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Sense awakening in Sapporo

I arrived in Sapporo completely exhausted. Having left the house at 9:30 am on March 28th, I arrived at the guesthouse at 8:30 pm March 29th. (Which would equate to 7:30 am EST… Almost 24 hours ) Despite my complete exhaustion, all the staff at the train stations, the wonderful taxi driver (who gave me Japanese and baseball lessons, we even discussed the tv show “why did you come to Japan”) and Coffee-Master-san, the amazingly kind and understanding man at the guesthouse. As far as I understand, may he correct me if I am wrong, he runs and owns the Yasube Guesthouse. This place has amazingly rich and wonderfully fresh coffee. His latte art makes it hard to drink. He explained everything to me and was very kind when I did not quite fully understand. The point at which he was explaining the rules and everything I had only slept about 7 hours in the last 48 hour period.

I was able to shower before heading to sleep and it was the most wondrous shower despite being a bit tight. He had a happy bottle of shampoo with caricature drawn on the bottle and all. Post shower I went up to bed and hadn’t realized until I climbed the ladder to my bunk, how fluffy and amazing the blanket was. I did not take a picture, however, the room was separated into 2 areas, each of which had 4 bunks. There were exposed beams that really made the room cozy and rustic. Despite almost giving myself a concussion a couple times, when I sat in bed, catching up with everyone and quickly letting everyone know that I was safe and sound, I felt very safe and at home. I wish even now I had a few more days staying there in that room.

My first morning I peaked into the main room and saw that there was no one and decided on heading out for a walk before breakfast. Coffee-Master-san came out as I was leaving and invited me to eat and have something before I go. I did not wish to get in his way as he opened up in the morning and instead thanked him, advising that I would be back in a little bit. I thought I would be able to find my way around and nearly got lost a couple times. Being gone for about 45 minutes, I found my way back and the morning was cool and fresh. It was just lovely.

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Side street by the guesthouse, the walk begins

Upon returning I changed the contents of my bag and headed downstairs for breakfast. As recommended, I had Coffee-Master-san’s latte and it was definitely the right choice. It was a lovely rich flavour of coffee and just enough milk to add and not wash away the beautiful crema of the coffee. His latte art had little hearts with a leaf and was so pretty, almost too much so to drink. However, the smell quietly warmed and whet the appetite, leaving me little choice but to taste the friendly latte. In it’s delicate little black coffee cup, it seemed to beckon me and with the first sip, I could feel all cares washing away. At this point I knew I had to eat, and he offered some bread and a selection of jams to have for breakfast. Of course, being that it was there, I went with the Yuzu marmalade. The roasted warmth and creaminess of the coffee paired with the fresh brightness of the marmalade were made for the morning. The friendly cafe with it’s little tables was such a warm and welcoming spot.

I met a nice girl who was working in Japan and travelling to Sapporo now for the 2nd or 3rd time and we exchanged information and recommendations for travel. It was her last day and she got up to get ready as I left for the exploration of the day. I received advice and a map and was on my way. This time in the right direction. Turns out I went the wrong way as I had North and South mixed up. Zigzagging through the shopping district downtown, making my way to get a dictionary, picking up little things that I needed, and finally just looking around at all the different places and things. One of my stops was despite myself, it was my sweet tooth calling out for satisfaction, was Starbucks. I ordered a grande (really should have gone with a tall) half sweet honey apricot frappucino. Wow, this is something that we really need back home. It was sweet but really good. After finishing this, I felt guilty and started yet walking around for relief.

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Safe guards for construction

I walked from there to the Daiso which lived up to all expectations. There are so many items that we sorely need back home to make life easier and so many adorable things that I wish I could buy if I didn’t have to carry everything around with me. Oh yeah! I ended up at a stationary store and picked up some surprises which I will not yet post photos of as I want to send them to people. Was amazing. I cannot recall the name of the store but I picked up a couple pens and stickers for myself and for the smashbook that Agent SK gave me. I hope just that I can find some cute postcards in Osaka and Kyoto to send out.

Once the shopping was done, I walked through the shopping area and up to the botanical gardens. There was a little disappointment as by the time that I arrived, there was only 1 hour left for it to be open and there was no one to explain how to get in and so on. I really hoped to be able to get into the green house but sadly, not this time. I tried to find a way to walk to Shiroi Koibito Park after this but having gotten lost, I decided to find my way to the subway and go about it that way.

I arrived at the park and it was lightly raining, a very fine Irish mist really, and I somehow found my way in. It was such a cute little park and I can only imagine the gardens in the summer when the roses and other flowers bloom. With cast iron chairs and tables everywhere, play houses for children, a cute little greenhouse for photos and very pretty water fountains. The museum was very nice and the cafe was good as well. I had the cake set, with chocolate sauce and coffee. Thinking back now I should have perhaps had the hot chocolate. I would love to go back again, but it would be so much more fun with children or someone to share it with. It was such a cozy place but for some reason, I couldn’t help but feel a little lonely. Everyone was paired or with family and I longed for that company as well.

On my way back to the guesthouse, I stopped for a quick bite to eat and had a wonderfully balanced kaisen don. I am not really sure what was in it other than crab and scallops but it was a wonderful mix of flavours. I paired it with an Asahi beer and water, seeing as I had walked all day without water. I walked back to the guesthouse and was supposed to do a coffee roasting lesson but fell asleep after my shower. I really wanted to be social and say hello to everyone but I was definitely still very tired. I tied up my hair and was about to go downstairs but instead rolled up like a burrito in the fluffy blanket and almost immediately fell asleep.

Over the past few months, I have worked, stressed about work and life balance without truly realizing the toll it has taken. Last night, I felt it for sure!

This morning I awoke but was still very tired and made my way downstairs. Coffee was being made and I met a new friend Keybow. We talked about Okinawa and Canada as he is also planning a trip our way this summer. Can’t fault him for knowing better and going in the summer, and I hope that I will be able to help him plan his Ontario and Alberta legs of the trip. As we talked I met another 2 very nice guys who were also staying in the guesthouse. I feel bad as I do not have a conversational level of Japanese and hope that perhaps my Kyoto leg will allow me to learn a little more. After we had all chatted I went up to pack and change.

We had our roasting lesson and I really had fun! With Coffee-Master-san as my teacher , who was very patient and kind, things were explained slowly and patiently. I wish only to thank him again for the short but wonderful time I had and to thank as well, the kind stranger from Osaka who helped translate for me in the morning. May we meet again in Osaka so I can thank him for all the help. He seemed like such a bright fun man and I wish I could have had a chance to get to know him a little more.

(hold on the photos for permission from Coffee-Master-san)

After my lesson, Keybow and I went to have ebi ramen and to be honest, it was the most delicious soup I have ever had! I got the most intense shrimp flavour, miso ramen base and thick noodles. Dear…. !*&^%$@@#$@!%!! it was good…. It was strange and so much fun. I am glad I had someone to share the experience with. We walked to the wrong building at first, not realizing they have a new one. Here I was thinking to myself that it was closed. I was disappointed but knew that there was one at the New Chitose Airport. I felt worse because Keybow would not be able to eat with me. Eating with someone is much better than eating alone. So he called the shop and realized we just had to turn the corner and would see the restaurant. There was a couple who was also very confused but we all made it together. It was really interesting as it is, what I guess a regular ramen joint would be but I didn’t expect it to be so loud and there to be so much yelling. It wasn’t bad, I just was not prepared for the volume. It was fun and full of life, the guys in the back slinging ramen were fast and friendly, and the service was rhythmic. We did not wait long in line and those who were eating there were in and out, this was not a dinning place meant for a long slow dinner. I could not believe how much of it I ate and I wish I could have brought some with me! *sighs* As we finished up we continued to chat shortly and Keybow was kind enough to help me make my way to the Sapporo station to catch the express train to the airport.

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Ebisoba Ichigen – Susukino location

I’m now at the airport writing this blog post, not knowing when I will be able to actually post it but I am hoping tonight when I reach the guesthouse in Kyoto I will be able to upload the post with photos for everyone.

Have a wonderful end to your weeks and I hope you have a great weekend. 🙂

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