Thursday, January 28, 2010

Okinawa Restaurant

All over Nagoya are Okinawan restaurants (which is different from Okinawa where there are no Nagoya restaurants I'm guessing) with good low-cal food, kind of like Japan meets Hawaii. Yesterday some co-worker friends were in town from Seattle, so we all decided to hit up a restaurant near Nagoya station. Not too weird, but towards the end of dinner the restaurant waitress' came to our table and asked if they could take our photo for there blog.... here it is:We were seated in the cave, a small room at the top of a third floor stair case. It's is about 100 sq.ft., the ceiling is about 5 ft high and there is not much more then a table, you sit on the floor. You can see the blog here. It says "We had customer from overseas today and it was very fun time!"

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Rome was really cool, every time you turn a corner you run into something famous or something you have seen in your text book from middle school.History and old stuff everywhere.I think the most interesting place visited during the trip was the Vatican Museums, home of the Sistine Chapel.Above is the room of maps, in route to the Sistine Chapel. The museum itself is overwhelming, it would be almost impossible to view and understand everything in there. The other funny thing about the museum is the layout, after about 30 minutes walking through the hallways, you start to feel lost. The next two photos you are not suppose to take... sorry:looking up and:And looking up again... I did not feel to guilty taking the photos though, when you walk in there are signs that say "no photos, quiet please." Of course everyone is taking photos and talking, but to fix this the guards would walk around yelling at people before turning on a loud speaker to yell at more people more efficiently. So, the Vatican was not really leading by example.Above is the alter at St. Peter's Basilica, looks kind of like the da vinci code.All over Rome are ruins too, Rome is a city built on a city built on a city....

Rome is different from Japan in that there is graffiti everywhere. It actually takes a little getting use too. Also, no post about Eurore would not be complete without a bidet.So, there you go.

One funny story from Rome, I stayed at the Marriott Rome Grand Flora, a very nice place. On the third morning around 9:30am I meet my friends for breakfast and got seated at a large round table. We quickly noticed at the table next to us was Samuel l Jackson, his daughter Zoe and some friends I think. Unfortunately / or fortunately we did not bother them and we did not have camera with us, so no photos. But during breakfast he did say "no 'mofo' no," in a fun way. It was great, sounded just like Pulp Fiction.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Pizza and Wine

Food in Italy is simply be design, you can almost tell how many ingredients a dish has by looking at it.I put most of my focus in pizza and wine, but also tried other things like pasta and panini too. Unfortunately I missed out on gnocchi, but I'm not worried about that because it is simple enough to make here in Japan.In all three cities there were small cafe's, bars and restaurants, many per block that you can walk into and get food.Above is what i think was the best pizza I had, it was basically bread, tomato sauce and garlic.But then again, this pizza might of been good because I was enjoying a German Paulaner with it, the closest to Germany I have ever been.


Or Florence as it is known in English. I made a big error on the automated train ticket machine from Milan to Florence, although you can flip the display to English when you are purchasing the tickets, it only changes the menus and not the names of each city. So instead of picking Frienze, I picked Florinas which starts with Flor.I noticed the error when the ticket printed it had a transfer during the trip to Florence, it should of been direct. If this happen in Japan, you would simply walk the ticket to the ticket counter, wait a few minutes in line, say sorry - ticket guy would bow - and you could refund for a new one. In Italy, similar but you have to wait 30 minutes in line and the ticket lady ask you in a strong loud frustrated accented voice "Why DID you do that?" For which I could only answer softly and quickly "I don't know, you tell me."Euro rail expects you to know where that train is going.

Anyways, Firenze is a really nice city to visit, art and statues everywhere.Above is looking west and down on the Firenze skyline from the Giotto's bell tower.Here I am on the same bell tower, behind me is the top of the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore dome... or Florence Duomo in English. Normally you can climb up there too, but on this particular day it was closed for church.This is looking back on the city where you can see both the bell tower, Duomo and the famous bridge Ponte Vecchio seen from Michelangelo Park.At night, streets in Milan and Firenze were lit with overhead lights, I think for the holidays... There were many different styles.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Italian Vacation: Milan

Over Christmas break I decided to get out of Japan and visit Europe for the first time, making my way to Italy. I flew from Narita to Rome and quickly took a train to Milan, Florence (or Firenze) before ending the trip in Rome and returning to Narita.Unfortunately, my first introduction to Europe was a 5 hour train ride to Milan, typically this would take three hours but that train was full. So I ended-up leaving Rome Terminal on the slow train below:The first thing you notice is that there is graffiti all over that train and every other train in the station. Which is strange when you are from Japan, I think someone found graffiti on the west side of Tokyo, but other then that it's not normal. The train train trip ended at Milan Central Terminal just past midnight, at this point it was time to rest.

One problem with traveling to Italy (Europe) in December is it's suppose to rain, at least that is what Rick Steves and the weather channel said.But we got lucky, almost everyday was blue skies. This almost held true through Rome, but we will talk about that later. Above is a view of the Alps from the Milan Marriott, floor 7.

Christmas day, everything in Milan / Italy is closed because everyone who would open places is at church. As a result all we could do was walk around and look at old buildings and mass transit.The most dominating structure in Milan is the Duomo, a cathedral church that took 500 years to complete.Above is the only statue on the roof of the Duomo holding a flag, I think it's a lighting rod. Here I am on top of the Duomo:Most major churches in Italy allow you to go on the roof, I don't completely understand this, I think most church roof's in the US are closed to the public... time to protest, it's fun up there.The Duomo itself is amazing, it looks like it took 5 centuries to build. I can't even imagine how many statues are attached to it. Here is a view from the inside:You are not suppose to take photos in here, but everyone else was so I did not feel to guilty.Lion statue at night.

Milan train station is also really cool:It has that old school feel to it:I will post over the next couple of days the other cities too.