Arriving in Kyoto the weather was a completely different story to Takayama.
Before leaving for Japan we bought a Japanese Rail Pass – for about £162 each which were valid for a week once first used. This was a fantastic option as train travel in Japan can be quite expensive and this allowed us unlimited travel across the country. If you’re planning on going to Japan, please note you CAN’T buy this pass once you’re in the country! It must be bought BEFORE you go – and make sure you leave enough time for delivery!
Anyway, we arrived in Kyoto fairly rapidly thanks to the super speedy Shinkansen and despite being in several feet of snow only a matter of hours previously, we were greeted with glorious sunshine. It was time to ditch the wellies and raincoat, and pull on our summer clothes – finally!
It actually took us about 20 minutes to get out of the station – it is HUGE. Several times bigger than London St Pancras and so much more confusing.
Our hotel was very nice and the reception staff were very friendly – although they did practically force us to get on the free bikes as soon as we arrived! Before we even had checked in the receptionist insisted (she really was persistent) that we left our bags, and before I knew it we were being shown to a rack of bikes.
“But I don’t WANT to go on a bike right now” I moaned quietly to Howard.
Jumping on the bike I proceeded to instantly topple over, causing the bike to clatter to the floor, much to the alarm of the super polite receptionist.
A few minutes later my seat had been lowered (so I could actually get on the saddle) and we were cycling through the crowds of a busy city that neither of us had a map for, or had a clue what we were doing. Everyone else seemed to be cycling on the pavements so we followed suit. However, due to my terrible lack of balance and co-ordination, trying to avoid the many pedestrians on the roads was just too much of a disaster waiting to happen. Climbing off I started to push the damn thing when Howard (sensing my silent rage) suggested we just head back.
The receptionist looked very disappointed (and surprised) to see us back so soon but agreed to finally take us to our room and let us check in, phew.
The room was lovely – I would recommend the hotel (Kyoto Dai-Ni Tower) as it is very close to the station which makes it handy for those wanting to explore the outskirts of the city (see examples in my next post). We also received free tickets to go up the Kyoto Tower but sadly due to time constraints we never actually made it up there.
Be warned however – you will be persuaded to make use of the free bikes – but in hindsight, once you get onto the back roads and have a map – it is a great way to get round Kyoto!