Posts Tagged: green

Japan 2015: Nagoya, then the Kiso Valley

I took a lot of pictures so I’m going to have to separate these posts into a bunch for the places we visited so as not to overwhelm with pictures. We planned our trip so that we would leave Tokyo until the end of the trip (so that we could shop like crazy), which meant going from Narita Airport to Nagoya on the same day. But we also had to meet emmy’s friend in Tokyo because she wouldn’t be there when we got back, so we stopped at Tokyo station for lunch and then were on our way to Nagoya for our first night.

  • More running water near the minshuku
    More running water near the minshuku
  • Running water near Minshuku Tsutamuraya
    Running water near Minshuku Tsutamuraya
  • Moss covered logs on the Nakasen-do
    Moss covered logs on the Nakasen-do
  • Running water on the Nakasen-do
    Running water on the Nakasen-do
  • A dainty shrine or grave on the Nakasen-do
    A dainty shrine or grave on the Nakasen-do
  • Trees along the Nakasen-do
    Trees along the Nakasen-do
  • Nakasen-do path near Tsumago
    Nakasen-do path near Tsumago
  • Minshuku Tsutamuraya
    Minshuku Tsutamuraya
  • Lavender garden with a bee
    Lavender garden with a bee

From everything that we had heard, there wasn’t much to do or see in Nagoya, so it was really a rest/transit stop for us before heading to the Kiso Valley. We stayed at the Sanco Inn Nishiki which is near the Sakae district which is where all the shops and night life are, a small room (of course) but it was nice enough and had a breakfast option. We didn’t do anything there, just had a look around the shops but nothing else really, rested and waited until our train/bus ride to OTsumago.

  • Water mill at Tsumago
    Water mill at Tsumago
  • Old kettle in Minshuku Tsutamuraya
    Old kettle in Minshuku Tsutamuraya

After travelling by train to Nagiso, and then finding a local bus to take us to Minshuku Koshinzuka (which has it’s own bus stop) we were informed by the inn-keeper that due to a funeral service we would not be able to stay there, but that they’d arranged for us to stay at a different minshuku for the two nights that we were scheduled for, Minshuku Tsutamuraya, just down the road. It was no skin off our back as the little old lady running Minshuku Tsutamuraya was very nice as well, although we can only guess how nice Koshinzuka must be since it is the top rated minshuku on tripadvisor. It’s really not easy to reserve a room at these places since the contact details are really hard to find, and they speak little to no English, but here is a page with telephone contact details under the Accommodation in Tsumago and Magome section, and here is a page with reservation options. Our minshuku actually had wifi amazingly whereas Koshinzuka apparently does not, make of that what you will.

It was a charming place, very old building (about 130 years old), they had a pretty shiba inu, and the little river running right outside, the lady was very nice, and had a great time playing with our little monkey. The food (breakfast and dinner) we had was of a very good quality and served with some kind of special osake which was very different to what we are used to. Wholly recommended, maybe Koshinzuka would be a little more authentic, I’m not sure, but sometimes you can’t completely withdraw yourself from the outside world.

In terms of things to do here, basically there is the nakasen-do between Tsumago and Magome, and obviously the two towns themselves. Be very careful though, there is only an ATM in Nagiso (which may or may not be open, maybe only on weekdays) and one in Nakatsugawa (need a bus from Magome) so make sure you have cash to pay the minshuku. Getting this out of the way early (maybe I mentioned it in my previous post already?), having a baby with us meant that we pretty much had to do everything during the middle (hottest/sunniest part) of the day which was a bit painful, but the scenery is still beautiful during the day. Tsumago has been kept in a much more authentic manner than Magome, both towns have souvenir shops aplenty and quaint old buildings and museums (not that we visited any of them). We wandered up and down the main streets, but due to unforeseen circumstances (very cranky baby), only one of us was able to walk the nakasen-do from Magome to Tsumago. We planned to do it that way because it is mostly downhill (the first two kilometres or so including Magome) are pretty much uphill then the rest of the way is smooth sailing

The path is very well signed (can’t remember if there was much English though) and easy to follow, the terrain is beautiful and apart from the first part out of Magome, mostly covered by trees. There are mossy green forests, running water creeks, and waterfalls all over the place, but in my rush (I wasn’t sure where my companions were) I only took one side-trip to Odaki and Medaki falls near OTsumago which were quite impressive. It only takes about two hours if you walk at a decent pace but probably three hours is good for stopping and taking pictures as well as resting (Tsumago to Magome would probably take longer). I didn’t see any bears but apparently they’re there, and there are bells along the path that you can ring that might scare them away (I did not want to run into any bears so you better believe I rang them).

We spent two nights there because we didn’t want to rush the nakasen-do which was a good idea for us, but with a luggage forwarding service and less cranky babies, you can probably do it with one night, we caught the bus to Nagiso before getting a train to our next destination, Matsumoto, which will be the topic of my next post.


Autumnal Alfred Nicholas Gardens

Not quite the mid-Autumn-coloured madness that everyone hopes for, but some nice colours despite the dreary weather.

  • Fern you very much
    Fern you very much
  • No bridge for you
    No bridge for you
  • Keep Out!
    Keep Out!

The forecast said that it was going to rain in the afternoon but it turned out that when they said afternoon, they actually meant morning. So that was that, still a nice meander through the gardens even though it was cold and wet, at least it wasn’t windy!! Actually most of the pictures I took had people in them and I didn’t want to post them here, so there you go, you don’t get the best ones, my apologies. I’ll have some more awesome news coming up soon, which will also mean more awesome pictures in the next few months, woohoo! Also I get to spend more money, although actually, I don’t have any, shoot!


Holy Guacamole!

Yeah, it’s been a while since I posted anything, busy I guess, and even this is a re-post from my old site, but it’s too good not to appear here. So I learnt this recipe while I was in Peru (not when I went to Mexico ha!), and from our tour guide on the Inca Jungle Trek of all people. We were pretty much at the last stop before hitting Machu Picchu, and had stopped for lunch before making our way to Aguas Calientes for the night (and Machu Picchu in the dark early morning). We only had crackers, but this was avocado (aguacate) country, so for our entree to lunch, our guide made a quick guacamole dip. I’m sure everyone has their own twist on guacamole, it’s a very simple dip/sauce to make, but I thought I’d throw mine in the mix.



The ingredients are as follows:

  • avocado (1 for two people)
  • 1 (small and juicy) lemon per avocado
  • 1-2 garlic cloves (or more, depends how garlicky you like it) per avocado
  • black pepper (crushed is good)
  • salt (I don’t measure it, I taste the guacamole until the amount is right)

The following are optional extras:

  • chilli, sliced, the amount depends how hot you want the guacamole really, if they’re really hot like mine, then one is probably good
  • onion, I am not a big fan of raw onion, so I tend to only have cooked onion with chicken tortillas and not in the actual guacamole
  • I really like the smell of oregano, dried or fresh
  1. So if you have a ripe avocado (apparently you can tell if the top is a bit soft, google it for a better method), just crack it open and scrape the contents into some kind of bowl/dish and mix it up (or blend it if you like it smooth) with a fork to start with, and then a whisk to clean up (or a blender if you’re rich like me).
  2. Cut the lemon(s) in half and squeeze the juice in till it’s all in more or less.
  3. Crush the garlic and throw it in and mix it up.
  4. If using chilli, slice up the chilli and mix that in as well.
  5. If using pepper, crush it in.
  6. Keep mixing it with the whisk and adding salt, all the while tasting it, once the flavour is right, you have your guacamole.

I’ve tried this guacamole with both corn chips and with chicken tortillas, and for my personal tastes, it was really good, I was very happy to say the least, because it was the first time I actually made it, for the chicken tortillas, and I was working from memory. Give it a go, but I think avocados are seasonable fruit, so don’t bother if the avocados aren’t in season I guess. That’s a fast, easy dip for chips and chicken based tortillas/tacos. One avocado is about right for a pack of corn chips (180g I think).


Some HDR from Tasmania

Haven’t done much lately, been a bit unwell and tired and it’s been super wet and cold here so I’ve been particularly lazy. Any way, I have completed processing of my Tasmanian photos and had a couple extras that didn’t find there ways onto flickr, so I thought I’d post them here. Actually, I’ve been in the midst of planning our Japanese break, booking and planning, trying to work out what we can do, what we can fit in, it’s a bit of a headache cos we don’t have much time but there are so many places to see, we’ll just have to focus on a couple key areas and hope that we can pay another visit another time. So both of these photos are HDR shots where I got similar shots and put them on flickr because I thought they were a little more interesting, but then when I look at these it would be a waste not to post them somewhere, especially the one in Mount Field National Park. We’ll see if I have anything else to post in the next month or two of this dark Winter while waiting for the trip to Japan. So desperately waiting for this Winter to end, I’m sick (literally) and tired of the bloody cold, and now I’m too lazy to cycle in the cold :D.

  • Mount Field National Park
    Mount Field National Park
  • Hills near Westerway
    Hills near Westerway


Olinda Falls walk

Good Friday was a warm day down here in Melbourne so we decided to use the day to go for another training walk around the Dandenong Ranges National Park. This week we went for the Olinda Falls and Cascade Track walk, it’s not a long walk by any stretch of the imagination, a bit less than 3km, but it does go through some bushy forest where the trail is quite narrow and the ferns and other plants encroach all over the path. There were even a couple of trees that fell down and blocked the path, the falls aren’t really a part of the trail, but that’s where the Cascade Track starts so we had a look at the falls as well as I’m always interested in taking photos of waterfalls.

Olinda Falls

Olinda Falls

The waterfalls themselves aren’t particularly big or spectacular but with a bit of work, any running water can be made to look quite beautiful. We spent about half an hour admiring the falls from both the upper and lower viewing platforms before venturing on to the trail. It’s probably only about 2km, half of it being downhill, but it’s not the friendliest trail I’ve ever walked on. I guess the threat of leeches was the main issue during our walk, and with two girls and one guy (the other one hah!) carrying on about the cockatoos screeching and the horrible leeches, it probably took a while longer than it needed to :D. I didn’t stop and take any photos of the dense bush that inhabits the trail but rest assured, the trail is not wide enough to walk two abreast (especially with the fear of leeches attaching to your body if you come into contact with any of the vegetation).  After you finish going down hill and leave the Cascade Trail, it’s a short up hill walk along the road back to the Olinda Falls Picnic Ground, the trail is pretty much exactly as described in the link above just follow Doughty’s Road when returning to the picnic grounds. With knowledge of the leeches it’s probably a good idea to wear pants when walking this trail, especially if it might be wet at all, we went when it was probably at it’s driest (without there being a drought) and saw a few tiny leeches, but the down hill trail and amount of vegetation would make me think that a very treacherous and slippery walk would be waiting after some rain.


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