There was a small confusion with our rooms when we checked into the hotel in Kyoto, I didn’t pay for the hotel breakfast, and dad accidentally booked for one person in a smoking room. Mum and dad ended up with a nice non-smoking room, and I was quite happy to get breakfast from 7-Eleven, there were three convenience stores within a convenient walk.
There were two day trips we planned to do from Tokyo while we were there. One to see Mt Fuji (but not go to Mt Fuji) and one to the north to Nikko National park. We thought that we should be able to do the Mt Fuji trip ourselves on the trains, but the Nikko one would have been a little more complicated, and decided to get a guided coach tour for that. The tour group did hotel pickups from Shinjuku, but not ours. I’m not surprised I wouldn’t want to try and get a coach through the tiny street it was on. I rang them up to confirm the pickup location at Shinjuku Station, the hotel phones didn’t dial external numbers so I used Hangouts on my phone.
Before I had even gotten through immigration I managed to pick up SIM card with unlimited* data and was back online. I grabbed my bag from the carousel and headed towards the train. There is a customer service centre just after customs with a big sign that says “There are more places to buy your ticket, including the destination station.” or something like that. I bought a ticket anyway and head to the platform. Exiting the customs area and into the arrivals hall they have giant TV screens showing the other exits passengers can come out, just in case people waiting for you are at the wrong one they can see you.
Our second day in Switzerland started quite early. We had booked on the train to travel to Jungfrau the highest train station in Europe, up in the alps. The tickets we bought meant we had to head up early in the morning, and head back well before the last train. We drove the car down to Interlaken Ost station and got there way too early. The platforms weren’t open yet. There were a few other people in the car park getting their gear together, climbing harnesses, ropes, toe clips. I had my camera bag with all my lenses, a couple of lenses, and a jumper.
Today was going to be one of our longer days in the car. We were travelling down to Luxembourg City, and to get there we would travel through at least 3 other countries. We set off after a quick breakfast in the hotel back the way we had driven into Holland. At least the highways are wide, and there wasn’t too much traffic. Dad drove us out of Amsterdam before we had a quick break at a road side services, complete with electric car charging station.
We filled up on buffet breakfast in the hotel before catching a taxi into town. We wanted to get to the museums early before all the crowds came. Booking the tickets online was good move, it meant we could skip most of the queues.
In the morning Dad and I left the hotel to collect the rental car from the central station. Gare du Midi is much larger than Gare du Nord, where we had been taking trains from. There were a lot of shops and places to eat. We found all of the car rental places together and commenced negotiations.
On our last day dad wanted to go see the old town square, he had missed it at his conference when mum and I saw it on the first day, so we took a train out to an original gate tower from the old town. There was a small park with some grass and a couple of benches. There wasn’t much of the old wall left, just the tower. We caught a train back to the city and walked into the city square.
There were a few more places for us to visit in Brussels in our last two days. The first was the Atomium. A huge thing built in 19 something something for the something something. It was built in 1958 for Expo 58, the Brussels World’s Fair. Why don’t we have World’s Fairs anymore as an excuse to build big things? Not that Australia needs an excuse to build more big things, we love a good big thing, but they aren’t in the same scale as an Eiffel Tower or the Royal Exhibition Building.
We decided to go to Bruges on Wednesday looking at the weather for the rest of the week. It was supposed to be sunny and 28, but rain later in the week. After a successful trip on the train the day before we set off again for Gare du Nord to get another train, this time in the opposite direction to Bruges. We sprung for 1st class tickets again, noting the insane number of campers and travellers the day before. Turns out the previous day was a public holiday, while there were still a lot of people on the train the tickets were about 3 times the price!