Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Hakone trip 2015

Thursday, February 26th, as soon as the boys got off school we immediately went and headed to Urayasu (where Tokyo Disneyland is really and specifically located ; ) Noah got out of school at 3pm. However Branden didn't get out until 4pm and needed to come home and change from his JHS uniform to regular clothes as fast as lightning. It takes about 2 full hours from our house to make our way down to Urayasu (with the single 1 lane roads and traffic that never seems to let up) We arrived close to 7:30pm-ish. Could be 7:20pm-ish. We immediately parked the car. Grabbed a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts. 12 donuts and 4 family members means, everyone can have 1 for dessert for that night and 2 for breakfast the next morning, everyone gets to fill up before we hit the road again. After grabbing our donuts we went upstairs to Kua'Aina Burger for dinner. I picked the chargrilled teriyaki chicken breast and onion rings. The rest of the family picked chargrilled cheeseburgers and fries. They each picked a soda and I picked a guava juice with ice. 

It was such a nice feeling to be done with all the Kids Club stuff. Nice for Bran to be done with all his major JHS tests (until April) and nice that we could finally get away and just chill, relax as a family. Nice to be able to get back to normal, for our family. : )

We checked into the hotel after 9pm, closer to 9:30pm actually. Because we stopped at Ito Yokado to get drinks for the night. 2 twin beds side by side. Plus these bunk beds. Plus 1 additonal extra twin which will be pictured later. : ) A very clean room. We love this hotel. It's spotless this hotel. 

Aha, the 5th twin bed. There you are! : ) We had our drinks in the bag on the table about to go in the fridge...our drinks. We all took turns showering and watched TV, drank our drink and relaxed. That navy and white polka dot bag with leather-ish trim...is so preppy and I got it at Target last July in Honolulu. : ) But I really love this bag. I'm a firm believer in...you don't have to spend a fortune, to be cute. And I like having Target bags and I also have fancier bags too, either way is cool. : ) 

Hi you two! : ) 

It was nice to just... everyone grab a donut the next day, enough to fill up on and hopping on the road again and it saved time. Not bad for a once in a while treat. : )

In the bag was the free glazed donut.

After driving for hours upon hours. Right before we headed up Hakone mountain we stopped at the base of the mountain and we went and had lunch. Curry for lunch at Coco Ichiban curry. I had the vegetable pork based curry. It was delicious. 

Noah and Bran had the chicken cutlet curry. Except Noah had the half size. Noboru had picked the tonkatsu curry. We filled our tummys and right up the mountain we went! : )

Hello old friend! : ) Our favorite hotel in Hakone. Hotel Marroad. It is not a brand new hotel at all. However it is a very well maintained place and is also spotless. The hotel is very warm (temp wise in winter and fall) in fact it is almost too warm a hotel. And they do not serve Japanese breakfast at all. They are known for their French breakfasts and dinners. Do, I personally find the food French? I really don't think so, but they are definitely leaning more towards a western type breakfast and I'd prefer a western breakfast any day. So the meals are always perfect for our family. 
My loyal loyal suitcase. You have been with me for ages. You are a good friend too. : ) 

Our room, half the room is western and has 2 twin beds. Seen/pictured here. Again very clean, tidy and comfortable. A very spacious room especially for Japan. 

The other room. The tatami room. They set the futons already out for the kids. The boys have beds at home so for them...sleeping on a futon is exciting. A rare treat. : )  You also see a TV and hot water pot. 

Table and tissues and inside that round thing were cups and green tea and tea packets. 

Fridge. Carmex (ours from home), lol. : ) Air purifier a tad pictured on the bottom left of this picture. 

The bathroom with toilet inside. We didn't shower here at all and never do... while here, but that's only because there is a nice sized onsen downstairs and rotenburo and everything. We love that place so much. So yep, we never bother to use the bathroom here except for the toilet and sink. : ) 

The view, right out our window. Mountains all around. Lots of trees. You know that fresh mountainy smell when you're in the mountains. Yep...smelled just like that. 

So many pine trees. No wonder when I took a soak in the rotenburo (outside onsen/bath) that night, I smelled pine in the air. : )

How was it taking a pure 100% EV (electric vehicle) to the mountains? Absolutely no trouble at all. She blazed right up those mountains. Olive kicked booty going right up those mountains ya'll. And little known fact... there is 1 charger spot at the actual famous onsen/bath place called the Yunessun. However you have to bring your own charging cord. Which comes for free with all Nissan Leafs and so we have one. While we swam and played and had supper. Our car ate her supper there too (for free) she basically got a full charge while we played. And heck, she was parked anyways, might as well get a full charge while waiting. There is also a charging station right before you go up the Hakone mountain also, so again no troubles at all. And the man at the Yunessun came and moved the orange cone that was blocking this spot until he saw, we actually had a 100% pure Ev and then he moved the cone nicely for us. And he asked if we had the cord, which yes we do. And after we connected, he locked that box (that Noah was standing near in this picture) with a lock that you can only unlock, if you have the code.  Peace of mind knowing some crazed lunatic can't go and unplug you. Hahaha. Plus they keep an eye on this car since it's right up front. The parking for regular cars, was way in the back. This is the only 1 parking spot available in the front of the Yunessun. : ) So we said..." see ya later Olive, enjoy you meal and you rest and we'll see you in a few hours." : )  She's all shiny and clean and loved by this family. : )

Yep we couldn't possibly be parked any closer to the entrance, then we were. hahaha. : ) 

As I said, they are currently remodeling the outside parts of the Yunessun. So these baths that used to be outside, are for the time being...now on the inside...just until they finish their remodel job. : )  The wine bath. This was the first bath we soaked in. 

Chocolate bath. 

One of my most favorites. The coffee bath. Smells amazing and is so super hot. It's like soaking in a giant tumbler filled of Starbucks.  

Green tea smells so good and this bath is sizzling hot. And considering the weather outside was pretty freezing cold. This felt great. : )

Bran and Noah soaking in the amazake bath. This smelled amazing. I loved this one, I soaked in this one 3 different times that day/evening.

Considering it was a weekday. Friday. It was sorta pretty dead. Which we loved. We have been here at times, when there seemed to be a ton of people and trying to take a pic was difficult, especially with many other folks around. So yeah...this was really cool that there were not many people around. And very nice getting to soak in a chocolate bath with huge chocolate bar above your head. : ) I'd say in the whole entire place there were about 30-40 people in here at the max. 

At one point, the kids wanted to cool off and so we 4 went outside. OMG, it was so freaking cold outside especially while standing outside with soaking wet hair and a wet swim suit. Noah slid down the slide and the slide water is super hot onsen water. 

Hi B. : )

Between all of the fun and amazing scented baths inside... there was also a few nice super hot baths outside in caves. There was a cave behind this waterfall.

Here is another cave that was outside.. it is a bright emerald green color and the water is so hot and it felt amazing considering the air was so crisp and cold.
Nice way to spend a crisp cold Friday afternoon and evening, hanging out inside a cave soaking in a brilliant green hot bath with the family.

It's just such a nice wonderful place to take the family. It's a gorgeous place and all the baths smell so fantastic. And the water is so nice and hot. By the time we left...both Noboru's body and also me too, all my muscles and body felt really relaxed. I know, I felt really great afterwards.

A really beautiful place.

If you live in Japan and know what Capricciosa is and you like it. Then you'd be really happy to know that... in the actual same building as the Yunessun is a exact twin/copy of Capricciosa. : ) Different name, but it's the only Italian restaurant in the building. We always seem to go there for dinner afterwards. We ordered 3 extra large servings of spicy garlic and tomato pasta and 1 pizza. We 4 also had sodas. There was a coupon online and Noboru used that coupon to get our drinks for free. 

We were all very hungry by now. What is it about swimming or being in the water that makes people so hungry? Hahaha. 

We had just finished our meal, we were all stuffed and Noboru was waiting to show the server our coupon for the free drinks on his phone. We stopped at Family Mart to pick up some drinks and night time hotel snacks. And headed back to our hotel. Olive meanwhile was 100% fully charged. Also have to add...we saw a huge and I do mean massive wild boar while driving to our hotel. Our car is dead silent, so we surprised the wild boar and to be fair, he also equally surprised us. They are well known for charging at people...cars etc. Meaning they are not shy. So we slowly reversed our car and lucky for us, he did not charge at us... at full speeds. 

We all put our drinks in the hotel fridge and we all quickly changed into the hotel clothes/yukata type thing and we went down to the basement level to the hotel onsen to soak. We each glanced at the clock and said "let's meet back here in 45 minutes" and I went inside the girls side and washed my face (all the shampoos/conditioners and face washes and cleansing oils are all available for free at each shower stall.) So, I sat and washed my face, my hair, my body. Having gone to onsen before, I know if you are a girl, you need to put your hair up, so I brought a clip and twisted my hair up and clipped my freshly clean hair and went outside. By now it was super cold. Perhaps 1 degree C. About 32 degrees F. The air was so cold. But soaking in that hot onsen felt amazing. My neck and head was cold, but the rest of my body was in the water. It smelled so fresh outside. Definitely had a pine scent from all the trees. I soaked outside for ages. Until it was time for me to go and dry off and put my outfit/yukata type thing back on. I met the fam in the waiting area and we took the elevator to our floor and back to our room. : )

Everyone just snacked on misc stuff. We meanwhile enjoyed the English movie of the night on TV. We had by now...taken about a bazillion baths and showers that day. We all felt extremely relaxed and just enjoyed watching TV. 

We watched Enchanted. We've all seen it before, but it was nice to see it again. : )

After a full day, the boys zonked out to the world, right away.

About to jump into my bed too. Good night. : )

We all woke up around 6am-ish. Noboru and the boys went downstairs to have a morning soapy shower and a nice hot soak in the rotenburo/outside onsen/hot spring. I meanwhile, washed my face in the sink in our hotel room, brushed my teeth. Put my makeup on and flat ironed my hair. And got dressed while they were gone. We went downstairs to have breakfast. Noah had the french toast, tomato soup, dollop of mashed potatoes, salad and the sausage he gave to Noboru. 

My starter course. Noboru and Branden had the same meal that I did. Fresh fruit. sausages which we all gave to Noboru. I enjoyed the salad and dollop of mashed potatoes. There was also a very raw looking egg in the dish and I gave mine to Noboru. Noboru was so stuffed. Getting all the sausages and onsen eggs and whatnot from us. : ) He loved it! : )

And the ham and cheese toast was amazing. Fresh squeezed juice and hot coffee. Breakfast here is really good. : ) 

Last picture of Branden and Noah at the hotel before we checked out. : ) Man that view is beautiful. : )
Next stop, we drove to the black egg place still in Hakone. We looked at the ice cream flavors. And decided we'd each pick the egg ice cream.  I know what you are thinking...egg flavored ice cream. Yikes. : ) And yes, the American part of me thinks stinky raw egg? How vile, hahaha. However the part of me having lived in Japan this long knows...it doesn't smell like stinky raw egg at all. And the flavor...it tastes *exactly* like custard cream. If you like the flavor of perhaps a fresh hot custard. Or if you live in Japan and have ever had a cream filled taiyaki. Exactly the same flavor. A nice rich custard taste. So...try not to think egg or raw egg flavor too much. Try to think...delicious custard. And believe me, I have very western taste buds. And I love this egg ice cream. : )  However the ice cream had to wait a bit because we were going to go and trek up the mountain and get us some black eggs first. : ) 

Branden and Noah with Mt Fuji behind them in the background. : )

Hakone mountain is actually a volcano. And you see the hot steam behind the boys in this pic. 

The eggs inside the natural hot spring on the mountain boiling away. And it does smell pretty bad up here. Not sure if it's the sulphur or whatnot. But yep, it does. : )

The infamous black eggs! Yay!

They give you a pack of salt. And the eggs are super freaking hot. : ) They taste exactly like regular hard boiled eggs. So no worries. Oh and the saying goes, if you eat 1 black egg (I know I have mentioned this before on here: ) but it says you will increase your life expectancy by 7 years, for each black egg you eat. : ) I don't believe that at all, of course but cute story/saying nonetheless. : )

Bran eating a black egg. Branden had 2 eggs. You can see all the people in the background, there are a ton of people up there. You get 5 eggs for 500 yen, in the little bag.

Go Noah go! That egg was steaming hot, and Noah was a real trooper...he kept peeling that egg and didn't give up. : )

Both Branden and Noah picked out a souvenir or two for themselves while at the Yunessun and also at this black egg place. You can see Noah holding his bag with omiyage inside while enjoying his egg soft cream/ice cream.

Branden enjoying his as well.

Us too, I know I really enjoyed mine. Just like a delicious rich custard. 

Noah people watching. ; )

Yep, it says it right here...Hakone is a volcano alrighty. Such a beautiful place if you like soaking in a nice hot onsen/hot spring. : )  Anyway so right after this, we hopped in the car and went down the mountain, leaving Hakone and started heading towards home. It was still morning. But we knew we wouldn't be arriving back to our home until night time. So a long while before home. : ) We drove for hours and around lunch time we stopped at 7-11 for some lunch. I had a pizza-man and a small bag of peanuts and a jasmine tea. The boys each picked a sandwich and split a bag of chips. They each got a drink. Noboru picked a few onigiri/rice balls and a drink and we hit the road once more. Again driving for hours upon hours. 

We stopped somewhere in Chiba and had dinner. We stopped at the Ohsho Chinese restaurant. It was by now jet black outside, meaning the sun had long already set. We arrived back home around 8:45pm. We were exhausted. It sure was a long car ride. : ) We all took turns showering. We saved the unpacking for the next day. And we all went to sleep. It was a fun trip but yep...we were tired because the drive is just super long. 
Both Bran and Noah got 3 souvenirs each (just keeping things fair and even Stevens) : ) Branden's are the 3 on the left. He picked 3 different black egg charms that... he now has 1 of them dangling off his Adidas JHS bag and the other 2 are on his pencil case. : )  Noah meanwhile picked, a black egg file folder (in Japan kids bring notes home and pack up their homework in files like this) And Noah also picked a black egg eraser looks like a marker or  fat pen, but it's actually an eraser and the 3rd thing Noah picked, was a black egg good luck charm. It is now hanging on his randoseru. : ) 

I meanwhile picked 5 scented bath powders. In Ume, green tea, straight tea, coffee and wine. I also picked a black egg magnet. The bath powders our entire family will get usage out of. And the black egg magnet is now on our fridge. : ) Anyway, that's the long and short of our Hakone trip 2015. : )