Monthly Archives: April 2013

The Quantum Cleanse: clearing out my mind and body after 5 months on the road

Our trip was amazing. All of the places we visited had their charms, and it would be difficult to say what the best all around place was that we went. (No it wouldn’t. Tioman!) 

But sometimes, the draw of home is strong, regardless. I think I am not too much of a routine person, because I do like doing new things, but I do start to miss some things about being in one place, like being able to exercise regularly (I will post more about my journey to exercise throughout the trip later) and being able to cook my own meals. I think I am routine “light” – I like to be able to have a few days a week where I am more in control of my environment or my days than it is in control of me (and I am a SAHM of a toddler? Good luck!), but then I like to do different things too, like take a hike on a weekend even though we are not regular hikers.

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Really? I needed SO many noodles? Probably not.

But the main thing I guess was the food and exercise imbalance that we found ourselves in come the end of the trip. We were eating too much, drinking too much, and not ever moving our bodies into the high intensity zone. Add that to the weirdness of coming back to reality, being done with our big adventure, wondering where we were in the world and where we were going.

There is something about being out in the world and seeing lots of different people and places that puts the big picture into perspective. I am talking about realizing how your daily life impacts the environment and other countries (there are no borders on the air or sea as far as toxins and sea life are concerned).  I am talking about realizing that not everyone has the same issues swishing around in the heads as they make their way to their jobs and navigate their days. I am talking about how small you feel when you fly thousands of miles, get off the plane, and see millions of people walking around, in some place you have never gone and might not ever go again!

All that does something to you. I wanted to have a reset button so we could assimilate all the things we experienced into bodies and minds that were ready for them.

So. I thought of a cleanse that my good friend did. It is called the Quantum Cleanse, and involves abstaining from “the big five” or animal products, alcohol, caffeine, gluten, and refined sugar for 21 days, in order to cleanse your body but also your mind, if you will. And Hubby was down! So we started the first full day we got home. It’s been good. I have lost a couple pounds already (water weight?), and am, for the first time in a long time, am being conscious about what I am putting in my body. For me, having the rules (no gluten especially!) means I eat no junk, whatsoever, because the rules say not to. Because they have gluten. Or dairy. Or white sugar.

Also, I have realized that I get more likely to eat less healthful foods when I am hungry (like I have read a zillion times before), when it is the afternoon slump (read that too), or when I am emotional. I also have sweets cravings after I eat, and around 3-4pm, and before bed. It will be interesting to see how much of this is from habit or addiction (I totally am addicted to sugar – the headache for 48 hours was totally a sugar withdrawal headache). I haven’t craved other things, like burgers or anything. Fries and chips, maybe, which technically are allowed, but I am avoiding because of the slippery slope, and because I don’t want to interpret the rules in a way that makes eating processed snack foods okay.

A couple of interesting things: I had a couple glasses of wine on Day 7. It wasn’t even as nice as I had imagined it would be. I bought some rice crackers that accidentally had brown rice syrup in them, and then were SO sweet. Too sweet to eat. Unfortunately they had flecks of seaweed in them or Kiddo probably would have liked them (I tried, but she wanted me to get those bits out). Herbal tea is an amazing way to cut cravings, as are bananas, as are avocados (I guess I am used to eating a LOT more fat, probably from dairy and cheese). 

I am looking forward to seeing how the rest of the weeks go, since next weekend I have a baby shower and kid´s birthday party to go to, and I have other things during the week where I would normally drink wine or nibble on foods.

 

Meals week 1

 

Sunday

Breakfast: baked diced sweet potatoes and regular potatoes; carrot, apple and cucumber juice.

Lunch: curried rice salad with squash, raisins and cashews, roasted potatoes, green salad (at a brunch).

Dinner: Steamed naan bread (from M.A.G. blog), red lentil daal from the Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook (WLNC) and curried vegetables also from WLNC. (P.S. – everything I have made from WLNC has been really good, although some of the desserts were not a hit for my guests. I really recommend this book!)

Snacks: Banana, carrots, almonds, herbal tea

 

Monday

Breakfast: Gluten free vegan pancakes

Lunch: Leftover dinner from Sunday

Dinner: Whole Meal Salad (lettuce with soaked raw almonds, cubed/pan-fried tofu, carrots, cubed steamed beets, avocado and a lemon tahini dressing) from WLNC

Snacks: Banana, carrots, almonds, herbal tea

 

Tuesday

Breakfast: Beet, carrot, cucumber, celery, apple and lemon juice and a banana

Lunch: Leftovers from Sunday´s dinner

Dinner: Rice paper wraps: rice paper filled with spinach, julienned carrots and cucumber, green onion, avocado, steamed beets, rice noodles, and tons of hummus.

Snacks: Banana, almonds, herbal tea, dried apricots

 

Wednesday

Breakfast: Beet, carrot, cucumber, celery, apple and lemon juice and gluten free vegan pancakes.

Lunch: Last of the leftovers from Sunday´s dinner (made a lot!)

Dinner: Quinoa, mushroom and green lentil pilaf (great, except I messed up and used bouillon instead of broth and it was barely edible for dinner, and I had to throw the rest out. So don’t make that same mistake!)

Snacks: Banana, almonds, an orange, hummus, herbal tea

 

Thursday

Breakfast: Beet, carrot, cucumber and apple juice and leftover gluten free vegan pancakes.

Lunch: Whole Meal Salad from Monday

Dinner: Vegan Mac n Cheese (adapted from rouxbe and Save the Kales) with broccoli

Snacks: Banana, dried apricots, hummus and leftover rice noodles and carrots, hazelnut milk with melted vegan chocolate in it (whoops – it had sugar in it, but I thought I had raw cacao and was going to use that but I didn’t, and I had already heated the milk ;))

 

Friday

Breakfast: Beet/carrot/apple/celery/lemon juice and steamed brown rice

Lunch: Japanese rice crackers, leftover vegan mac and cheese with broccoli

Dinner: Black bean soup (except I added two chilies and left out the bell peppers) with a dollop of vegan sour cream and cilantro and vegan gluten free cornbread

Snacks: Carrots and hummus, banana, rice crackers

 

Saturday

Breakfast: Leftover cornbread with olive oil spread and beet/carrot/apple/watermelon juice

Lunch: Quinoa and sweet potatoes, iceberg lettuce salad with olive oil, rice cake (lunch at a Buddhist meditation center), banana

Dinner: Black bean soup (except I added two chilies and left out the bell peppers) with a dollop of vegan sour cream and cilantro, roasted potatoes in vegan butter, and steamed asparagus with olive oil.

Snacks:  Rice crackers, protein shake with homemade almond milk, banana, avocado and chocolate protein powder

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Welcome home!

We are home!

I don’t feel like writing the whole long spiel about the plane ride. It wasn’t the best; it wasn’t the worst. Hubby used miles to upgrade us to business class, which was amazing, and honestly I don’t know how horrible it would have been had we been crammed in the back, with Kiddo´s mood. Basically, we didn’t prepare well for this flight because we just were so out of it with the thought of going home, and seeing the dog, and packing up all the stuff, and remembering everything in our bags, that we didn’t download new videos for Kiddo and she didn’t get to run around outside for the whole last few days we were in Tokyo, so the consequence was that she was not happy to just sit and chill in her seat like she so often is known to do. She wanted a change of scene every 2-15 minutes. Which is normal toddler behavior, but frankly, exhausting and irritating when you just don´t have that much to offer on a plane! Not a lot of space, not a lot of variety, not endless kinds of food, or toys, or drinks, or anything. So, we survived just fine, but Mama had to use all sorts of Zen breathing and so forth to get through. I told Hubby in no uncertain terms that I was not up for flying with her anytime soon. Enough is enough!

Anyway, we got home, and because Kiddo only slept an hour after her Tokyo bedtime until we actually went to bed (a seven hour time difference, or is it eight?), the jet lag seems to be going okay for everyone. We all slept 8 hours the first night, which was unexpected and nice. It was great to see Poodle. It was great to sleep in our bed. It was great to cook some food this morning and make some juice in our Angel Juicer. It was so normal, it felt like we never even left!

Since we had been renting out our place through airbnb, we were half expecting anything from small scratches to huge disasters when we got here, but it was perfect. Practically better than we left it!

We tried to take the dog for a walk all together this morning, but Kiddo wanted to hold the leash, and she fell when Poodle drew too hard on the leash and scratched herself, so Hubby went ahead and we went back. Kiddo is thrilled to have her toys again. That is nice. 

We haven’t been doing much, just wandering around, unpacking, doing laundry, playing with our new toys and such. We have been awake for a lot of hours, and it feels sort of surreal to be here. We also started a diet/cleanse/clean-eating plan (after eating out almost constantly for 5 months, we need a jumpstart to feeling better!) so that probably adds to the weird feeling. I have been awake for almost 8 hours and only eaten some potatoes, fresh juice, and almonds, and I am not even hungry. That is very unlike me.

I sort of don’t have it in me to reflect right now, but I just wanted to catch up to the present so that when I feel like reflecting, I can do so.

We will see what shape the blog takes over the next period. I want to keep writing, because I am enjoying it, but also because the adventure is continuing with remodeling our house and moving to a new city. The craziest part might be over, but the year is not done!

Another few days in Tokyo – also known as, time to shop!

We have been on the road for a long time, and haven´t accumulated much more stuff, other than a huge cooler, a couple of bottles of wine, and some shells. And a fast-fading tan.

But we always knew we would want to shop for some crazy Japanese stuff, just to really decimate our budget before we come home. We wanted to buy some knives, those really sharp and amazing Japanese knives we have a couple of at home but wanted more – and the real sharpening tools you can only get here. We wanted to get crazy Japanese toys and kid´s stuff. And then while we have been here, the list has been growing: Japanese robes (called yukata), a Japanese water boiler, tiny stickers, kids socks, art/origami supplies, cute Japanese patterened fabrics, miso soup bowls…and the kicker, a Washlet – a Japanese heated toilet seat with bidet and bum spray functions.

Ok, are you done laughing? These functions are amazing. The first day in Tokyo, I tried the bum sprayer and I couldn’t stop laughing for about 5 minutes. It was just so…accurate! But soon, we were both looking forward to the next chance we could use them. Ok, maybe not “looking forward to”, but it added a nice finish to something otherwise rather unpleasant, or something. I am not explaining myself well. Anyway, we wanted to get one – you can buy just the seat cover, which connects to water and electricity for heat. I can´t believe 3 months ago I wanted to get a composting toilet and now here we are buying a super fancy toilet seat. BUT, the idea is that you use less toilet paper. We shall see.

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Hubby holding tight to our “Shower Toilet” and water boiler on the local train.

Anyway, we spent the last days shopping. We went to Tokyu Hands, which is a crafting superstore. Seven floors of stationary, origami, kitchen stuff, fabrics (bad selection, but still), pet supplies, art supplies, and that kind of stuff. We stumbled upon a fabric store where I bought an embarrassing amount of cute Japanese (and some not even vaguely Japanese) prints and knits. Two of them were Mickey Mouse prints. Kiddo was ecstatic. We went to Akihabara, which is the electronics shopping area near Asakusa, and bought a toilet seat (not Toto brand, unfortunately, because they don’t have the right voltage), a water boiler, and two electric toothbrushes for Kiddo. (We have a minor/major problem with teeth brushing in our house, depending on who you ask. We bought one first and then we saw a Minnie Mouse one, so we had to get that one too.) Then we went to get miso soup bowls and a couple other things over on Kappabashi Dori, the kitchen street we already went to once. On our last day, we went to an amazing toy story called Hakuhinkan Toy Park in Ginza, which is a five story toy store with amazing selection of the most random Japanese toys, where we spent too much money and had a surprisingly nice time (not the usually stressful experience of Kiddo trying to throw stuff or grab it and so on). We also had to hit up Uniqlo once last time for clean socks and sweats and Muji for additional baggage (plus they have really cute and small markers and craft books – and I finally bought an aromatherapy diffuser – which I have wanted for years!). We looked like the craziest people on the last two days, carting around bags and bags and front carrying a slim but tall as crap two year old.

We failed a bit at eating good food. When we first arrived back in Tokyo, it had been a long day of train travel from Takayama, and Kiddo needed some hotel room time, and Hubby wasn´t feeling well, so we ended up grabbing a quick bite in the train station, and then the next night, Hubby wasn’t even hungry for dinner (poor guy!) so I just went to 7-11 for some ramen. I could have gone to the food court but I just couldn’t face the crowds and the lines. Lazy introvert! Although the last night, we ate great sushi at one of the best sushi places in Tokyo (someone told us this while we waited in line for 1.5 hours to get a table – they don’t take reservations). We had tuna sashimi and some nigiri and half a California roll, for good measure. It was a great way to close out the Japanese food experience.

The last night, we switched hotels from the Prince Sakura Tower for one night in the Imperial Hotel. We had to do it that way so we could store our luggage while we were choo-chooing around Japan on the Shinkansen. We couldn’t have carted around the cooler we hauled with us from Australia and the carseat. It would have been ridiculous! We could have dumped both of those things in Australia, but we decided we would stomach the extra storage costs while we were in Tioman and while we were exploring Japan by rail in order to keep the carseat – which Kiddo loves because it has a cow cover, and the cooler, which is a really nice one that you cant find in Norway. Anyway, my point is that, we stayed in a fancy hotel the last night. You might recall that we got a great deal on a room the first time we stayed there, in March, because Hubby is amazing and found out that you can get half off the room rates in March. Well, I guess we were their only repeat customers or something, because they upgraded us, for free, to a SUITE for our last night there. It was amazing. There was even a guest toilet. I felt like royalty. And most importantly, we had tons of space, enough that Hubby, the packmaster, could manage to fit all the crap we had bought into the bags while Kiddo and I could do something else (Kiddo is definitely in a “take everything out of where you put it” phase. As well as a “throwing things” phase).

All in all, the last days in Tokyo were a fun and fast closing to our time in Japan. 

Takayama and the Japanese Alps

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Looking out onto the Japanese Alps from our hotel room in Takayama

The beautiful train ride to Takayama was over two hours long. It was a pretty nice scenic route. It seems we weren’t the only tourists on our way to Takayama, a city I initially wanted to avoid because it is known for being touristy. The train was full of groups of white people on tours! We decided to go to Takayama for a change of scene before we went back to Tokyo. Even though we didn’t really want to be cold, we wanted to see more than just southern Japan. And there was a direct, but scenic train from Nagoya. So, Takayama it was. (Or takoyaki, as we like to call it, because Hubby can´t keep the two straight – takoyaki are fried octopus fritters and Takayama is a town a couple hundred kilometers north of Nagoya.)

The hotel had a shuttle, so we didn’t even have to spring for a taxi to get the 3km to the hotel. It was nice. The hotel was very opulent but not too bad for a couple carting around a toddler who is in a throwing stage, so that was good. We were both feeling over being tourists with the same hoards who came off the train with us, so we holed up in our room and watched YouTube videos of Chip and Dale and Donald Duck. We were just going to eat ramen at the hotel restaurant, but we decided to venture out. Hubby found a burger shop called Center 4 Burgers on TripAdvisor – the best rated restaurant in Takayama! So off we went. We took the shuttle into town and walked a mile or so to the burger shop, which was OMG the hippest place we have been to in Japan so far. We thought the people who worked there must be, like, the coolest kids in town. But the best part BY FAR was the AMAZING burgers we had. I had a double cheeseburger and Hubby had a single cheeseburger and Kiddo had fries. We were full and happy and took a taxi home. Kiddo fell asleep in the Ergo and we thought she was done for the day, but she woke up at 9:30 with spades of energy and we were not so happy anymore. But it was fine, we watched more Chip and Dale and were only up until 1:30am with her :/ That is what you get when a two year old doesn’t get outside much and takes a 2.5 hour nap at 7pm!

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One of the best burgers I have tasted – at Center 4 Burgers in Takayama.

 The next day we went out on the town. We bought some toys, saw some cute streets, and went back to Center 4 Burgers for lunch because we are LAME! It was amazing, again. I got a cheeseburger and a chocolate shake, and Kiddo ate half of Hubby´s Hida beef burger.

We went back to the hotel for some post large meal R&R and Kiddo got to play with her new toys with Dada. We ate ramen in the hotel pub that night and Kiddo annoyed the servers by playing under the tables. Sorry, lady, but we don´t care if she gets a little dirty, we just want to eat our noodles while they are warm!

I was ready to go to sleep at 9:30 but no one else was. Finally we crashed and it was time again for big city life!

Nagoya and the Meiji Mura Museum

We went to Nagoya because…why did we go to Nagoya again? 

Oh yeah, it was a nonstop trip on the Shinkansen and Hubby had found out that they have a museum of old relocated buildings from the Meiji period. That means that they have disassembled, moved, and reassembled dozens of buildings from all over Japan in the hills outside Nagoya. Let me tell you, it was a sight to behold!

When I checked the weather for Nagoya, it said, “sun!” so I was excited. We would roll into Nagoya and then head off for the museum – the Meiji Mura museum. Kiddo would run around. We would eat some fun food, and then we would come home and hang out in the Richmond Hotel, which we loved when we were in Nagasaki.

Unfortunately, I had accidently checked the weather for another town/the weather forecast was very wrong, and it was a miserable day. We took a taxi to the hotel from the train station, got all our crap out of the car and into the lobby, and were informed by an unapologetic staff member that the check in time was not for an hour. Ok, fine, we anyway needed to go to the museum, so, could she please tell us where it was? Oh yes, just an hour away by subway and train and bus. Say, what!?

We hemmed and hawed for a minute, maybe we should just hang out in the room. Naw, we came to Nagoya to see this dang museum, we could make it there, even if it involved navigating a lot of Japanese in the rain. Which it did. We ended up taking a taxi back to the station to start with, because we didn’t want to waste more time. It was already 1:15, and the museum closed at 5pm. The train we had to take next was a private line, so we had to pay extra and couldn’t use our Japan Rail Passes. No worries. We paid our money and got directed towards the right track, although nothing was in English so we asked a couple of people to be sure. The train ride was pretty long – about a half hour. Then we got out, asked another lady, and she told us the bus left in 3 minutes to Meiji Mura. Even though I hadn´t eaten lunch and was hoping to pick something up at the station, we ran for the bus and caught it. Nothing was in English there, either, but we just watched what other people did and did the same and were fine. The bus took a little over 20 minutes, winding us up into the hills far away from town.

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Yes, the disassembled and then reassembled this entire building outside of Nagoya! The Frank Lloyd Wright Imperial Hotel lobby. Crazy!

When we got to Meiji Mura, it was maybe 2:30pm. We realized we had forgotten to bring my or Kiddo´s rain jacket in the hurry to drop our bags at the hotel. But we had taken the umbrellas. We bought our tickets, not realizing they had English guides, which would have been really helpful because almost nothing was in English in the buildings themselves. We saw some really neat stuff, including an old train car that Emperor Meiji used to ride in, a house they moved from Seattle, Washington, a house they moved from Hilo, Hawaii (both places we have been on this trip!), an entire bridge they moved from somewhere, and the lobby of the Imperial Hotel, a Frank Lloyd Wright designed building. (We also stayed in the new Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, so we thought it was especially cool.)

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I can´t remember what this weird sandwich was called, maybe a Tamasen? 

I ate some weird food – a sandwich with a fried egg, mayonnaise, pickled ginger, and some barbeque sauce on a crispy rice cracker. Kiddo woke up when a loud cat was begging for said sandwich. We didn’t want her to run around because she didn’t have her jacket and it was raining, so I had to carry her, which made me a little grumpy, when combined with the rain. Also, it was quite cold. Finally, we decided that we had had a good impression of the Meiji period from the buildings, and since there was only one paragraph in English at each building, we couldn’t be bothered to walk to every single building, and we headed back. We got on the bus that they have, thinking we would get shuttled quickly back to the entrance to the museum where we could take the city bus, but it was a tour bus! It went suuuuper slowly, with loud Japanese narration of everything we had just seen. But hey, we were sitting and we were dry. We couldn’t complain.

We slowly made our way back to the station (Kiddo fell asleep for a second nap on the train, and we were too tired to try to wake her), and even though we were knackered, we decided we should eat dinner then and there otherwise we would end up eating cup noodles from the 7-11 because we would be completely unmotivated to leave the hotel again. You can say a lot of things about us, but we do  learn from experience! So, we ate tonkatsu on the 9th floor of the shopping mall attached to the train station, took a cab back to the hotel, and spent a lot of time trying to get Kiddo to sleep. The hotel had misunderstood us and thought we ordered a crib, so they had installed one in the room. Kiddo really really wanted to sleep in her “own bed”, and tried for maybe up to an hour, but she just couldn’t in the end. She climbed in the crib first thing in the morning though, for a little “own bed” cuddle with her “own blanket”.

Then we were off to the Japanese mountains for a little R&R before it was back to Tokyo!

It´s almost over

We are in the last stretch, my friends!

I can´t believe how many cool things we have done on this trip. I swore I did not want to count down until we went home. I didn’t want to spend the last weeks “winding down”. I wanted to go, go, go and then – WHAM – be back in Oslo.

But I think the human brain doesn’t work like that.

It likes to process.

Plus, some personal stuff has been going on that I don´t think I will share, but it has given me a little push towards craving desperately the comforts of home. Shopping at the local grocer´s, taking our dog to the park now that Kiddo is older and might not run away from me, while the dog runs in the opposite direction, seeing my friends, waking up in my own bed and not having to go out and face crowds and do anything… I know this is a really romantic version of being home. The reality is different. There are meals to be cooked (not breakfast in the lobby and a noodle shop down the street). There is laundry to be done, folded, and put away (not one load every week because we all wear the same thing a lot, or fancy hotel laundry a couple of times, which was amazing!). There is shopping to be done (toilet paper doesn’t just pop onto the rolls). There is vacuuming to be done (The maids don’t come and hoover up my toddler´s crumbs in Oslo!). There are a bunch of other things but those are the main ones. But still, home is nice.

Hubby and I have just decided to come home two days early. That means tomorrow is our last full day in Tokyo. It is our last full day of a 5 month trip! I can’t believe it is over, but in a way, I can, because we have done so much stuff! We did almost all the stuff we had hoped to do. It helped that we didn’t have specific plans to see such and such museum and go to one particular restaurant (and when we did, we either totally did it, or found out we weren’t able to and it wasn’t the end of the world). Our plans were loose. There was lots of “go to the beach” and “see New Zealand” and “taste wine” sort of general stuff, and we did it all! Except for see the tuna auction at the Tsukiji market in Tokyo. Technically, we still could, but that is Hubby´s call. I don´t have any desire to wake up at 4am to do that, so he is on his own 😉

I will do more in depth reflections over the whole trip – favorites, least favorites, best memories, most unexpected finds – when we are safe and sound back in Oslo, and I have gone for a run in the park and had a scone from the bakery and have started to miss all the things from the trip.

For now, I will try to enjoy the last 48 hours or so that we have on the road!

Shitty Plaza Hotel – Osaka

It was time for another big city: Osaka!

We arrived in Osaka after an easy train ride, and then proceeded to spend an hour and a half in the train station. Maybe it was less, but it sure felt like that long. First, we had to get the next train reservation for when we leave Osaka. We always want to know which train we will be taking so we minimize time in the stations before we travel. The first ticket office was really busy, so we went to find another one. We walked from exit to exit, trying to find one with fewer people. Finally, we gave up and just waited in one of the lines. Then, we needed to find a post office so we could use an ATM that actually works with our foreign cards (note: Everyone uses cash here. It is kind of nice because it is easier to keep track of how much you are spending). Hubby parked us in front of a (really cool, amazing, fantastic!) fountain with all the luggage while he went off to go find it. He was gone for 22 minutes. I know this because the fountain had a clock function on it. We arrived at 17:45 and we left at 18:07. Sheesh! But, we had money, we had tickets, and we knew where we were going.

Next, we were off to the taxi stand, for which we had to walk halfway back around the station. We got in and told the driver “City Plaza Osaka”. “Huh?” We repeated it. Twice. “Oh! Hai! Shitty Plaza! Honmachi!” Apparently the only way to get someone Japanese speaking (of the taxi driver variety – our only empirical test subject) to understand where our hotel was, was through pronouncing it “shitty plaza”. This made our day. How hilarious is that?

 

We got to the hotel and needed to go out and get dinner. We decided to go to a big shopping area around Nanba, which had an electronics store where we could buy something to connect our computers to the LAN network in the room so we could get internet. We had some trip planning to do. I was starving all of the sudden, so after the electronic store we went into the first restaurant with udon on the pictures. MISTAKE! NEVER CHOOSE THE FIRST RESTAURANT!

They served cold udon with a fishy brown sauce for dipping. It was really unpalatable, and when I first tried it I made a face, which Hubby didn’t like. (I make horrible faces when I don’t like things, and I am trying to be a better role model for Kiddo.) So I put my big girl pants on and ate the noodles. When I was about 20 bites in, Hubby said, “Let´s go somewhere else, life is too short to eat bad food.” But I dug my heels in. I would eat enough to get full. I didn’t want to waste. I finished about half the bowl, but between Kiddo´s antics, and the cooling lukewarm brown sauce, I just couldn’t get any more down. So we left, and went looking for some dessert. We found some, alright!

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“Famiry pack” of 6 custard filled pastries. Calorie bomb, but worth it!

We got a “Famiry pack” of 6 custard filled buns. Basically they were just a custard delivery system. I ate THREE and then wanted to die. Hubby ate two, and also wanted to die. The sixth, luckily, was sweet potato flavored, and neither of us dared to eat it. If I gain a kilo upon my return, I will blame at least half of it on those 3 custard bombs.

The next morning the plan was: aquarium. After a failed plan to sleep in and thwart the hours of the free breakfast, we were grumpy and stuffed leaving the hotel at 10:30am. It was really easy to get to the aquarium by metro, but it did take us about 20 minutes walking around the station at our end to find where we could buy the special deal metro pass/aquarium tickets that we read about.

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Spider crabs at the Osaka Aquarium.

When we got to the aquarium, we were confronted with what must have been hundreds of other families with kids, checking it out. No seriously. That place was JAMMED. Also, I had to pee, and they had no toilets at the entrance. Who does that? So I had to wait, and then I saw an opportunity to sprint the 145m (it was marked on the wall) to the closest restrooms while Kiddo was happily watching the sea otters with Hubby. It took me ages to get there and back because there was nowhere to walk. Kiddo was a bit clingy, but we had some good moments and saw some pretty cool sea life there.

The aquarium is famous for its fancy building, the layout, and the crazy wide collection of sea life. When you come in, you go up a frightfully tall escalator up to the top of the building, and proceed slowly downwards, winding around a series of multistory tanks for sharks, penguins, sea lions, and fish. On the top, you see the seals hopping around on the rocks, while down below you see them gliding under the water. It is pretty cool. The sad part is how little space some of the animals have, especially the penguins and dolphins. About 2/3 of the way through, Kiddo announced she was hungry, which she never does, so we hurried out to find her some food. We got some udon, and she ate a few noodles before passing out in the Ergo. We went home, put her down, worked on the blog (me), napped (Kiddo & Hubby), and faffed away the rest of the afternoon.

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These guys are so artful in their cooking of takoyaki – fried octopus fritters. Mmm!

For dinner, we went out to Dotonburi, another part of the pedestrian area we checked out the night before. It was insanely crowded. We got some takoyaki (fried octopus fritters) that I liked by Hubby didn’t. Later, Kiddo wanted to get down and walk around and then we had a problem, because we had just entered the bridge where apparently young people go to hit on one another, and it was jam packed with young people holding cigarettes down by their sides – exactly at Kiddo´s eye level. She didn’t want to be picked up though! So, we hurried back to the other pedestrian area, found an udon shop that we had scoped out the night before, had a tasty bowl of noodles, while Kiddo made a huge mess and we tried to tag team to minimize it, before heading to McDonald´s to get her some fries. (Judge away, it’s fine, you are not the one living with Kiddo when she refuses to eat anything. 😉 She just will go hungry rather than eat food she doesn’t like. FRUSTRATING!)

Then we headed back to the hotel, in a taxi, partly just so we could tell the driver “Shitty Plaza, please!”