Thursday, December 2, 2010

Kobe Beeeeef

Well, Kobe was by far the hardest city to navigate since the beginning of my travels. Not only does NO ONE in Japan speak English, but often times maps and directions are not listed in English either. Kobe is also not really a city that is used to tourists – it’s more of a port-of-access for Osaka, which is a huge city.
            I got off the ship and waited in the port terminal with Alexa for Cousin Allie to show up. She finally walked in, covered in heavy packs but really excited to see me and in high spirits! We shared the biggest hug and it was so good to feel at home again. We sat and discussed her experiences in Kobe so far.. she arrived at our hostel to find it closed and went to a police station. They helped her find a hotel and escorted her there in a cop car with the lights on! What a crazy night.
            We waited to get on the ship so we could set down her bags and so we could grab some food. I got to show her around the ship and give her some things I picked up for her in Africa! We ate on the top deck overlooking the city. Then we left the ship and took a train into the city, only to wander around for a while trying to navigate. We got my rail pass from a voucher exchange station and went to a little suburban area to check out the aquarium. By then it was already getting dark and the aquarium was closed. It was cool to see a suburban part of Japan though. Walls and doors made from thin paper or translucent glass and children riding around on bicycles. There were some trees on the sidewalks surrounded by teeny-tiny white picket fences.  Best of all, there were no sidewalks – instead there was one side of the street painted with a blue strip, indicating pedestrian territory. The rest of the road is for cars.
            We went back to grab our bags from the ship and walked around for a couple hours trying to find internet. Starbucks didn’t have wifi, McDonald’s didn’t have wifi… we finally found a place right before our backs were about to snap in half from carrying all our stuff. I looked up a hostel and made reservations, and we headed out to dinner.
            We went to a little tiny restaurant with a big cow on the front. It took a while to find Kobe beef, but I was adamant about doing it. Boy am I glad we did.. I’ve never tasted steak like that in my life. Even better than the steak from CubaƱa in South Africa. It was so tender and wonderful, and was served to us on a hot stone. The steak came out with flames erupting from the plate, surrounded by grilling onions, a few fries and some steamed veggies. It was phenomenal. Finding it was so difficult. Buildings are constructed vertically, and each floor only has one little establishment on it that usually is only one room. So a small bar, or a small restaurant, and often times they were rented out to private parties.
            Getting to the hostel was easy – we were familiar with the local train systems and got there by 11. We stayed up for a little bit, but Allie was jetlagged so she slept lots and I spent some time getting photos to the couple in India from their wedding. All in all, a full, busy and exhausting day.

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