and...
|beef paté. I had the dunkel.
|Buses for bus people.
|They even have a short canal. It is so short you wonder why they bothered. You can take a boat ride on it though.
The hotel clerk recommended a restaurant for me to have dinner. She even gave me a tourist map and circled the place, drew an arrow from the hotel; should have been easy. I am pretty good with maps. I was a boy scout, for cryin' out loud. Couldn't find this place to save my life. I even stopped someone on the street, showed him the map and asked for help. He did the Japanese thing that you often hear about: rather than trying to explain, he took the map and tried to walk me to the place. I say "tried," because ultimately it didn't make any sense to him either. I walked around for another 90 minutes trying to decide on a place. One place I decided on closed between the first time I saw it and when I decided to go back to it. There was a place I saw the back of a couple of times. I found the front on dark, narrow street. Turned out to be the place for me...
|I don't know what these are...not shrimp. Tasty.
|Some kind of snail.
|Fellow diners; they are from Nara. That is the dog of the restaurant.
|The chef with his wife/business partner and their dog. And me. No English.