64th Sapporo Snow Festival.

Update information      Edit(Feb.6)

   Now, I’m in Sapporo (札幌).

   64th Yuki Matsuri (雪まつり) is held from 5th through 11th. My trip is very short and I’ll leave Sapporo tomorrow afternoon. So I took some photos in my free time. Like this.
 
Edit(Feb.6):
   I came back home yesterday.

   I show you two useful goods for Snow Festival. Actually, they are not for Snow Festival but for walking on the road covered with snow (^^;). One is a trekking pole, which I had also taken with me when I had visited the shrine for Hatsumōde(初詣). The other is very simple anti-skid devices for my shoes which I got at the family mart in my hotel in Sapporo. A pair of them was only ¥598.

   They helped me very much, so I had no falling down flat on very slippy roads. I added the images of them. Take a look!!
 

Beer fairy KEI chan
Beer fairy KEI chan
 
Shīsā
Chibi Maruko-chan
Chibi Maruko-chan
 
 
Ise Jingū
Ise Jingū
And at its work
And at its work
CIMG3526 CIMG3527 CIMG3528
National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall
National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall
And its lighting-up.
And its lighting-up.
Yōkai Ningen Bem
Yōkai Ningen Bem
Wat Benchamabophit
Wat Benchamabophit
New Kabuki-za
New Kabuki-za
Ultraman
Ultraman
Hōheikan
Hōheikan
Ōdōri Kōen from Sapporo TV Tower
Ōdōri Kōen from Sapporo TV Tower
 
Street night view
anti-skid devices
anti-skid devices
attached anti-skid device
attached anti-skid device
trekking pole
trekking pole

I went to Basque. #8

My trip to Basque-#8   On Oct. 25th.
   This day was only for moving, but a better thing than when I departed my house was I had not to get up so early. Because we were going to leave the hotel for the Bilbao airport at 10:30, I got up around 7:30 and ate my breakfast as usual. At the breakfast, I had mamia which was recommended by our tour conductor, who had asked some mamia to the hotel staff for us. After it, I wanted to go a walk around the hotel, but gave up because of raining.

border-sign   It took about two hours from the hotel in Biarritz to the airport in Bilbao. On our way to the airport, we were across the French-Spanish border. Both France and Spain are member states of EU, so we need no formalities to cross their border. There is just a roadside sign like the right image. When I went from Spain to France, I failed to take the photo of it. So I wanted to do it on the way from France, but I failed again, oops!!

   At the airport, though we had a long time checking our suitcases due to crowded counters, other than that, everything did fine. We were leaving from Bilbao for Frankfurt on time (2:25p.m.). We had about 4.5 hours for connecting flight to Narita at Frankfurt Airport. Whew!!

   Nowadays, we can use free WiFi at almost every airport, of course, we must be careful about the network security, though. For example, at Narita Airport we can use it with no time restriction and only need our email address for our registration, the email address can be accepted even if it is a free mail address. At Frankfurt Airport, you can use free Wifi, too. But, it is only 30 minutes a day. Besides, you need PIN code. For having the PIN code, you have to send your country code and your cellphone number from the registration page. And then, they send back 6 digits PIN code to your cellphone like this.
 

Ihre PIN f~r 30 Minuten Internet bei FraPort lautet: xxxxxx
Ein Hotline-Anruf kostet 9 ct aus dem Netz der Deutschen Telekom. Mobilkosten abweichend.

   This is very first time for me at airports. Is it a common registration style for free WiFi at other airports?

   Still today, very long distance exists between Europe and Japan. Actually, it was slightly after 23:30 on 26th, Japan time, when I arrived at home.

   The End.

I went to Basque. #7

My trip to Basque-#7   On Oct. 24th.

   The previous day, when I arrived at the hotel in Biarritz, I felt to come here by a tour bus was a wrong way. A very good hotel this was and a very narrow gate it had. Probably, it is Japanese only who use a tour bus to come here and who stay here for a day or two – very short. But, it is Japanese style tour. They had to have accepted it, whether they will or won’t.

   The day, first, we visited a factory of L’Atelier du chocolat in Bayonne. We tasted various kinds of chocolates. Unfortunately, we were unable to see a lot of real process of making chocolates except cleaning and an employee who was covered in chocolate powder. I bought chocolates for gifts. When I tasted pepper chocolate, I liked it and thought to get it for one of gifts, in fact, what I bought was pepper caramel, oops!!

   After this, we headed to Musée Basque by bus, and, walked to Cathédrale Sainte-Marie de Bayonne on the opposite bank of the river Nive. It is a magnificent, but somehow a patched building, the upper is made of limestone and the lower is made of sandstone.

   When I stayed in my room in the afternoon, a maid came for the turn down service. She perhaps had rung my doorbell a few times, but, I didn’t hear it clearly because of being at my bathroom. So, I did not answer her and the maid unlocked my door by her key in spite of my locking. Probably, she thought my room was empty as my door did not have the “Don’t disturb” card. When I saw her, I was so surprised because I didn’t know about the service. After I heard from my tour conductor this hotel had this as one of basic services. The previous day, we checked into the hotel late, so, the service had been done. This was my first stay at a 5 star hotel, therefore I had such a my first experience. (^_^;)

   We had the last meal of Basque at a small restaurant L’Atelier. I felt their dishes were a kind of nouvelle cuisine.

   The next day, we were going to leave Basque for Japan.

   To be continued. (^_~)

I went to Basque. #6

My trip to Basque-#6   On Oct. 23rd.
   We had fine weather at Hondarribia. We walked down the slope of the front side of the hotel. On the way to our bus, we saw The Town Hall, The Santa Maria Gate, and so on. When I saw a statue, I found he had a saw and an apron (See the slide show at 0:46). They say he’s a soldier, and I wondered why he had such things. The truth is he is an engineer. I heard people perform his role in the festival.

   This day, we were going to the summit of La Rhune by Le Petit Train. The line opened on 1924. It is a single truck and has rack rails. From the train, I saw pottoks which are a kind of small horses like ponies. At the summit, we had fine weather again, so, I was able to see the broad panorama of French and Spanish parts of Basque.

   When I waited a return train, an old lady asked me in French where I had bought my hat. I don’t know French, she doesn’t know Japanese nor English. But, we understood each other, a fantastic world!! (^o^)

   We visited Sare, where I saw a beautiful small village, and we had lunch at ITHURRIA, dishes were good, especially Basque pig I liked very much. After lunch, Espelette, where I bought two bags of famous Piment d’Espelette powder, Saint-Jean-de-Luz, where I saw the birthplace of Ravel, Église Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Saint-Jean-de-Luz, etc. I was wandering the streets of Saint-Jean-de-Luz with a map, an old lady approached and told me which way to go. She spoke French only again. But we understood each other again, a fantastic world!!×2 (^o^)(^o^)

   After entering French Basque across the border, I saw a house has white walls and red rims. I heard it’s a traditional style here, and in the past, people used lime paste for white and cattle blood for red to avoid strong beaming sun and insects.

   By the way, the local guide of the day was Anna again. I asked her what I questioned.
   Does they have the law like Japanese “Motor Vehicle Inspection and Registration System“? Because all the cars I saw in Basque Country (Spanish Basque) are very good condition. I sometimes saw quite a number of junkers outside of Japan. She answered they have to register a car they own, after four years they own the car they have to get the first car inspection, after six years they own the car the have to get the second inspection, and after that, they have to get the car inspection every year. Her answer made sense to me.

   The hotel of the day was Hôtel du Palais at Biarritz. Very good hotel.

   To be continued. (^_~)

I went to Basque. #5

My trip to Basque-#5   On Oct. 22nd.
   That morning, I felt I was a complete new person, he-he. Before leaving from San Sebastián, I walked around and took some pictures.

   We were going to visit a Txakoli winery “Talai-Berri” at Zarautz on that very day. I was looking forward to it.

   I have to admit I don’t like fizzy drink, both alcohol and non-alcohol. But, the previous day, when I had a glass of Txakoli, it was sparkling slightly and dry, so, I liked it. I also saw the performance that was the serving Txakoli from high place for mixing air.

   At the Talai-Berri winery, we were tasting all kind of products. They were very good and not expensive. The staff, who was one of owners and introduced their products to us, said “current Txakoli is very well controlled when it is produced, so, it isn’t necessary serving from high place”. Well, I thought “the yesterday performance is for tourists”.

   By the way, in Spain they use olive oil for all foods, like we use shōyu(醬油) for all. It was my very first time, to eat cheese poured olive oil, to eat bread poured olive oil, and so on.

   We had lunch at Getaria, another one of old cities in Basque, Spain. One of dishes we ate is a big flounder. It was broiled with salt. Very big. A fish per two people. I think it is for four people if I were in Japan.

   We checked into the hotel “Parador de Hondarribia” around 4 p.m. The hotel is located on the hill and has a long slope in front of itself. Opposite side is a kind of cliff and there is a public elevator which carries people up.

   During this trip, I went for a walk alone in the evening free-time for the first time. I found and bought a doll is a regatta player in Hondarribia (See the slide show at 6:15). Is it cute? They say Regatta is very popular in Spain. In Hondarribia, the house of the player has a green banner on the balcony’s rail. On 2012 the team finished second and people bit their lips, I heard.

   To be continued. (^_~)

I went to Basque. #4

My trip to Basque-#4   On Oct. 21st.
   I was surprised it’s still dark even if 8 a.m. Judging calmly, San Sebastián is located north slightly than Sapporo (札幌) according to their latitude, besides, Spain uses DST until the end of October. So, it might be natural.

   Unfortunately, 21st was Sunday. City market and most stores were closed except ones for tourists. But, we met other events precisely because Sunday. For example, a citizens’ marathon, men at a gastronomical society for preparing a party.

   And then, I felt better, went and ate pintxos at bars in my free-time, and enjoyed Txakoli wine and others at meals. So, my trip was also better and better. The better trip, the more photos. So, this slide show is longer than before, too. He-he!

   To be continued. (^_~)

I went to Basque. #3

My trip to Basque-#3   Now on Oct. 20th.
   We did sightseeing in the old part of Pamplona which is very famous for “The fiesta of San Fermín“, about which even if you don’t know, probably you have ever seen the photos of the bull run. We walked the route of the bull run.

   Pamplona is one of old cities in Basque, and its old part has the thick and tall walls around itself. One of funny and pity impression I had is I found a built-in candlestick with the wall of an arsenals. A soldier in charge prayed before his entering, in the building there were a lot of gunpowder things, but in those days, he should have had a candle with him because they didn’t know safety lamp. Very poor man!!

   Pamplona is also famous for the city of Hemingway loved. I saw Cafe IRUNA, Gran Hotel La Perla, etc.

   During our sightseeing, all raining. I heard Pamplona usually has a lot of rain. In the rain, I thought a lot of people who live in the city put up their umbrellas. Outside of Japan, I’ve not ever seen people like this who have an umbrella when it’s raining. Besides, some people have a compact folding umbrella and it is first time for me to see a good number of people have such an umbrella outside of Japan. “Seeing is believing.” I believe Pamplona usually has a lot of rain. (^_^)

   I felt better on the day, but in fact, I think I was still tired because I failed to take a lot of photos. Besides, I had no memory about the afternoon on the bus. (;_;)

   To be continued. (^_~)

I went to Basque. #2

My trip to Basque-#2   On Oct.19, I got up at 7:00a.m. Of course, it’s local time in Spain. We left the hotel at 9:00. Again, we had rain like Japanese rainy season. First, our tour bus stopped over Durango, Biscay. We did sightseeing in the old area of the city, we saw “Iglesia de Santa María de Uribarri”, “Kurutziaga Cross”, etc.

   We had lunch at a tiny good restaurant “Akebaso“. Two dogs were there, so cute.

   After lunch, we visited a cheese factory in Idiazábal. Others bought a lot of cheese and I also did a block of it. The cheese was very very tasty.

   The hotel of the day was in Pamplona. I was still tired when I checked into it. So I went to bed earlier than usual and slept all night.

   To be continued. (^_~)

I went to Basque. #1

My trip to Basque-#1   At 4a.m. on Oct.17 JST, I got up. I left my house at 4:25a.m. and drove to Fukuoka Airport. I arrived at the parking lot around 5:40. About 70 minutes. It was very short time because it was early morning. I got a takeoff from the Narita at 12:15.

   When I arrived at my hotel in Bilbao, Spain, it was almost the end of the day. I faced the time difference, so it took about 26 hours since I had got up. This included about 6hours as connecting flights time. Very very tired.

   The next morning, I got up at 7:30 because of the tour schedule though I wanted to sleep more and more. My travel agency usually does not plan a hard schedule. But the schedule of the day was very hard for me. At that time, I regretted taking the tour a little bit.

   By the way, I made a slide show. Please take a look. It has no sound. And you can never find me on it. (^^;)

   The dinner of the day was so late and so heavy though it just stuck to schedule. I was really tired again.

   To be continued. (^_~)

The aurora in Iceland.

   I feel I was very busy in this October, but I have been to Iceland from October 27 to November 3 because I planned it ahead of time. It’s very far from Japan.

   I worried very much whether I would wake up or not on the day. Until 5:00 a.m. I had need to leave my house for the airport. In my life, I had never concerned about my wake-up time, but since my retirement on this March 31 my body condition was changed. I sometimes could not wake up when I had need to get up in the morning. Well, the result was fine.

   I just happened to travel to Iceland. After a long interval, I planed to go abroad this year. But, the tour I want to join was not available or the tour I didn’t want was available, so I just couldn’t turn it into reality. Finally, I could schedule this tour. It just happened and I saw the aurora there. You envy me? (^_^)

   After I returned, I examined the bus route with Google map. First, I examined place names in Katakana(カタカナ), but I found so many names didn’t appear. Next, I looked for the names by Icelandic spelling. I’ve not found some names yet. But most part I found, I think. (See figure 1).

   Before my departure, I saw how to take aurora. It needs ISO800 and exposure 3 seconds at least. My digital camera (CASIO EX-V7) has no such ability. It has a manual shooting mode, but if I use both manual aperture and shutter speed, the ISO is fixed at 64. ‘Be damned if you do, damned if you don’t’. However, I can’t afford to buy new one only for this purpose. I wondered later, nowadays, whether I could have rent a digital camera which has such ability.

   As a result, it wasn’t possible. I dare post my pictures here, subtle. You can see the aurora there, but they are so grainy because of ISO1600. This time, I joined a group travel of a travel agent, so I had company. The group was small, just gentle people who were punctual, so the journey was pleasant. The group included a person who more prepared to take pictures of the aurora, and I asked him send his aurora pictures for me. If they arrive, I’ll show you them to compare with mine……


Large map Figure1