Canvi de vida

Friday, 15 February 2013

Bones!

Després d’una llarga absència, tenc bones notícies. 😀

Com alguns ja sabeu, aquests darrers mesos la meva vida ha donat un gir inesperat. Quan ja m’havia resignat a viure tot sol, resulta que una persona meravellosa s’ha posat enmig i ha aconseguit enamorar-me.

1. Dia primer d’abril (si tot segueix el seu curs) me’n vaig a viure amb ella. Ens mudam del seu mini-apartament a un pis pel centre de Delft, amb espai de cara al futur… i pel meu tocadiscos! 😉

Al principi ha estat dur avesar-me a conviure amb una altra persona, però ja fa setmanes que no puc viure sense ella. Perquè vos faceu una idea, fins i tot estic disposat a acceptar el seu moix com a company de pis!

Aquesta és la notícia més important, però n’hi ha d’altres.

2. Divendres (*) partim de viatge plegats per conèixer la seva familia i amics.

En tornar del viatge ens posarem a empaquetar coses i fer una triada de roba, papers i trastos que ja no serveixen. Ja me veig venir que serà un dia llarg. Per cert, cercam voluntaris per traginar xirmes, encara que sé que els de Mallorca ho teniu una mica enfora… 🙂

Avui he anat a la meva habitació per fer la maleta. He aprofitat per començar a preparar la mudança. I m’he posat nostàlgic. Quan mir al meu voltant, veig la meva vida de solter, i rellegint papers i fulletons guardats dins el calaix des de fa anys, me’n donc compte de que he canviat. Abans no gosava tirar res. I ara faig una bona neteja.

– Per omplir el tassó, primer necessites buidar-lo.

Crec que necessitava un canvi. M’ha costat donar la passa (i deixar de fer algunes coses), però ara de cada dia estic més content. 😀

Hi ha una tercera notícia (**), però haureu d’esperar una mica. No vull donar-les totes de cop.

Desitjau-nos sort a l’altre costat de l’atlàntic!

Una abraçada a tots i totes,
Xesc, Adri, Tux i Manuel

(*) Escrit dimarts dia 12 de febrer. Quan llegueu aquesta entrada, ja serem enfora del fred farà estona. O per ventura ja haurem tornat.
(**) No, de moment no esperam cap menut. Ja tendran temps de venir. 😉

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Until next time, Japan

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Dear fans,

Thanks to my patient girlfriend, who has been watching ALL 2500+ pictures during this weekend, I’ve made a selection of 500+ photos to show to friends and family, and from that I’ve uploaded a bunch to my Flickr account. Further post-processing may follow after Christmas.

Xesc next to the floating tori of Miyajima

The whole Japan trip has been a wonderful experience. I’ve met fantastic people during my trip, survived all challenges and recovered from all my little mistakes. I would love to write about all my experiences, but since I came back to Delft a lot has happened (very good things indeed), and I’ve had no time to maintain this blog. Let’s chat about my stories next time we meet with a glass of wine or a beer. 🙂

Until next time, Japan

I want to thank all of you who supported me in this adventure, especially Adri, who gave me the final “empujoncito” to book the flight.

ありがとう!

Enjoy the rest of December and see you next year!


About JR trains

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Japanese trains need a dedicated post.

What makes them different?

  • Unusually punctual.
  • They arrive to a specific spot marked on the floor.
  • People queue in order to take them.
  • There are 2 fares: line fare and seat fare.
  • There are different cars with reserved and non-reserved seats, and sometimes an extra green car (first class).

All this does not necessarily apply for local trains, which share the tracks with express trains. They are a bit more confusing, as you may have learned from previous posts.

Shinkanzen are another world. They have dedicated tracks and ticket counters. They are big and look like a plane, both on the outside and the inside. I mean, they are like a plane, but you have room for your legs and your bags! 😛

They are extremely comfortable, and you can charge your phone or laptop on them. Cool, isn’t it?

People do lots of things on trains:

  • Sleep
  • Read
  • Eat
  • Write posts

About eating, it saves time to buy a lunch box and have breakfast or lunch. I do it all the time! 😀

Writing posts is also relaxing. At the beginning I also used it to plan my next trip, but I prefer to do it with Internet access at the hotel.


Matsumoto, or how to build up patience

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Update uploaded extra pictures, but still need to edit them

Mina san,

This is the third episode of my adventures in Japan. This is no longer a mere trip, but a complete adventure full of incidents.

After resolving my camera problem at Nikko (see previous chapter), I took the Nikko line back to Itsunomiya, then several Shinkanzen and finally a local train to reach Matsumoto, one of the doors to the Japan alps.

I arrived quite late, as the train trip took around 3 hours, but fortunately the innkeeper came to pick me up at the station.

That was very kind, and necessary, as the ryokan is not really at walking distance from the center. However, it is worth to come here, and I should have booked an extra night. Staff is really kind and helpful (they lend me a power adapter), and I got a real Japanese room with tatami, complete tea set for the 3 of us, big bath and bikes free to visit the city or the nearby onsen. Wonderful!

After recoverinvg from the trip (ofuro and cup of tea), and immediately realizing that I should spend more time here, I decided to go for dinner. First I walked, but “rectificar es de sabios”. The only con of this ryokan is that is far away from the center, so use the bikes! 😛

BTW, riding on the left was a whole experience! And riding on an old bike a plus! Hopefully it was one of the best they had.

After walking around, I decided to enter the Izayaka Bun, one of the recommended. I ordered Kirin stout, rice with micro sardines (aqui lo de “pezqueñines, no” no ho entenen), okonomiyaki, and for the second round, eggplant with cod’s roe and chicken with vinegar. Delicious.

Then I went back, and as usual, I got lost. Hopefully I had a map to find my way back, but I thought I was too far and turned back when I shouldn’t. Ains… I’ll never learn.

Anyway, I arrived safe at 23:00. But still unsure about what to do next day. When I asked for information about the alpine route at the station, they told me that Murodo road to Tateyama was closed, making inviable my trip.

Another option was to go to Kamikochi, but it will also be impossible to get back to Takaoka on time.

So I could still visit Matsumoto wonderful castle and walk around sightseeing.

That is what I have done this morning, even though I woke up early (6:30), still nervous and wanting to go to the alps. During breakfast, the daughter of the innkeeper has told me to forget about the alps. Weather is too bad to go there, and there are no nice views. I should go in september.

I could still try Kamikochi, but going from Takayama is longer. Ains… We have to come back.

That said, I checked out and she brought to the station. The visit to the castle was worth the walk, but I didn’t listen to her advice of checking train timetable before going, and I found myself in despair waiting for the 12:10 train.

Worse is yet to come. While the local train trip to Nagano was awesome, the second local train to Naoetsu started to despair me, but yet worse was to come. Instead of the 15:25 express train to Takaoka, I took the 15:18 local to Nagaoka (oppositr direction). Something was wrong, but I couldn’t tell until I saw the Japan sea at my left, when it should be at right.

I had previously asked a lady, so I thought I had only taken a local instead of express.

I’ve corrected my mistake, and I’m headed to Takaoka, but I wonder what else can happen. Time is now 17:03. I should already be eating dinner!

Lessons:

  • ask for timetable always
  • double check train track and time
  • do not ask old ladies
  • eat properly!

Tomorrow I’ll tell you more about Takaoka. Let’s sleep an hour. 😉


Nikko and The Incident

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Hi folks!

Just a little update. I will write in Catalan to speed it up. Japanese keyboard doesn’t help much.

Dimarts va esser un dia gris. Per comencar va ploure. I me vaig perdre un parell de vegades, i llavors va resultar que vaig passejar el karategi per res, perque la JKA és molt elitista i nomes accepta membres.

Update: several days later, I’ve been able to find an “almost” proper PC to blog. However, pictures are not yet available, as I can’t read my SD cards. Sorry for that. 😦

After a greyish day in Tokyo, I enjoyed a wonderful sunny day in Nikko, the essence of Japan:

Nikko is Nippon

However, an incident ocurred which needs to be mentioned. When I arrived at the Nikko Turtle Inn, my first Japanese accomodation, I was so excited filling in the check-in form, that I removed my backpack and camera bag without correctly checking if the camera was secure.

Imagine what happened.

Yes, my lovely cuchi cuchi little toy fell on the ground. I picked it up and continued registering, but when I went to the waiting area, I discovered that the bayonet lens hood had been incrustated in the lens, blocking the zoom.

I was in great despair, and tried rotating it to remove the bayonet, but I made things worse, as now the bayonet was blocking a corner of the lense. In fact, I thought the lens was damaged.

I asked the innkeper a place to repair, and they indicated me a shop downtown. I decided to go later and first visit Nikko’s temples and shrines.

I went up, and up, and up, and at a certain moment I was wondering if I had taken the correct route. Sights were beautiful, but looking at the map I should already have seen som temple. Some kind Japanese, told me I was near (name shrine). Some steep stairs took me to a wonderful and quiet place, and then I discovered the way down, down, down.

Aja! So here is where all the tourists were. I was thankful I had been able to visit a peaceful place before. Here it was crowded! 😀

Japanese devotion is interesting. They write wishes on pieces of paper (200 yen each), and hang them in trees, or special wood constructions. They also have fountains, and they throw coins inside the temples.

Atmosphear is breathtaking. I took lots of pictures, and I even hanged my wish.

When I was descending to town, I met a young couple from Vitoria (Spain), who were completing their trip around the world. They had arrived to Osaka from Shanghai, and were leaving to Tokyo. We had a nice conversation in Spanish, and they gave me some tips about cheap accomodations.

After getting lost several times, I found the camera shop, but it was small and could not repair it. Tokyo, they said.

I felt a bit sad. And hungry! So I looked for a restaurant. Difficult, but I found a cheap place where they made huge bowls of noodles. I ordered miso noodles and a regular pint of beer. Yummy! 😀

Then I walked up again, hating myself for not taking the bus (and for breaking the camera too, of course).

Anyway, when I arrived at the inn, first thing I did was take a bath, called ofuro in jp.

Oh, that healed my spirit! Breakfast next morning was also relaxing. I took western breakfast, but with jp style. Peaceful music and relaxed.

After that I checked out and went to see the Bakejizo, stone figures, and played with my camera effects. Nature is also much worth the visit. Then I wished I had more time, because I discovered a 4-hours hiking trail up there. Next time we’ll do it. I can assure the sights must be fantastic! 😉

I enjoyed the way back, and then I went to the police to ask them if there was a shop where I could find tools to remove the bayonet. As you can imagine, I could not sleep trying to figure out a way to solve the incident. It ocurred to me that I could use a saw to slowly remove the f*** bayonet.

The visit to the koban (police station) was hilarious. Their english was practically inexistent (as well as my Japanese), but yet we found a way to communicate (by waving my hands and showing them my broken camera). I borrowed some tools to break the bayonet, and then tape to fix it again. Sugoi desu ne!

I hope you didn’t think I will be defeated so easily, did you? 😛

So Nikko episode finished well, and I learned some stuff:

  • Be always careful with the camera, and close the bag immediately.
  • Use buses when possible, reserve energy for later.

After 3 days in Japan, I’ve noticed that my spirit (estat d’anima) changes a lot. During the day I’m happy and excited sightseeing, and when I arrive at the hotels I’m exhausted and feel lonely. I need to share what’s happening to me. I miss my family and friends, and sometimes I regret I’m doing this trip alone. The more the merrier!

However, I think it is a good experience, that needs to be done alone to perfect ny character. Let’s see what I will learn today on my way to Matsumoto.

BTW, did you know that all packed food has its kcal on it? That way is easy to know how many calories do you eat. Let’s see… 540kcal d’uns fideus, i encara me queden 230kcal d’un sandwich i 531 de no se que mes. Ah, i el suc de taronja, 123kcal. In total, more than 1400kcal. Ok for lunch, but I still need more to reach my daily minimum 2500kcal. :D~

That’s all from my trip to Nikko. Stay tuned for the next episode: Matsumoto, or how to build up patience

PS: Of course, photos will be available at Flickr as soon as I can extract them from my camera (yep, I should have taken a cable with me… sorry for that). 😉


First day at Tokyo

Monday, 5 November 2012

I’m safe! 🙂

The whole journey has been an adventure, starting by the flight. I had to check in my bag for 1kg extra baggage (I took 11kg) but it was ok. I flew for the first time in one of those big planes. Not a jumbo, but from AMS to LHR with a Boeing 767 and then to NRT with a 777. It’s amazing the space they have, and I especially enjoyed the beds of the first class. I want one of those next time! 😛

Boeing 777-300 to NRT

The trip started very well, and the plane has lots of movies to see, music, and an interactive map of the world. However, at a certain time the only thing I wanted was to sleep, but I couldn’t. I kept closing my eyes, but sleep woudln’t come, so right now I’m really tired. 😦

Once in the airport, I had to clear immigration and customs, without knowing the exact address where I was staying:

– Well… I’ll stay at a friend’s appartment, but he only thing I know is his phone number.
– No, I don’t know my flight number back either…

As I said, I could have prepared this trip better. Ejem… Cash withdrawal was also not working at first, but I finally managed. Phew… Obtaing my ordinary 21 days Japan Rail Pass was jsut a matter of time, and at 12:19 I took the Narita Express (N’EX) to Tokyo.

There I dozed several times, but I woke up in time to land on the mega Tokyo train station, which has been recently renovated. There were plenty of shops and plenty of people.

Selling Bento at Tokyo station

I made a stop at an Italian restaurant (managed by Jpanase, and ordered a menu. Everything went smoothly, thanks to the cooperation of the waitress. That said, a beer is quite more expensive than in Delft (menu was 12 and beer 6), but it was worth its money. Overall happy! 😀

– “Panxa plena, Xesc content!”

Buildings aroung Tokyo station

Then I ventured into the Imperial Palace gardens, and I made my first contact talking to a Japanese man that wanted me to take his photograph, and then one with me and my penguin and Krtek. He was from Kyu Shu and was visiting Tokyo. Nice! 😉

Nijubashi Bridge

Then I started to feel tired (and hating myself for taking that Gi with me) and walked down to Hibiya Park and then to Ginza, looking for the main Tourist Information Center (TIC), but they just moved it in January to another place, so it was wrong on my outdated map. I found the Ginza Information Center instead, and a lovely madam printed several Tokyo walks and had a nice conversation with me, but still in English.

– You’re a tough traveller, going alone.

Then I walked back to Yurakucho station and took the Yamamote line to Tamachi, where I’ve met Gijs. He has taken me to a Izakaya for dinner, a kind of tavern where your order dishes until you’re satisfied. Yummy! 😀

Tokyo waters

Gijs had an appointment, so I just took a shower and started writing my adventures in Japan. I’m so excited! 😀

Hiyiba park

Things that called my attention:

  • Japanese are very kind and always helpful. If they see you looking at a map, they will offer you help.
  • Some wear mask on their faces. Probably because they have a cold or they don’t want to be infected by some virus.
  • There are plenty of squat toilets together with very sophisticated bidet toilets. I used one at the airport, discovering later that there were also “normal” ones.
  • Lights everywhere. Crowds everywhere. It’s crazy!
  • Oh! I also found a video crew filming a TV spot. 😀

Let’s see if I can upload some pictures as well… Yata!

Ginza

BTW, tomorrow I’ll still be in Tokyo, walking around Ueno, and I’ll buy a ticket to visit Ghibli museum later on (you need to purchase a ticket in advance and for a specific day and time – Ojo al piojo!). Maybe later I’ll visit the JKA HQ, but it depends on what are we going to do with Gijs tomorrow.

Sights from Gijs appartment

Have a nice sleep! I will! Thanks Gijs! 🙂

PS: Apologies for the wrong time. Pictures were taken in GMT+2 instead of GMT+9.
PS2: if at the end there are too many picures, Maria will be the guilty one. 😛


Getting ready for Japan

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Hi there!

I wish I had prepared this trip better than I have, but let’s not complain:

– La suerte está echada.

Tomorrow morning I’m leaving to Japan. I bought a ticket to Tokyo some months ago, and last week I ordered a 21 days JR Pass to travel by train all around Japan. That’s all I have. I don’t know yet where exactly I’ll be going, but I guess I’ll survive. I’ll defintely miss my torrente travel companions. 😦

I’m still not sure whether I should pack my karategi or not, but it makes no sense to me to go to Japan and not train Karate there, so I guess I’ll assume the 2kg overweight.

I’ve also bought a brand new D5100 DSLR camera, so I hope I can delight you with some nice pictures. I’ll be carrying both Tux and Krtek this time! 😉

I also promise to update this blog every now and then.

Thanks to everybody that has been supporting me these last weeks with your kind messages. Especially my little thing. I’ll miss you!

Talk to you soon!