A Travellerspoint blog

Kyoto (and more Tokyo Baseball)

sunny 30 °C
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Jordan and I spent Saturday biking through the streets, alleyways and bike paths of Kyoto.

We visited and saw a few things including Nijo Castle and its beautiful gardens.

On Sunday morning, we visited Kyoto's Golden Temple (made out of real gold!)

then took the bullet train back to Tokyo to see the Tokyo Yakult Swallows crush the Baystars 6-2...

The excitement came in the 6th inning when Jordan and Sveta were featured on the scoreboard....

Tomorrow is our last day....

Posted by svjorber 18:31 Archived in Japan Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Hakone Area

semi-overcast 33 °C
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Hakone is a major tourist area in the Tokyo region located near Mt. Fuji. We reached Hakone by the express 1 1/2 hour "Romance Train" from Tokyo. The Japanese know how to do trains...
We bought a fare card that enabled us to ride all the modes of transport in the area for three days, including buses, trains, funiculars, cable cars and ships!. We reached our hotel by bus, the venerable Fujiya Hotel
and rested for the evening. The next day, we explored the area, starting with the Hakone-Tozan Railroad.
all the way to Gora where we switched to a funicular...
and then to a couple of cable cars to reach the top of the mountain at 3000 ft. The mountain is the result of a volcanic eruption and still spews boiling water laden with sulfur and other minerals.
This water is also used to feed the local hotels for hot baths and a thriving wellness industry. A local custom is to cook eggs in this boiling mess. The eggs turn black and are said to add 7 years to your life if you eat one and 14 if you eat two!

From the top of the mountain, one can catch glimpses of the elusive Mount Fuji, which appears and disappears throught the clouds in an instant.

One the other side of the mountain lies lake Ashi, where we cruised the lake on a replica of an old ship.
In the afternoon of the third day, we also visited the great Hakone open air museum
and then ended up taking the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto with top speeds of 160 miles per hour...
See you in Kyoto...

Posted by svjorber 06:03 Archived in Japan Tagged round_the_world Comments (2)


sunny 34 °C
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Before taking off for the short 3 hour hop form Shanghai to Tokyo, Jordan visited the Northwest Airline 747-400 flight deck to ensure that everything was under control.
Upon arrival in Tokyo, we sampled all the modern culinary delights so dear to us, including Starbucks, and Jordan's favorite... Subway!
The next day, we visited Sensoji Temple and the area surrounding, walked through a couple of other neighborhoods and ended the day at a Giant versus Dragon baseball game (well planned in advance) at the Tokyo Dome.
The next day we headed for the countryside.

Posted by svjorber 05:15 Archived in Japan Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)


overcast 33 °C
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We concluded our trip to China with a couple of days in Shanghai, a city of 17 million... Our visit included the famous Yuyuan Garden located in the heart of the old city,
and the old city which has been mostly rebuilt into commercial developments (here is a view at night)
We also visited the waterfront, also known as the Bund (here is the view opposite the Bund)

That's it. Japan is next.

Posted by svjorber 15:33 Archived in China Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Luoyang & Kaifeng

rain 31 °C
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Separated by 2 1/2 hours on the highway, Luoyang and Kaifeng are both former imperial capitals. In Luoyang, we visited the White Horse Temple and then spent some time at the Shaolin Temple, home of the most famous Kung Fu school. We had a chance to visit the temple and the amazing "Pagoda" forest
followed by a Kung Fu demonstration
Jordan and I even tried some of the monk's training equipment...

At the end of the day, we visited the carved Buddhas of the Longmen Caves
including the largest Buddha which is 25 feet in height

The following day, we visited Kaifeng, home of the best documented Jewish community in China. We met with a couple pf descendants of the community and learned of efforts to revive the community. We also visited the 700-year old Iron Pagoda

Posted by svjorber 04:38 Archived in China Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)


semi-overcast 33 °C
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Following Guilin, we flew back north to Xi'an, one of the seven former imperial cities. The city is best known for the tomb of Emperor Qin, which contains the Terra Cotta Warrior Army
Each of the 7000 life-size warrior is different and amazingly lifelike. Following the visit, we were treated to a dumpling banquet
followed by a show

The next two days, we visited some of the attractions in Xi'an, including the Great Wild Goose Pagoda
the lesser wild goose pagoda
a bike ride on the 600-year old city walls
and a visit to the Feng Shui museum

We left Xi'an by train for the 6 hour ride to Luoyang where Jordan displayed his social skills...

Posted by svjorber 15:36 Archived in China Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)


sunny 34 °C
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We flew from Beijing to Guilin in the Southwest of China to admire some of the most dramatic landscapes of then whole country. At first, we took a 4-hour cruise on the River Li to admire the famous karst formations...
On the following picture, Jordan shows the 20 Yuan bill in front of the landscape that inspired its engraving.
Following the cruise, we toured the countryside and visited an old farmhouse used by the same family for many generations. Here Jordan made fried with the owner...

Posted by svjorber 08:31 Archived in China Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)


semi-overcast 32 °C
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We met in Beijing with our friend Jackie for the China leg of our trip. Our visit to Beijing included all the traditional landmarks, including the forbidden city
the Temple of Heaven,
The summer Palace

and the Great Wall of China

In addition, we experienced other sights of Beijing, including he famous Pandas at the Beijing Zoo (like the Moscow zoo, they could use some help)
We also tasted the deliciously famous Peking Duck
but stayed away from some of the street food...

Posted by svjorber 08:37 Archived in China Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)


semi-overcast 23 °C
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Hello from Beijing! Now I have a few minutes to tell you about our days in Moscow. The first thing we had to learn was to navigate the Moscow subway.
Besides being fast, reliable and showing up every 2 minutes on the dot, the Moscow Metro boasts some very nice stations, thanks to its Soviet legacy...

Of course, we visited the main Moscow sites, such as the Red Square and the Kremlin,

Sunday afternoon, we also visited the Moscow Zoo. Quite frankly, many parts of the zoo are in need of serious attention. as the wolves below decry...
The bear did not care so much...

Posted by svjorber 00:53 Archived in Russia Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)



semi-overcast 23 °C
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I am running out of internet time but I wanted to post about our evening at the football game here in Moscow where we had a chance to watch Spartak Moscow, the league leader win over Tomb 3-2. The game was played at the former Olympic stadium in Moscow, home of the Spartans.
The action was excellen, this is where Tomb scored the first goal...
The fans went crazy when Spartak scored back

Posted by svjorber 11:59 Archived in Russia Comments (1)


sunny 23 °C
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Our trip to St. Petersburg would not be complete without a visit to the prestigious Hermitage, one of the great World museum, housing two of the twelve known Leonardo da Vinci paintings in the World.

Not only is the Hermitage a great museum, but it is also an amazing palace with hundred of opulent and lavish rooms.
We spent a few hours admiring the amazing art ranging from roman statues,
to rare Michelangelo statues,
to the Dutch Masters...

Finally, at 4 PM, we boarded the express train for Moscow :)

Posted by svjorber 22:17 Archived in Russia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

A bit of investigative work...

overcast 18 °C
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St Petersburg is the town where Sveta is from, and we wanted to go back to the place where she spent the first three years of her life. I was told that Children's House #11 was closed but our guide told me that he went there with other parents last year. So we went.

It looked very familiar. When we introduced ourselves, a nurse said she did not remember Sveta. When we talked to the Director, she vaguely remembered but we could not find her name in the register. This is when we discovered that we were in The House of Children #11 (Detsky Dom) as opposed to the Children's House #11 (Dom Rebenke) - The Director had no idea where this other place was. Back to ground zero.

We search the internet in Russian and found a list of Children Houses but no Number 11. We called #14 and they said they used to be #11, so we went... Wrong number 11, but there we found a nurse (Valentina) who remembered Sveta and used to work at #11.

We spoke to the Doctor in charge at #14 and they gave us the phone number of the Doctor who signed Sveta's orders 14 years ago in #11 (she is now director at #2) So we went to visit her at Children's House #2

It turns out that Children;s house #2 (they are a lot nicer inside now)
is 200 meters from the original House #11 where Sveta was, which was closed and is now turned into a dental clinic.

Mystery solved. The next day, we printed pictures of the reunions with the Dr, and Valentina and gave then a framed copy as a souvenir. :)

Posted by svjorber 21:38 Archived in Russia Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

Saint Petersburg

overcast 19 °C
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At our next stop, we had the opportunity to visit St Petersbug, the Venice of the North... Here are a sample of the beautiful palaces and monuments to be seen...
The Spilled Blood Cathedral which marks the spot where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated in 1881.

Then comes the statue to Peter the Great presented to him by Catherine:
followed by the famous Aurora ship, involve in three Soviet wars

Here we are posing across from the Hermitage museum

On other days, we ventured outside the city to visit the famous PeterHof
and then Catherine's Palace in Pushkin:

They know how to do palaces...By the way, all these palaces were nearly destroyed in WW II and the Russians have done an incredible job rebuilding all this.

Posted by svjorber 21:25 Archived in Russia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Dead Sea

sunny 43 °C
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Important Facts About The Dead Sea:

  • Dead
  • 1200 Feet below sea level
  • Hot as Hell! (45C=113F)

Anyhow, we had a lovely time at the Dead Sea, the Lowest Point on Earth
We visited the fortress of Masada, where Jewish rebels fought the Roman army in 66 CE.
then some of us took advantage of the nearby En Gedi spa for a delicious mud then sulphur bath...

Posted by svjorber 07:45 Archived in Israel Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)


sunny 36 °C
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On the evening of July 25th, we had a chance to attend a game of the brand new Israel Baseball League. The League is a professional league consisting of 6 teams, mostly made up of US and foreign players.
The Bet Shemesh Blue Sox won 10-1 over the Ra’anana Express behind a dominating pitching performance from Sacramento, California native Rafael Bergstrom. Bergstrom earned his fifth win with a complete game two-hitter, giving up one run first inning before cruising the rest of the way to shut down the Express and strike out six batters while walking two.

The Blue Sox offense gave him more than enough support as shortstop Gregg Raymundo put Bet Shemesh up in the first inning with a two-run homer. Designated hitter Johnny Lopez went 3-for-4 with two RBI while rightfielder Jason Rees provided three more RBI as the Blue Sox won for the first time in four games.

As a special treat, my old friend Gadi who I had not seen in at least 15 years joined us around the 7th inning.

Posted by svjorber 07:31 Archived in Israel Tagged round_the_world Comments (2)

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