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.
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.
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.
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On a warm (hot) day in March, so a couple weeks ago during the heat wave, we headed down to Cape Schanck for a bit of a walk and wander around the beach. We parked at the Cape Schanck Lighthouse car park, and headed for Bushrangers Bay along the Bushrangers Bay walking track.
It’s only a 40 minute walk (or so) so it’s not especially difficult, the only issue is the heat as there is no shade at the beginning of the walk, after about 10-20 minutes there is a shaded section with trees on both sides of the trail which was a very welcome relief. For some reason we decided not to take our swimmers (and we left our sunscreen in the car thinking that we wouldn’t be down there for long) so we were pretty much just looking for a shady spot on the beach, of which there really aren’t any. We had a lunch which was pretty much crackers with cheese and salami (yum!), and then decided to go for a wander down the beach.
The water is beautifully cool which was great for getting our feet wet (apparently it’s not a good swimming beach, a bit dangerous) but we didn’t have our swimmers any way (surprisingly it wasn’t very windy), if you look at the pictures (the one with the red tent), the big rock on the right hand side, just past there is an arch that has crashing water, a rock pool, and the big rock is scaleable as well, actually third picture is taken from the top of the big rock, and the arch is to the left. Parts of the rock are super hot as they don’t get wet at all, so for that reason, as well as the fact that the rock and sand and plants under foot are quite abrasive, I would recommend wearing shoes, or at least thongs (unlike silly me who went with bare feet, and was in agony the whole time I was up there!). This is part of a national park, and the place is really quite pristine, we definitely want to head down there again with a bit more preparedness though, the lighthouse is very picturesque, unfortunately the sunset wasn’t particularly dramatic so I didn’t end up with anything that I am particularly happy about. We’ll go again though. We had dinner at the Flinders Hotel (in Flinders) at the Deck (which is a pub), it was pretty good, but we were quite rushed due to me wanting to rush back for the sunset after dinner.
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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.
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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