Today was pretty rough. Started off by rising early and catching a bus to the train station, locating a nearby post office, and shipping my pack of goodies back to Mujib (who I had called beforehand to ensure it was OK). Total shipping cost was around 5,000 yen!
Gifu was my choice for my next stop, as Nagoya (my original destination) was booked solid. No idea why it’s so busy – according to my guidebook, there’s nothing really all that spectacular there. I took the bullet train from Kyoto to Nagoya, then a normal train to Gifu (35 minutes). I arrived in GIFU around 11am, and browsed around until 3pm looking at sights. I didn’t figure that finding the hostel would be difficult (hah!).
Around 3pm, I decided to go to the hostel, and tried to take the advice of the guidebook, “Take the Streetcar for 10 minutes”. Naturally the streetcars weren’t running when I needed them, so I resorted to “old reliable”, the same trick I used in Hiroshima when I didn’t feel like taking streetcars – in other words, following the streetcar tracks on foot. I followed the tracks for 5km or so (with my 50lb backpack) , without finding the correct turn to head for the hostel. I then decided to try guidebook suggestion #2 “You can also take the ropeway from Gifu Park”. I headed for the park (at least another 15km of walking!), and was about to buy a ticket when I found out that you could no longer get to the hostel from the top of the ropeway.
I suppose I should explain here, Gifu Youth Hostel is located on the top of a mountain. You get a rather nice view of the city, but it’s not easy to get to!
I eventually found the necessary path (another 2km of walking, and a bus), and hiked up the “treacherous, steep, slippery”, and generally grueling mountain path. I was drenched in sweat when I arrived at the hostel 20 minutes later. Grabbed dinner, and attempted to make reservations at Awara-Onsen (Awara Hot-springs). I figured that I had definitely earned myself a good soak in the hot-springs, and my first choice (Kanazawa) was booked solid. I didn’t understand the response that the Awara hostel gave me (an old lady who talked fast was on the other end of the line), and my phone-card ran out before I could get more information (and I didn’t have any cash on me for the phone). I decided that I’d just “wing it”, and hope the hostel had some space free when I got there. Supper was quite nice, however all things considered, I still preferred Hiroshima or Kyoto.