Monday, November 4, 2013

Itinerary by Hotel 0ct 2013

This will also be the short review of Hotels.

20 Oct, Sendai (to 23 Oct)
Hotel Monte Hermana Sendai,
Matsushima, Japan
+ Free Wifi! Works without hassle!
+ near to Sendai Station. Once you know the way, easy to get there. Use the overhead pedestrian bridge/walkway. 
+ Lots of toiletries! Leave your toiletry bag at home!
+ Shopping nearby. There is a pedestrian mall similar to Sapporo's Tanuki-koji nearby. Lots of budget and Hyaku-yen shops. And restaurants!
+ one positive for me is the hot/cold water mixer for the shower & bath. Separate control for temperature, with a safety switch for VERY hot water, and a separate control for shower or bath water flow. No worries about getting temperature right.
= room small. Japanese standard.

Dinner at Toritetsu Yakitori restaurant, and "Fisherman" (in Japanese/Chinese characters: Fish "Yu", Citizen "Min").
From here we took day trips to Omoshiroyama and Matsushima by train.
When we left we Tak-Q-Bin our luggage to Hotel Crescent, Asahikawa.

23 Oct, Hakodate (to 25 Oct)
Hotel Ekimae, Hakodate, Japan
This is a return trip. Been here before and loved the convenience (200 m from Train Station), and the service/atmosphere.
+ Free wifi! This is new. Don't recall having it the last time we were here. Connects easily without fussing with password. Wifi provided by floor, so less chance of slow connection because of other users' bandwidth demand. Was even able to connect to the Hotel's wifi from the train!!! More than 150 m away! Posted a Facebook update or two from the train!
+ Room not big but seemed more spacious than the room in Sendai.
- bath & sink mixer is the "manual" type where you hv to mix hot & cold water to your preference with separate taps/faucet. Hate fiddling with those.
= Wife wanted to see old gentleman at the reception (that looks like a Japanese version of Col Sanders of KFC).  I think she has crush on him.  But (fortunately) he wasn't there the two days we stayed there.

From here we visited Goryokaku, and Onumakoen (by train).

25 Oct, Asahikawa (to 28 Oct)
Hotel Crescent, Asahikawa
+ Big room by Japanese standard. 
+ Bath mixer faucet is the one with separate and fine control
+ Near to Heiwa Dori shopping mall
- Not enough hooks for clothes, in bathroom.
- Insufficient power points for charging devices!!! BIG NO NO!
- Wife unhappy there is no odour eliminator (spray bottle) for clothes. The other two hotels provided.
- No wifi in room, but available in Lobby... But did not actually get to connect.

Reconnected with our main luggage. Coin Laundry on ground floor. Laundry detergent from reception (70 Yen). Convenient. Laundered our past days clothes, change to fresh ones, repacked our small bags. And Tak-Q-Bin our main luggage to the last hotel (Hotel Sunroute Plaza, Shinjuku). The hotel staff was careful to let us know that the Tak-Q-Bin will take 2 days, and so we should not expect it before the 30th Oct. I confirmed that we would only be there on 1 Nov, which is more than enough time for the luggage to get there.

28 Oct, Hakodate (29 Oct)
Loisir Hotel, Hakodate
+ Provided two pillows per person. One soft, one firm. 
+ Even closer to train station than Hotel Ekimae
+ Close to Daimon Yokacho food street
+ Close to Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse/Dock shopping area
+ WIFI in room
- In-room fridge not very cold. 
= room small. Japanese standard. Good use of space makes it quite usable.
= Complimentary bottled mineral water (from some spring). Not necessary, but appreciated.

I have good feelings about the Loisir chain of Hotels. I dunno why. We wandered around the Kanemori/Red Brick Warehouse which used to be the dock warehouse for shipping. Now its a shopping mall. With restaurants.

29 Oct, Tokyo (30 Oct)
Hotel Sardonyx Ueno, Ueno, Tokyo
+ Microwave at floors with vending machines (5, 8, & 11)
+ Close to train stations.
+ Wifi in room. Connected easily with password.
+ Close to Amayayokocho street market. A lively, "organic" night  market with street food.
- Lobby smelled of stale cigarette smoke. (Fortunately, room was fine).
- Manual hot/cold water faucet/mixer
= Room about Japanese standard - i.e. Small.

Dinner was street food. I bought a kebab in a pita bread (sold by a middle-eastern/mediterranean guy who spoke Japanese), PL got a fish waffle - Taiyaki - with Azuki bean paste. Then we ate okonomiyaki with kushiyaki at a street stall - shishito (sweet peppers), unagi, edamame, chicken with shiso leaf (?) and grilled maguro (prefer it raw). Had fun!

30 Oct, Nara (1 Nov)
Nara Washington Hotel Plaza, Nara
+ Close to train station (5 min walk)
+ Along Sanjo-Dori - main shopping street to Nara Park.
+ room seems spacious despite small size.
+ extra pillows in room
+ Abt 15-20 mins walk to Nara Park
+ Easy access to restaurants. 
- No wifi. (In room or Lobby).
- No ice machine - none I could find.
= Could do with more power points for charging devices. Barely adequate.
= Toiletries on request. Reception asked if we needed toothbrush on check in.

Breakfast at Kohi-Kan.
Lunch at Wild Boar Man Restaurant in Nara Park. Had Oden, Yakitori, and Onigiri.
Dinner at Okonomiyaki place without English name. (Something "Family" restaurant, as in run by some family, not that it is family-friendly.

1 Nov, Shinjuku (2 Nov)
Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku, Tokyo
+ short walk from train station.
+ near to lively night life area. Kabukicho within walking distance.
+ Lots of food and shopping in area. And Nightlife. Wish wife wasn't with me! Could try out the "Soapland" (tip for single guys... or married guys who has escaped!) :-)
+ Chose this hotel to be closer to the Airport limousine Bus Service pick-up point. Then learned from the hotel reception that the front of the hotel is a pick-up point! That's really convenient! Cost seems higher though. If you go to the central. pick-up point, the tickets are only 2000 yen per person. From the hotel, it is 3000. I guess you pay for the convenience, and I think it was worth it, not having to drag the luggage to the bus station. (about 600 m away.)
+ Wifi in room and lobby. No trouble connecting.
+ Reception Staff spoke excellent English.
+ Extra pillows in room.
+ Was offered free membership and late checkout (1 pm).
- No prominent signs or landmarks to locate hotel. Was a bit of luck finding the hotel. Also some Google map search and location photos research ahead of time. But in general, roads in Japan tend to be confusing, and in Tokyo, it is especially confusing.
- Room small and cramped. No space for luggage.
= Barely adequate powerpoints for charging devices.

Reconnected with luggage.

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