Blogger's Note: If you haven't already, start with the first Spring Break 2015 post. The remaining posts will be much more enjoyable if you understand the inside jokes explained earlier.
It's Spring Break 2015 and the meaning of "spring break" has changed for me... I still have a road trip buddy, just like in 1995, but now I am with a fellow mother, and we have five small(ish) children we are now responsible for. So, we went to a winery for lunch... like responsible adults do.
Here is the Itinerary for Day 2 (as it was left with the spouses remaining home):
Leave the Suginoi Hotel in Beppu: http://www.suginoi-hotel.com/english/facilities/amusement.html
Kintetsu Beppu Ropeway: Yubinbango 874-0000 Beppu, Oita Prefecture Oaza Minamitateishi character SamuHara 10-7 tel.0977-22-2278 fax.0977-22-0571
http://www.beppu-ropeway.co.jp/ 1,600 yen/adult, 800 yen/child
Kuju Winery and Italian Restaurant 0974-76-1002
Kuju Kogen Flower Park and Cottage http://www.kujukogen.com/
We woke up from a restful slumber and made our way down to the Suginoi hotel's buffet restaurant. The spread was just as impressive as the dinner one was, but filled with more items that I just couldn't stomach eating for breakfast. Like fish with heads.
|Salad is a popular Japanese breakfast item. Just think of it as V8 juice before it's juiced. That's what I do.|
This is a fresh honey dispenser. The Japanese appear to put honey on pancakes instead of maple syrup.
We checked out of the hotel after breakfast, vowing to come back. We hadn't had time to check out the Suginoi's bowling alley, the biggest bowling alley on Kyushu Island, so we must return! And we might bring the spouses... depending on how well they can behave.
My friend and travel companion, Cortney, likes to check out the views from high places. In Osaka, it was a tower in the middle of the city. In Beppu, it was a mountain. Obviously, Cortney likes to get high. So high, this time, that we need to take a ropeway to the top of Mt. Tsurumi to enjoy the "panoramic views and rich seasonal colors," as explained in the brochure.
|"Another picture? Moooom!"|
|After being told they would be forced to onsen if they didn't shape up. ;p|
In this case, the "rich, seasonal color" was white. And lots of it. No, not the mystical wonderment of snow, but rather the creepy dampness of mist and fog, as seen in the image below as we made the 15-minute trip in the ropeway gondola. According to the brochure, the gondola can fit 101 people in it. I disagree.
We reached the top and were excited to find more fog. Actually, I think we were in a cloud. The kids were about 40 feet away in this shot.
Like any good Japanese mountain, there was a shrine at the top. Here Cortney and Madison are "cleansing" themselves in the available water trough before walking up to the shrine itself.
|The shrine (there were others)|
While the kids ran around the mountain top, I made myself busy by finding things to take photos of... like discarded wood...
And a large thermometer that explained that spring had yet to sprung up here.
Once the kids got done running around and talking to the only other group of tourists up there, a Japanese trio who spoke English well, it was time to head back down. Once we got below the fog, there was a view, but, unfortunately, the ropeway gondola badly needed a Windex treatment. Yes, we paid full price for this experience. But, I am not sure I would have liked sharing the gondola with 100 other people during peak season, though, either.
Once we were back on solid, fog-free ground, we headed in to the Kuju mountain range... about 1.25 hours from Beppu. It was lunch time, so time for a winery.
I had been to the winery in the fall, as part of a girls overnight trip, so you can learn more about it (as well as the cottage we stayed at) here. But, since we had children with us, we stuck to the pizza... which was delicious!
We couldn't check in to our rooms at the cottage until 3 p.m., so we decided to check out the Kuju Kogen even though it was sprinkling off and on. Luckily, the park plans ahead and had cute, colorful umbrellas available for patrons to borrow.
It was a little early for tulips to be in full bloom, but we were still able to get some pretty shots of the flowers and feed some ducks.
|This explained the mountain ranges we couldn't see...|
Once we were done at the kogen, it was time to check in at the hotel, which is more of a motel with rustic cottages. Very comfortable rustic cottages. We paid about $200 for the room, yakiniku dinner, a breakfast buffet, and access to the onsen. Again, the kids did not take advantage of the onsen, but we still made them wear the clothes. Mua-ha-ha-ha-ha!
It was Xan's birthday, so we celebrated with sparkling grape juice we got at the winery (at first the waiter refused to open the bottle, but then he saw it was juice, not wine, and we were good to go).
We let the big kids cook for the little ones. Ha, ha... let. Less work for us!
|Perfect timing with this shot.|
Plastic bibs for everyone! Even the moms!
Thanks to some help from my Japanese friend, Chie, I managed to order a birthday cake to be delivered after dinner for about $30. Xan was quite surprised. Totally worth the money.
There was one piece of cake left. We told Xan that if he wanted it, he'd have to eat it without a fork. I knew it was time for a haircut when he had to hold his bangs out of the way.
After dinner, we put the kids to bed and then Cortney and I went to onsen before bed. Onsening is seriously a tradition I could continue for the rest of my life.
On to Day 3!