Lila, 10 à 12 mois

Le 10 ème mois de Lila commence par un très joli portrait avec ses parents le jour de ses 9 mois.

Lila commence à se déplacer au début du 10ème mois d’abord en arrière, puis gentiment en se déplaçant assise avec une jambe en avant la plupart du temps. Elle préfère être assise et dès qu’on l’a couche à plat ventre elle ne manque pas de se redresser dans cette position dès que possible.

Le mois d’août se poursuit tout en douceur avec l’anniversaire de sa maman à Cully Moratel avec plain d’amis chouettes.

Plein d’autres jolis moments d’août :

Mariage de Dorothy et Lukas sur le lac de Bienne.

Lila commence la garderie mi septembre et cela n’est pas très facile de laisser ses parents. Mais elle a deux éducatrices adorables Yaime et Aurore qui s’occupent très bien d’elle et après 2-3mois, elle ne pleure plus quand son papa la laisse à la garderie.

Rencontre avec le petit Émile.

Et puis son arrière grand-mère, qu’on appelle mamie mamie et venue nous rendre visite un mois au mois de septembre octobre, ce qui fut un réel plaisir !

Il eut également les 2 ans de Joachim:

Le premier couscous (sans sel) dont s’est délecté Lila chez Annie et Jean-Paul Piller

Weekend prolongé à Vercorin avec les Merzuff au Swisspeak hotel.

D’autres chouettes moments avec mamie mamie et sa mamie.

Moment chouettes chez les Merzuffs

Autres jolies sorties.

Les pyramides de gypse

Départ en Sardaigne, Lila prend la première fois l’avion et joue durant tout le vol sans vouloir dormir. Avant de partir, nous réservons la caveau Corto Maltese pour fêter ses 1 an le mois suivant.

Première destination : magnifique villa à Torre Delle Stelle, a quelques km de Villasimius (juste après s’être fait un restaurant de sushi all inclusive 5 min avant la fermeture des cuisines).

Moments de plage / Baignade sur la côte sud est:

Petites excursions dans les terres et à Cagliari :

Après une semaine de bonheur à profiter des beaux levés et couchers de soleil de notre airbnb, des magnifiques plages a Villasimius et autres endroits, nous nous sommes dirigés vers Porto Pino au sud ouest de la Sardaigne dans un airbnb appartenant à un charmant couple en plein milieu des terres et cultures de vignes, olives et autres fruits (grenades, oranges, figues). Ce fut un plaisir d’être dans ce calme et de piquer une petite grappe de raisin par ci, par là (oubliées après les vendanges) ou une grenade que Lila a découvert et a adorées. Nous avions aussi le plaisir d’avoir non seulement un très gentil voisin de palier s’étant installé là pour travailler en télétravail pour quelques mois, mais aussi un bébé chat nommé Arturito.

Nous avons été plus chanceux en termes de restauration qu’à l’est de l’île et avons bien profité des mets à base de poisson. Les gens étaient tous adorables et nous avons également beaucoup apprécié les magnifiques plages turquoises.

Magnifique découverte de Sant’Antioco.

Au retour de notre voyage, l’automne avait bien pris sa place avec ses belles couleurs. Nous avons eu droit à notre dernière belle tomate coeur de boeuf en vraie forme de coeur ❤️.

Puis invitation des Merzuffs avec Olivier ET Anthony.

Et le dimanche 14 novembre, nous fêtames les 1 an de Lila au Caveau Corto Maltese avec la famille et plein d’amis.

Lila 4 à 6 mois

Quatrième mois

Lila a passé ses premières vacances à Zinal où elle et ses parents sont restés dormir 3 nuits chez Alex et Mimy dans un très charmant petit studio de 2 pièces reliées par un escalier en colimaçon.

Lila s’est très bien adaptée et était très heureuse d’avoir du monde autour d’elle, prenant pleinement part aux vives conversations en observant attentivement ses interlocuteurs.

Elle a eu droit à de belles ballades dans la nature avec sa maman et son papa et a même croisé ses grand-parents qui se trouvaient également à Zinal.

Pendant que son papa allait skiait avec Alex et Mimy, Lila et sa maman firent des séances de danse endiablées ensemble, se balladèrent encore dans la nature et achetèrent les apéros.

Au retour de Zinal, Lila et ses parents s’arrêtèrent chez Basile et Mélinda à Vercorin pour manger la raclette-polenta (délicieuse spécialité de Basile) avec Lila, Chléo et Henry et firent une autre jolie ballade avant de rentrer sur Pully.

D’autres événements marquants furent la fête des 1 an de Henry le 15 février (jour de ses 3 mois) qui vint chez ses parents avec Basile et Mélinda, peu avant les vacances à Zinal.

Le premier biberon accepté par Lila et donné par son papa:

De jolies balades (où Lila commence à trouver son pouce), à Préverenges et Pully avec Sush et Lenny :

Beaux moments musicaux et de rire avec ses parents :

La rencontre avec son premier chat:

La première balade à Eclepens pour voir les jonquilles :

Une chouette journée avec les 4M où Lila a piqué son premier fou-rire avec Marina et sa maman :

Travail pour René (ou était-ce René qui travaillait davantage pour divertir Lila…?)

Autres beaux moments chez ses grands-parents :

Lila dort alors plus longtemps et fait des intervalles de 3h généralement. Elle babille bien, adore intéragir avec les gens et faire des sourires enchanteurs. Elle commence à apprivoiser la poucette et à faire des tours avec ses grand-parents et son papa sans sa maman qui peut gentiment prendre du temps pour elle pour se ressourcer en allant se faire masser et recommençant peu à peu à voir des clients à côté de la maison.

Cinquième mois:

Lila rigole de plus en plus et c’est un immense bonheur. Elle cherche beaucoup les interactions et souris toujours beaucoup au plus grand bonheur des gens qui la rencontrent.

Sixième mois:

Nous fêtons les 5 mois de Lila (début du sixième mois) durant les vacances de Pâques en louant un appartement à Vercorin où nous invitons Olivier et où nous nous situons à 10 min à pied de chez Basile et Mélinda.

On passe de superbes moments, nous rencontrons Anthony le parrain d’Henry, qui cherche une colocation et qui finira par s’unir avec Olivier et deux autres personnes dans une chouette maison 2 mois plus tard.

On fait de chouettes balades et papi et Mami viennent aussi nous visiter le Jeudi midi pour passer un bon moment.

Maman et papa arrivent même à aller faire du ski en te gardant en alternance et c’est la première fois de la saison que maman skie et aussi depuis son accouchement et elle est fière d’elle.

C’est aussi à ce moment, le jour de ses 5 mois que Lila mange pour la première fois de la purée de carottes bio achetées au petit marché de Pully. L’expérience est amusante, Lila découvre la purée en léchant la cuillère d’abord et comprendra plus tard qu’il lui suffira d’ouvrir la bouche pour y insérer un peu de purée. Lila apprécie et est curieuse de connaître cette nouvelle substance qui n’a pas l’air de lui déplaire.

De retour à Lausanne le samedi, nous sommes attendus chez papi et mamie pour fêter le 2eme anniversaire de Yaëlie où sont réunis tous les nouveaux petits bébés !

Plein d’autres moments mémorables ont eu lieu dont voici quelques extraits en photos:

Lila s’endort maintenant toute seuleapres que sa maman l’ait allaitée. Elle restée généralement plusieurs minutes tranquille avec sa peluche qui fait de la musique que Yaëlie lui a passée.

Lila, 7 à 9 mois

Nous fêtons les 6 mois de Lila (début de son septième mois) durant l’Ascension dans un petit studio loué sur Booking au bord du lac de Zürich. Nous rendons visite à Claudio et Maya et faisons un très joli tour de bateau le jour de ses 6 mois.

Lila continue à donner ses adorables sourire en cadeau à tout le monde sauf lorsqu’elle est fatiguée ou intriguée.

Lorsqu’elle est énervée ou qu’elle s’ennuie, elle devient très souvent toute rouge et ceux qui ne la connaissent pas bien de méprennent croyant qu’elle pousse pour faire ses besoins. Elle ressemble selon son papi au petit hispanique dans Astérix et Obélix lorsqu’il est lui aussi mécontent.

Autres moments en photos :

Moment inoubliable aux portes des iris avec les iris en fleurs, Lila et sa maman 🌺:

Plein de beaux moments de fin de printemps dans les photos qui suivent :

Eyal et David sont venus nous rendre visites du Maroc et ont laissé de magnifiques souvenirs :

Huitième mois: peu de temps après les 8 mois de Lila, nous fîmes un très beau voyage en camping car faisant la visite des lacs du Nord de l’Italie (lac d’Orta, de Côme et de Garda) en passant par Venise pour rencontrer Stefania la marraine de Lila et en rentrant finalement par le lac d’Iseo et les Grisons (Chapella).

Bel été à la piscine de Pully

Lila 0 à 3 mois

Premier mois:

Lila sait ce qu’elle veut. Quand elle a faim elle sait bien se le faire savoir et ne manque pas de faire rire sa maman tout en la terrorisant lors de la tétée.

En effet, les premiers jours de tétée font très mal aux seins de sa maman mais cela ne fait rien, car le cadeau de l’allaitement en vaut la peine. Ce qui fait rigoler sa maman est la petite tête de Lila décidée à prendre le sein et faisant des petits bruits et mimiques semblables à un Doberman ou un Piranha tout en étant à la fois choue à croquer. Le contraste est saisissant !

Le moment de change est de plus en plus calme et sympathique. Lila est le plus souvent sereine et fait de jolis sourires à ses parents.

Lorsqu’elle pleure lors de colliques par exemple, souvent le soir, son papa sait la calmer en la faisant rebondir sur le ballon gonflable ou en la balançant de bas en haut en lui chantant des chansons de beat box. Cela fait bien rire sa maman et Lila semble beaucoup aimer cela, regardant son papa d’un air souvent contemplatif et concentré.

Depuis le premier jour de vie, Lila fait des sourires à ses parents qui deviennent de plus en plus fréquent et intentionnels au fure et à mesure du temps. Cela les attendrit énormément. Ses mimiques de tout types les font aussi fondre d’amour et aussi très souvent éclater de rire.

Le bain donné tous les dimanches dans la cuisine est un moment agréable que Lila aime beaucoup comme ses parents d’ailleurs. C’est très amusant de voir Lila découvrir ces sensations d’eau et de chaleur et la voir apprécier cela.

Chaque jour, Lila prend un peu l’air avec sa maman et avec son papa. Elle aime beaucoup le portage qui la calme bien et permet de jolies ballades au bord du lac, dans le Lavaux ou en forêt.

Deuxième mois:

Lila a un magnifique regard et sourire. Son papa et sa maman en sont fous!

Elle est facile en société et fait des sourires à qui veut surtout après avoir mangé.

Elle continue chaque jours de faire des balades avec sa maman en portage.

Troisième mois:

Lila adore faire des sourires ce qui illumine tout le monde autour d’elle, surtout ses parents.

Elle commence à être de plus en plus réveillée durant les promenades en portage et à observer la nature autour d’elle.

Ses parents aiment chanter et danser avec elle et elle aime beaucoup jouer avec ses jouets surtout musicaux.

Elle adore être en société et interagir par exemple avec sa cousine Yaëlie qui aime beaucoup partager ses jouets avec elle.

Elle commence à avoir une heure de couché de situant entre 19h-20h et se réveille environ toutes les 3-4h pour manger.

Sa personnalité se dessine peu à peu et elle sait bien faire comprendre quand elle s’ennuie ou qu’elle n’est pas d’accord qu’on la pose pour s’en aller ailleurs.

Lors du coucher, elle comprend qu’on va gentiment la laisser et fait sa petite bouille triste, alternant avec des sourires, ce qui l’a rend d’autant plus choue et irrésistible.

Le soir des 35 ans de son papa, elle a tenu fermement à rester réveillée malgré tous les efforts de ses parents à essayer de la faire dormir, à raison car ce fut un moment spécial pour tout les 3.

Le jour de ses 3 mois, on sent que Lila fait un bon psychomoteur. Elle est plus éveillée, commencé à prendre les objets et ne pleure plus autant à cause de coliques. Il est plus facile pour elle de s’occuper seule tout en ayant ses parents à proximité bien sûr.

Japan – Part 3 (Hiroshima – Tokyo)

11th day:

I was super excited to arrive in Tokyo from Naoshima island as I had insisted to go in this region (Alex wasn’t really keen for it as beginning of July there had been huge floods and lots of people dead in this region). But the region doesn’t necessarily mean the city itself and we were very happy to discover what this town of difficult history had to offer…

Right after arriving, we went to eat the spetiality of Hiroshima at the Hassei restaurant : the Okonomiyaki – a type of crepe filled with cabbage, omelette and all type of see food or meat with a special sweet sauce. We were in front of the chef and it was delicious and fun to see although a little bit warm next to the grill… I couldn’t finish my portion as it was a huge one…

The following day (12th day), we woke up early and headed towards the Peace Memorial Museum talking about the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs…

It was good – although painful – to discover this side of history. Learning about the facts first and then going to the other floor to learn about the victims and the after effects of this terrible weapon… Looking at the individual stories (marbles – billes in French) belonging to a young boy that had melted away during the radiations and which were kept as memory for his Mum. Or the story of Sakura who contracted leukaemia a few years later and died 10 years after the disaster (Alex bought his beautiful story).

It was a difficult but needed moment.

After this terrible story, Japan seen to have lost a little of his memory as it is using most of his energy from nuclear and has got the second most catastrophic disaster (after Tchernobyl) with the Fukushima disaster in 2011 after the big tsunami… it is apparently still reopening other nuclear reactors without really looking for other cleaner solutions – surely because of the huge lobby of petrol and nuclear industries…

We then went to visit the different monuments for the victims and left right away to Miyajima island with a boat waiting for us next to the Peace memorial (I wouldn’t recommend to take this one as it is not part of the Japan rail pass and cost around 2500 yen, but it was fun and shorter to go to the island).

Arrived on the island, we were welcomed by cute dears and then went to eat oysters which is another famous speciality of the region.

We ate at the Yakigakino-hayashi restaurant and tasted four types of oysters – raw, cooked, grilled and fried. My favourite was still the raw one but it is worth trying all different types once!

We headed then towards the beautiful and famous Tori of Miyajima which feet are submerged by water depending on the low or hide tide and took various pictures of it.

The heat was such that we decided to rest a little at a Cafe that served delicious coffee.

When we left to go take the teleferic in order to go up the mountain at 5pm, it was already closed…

So we wandered a little in the forest and went back to Hiroshima by taking the ferry and train (free with the JR pass) after trying to snake a dear with us on the ferry (she was very interested by my ice cream…).

Back in Hiroshima, we right away went to a little restaurant (the Oyster Conclave) next to the river and next to our APA hotel (which I wouldn’t necessarily recommend, but it was nicely centred) – where we ate other delicious oysters again. A Japanese business man sat next to us at some point and I was really happy to chat with him (Alex first asked me not to bother him too much) but then after the first uncomfortable contact for him little unused to talk with other people like that, he went super chatty and offered us some other oyster tempura which he said were the best of the restaurant. He gave us his business card – which is a very common and appreciated ritual in Japan – and later I sent him a nice email thanking him again for our discussion allowing us to understand a little more about Japanese culture and cuisine.

After a little onsen at the hotel, we went to sleep and woke up for a day of travel towards Hakuba to meet Alex’s friend – Simon and Geraldine.

Day 13:

After waking up and taking a nice breakfast at Star* cafe (I have to admit I feel a little guilty for enjoying going there, but I haven’t been able to get used to the salty breakfast yet), we took the Shinkansen and 4 other buses and trains towards Hakuba (next to the Japanese Alpes) where we arrived about 7 hours later.

With Google maps, there isn’t any easier way to travel as it does all your itinerary in about 5 seconds…

Arrived in Hakuba, Alex’s friends Simon and Geraldine were waiting for us with their van.

We headed directly to an Yzakaya (meaning literally a tavern) where you can drink and accompany those with lots of tapas.

It was fun to get to know each other this way. Simon ordered a Russian roulette which consists in five balls of fish or meat in which only one is stuffed with lots of wasabi or hot sauce. Well Simon got the hot ball which made everyone laugh a lot and made him have a somehow disturbed night! 😛

We got back then to Kodama lodge which is a beautiful place where Simon and Geraldine receive guests mostly during winter as just behind their lodge, there is one of the best powder (snow) you can think of on earth… The forest behind their lodge is called the Paradise Forest. We saw a few videos of ski and snowboeard and I understood why it is called it this way.

Their lodge is a beautiful place with a mix of traditional Japanese style (rooms with tatamis and futons) and European style. The space is fabulous and I can imagine how people must enjoy the after ski time in the beautiful and spacious dining and chilling rooms.

So Alex and I had a Japanese traditional room which made us very happy! We spent a very good night and woke up the following day with a delicious breakfast to get strength before the big 6 hours hike we were about to climb in the mountains a few kilometres away from the lodge.

It was the strangest walk in the mountains I’ve ever done. Japanese Alpes are just as beautiful as the Swiss mountains, but as there’s a lot of vegetation, there isn’t as much paths to climb (there was actually one only to arrive to the Karamatsudake mount which was our destination).

So here is how it went. We parked the car and walked to the teleferic where we would take 3 of them to arrive to the start of the treak. The station looked like a Swiss village. However the teleferic were a little different from what we knew in Siwtzerland as our legs were brushing past the vegetation under our feet (which meant we didn’t go high at all – which was explained by our friend Geraldine to be because of Japanese fear of height…). Very funny and interesting experience.

After having arrived at the top, we could see a line of people heading towards the top of the mountains all lining up in a very organised way.

They were all covered from top to bottom, not showing up one once of skin fearing the burns of the sun or just the darkening of the skin. It was as if we were in another world, with ourselves wearing small shirts and t-shirts (they must have as well thought that we were a little crazy)…

We walked a lot, first to a beautiful lake reflecting the mountains (about 45 min walk) and then to the the top (about 2h30).

There was a cabin at the top which could host about 1000 people. I wouldn’t want to sleep there although I know Japanese people are very respectful and clean…

We enjoyed the view and had a bite before going back down.

Walking back to the bottom, it was much less crowded and we met a few Japanese people among which 2 ladies that didn’t bear other people talking. It was very funny to see this lady’s behaviour getting crazy while trying to avoid us (when we really weren’t loud at all – at least not more than the other Japanese walking up…).

Back in Kodama, Geraldine and Simon had prepared a beautiful BBQ with all kind of things to grill and the most delicious rice salad we ever had (we learnt the rice was theirs and was cultivated a few kilometres away).

We then realised that we were the 4th of August and that this year the 4-5-6 were shooting starts nights. We saw plenty of them!

The following day (14th), we woke up a little later and after taking a nice breakfast, we headed towards the rice fields from which came the delicious rice during the BBQ.

We then went to a machine which separated the rice cover or skin from the rice itself to gather it in a bag. Super interesting process!!!

We then walked walked a few meters toward the river where we spent the following hour bathing and enjoying the fresh temperature of the river.

We then went to a beautiful lake in a National protected parc where we ate a ball made of rice paste filled with pumpkin.

We then left for a bath in a natural onsen, but it was unfortunately full of huge stinging flies as they were looking for some humidity (there had been a draught for a few days). As soon as we finished bathing we left in order not to get stung too much.

We went back to the lodge and I got a Japanese style massage while Alex went for a little run.

Alex and I then prepared delicious pasta with tomato sauce with salad on the side. We spent again a really good time together !

Day 15: after waking up by the sound of cow bells (yes there are cows there too) we woke up for our last morning with our friends enjoying the last conversations, feeling lots of emotions and most of all feeling very grateful of the privileged time spent together. Two Swiss couples barely knowing each other 3 days before and being able to share such amazing time and moments… Thank you guys for everything! Those 3 days will surely be one of the highlights of our trip.

After saying bye to our friends at Hakuba station, we took the bus to head towards Tokyo where we would spend our two last nights in Japan in the quarter of Akasaka at the Felice Hotel (nice and comfortable in a nice area).

We first went for some shopping as all museums and monuments were about to close and gathered our time in Shinjuku. I brought Alex in a maid cafe which is a place where girls are dressed with tiny skirts and are serving guys in a very kawai (cute – and sexy here) way… weird but funny. Mostly weird to watch the man in charge of the cafe at one of the corners…

Shopping wasn’t that satisfying in the end… lots of stuff… too much stuff… the highest level of consumerism that I’ve ever seen… Alex a d I got sick of it and went back in our place where we found the best sushi restaurant where I tried delicious sea urchin for the first time.

Day 16:

We woke up early to go visit the National museum where we could get a better idea of Japan history and culture. Beautiful museum.

We headed then towards the quarter of Asakusa as Alex wanted to buy a professional knife and this is the place to buy such items.

The very interesting thing was this guy calculating with this ancient calculator…

A few streets away we fell on Asakusa market which we felt very grateful to see as it was full of nice food and beautiful stuff.

We ate a delicious meal there in a peaceful restaurant with nice classical music and headed towards the museum of Emerging science and Innovation. I really wanted to get a feel of famous Japanese technology discovering android robots that gave you a kind of creepy feeling…

In General, we got the feeling that Japanese people are aware of climate change and how our single planet is starting to not be enough for all of us. Rather that focusing on making people feel responsible for how their behaviour affect the planet, they focus on what technology can be discovered and developed to counteract the problem… this is also what we felt during the trip not only in the museum even more with all the plastic bags used on tremendous amount for absolutely no reason (packing grosseres with 3-4 plastic bags).

I’d love discussing this aspect with Japanese people although it wasn’t very easy…

We went then for some food and manga shopping before trying to enter to the Miro museum which is an art and technological museum but got refused. You must take your ticket online in advance to be sure to enter the museum which we didn’t know… the whole place where we found ourselves next to both museums was a kind of artificial island with lots of references to Paris, NY and Rome (Tokyo tower seen from there that looks like the Eiffel tower, the statue of Liberty, malls where take streets and fountains were created in the Italian style). There was also a car exhibition we fell on with interesting shapes.

We got back to our hotel and had a Corean diner with meat which wasn’t so yummy…

Last day: we headed towards a big library where Alex found other good manga. We didn’t have much time to visit other places so we decided to go back our hotel and eat a last Japanese meal – sashimi on rice bowls. I realised that the best fish we had eaten was at the fish market in Tokyo (see one of the first images of Japan part 1).

We took the train after having bought a few sake bottles and headed back to the airport where our plane decided to leave a little earlier to avoid de typhoon heading right over us… It was beautiful to see it from above when we finally passed it with the plane.

We felt very grateful to have had the privilege to discover such a beautiful country so far away… Japanese people have usually no more that a week vacation and one or two nearly choked up when learning we were taking three weeks …

A big thank you to my partner in crime Alex which made this trip unforgettable ❤! Merci Mon amour!

To other beautiful trips and times together!

Japan – Part 2 (Kyoto to Naoshima)

28.07 – 08.08.18

We left the beautiful Mount Fuji region with its five surrounding beautiful lakes taking a direct bus to Tokyo (about 2h30) where we slept a bit. Arrived at the Tokyo station, we took the Shinkansen train (like the TGV, going to a speed up to 270-300 km per hour) with its long thin nose like a kingfisher slitting the air at a very fast speed (a type of biomimicry which is science imitating nature). This took us 2h45 to go from Tokyo to Kyoto (450 km) where we would spend our 3 following nights.

Before entering the train, we bought two bento (a Japanese meal set in a box) to eat in the train. Very fun!

When we arrived in Kyoto at 4pm the weather was good and we decided after having put our stuff into our hotel (the Mitsui Garden Hotel next to the Gion quarter) to go for a little visit at the Nishiki market.

We didn’t know where to look as there was so much stuff to discover and try!!!

All types of different sweets, seafood on chopsticks, macha ice creams, etc… very exhilarating!

We went for a walk then in the Gion quarter where Geisha (which are not prostitutes as western people often think) and maiko (Geisha apprentices) live and make shows. It is about 300 dollars to watch such shows and it’s offer businessmen or tourists that go see those shows. It was enough for us to see the show in a French documentary (Echappee belle) as we want to spear our money for other stuff.

We then wandered in the Maruyama park visiting lots of temples before the sunset as well as beautiful little streets.

We went back to Gion and ate at a sushi train restaurant (Shojiro Shijo restaurant) There was a big line but it was worth the wait!

Then onsen at the hotel and went for a sleep. However at 3h30 am we heard a big alarm with a robotic female voice that was warning people on the street about the typhoon with winds going up to 180 km/h. It woke us up and freaked me out a lot as I usually have recurrent dreams about tornadoes chasing me and avoiding me at the last minute.

This artificial woman voice scared me a lot and made me feel like I was in another nightmare…

The following day, (eighth day – and it seemed like 2 weeks already), we didn’t really see any sign of typhoon. Actually, it turned a little seeker fortunately and downgraded to a tropical storm… fortunately for Japan who had experienced a deadly typhoon 2 weeks before and a heat wave just after that killed lots of people…

So we woke up at 9:30 am to go visit the beautiful Nijo castle and got a little rain on the way. But after having taken a little breakfast, it was again sunny and we were able to visit the castle while taking pictures peacefully.

We ate a few sushis in a supermarket that were quite good and left for the imperial palace 20 minutes away. It ended up to be more like 45 minutes away and the visit was nothing extraordinary besides the beautiful gardens.

We then took 2 trains to go to Fushimi Inari Taisha which is a Shinto shrine from 700 AD made of hundreds of traditional red gates going up to the Inari summit.

A little touristic but it was worth the visit as we both found it really beautiful and mesmerizing to go through those gates.

We unfortunately didn’t have the time to go up the mountain (I would recommend 2 hours to do so), because we had an appointment for a tea ceremony at 5:50pm sharp (Japanese punctuality is very strict).

The ceremony was happening in the Gion quarter. We had made the reservation in the morning but I would recommend to do it the day before to be sure to get a seat (email: info@teaceremonyen.com – 2500 yen per person – 22CHF).

We were the first people to arrive which was a really good thing as we were considered this way the main guests which had the privilege to be served the tea made by the hostess, while the 8 other people were only watching.

The ceremony was beautiful, very calm and meditative. First, a man explained us all the utensils use and then an adorable woman showed us the tea ceremony. We were all very quiet looking at this beautiful moment. She then made Alex taste the tea which he also gave to me and then she started to talk to us and explain us a little more about it. We then were able to make our own tea (macha tea which are leaves that are grinded to make a green powder).

Very fun and interesting experience which allowed us to interact with Japanese people a little – as they often talk a very scarce English.

We then walked a little in Gion quarter, and to our surprise next to the Gion corner (where you can see shows with Geishas) we saw one geisha walk quickly into a restaurant. It is super rare to see them as they often rush either in a car or a restaurant but never walk on the street. Alex and I were super excited !

We went then to eat at an excellent restaurant we fell on (Gion Kappa restaurant) with grilled food which was excellent ! The lady in front of us impressed us a lot as she was very perfectionist and meticulous in addition to be the only woman working there. She also put a stick into alive fish which felt quiet weird to see… not possible to have fresher fish than that… We had a very nice Australian couple next to us which entertained us very much too.

Ninth day:

We woke up early to eat at the hotel buffet which was made of only salty food (hard for Me, but Alex love it).

We left then to Arashiyama bamboo Grove which is one hour east of Kyoto.

The town is quite touristic but cute. However the bamboo Grove much too crowded…

After having bought some nice macha tea, we went to visit the golden temple or the Kinkakuji temple. Really crowded too, but worth seeing it just to shot a picture or two.

We then met a couple of French people we had met the day before to go to Kyoto station to go to Nara see the deers (so excited by that!!!).

We ate a few sushis at the station and took the Nara line for an hour before arriving to our destination.

Having arrived there, we walked 30 minutes until we saw our first deers!!! There are all free to walk everywhere on the streets where car drive and are considered sacred (they used to kill people in 1600 if they would hurt or kill them…).

After taking a few pictures with them and laughing at the tourists giving food to the deers and getting chased by them, we went into the Todai-ji temple with its massive Buddha inside!!! Had we arrived 30 seconds later, we would have missed it…

We went back then to Kyoto after that Alex won a little stuffed dog at a game machine (first shot) and ate a few dumplings before going to sleep.

Tenth day:

We woke up a little later and after a little breakfast we left for Osaka. It was a little mistake from our part to go there as there wasn’t anything really to discover in one hour and a half (besides maybe it’s castle that we missed). Bad choices happen to in a trip and after 1h30 of wandering in the heat between the buildings, we left to the island of Naoshima which cannot be reached at any time as the last ferry is around 6pm.

We arrived on the island at around 6pm and after leaving our suitcases in the hotel, Alex went for a run and I went with a bicycle to discover the island. By chance, Alex and I met at the same time while we fell on a huge pumpkin which is the piece of art of this island.

Originally, Naoshima had nothing in particular. But since Yayoi Kusama an artist decorated this island with her pieces of art, the island became quiet famous.

Later, we took our bikes and went back to the shore where the pumpkin was. Next to it was a very good gastronomic restaurant (l’étoile de la mer) and as there wasn’t a lot of choices in the region nothing else actually) we decided treat ourself a little and enjoyed the delicious dished displayed in the menu. Great moment !

The following day (day 11), we took our bike again to visit the Bennette museum with other nice pieces of art.

We crossed then the island to visit other pieces of art and discover the area. The beaches were nice but there are apparently lots of telly fish in Japan so one needs a to be careful (I actually saw one while walking on the beach).

We then took the ferry back to the land and headed toward Hiroshima where we would spend 2 nights and visit its museums as well as the island of Miyajima.

Japon – Part 1 (Tokyo – Mount Fuji)

22/07 – 08/08/18

What better cultural shift to go immerse yourself into Japanese culture…

Here we are for a three weeks visit of Japan, full of excitement like two little children.

After a three hours stop to Abu Dhabi and 15 hours of flight, we finally arrived to Narita airport where we got our Japan rail pass that we had ordered in Switzerland a month before and a SIM card with unlimited internet. We were set!

After 1h30 train trip, we arrived in Tokyo (Shinjuku stop) and took the E metro to the APA Hotel and Resort.

We were exhausted but mostly starving. We went to the first Japanese restaurant a few meters away and ate our first Japanese dishes! Delicious!

Second day:

After having slept 11 hours and woken up at 11am, we left for Shibuya beautiful and fancy food market to have our first salty breakfast. Everything was a new discovery. We could have spent hours in there observing all the food without having a clue of what the ingredients were… you need to take your chance and try so better not to have any allergies or other restrictions :P.

I had first a good banana juice followed by a form of salmon sushi bowl with a raw egg and rice pasta with shrimps on the side. Delicious but hard to swallow salty food for breakfast…

We then headed to Shibuya famous crossing street after taking a picture of the Achiko dog statue who waited for his master at the train station every day even after his master died (watch the beautiful movie Achiko with Hugh Grant).

Shibuya street is impressive to watch as people cross the street after having waited for the cars parade to stop. It is mostly impressive to watch from the Starbucks above the street.

We then wandered the shopping streets and stopped into a photo booth to take kawaii pictures (cute in Japanese which is a concept in itself with Hello Kitty etc.).

We fell on a Uniqlo shop (which we got introduced to by a good friend in NYC) and got crazy in it (I actually did, Alex was more reasonable :P).

We then headed to the Meiji Jingu temple but got lost in the garden and just missed it as it was closing.

We decided then to wander in the Harajuku quarter with its beautiful and cute streets while drinking a bubble tea (drink with tapioca balls).

But just before we fell on a cat bar which was one of the most interesting experience we had! You pay 200 yen (1.50 CHF) every 10 minutes and 350 for tea and then you can let as much cats as you wish. You have some cats dressed in Kimono and others that are short legged, all different and cute. But they all don’t really care about you… the funny part was when they got their food at 7:30 pm, all aligned in a very disciplined way.

We left Harajuku quarter for Kabukicho (Shinjuku quarter) where we fell on a super cute street with lots of minuscule restaurants making fish and meat BBQ. We ate very good food and drank nice bear and sake.

We then wandered a little in the street of golden gai before finally going back to our hotel where we had our first onsen (hot bath where you spend time – naked – before showering yourself). Japanese people are very clean so you clean yourself each time before entering the bath otherwise people would tell you to do so.

Third day, we put our alarm at 7:30am even if we had gone to sleep at 3:30am…

We left for the fish market (Tsukiji Market) and had our breakfast there eating rice, fresh sashimi and sushi… a little weird actually for me to have this kind of breakfast even if it was very fresh and good!

Here is a lady making fresh tuna rolls with the head of the tuna she uses for her rolls below her.

Fruit seem very precious and rare… They are very expensive and are each packed in individual plastic boxe…

After having seen the inside of the fish market open to tourist from 11am to 12pm we then headed to Ginza quarter which is described as the Champ Elysee of Tokyo.

We entered a building full of electronic brands and new technological stuff such as this car and this cute little dog robot:

We then went to the floor above and after 1 hour, we left with a brand new Sony alpha 6000 camera for myself!!!

The ladies were very nice and offered me the cover to put all my new material! I was so happy and started to use it directly!

After all those emotions we were very hungry and went to eat a delicious tempura meal next door (first picture seen here taken with my camera !).

We then took the train and went to the beautiful Ueno garden which is where I actually started to really fall in love with my camera…

After all those beautiful emotions put into picture (I’m still so excited about this new mean of expression), we were again quiet hungry and went for our first Kobe beef diner (called wagyu in Japanese) which was beyond our expectations!!!

We then went back to our hotel, had another onsen and fell asleep till 9:30 (we had put our alarm at 7:45 but were unable to wake up)…

Fourth day:

We left for Kamakura, an hour away from Tokyo to visit our first temples after having put our suitcases in baggage lockers at the train station.

The first temple – Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū – was beautiful but very crowded and I didn’t feel comfortable although I enjoyed taking a few nice pictures.

We went up to visit a much quieter and smaller temple – Ennoji temple – which was a mix between Buddhist and Taoist religions.

The third temple – Kenchoji – was an amazing surprise. I had never seen such a beauty! Built about 1000 years ago, the temples were all made in wood and were surrounded by trees that were about 750 years old…. unbelievable… one could feel the deepness and the beautiful energy full of awe that was existing there.

We wanted to see the Big Buddha – Kotoku-In – but it was already closed…

We are learning that to see such religious or spiritual edifices we need to go a little earlier as those are often closed early (5-6pm).

We then left to see the sea a few minutes away, nothing spectacular with the weather we had and left to Hakone after 1h30 of train and bus (thank you Google maps for the amazingly precise itinerary that made us catch all the connections with amazing perfection – thanks to the Japanese too who are as accurate as Swiss people…).

Our first Ryokan is very cute and has a small onsen (hot bath) that is like a private one as not a lot of people seem to be staying here. A Ryokan is a traditional Japanese room with futons and a table nothing more really. Our bathroom is outside and it is common to take the bath together with other same sexe people at the onsen (all naked – bathing suit prohibited).

Very interesting experience and Alex and I are getting used to wearing kimonos and are starting to really like it !

Fifth day:

We went to visit Hakone shrine next to a beautiful lake where you can see mount Fuji when the weather is cloudless (which wasn’t the case this day). We enjoyed however the view and taking a few pictures.

We then went to a very nice cafe with lots of charm (box cafe) to read a little and ate at an Italian restaurant 20 meters away which was to our grand surprise quiet good after having tried the pizza and pasta!

The waiter who was from Maldives saw that I had a peach (a huge one – and first fruit I had bought in Japan) that I had put outside of my bag on the table. He asked me whether he could look at my peach as there were dots made by the sun which meant that it was a good quality of peach. He said had worked for years in the fruit industry in Japan and could answer all my questions regarding the curious world of fruit here. Why are they all perfect and so expensive at the same time? He said that they don’t want to sell imperfect fruit because they would have to lower the salaries. The other imperfect fruit are either throwed away or used for other stuff like juices or cut in small pieces to be put in plastic bags. He said that kids don’t know how to cut fruits anymore as they always buy them cut in plastic bags… very strange to me who’s a fruit lover…

We then left to the Tanzen baths (onsen) with beautiful natural sources and spent the rest of the afternoon there. Women and men always separated and naked. There is no shame of showing one’s naked body which I like a lot about Japanese culture.

We went to Hakone then to visit a bit and eat at a Japanese restaurant where a TV screen showed a sumo fight. Interesting but too loud while eating.

Sixth day:

We woke up at 7am to take 4 buses to arrive to lake Kawaguchiko which is one of the 5 lakes where you can see the beautiful mount Fuji. It took us 3-4 hours after having missed the connection of our 2nd bus when it usually takes no more than 1h30 by car…

However, when we arrived to our second Ryokan next to the lake, we were very delighted to discover our beautiful surroundings and to realize our room had it’s view on Mount Fuji!!!

The people of the hotel were adorable and told us we could use their bikes for free. To our big surprise, there was no locker on the bikes meaning that we could leave them without any worry. Japanese people trust other people a lot and it is very rare to hear any story about stealing anything. Everything’s seems very safe and it’s very nice while travelling.

After having left our suitcases in our room, we went by bike to eat at a delicious Japanese restaurant. On our way we could admire the beautiful Mount Fuji.

Having finished our lunch we took back our bike and left for a gorgeous bike tour around the lake, which to me was one of the highlights of the trip. We took lots of beautiful pictures, spent time at a beautiful cafe in a garden with beautiful jazz music and the view on mount Fuji which showed us for the first time its tip. We could also imagine the even greater beauty of this place with all the cherry trees around in blossom.

We continued our tour to stop at a few other view spots and fell on a cute little coffee shop with a man grinding its coffee with a small engine while listening to beautiful classical music. Very enchanting place and we were glad to exchange a a few words with this man who spoke English quiet well.

It seems that Japanese people love jazz and Classical music. After reading on Wikipedia, I learnt that it is in the second half of the 19th century that they started to incorporate western music such as Classical music into their own culture which became inherent to it.

After coming back to our hotel, we put our jogging clothes and went for a run in the other direction of the lake. The sun was setting down and we could admire beautiful colours as well as the Mount Fuji which was completely clear this time.

Back to our hotel, we took a bath and shower in the onsen and went to an Italian restaurant which we discovered during our run. It was held by a Japanese man who liked jazz music (which attracted me to this place) and who made delicious Italian food (we took spaghetthi alla vongole). It was too expensive for what it was but we spent a wonderful time with this man who was ready to welcome us even at 10pm (we came at 9pm).

He taught us a lot about Japanese culture, how they are very altruistic, caring a lot for others and knowing that this philosophy will bring them good in return. The opposite of Chinese culture he said who is rather more selfish… well I need to discover that some other time by myself but it is true that Japanese behaviour is irreprochable while it cannot be said the same for Chinese tourrists…

What was also impressive is that Japanese people only have 2 weeks of vacations during the year (like people in the states) and are very hard workers. This man lives 1h30 away from his restaurant and is used stay to sleep at this restaurant while his wife is also staying alone at their home…

After having said goodbye to our private chef and his cute little dog we went back to our ryokan for another short night sleep as we had to travel 6 hours to Kyoto the following day by bus and train while praying that the expected Typhon would not fall too hard on us…

Next episode in the following post…

Prague

Here we go for a 4 days weekend with my mum in Prague from Thursday 22nd to Sunday 25th of February.

Here is our beautiful room in the 5 stars Occidental Prague Wilson hotel.

After settling a bit, we went for a good lunch at Como restaurant just a few meters away from our hotel situated on the Vaclavské street (similar to the Champ Elysés in Paris).

We got surprised at the common use of marihuana in all kind of sweets in all little stores.

And went for a tour in the old town visiting the beautiful and diverse architectures from different times.

Here I am eating a chimney cake 

The astronomical clock was in reparation, but here it is in chocolate!

A few puppets.

Charles Bridge

 

A few birds…

John Lennon’s wall