With the hubby having a 2 week school holiday, we decided to do a road trip to Osaka, and stop by Nara and Kyoto on the way back.
Day 1: Hakusan to Osaka
Google Maps indicated that we’d take about 4 hrs by car to reach Osaka from our home. My parents took 5 hours by bus via Kanazawa Station the last time they were here. We, however, took 6 hrs to reach there. We left home about 10am after breakfast at home, stopped at a pit stop for lunch, another for diaper check, and only reached our hotel at about 4pm. Lesson learnt: Always allow for substantial delays when travelling with a toddler. Nonetheless, I think we did alright considering the journey.
Our hotel, Dormy Inn Premium Osaka Kitahama, was a perfect choice for us. There were 3 parking lots on site, and we were fortunate to have had one to park our car during our stay. The room was really spacious. There was even a sofa in the room, and sufficient space to put Noel’s cot. There was a sliding door separating the room from the entrance area which comprises the toilet/sink/kettle/cupboard/bar fridge, etc…and this came in VERY useful as we continued our night routine of putting Noel into his cot in the room himself, as we hid behind that door (or I would go to the free onsen upstairs which was totally awesome coz it was mostly empty!) while he drift off to sleep. Both nights, we had supper sitting in that small entryway. Romantic much.
Since it was already 4pm when we arrived, I found out that there was something called the Hikari Renaissance just across the river, walking distance from the hotel. It was part of their Festival of Lights, and there were also lots of stalls selling food there. But my, was it crowded! Everyone wanted to catch a glimpse of the Wall Tapestry Lighting Show, but we were not really impressed by it, considering we had seen similar ones back in Singapore, especially during National Day with the lighting shows projected on Fullerton Building, so we kept walking towards the Illumination Street where trees are strung with lights and christmas music played along the street as we jostled with the crowds. We couldn’t find anything suitable for dinner that Noel could eat, so we left, and ended up at MOS burger for dinner on the way back to the hotel.
Day 2: Osaka – Kids Plaza Osaka, German Christmas Market & Ikea
Having read about Kids Plaza Osaka on someone’s blog, we decided to check it out. It’s basically like a HUGE play learning area for children…a bit like our Singapore science centre with a big playground. It costs 1400 yen for adults, but it was free for Noel as he is under 3. There are many interesting areas in the kids plaza, but perhaps it would have been better for older children. Nonetheless, Noel loved the fish exhibits, and especially the bubble and ball stations. We went across the road to grab some onigiri from the convenience shop and went to the park behind the plaza for a picnic. It’s a good thing Noel loves onigiri, so eating on the go, anywhere is a breeze. And he especially loves picnics.
One of the main reasons for heading to Osaka was to catch the German Christmas Market which was held at the Umeda Sky Building. Having been to the German Christmas markets in Germany itself for our honeymoon, we loved the whole christmasy feel of the bustling cheer of these christmas markets selling sausages and mulled wine and christmas ornaments. Of course we didn’t think we’d get the same vibes here in Japan, but it was pretty awesome nonetheless. As per tradition, we bought a drink (a totally delicious cup of hot chocolate!) and took back a souvenir mug to add to our collection of mugs from the christmas markets we’ve been to!
We had wanted to head to Dotonburi after that, but the traffic jam around the area was insane. We were stuck there for about an hour, just circling the place trying to find a parking lot, and we decided to give up in the end, and headed to the next place of interest – IKEA! Oh, how we missed Ikea, as there isn’t an outlet near where we stay.
Coincidentally, there was a Christmas buffet that day, and we decided to go for it – meatballs, salmon, ribs, pasta, roast beef, ham, corn soup… oh how we stuffed ourselves! The little one enjoyed his meal of tomato rice and pasta and steamed salmon and chips too! And he snagged himself a panda soft toy. And we definitely had to have an Ikea ice cream cone to end the day!
Day 3: Osaka – Kuromon Market, Dotonburi, Hotel Keihan Universal City
Day 4: Osaka – Universal Studios Japan
Day 5: Osaka to Nara to Kyoto, Four Sisters Residence Kyoto
Day 6: Kyoto – Nishiki Market, Gion District
Day 7: Kyoto – Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Kyoto Train Museum
Day 8: Kyoto to HOME!