Friday, September 23, 2011

Summertime in Japan...

Zushi Beach.  It was nice, but it was no San Diego beaches.  But, there wasn't an alcohol ban, so there's a ton of wooden beach bar shacks that are built every summer right on the beach.
Kind of reminded me a little of Panama City Beach and OB.  Definitely a different atmosphere there.
Amanda and I finally ventured out to Monkey Island.  No it's not actually called Monkey Island, I'm just not sure what the actual name is.  Only the Americans call it that as I was corrected by a Japanese girl when I was talking to her.  I just pulled the gaijin card on that one.
Sarushima Island.  My apartment looks out to this Island.  It's just a short ferry ride over from Mikasa Park.  Nice beach and hiking on the island. 
Mikasa Park.  Amanda and I spent the afternoon reading and napping in the park by the pavilion.
Winefest at the O-Club on base with the girls.  Kayla Horton, Christina Collazo, me and Michele Padilla.
Amanda finally made it over to the rest of the ladies.  We had such a fun time hanging out poolside sipping on some wine.
We went to DisneySea for Kayla's going away party.  She PCS'd back to Camp Pendleton the end of August.  We are sad to see her leave Yoko and will miss her a ton!  DisneySea was made specifically for Japan and I actually like it more than Disney World.  It's similar to Epcot Center and California Adventure, but better!  I'll definitely be back before I leave Japan.
Sachi, Kayla, Amanda, and Byron at Aeriel's Grotto.

Kayla, Amanda and I acting like dorks.
Disney in Japan loves their popcorn.  Now, it's not just any ordinary popcorn... they have interesting flavors such as curry, black pepper, sea salt, strawberry, and milk tea.  The curry was awesome!
I saw a group of Japanese girls all with their Minnie Mouse ears on, so I asked to get a picture with them.  Hey, they were loving it, so I didn't mind at all.
The group with Abu from Aladdin
Amanda, Megan Cavins and I went up to Harajuku one Sunday for a festival full of food, dancing and a parade.   We enjoyed a Sunday Brunch at the New Sanno earlier in the morning with Michele and her family.
These kids were so cute, especially the little girl on the end.  She pretty much just stood there scared during their performance, but I thought she was adorable.
During the parade, groups were doing traditional Japanese dancing
Every Sunday, people dress up in a unique variety of styles and walk around Harajuku.  The "Harajuku girls" will dress up in big poofy dresses with corset tops and big shoulders topped off with hats and long socks and heels.
There's an example of a Harajuku girl in the white, but the other two are questionable as to which gender they are.  If we came earlier in the day, we probably would have seen a whole corner full of Harajuku girls and other people dressed up.  I love people watching in Japan!

Beach party on Mt Fuji...

Amanda, Christina Collazo, me, Brian Guzman, and Ian at 6am at the start of our hike to Mt Fuji's summit.  You can see the enthusiasm in everyone's face's still.  This picture is also very deceiving making Fuji look a lot smaller than it actually is.  We were so WRONG!  Don't under estimate it...
We started the journey back in Yokosuka at 2am with 9 people.  After an eventful drive with 2 different vans up to Fuji, we somehow got separated and ended up at 2 different trail heads on the opposite sides of the mountain.  The Subashiri Trail is definitely more advanced and rocky.  We had to take a shuttle from the parking lot at the 1st station to the 5th station where we started the hike.  There's no turning back now...
It turned out to be a beautiful morning for the climb!  We couldn't have asked for better weather.  This is the view from the 5th station.
Amanda and Christina getting our Mt Fuji walking sticks at the 5th station.
Playing around while resting early on in the hike.  
The girls and I.  You couldn't even see the top through the clouds.   The group is already hurting at this point and we haven't even made it to the 6th station.
Still having fun at this point!
You got a stamp at each station.  Each trail has different stamps at each station.  Ours were mainly rectangle shapes with random Japanese characters.  Each stamp was 200 yen... think about how much money they would make in a single day! 
Still only at the 6th station?!?!?  It kept faking us out with multiple 6th, 7th, and 8th stations.  You would think you're getting closer to the top, but you still have a long way to go!
The group at one of the 7th stations just as the fog started rolling in.
At one of the 8th stations.  We're so close!
The scenery on Mt Fuji was a lot of volcanic rock with some greenery.  Not too much to look at other than the clouds.  Luckily we had big billowing clouds that day, but that meant we couldn't see into the surrounding towns. 
I made it!!!  Just a few more steps through the torri gate was the summit!  What a feeling of accomplishment at this point!  3776m and 6hrs later
We're above the clouds on top of the world!
OK, so most people do the traditional shot on top of Fuji... I'm not most people.  Yes, I decided to wear my swimsuit at the summit.  How many other people can say they've worn their swimsuit at the top of Mt Fuji?  ...That's what I thought.  We were supposed to have a beach party with the rest of the group, but my group was passed out on a bench and the other group was on the other side of the crater still. 
They made it!  Beach party it is!
Byron Bandonell, Tommy Wong, Kayla Horton, me, Tony Coleman, and Christina Collazo.

The whole group all bundled up at the top.  There was a storm rolling in at this point.  As soon as the clouds  went in front of the sun, the temp dropped about 20 degrees, but otherwise it was actually pretty warm at the top and I got a sunburn. 
Amanda and I at the top.  She was hating her knees at this point and we were both wishing we would have actually slept a few hours the night before.  We we going strong on about 30hrs of no sleep... not smart. 
The crater at the top of Mt Fuji wasn't much to look at.  Just a lot of volcanic rock.
Amazing picture on the summit before the storm rolled in.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Monoco and the French Riviera...

Good morning Monte Carlo!  This was the amazing view from our balcony.  I could get used to this.  See that yacht right there... yea, no big deal, only a few million dollars!  I had it meet me up here today and figured I'd take it out sailing later today.
I loved how our tour guide pronounced "Eze Village".  It just rolled off his tongue ever so smoothly.
Looking down on the gardens of a resort in Eze Village. 
The village was on top of the cliffs over looking the Mediterranean Sea.
Lo and I looking a little tired from the night before.
Eze village was full of cobblestone pathways and stairs that we had to climb.  

They were setting up for a Medieval festival later that afternoon.   All the buildings had really cool writing all over them.  Added a special touch to the village.
Of course Amers and I had to try on the big floppy hats.  Lo and Pooter didn't want anything to do with us!  :)  The girls and I all found handmade jewelry from a small shop.

Driving along the cliffs on our way to Nice.  I would LOVE to live in the French Riviera! 
Leave it to us to find an Irish Pub when we first get to Nice.  Too bad it was still early afternoon. 
Hanging out in the square before walking around Nice.
Saturday morning farmers market going in the square while we were there.  Our main mission was to find a cafe for crepes.  I can't believe we waited til our last day in Europe to finally eat crepes.   
Mission accomplished.  Outdoor cafe with crepes as big as our head!  Amy and Lo just got plain cinnamon, while Caitlin and I got strawberry and banana-nutella.
I'd say, we picked the better choice!  The banana-nutella was their speciality.
I loved how all over Europe there's musicians just sitting, hanging out playing music. 
This door was too cool not to get a picture by it! 
Nice was definitely my favorite place because of all the outdoor cafes/restaurants and little shops lining the streets. 
I wish we had more time to spend here to enjoy more of the restaurants.  But sadly we only had a short time there before we had to head back to the ship.
The girls and I did wine tasting in the basement of a little cheese shop.  We tried 5 different speciality cheeses and 3 wines.
Caitlin and I checking out the wine at the cheese shop.
Caitlin walking around Nice. 
One of my favorite pictures of Nice.

View of Nice from the cliffs on the drive back. 
Back in Monoco on the pier.
Too bad we weren't there a few weeks earlier... we could have made it to the wedding.
Monte Carlo casino.  Definitely high ballers go there!
This was the point where Caitlin told me to put my camera away or she was going to take it away!  I guess I did take a TON of pictures over the past week.