Osaka was our next port of call! We flew from Haneda into Itami as we didn’t fancy a long train journey. It was also my 29th birthday so to be spending it on a plane, even for a very short flight, was not my idea of a fun start but with the promise of Universal Studios later that day, I managed to pull up my socks and get on with it.
Whilst perusing through the airport, Alistair decided that some ramen was in order so we ventured into this cute little restaurant and ordered up two bowls of steaming noodles. Whilst we were waiting, the lady rushed over to us and said that I couldn’t partake in the deliciousness because the ramen contained nuts. She politely plopped the money back into Alistair’s hand and quickly set about making his breakfast. I was highly disappointed, to say the least but also eternally grateful that she swiftly corrected her mistake and I didn’t die.
It was an absolute beast of a bowl and brimming with piping hot ramen noodles and plentiful pieces of pork. I was incredibly jealous and sat there with a face of thunder, I have no doubt. I perked up a bit when it came to watching Alistair attempt to use chopsticks so all in all, it wasn’t a great loss and I was mildly entertained for a couple of minutes.
Now came the challenge of finding something for myself to stifle my rumbling tummy. With the fear of eating anything riddled with nuts, I settled for the very traditional Japanese snack: a cheese hot dog.
It was actually very good, especially with the ooey gooey cheese and tangy mustard. Granted, it isn’t an authentic Japanese dish but it certainly filled a hole and I was 99.9% sure it wouldn’t kill me which is an added bonus.
Once we landed, we hopped on a coach which whisked us to our hotel, The Park Front Hotel, Universal Studios. The drive was pretty interesting and gave off a completely different vibe to Tokyo. I still wonder why there were so many ferris wheels scattered throughout the city though.
Once we had arrived at our destination, we quickly deposited our bags at the front desk and set off for Universal! The hotel itself is directly opposite the main gates so we were in the park within a minute. I was excited to see how it would compare to our beloved Universal Studios in Orlando, and even in California! One thing I will say is that visitors are allowed, and even encouraged, to dress up! This is a big no no in Disney World and US in Florida but here, Alistair and I looked like the odd ones out for not joining in. If I’d have known I would have definitely gone all out and embraced my inner nerd. We saw a very convincing Harry Potter, Dumbledore, Snape and Hagrid spotted in the Jurassic Park area which was a bit of a mind melt. Oh, and these guys too:
How is that even allowed? I also spy a few Jokers in the background.
So happy they still had Jaws the ride here! It was one of my favourites in Orlando and an absolute classic. As much as I love Harry Potter and Diagon Alley, my heart is still a little put out that they decided to get rid of it in favour of the boy who lived.
My mum’s all time favourite place to eat in Orlando! My only gripe with them is that they got rid of my beloved hot dog. I also see some Super Mario business going on there!
Ah, Amity Island, I miss you! And the smell of the water. Weird but true. It’s very nostalgic and brings me back to the time when my brother was petrified of it and would keep his eyes firmly shut for the duration of the ride. Good times.
Seeing as it was only a few days past Halloween, they still had their annual Halloween Horror Nights on. This was one of the main reasons we decided to venture to US as I am an avid lover of anything scary and horror related so I was absolutely over the moon to be attending as the Japanese are renowned for showcasing and producing the goriest, most terrifying and fear inducing movies known to man! We had entry tickets for Insidious: The Last Key and it certainly lived up to all of my very high expectations. We had to go in in a group of four and hold onto a velvet rope so nobody would get lost or potentially run off mid scare! It. Was. Awesome! At one point during our walk through, one of the girls got so scared that she accidentally whacked Alistair on the leg. Poor thing.
We also managed to snag tickets for SADAKO which was essentially The Ring. I adore this movie and was highly looking forward to seeing her in action. We were seated in a theatre and had no clue what was going on or what was going to happen as it was all in Japanese. Basically, she popped up here and there at random times and sometimes even right in front of your face which was a little disconcerting but it definitely got the heart pumping. Luckily, she didn’t make a face to face appearance for us as Alistair would have more than likely given the dear a bloody nose.
Alistair was feeling a little peckish after all of our frightful feats so we strolled back to Amity Island where he ordered fried chicken and chips. With two beers, of course. I reckon he only ordered this for the pretty packaging. They really do love going above and beyond for every little thing they do.
How amazing is that?! The exterior was definitely superior to the food unfortunately as he found the chicken a little greasy. What a pity.
It was getting pretty late now so we decided to call it a day and head back to the hotel and than decide what we wanted to do for dinner as nothing had past my lips except that infamous hot dog that morning and a couple/a lot of beers.
I name this pose “Attempting to stop the walls from closing in around me”. Rather poetic.
Alistair also very kingly gifted me with a Jaws jumper and a Hard Rock Cafe Osaka t-shirt. With Hello Kitty! You can’t get much cuter than that in my books.
Speaking of Hard Rock, that’s where we wound up eating for dinner. I am a huge fan of this chain and collect their shirts so whenever we go away somewhere, we instantly try to hunt one down so I can add to my ever growing collection.
Drinks wise, I stuck with my trusty beer and Alistair opted for a Long Island Iced Tea.
Food wise, I ordered my all time favourite: Club sandwich and fries.
Look how thick, meaty and mighty this looks! The chicken and bacon were cooked to perfection and the tomato was so fresh and juicy. I was in sandwich heaven!
Alistair chose: Fish and chips.
This was far better than his previous meal and he happily chomped away on this. The batter was crunchy and the fish was flaky and sweet. It was a perfect ending to a perfect day. Now all we wanted to do was climb into bed and snooze until sunrise.
The next morning, we had a little walk around City Walk.
Because who doesn’t love the Moomins?!
A secret past time of ours is the go exploring in international supermarkets and see what we come across. The weirder, the better! I especially liked this:
Three slices of bread! My mum could learn a thing or two about this as she constantly throws away half a loaf of bread sometimes because it’s “gone off”. There would be zero waste if we had this in the UK. I do wonder why it’s three slices and not four? Unless they like their triple decker sandwiches in Japan, it is a mystery that will remain unsolved.
Love their selection of drinks even though you do have to be careful with what you pick up. It’s truly a matter of looking at the pictures on the bottles and trying to determine what it is or could potentially be. We opted for a drink from a vending machine in Disneyland and it tasted like sweat. No joke. We did wind up with a few good’uns though.
We took the train from Osaka to Kyoto to do a little bit of sight seeing. And to indulge in a McDonalds breakfast too, of course. The walk was stunning and it was so quiet, serene and peaceful.
And a bonus one of myself, on a bridge, looking dark and ominous. Pretty sure Alistair was willing me to fall in.
Alistair was famished so we walked to McDonalds to get him a well earned McMuffin.
He went for the crisp chicken McMuffin and a hash brown. Oh and two very large, very tasty orange juices. He truly enjoyed this and gobbled it down in no time at all. All that walking does give you a hearty appetite, that’s for sure.
Once we had had our fill of Kyoto, we jumped on a train to Dotonbori to check out the famous market and of course, the legendary street food!
The place itself was jam packed and there was so much to look at, that I definitely woke up with a stiff neck the next day. It was vibrant, spirited and the smells hit you from all directions.
We started out with these delectable crab legs.
These were the tastiest, sweetest, freshest little morsels of crab meat that I have ever eaten. All I will say is, they are annoyingly difficult to pick up with chopsticks and I did worry that a) people would stop, stare and laugh at us and b) we would drop these little bites of seafood sensations. A massive 10/10 for the both of us.
Up next, we knew that we just had to sample the sublime Takoyaki or otherwise known as octopus balls. I am not the greatest fan of octopus as it can be extremely chewy and also the look kinda puts me off but I knew that I couldn’t pass up such an iconic dish. We decided to get octopus, plus the safe ham and cheese balls, just in case we didn’t like the prior.
I was completely fascinated and in awe of how they went about making these little bundled balls. The ladies were on fire with how swiftly and accurately they put these little guys together. I could’ve sat and watched them for hours but that would’ve probably been a little creepy.
And the finished product!
These was scolding hot so we had to be extremely cautious and take delicate bites until they cooled down profusely. Again, the chopsticks were more of a hindrance than a help so we struggled somewhat. The octopus was only the tiniest bit rubbery but aside from that, I thoroughly relished every nibble. The ham and cheese ones were also delicious and the cheese especially was very rich and creamy in flavour. Another big hit.
We meandered back to our hotel where we settled in for the night with a couple of very interesting beers and Harry Potter in Japanese. Thankfully, I have seen the films a million times so I knew what was taking place but Alistair hadn’t so he was pretty much out of the loop and kept asking me what was happening, who’s he and my favourite, what’s a Harry Potter? That boy does amuse me.
Yes, you did read that correctly. That can is 9%. And let me tell you, you definitely feel it after a few of those bad boys.
Dinner wise, we were feeling especially lazy and lethargic so strolled over to McDonalds. Yes, McDonalds again. Twice in one day. We were on a roll. I was desperate to try the terriyaki chicken burger so it had to be done. As usual, we ended up ordering way too much food, with three burgers and a large fries each to our name, so we must learn to control ourselves and rein back a bit on the food front. Anyway, it was delicious and it all got consumed so the only down side was the terrible stomach ache I had to endure later that evening and early the next day.
Time to eat!
You’ve all surely seen what a Big Mac looks like. It was very tasty and didn’t fall apart nearly as much as ones we’ve devoured before.
Holy cheesus, this was lovely! I do like a good cheeseburger from McDonalds, it has to be said, so this was doubly tasty. Is it just me, or does anyone else enjoy scraping the cold, congealed cheese from off the wrapper and gorging on it? Nope, just me? Okay then. Moving swiftly on.
The star of the show! The teriyaki chicken burger was succulent, moist and the sauce was sweet, sour and tangy all at the same time.
Ignore that random chip in my ketchup. I’m a beast when I’m starving and sauce is the way forward. Oh and I’m also blaming those 9% drinks. They are lethal. With stuffed stomachs, we rolled into bed and let sleep wash over us.
Goodnight Universal Studios, and thank you for having us!
Up next, Hiroshima!
END OF PART 2.