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    Winter in Hokkaido Part 13 – Wrap-Up

    (This post is part of an ongoing travelogue. To start at the very beginning, click here.) On our final day, it’s a very early alarm, followed-up by coffee and breakfast in our room. Our hotel provided free shuttle bus to the airport (full marks for our hotel!). After that, it was the usual for any flight. Check in luggage, get through immigration (not as bad as I thought), wait, wait, wait, board the plane, then home sweet home. (one final family photo while waiting for the airport shuttle bus) So, our week long vacation in beautiful Hokkaido has finally come to an end, after a year of waiting, and months…

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    Winter in Hokkaido Part 12 -Otaru!

    (This post is part of an ongoing travelogue. To start at the very beginning, click here.) So here we are on the last full day of our vacation. And today we are going to OTARU! Otaru is a small port city with a picturesque canal. It used to be a centre for the fishing and whaling trade, but when that died out (probably due to the whales protesting), they moved towards newer industries like glassworks, sake distilleries and music boxes. Yes, it sounds strange, but music boxes from Otaru are very sought after across the world. We took a JR train from Chitose (70 minutes by Airport Rapit Transit, 30…

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    Winter in Hokkaido Part 11 – Bear Mountain and Back to Chitose

    (This post is part of an ongoing travelogue. To start at the very beginning, click here.) Day 6 started off in Noboribetsu. At 11.00 am, we are planning to catch a bus back to Chitose, so we still have a few hours to spare. Today, we plan to take the cable car up to Bear Mountain. But before anything, it’s time for a good breakfast at Manseikaku! Breakfast here was as good as dinner the day before. The cable car station to Bear Mountain is quite near our hotel, but the climb up (either by stairways or a longer trek on the road) is quite steep. The good thing is…

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    Winter in Hokkaido Part 10 – Noboribetsu

    (This post is part of an ongoing travelogue. To start at the very beginning, click here.) When we woke up in the morning, this was the view that greeted us from our hotel room. (sometimes life doesn’t get much better than this) It was amazing to sit and stare at this majestic view endlessly, watching the little backhoe machines clear the roads, workers standing on the slippery roof slopes shovelling snow, watching little kids run out to play in snow mounds taller than them… After some breakfast and coffee. time to get going again. We’re going to Noboribetsu today, via Chitose. We had booked our return bus seats online weeks…

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    Winter in Hokkaido Part 9 – Playing Snow at Westin Rusutsu Resort

    (This post is part of an ongoing travelogue. To start at the very beginning, click here.) When planning for this trip, we had decided on spending at least one night in a ski resort. Why, you would probably ask. There’s snow everywhere, on the side walk, on the road. Why go all the way to a ski resort? Well, the snow is different, for one. And there’s also the breathtaking scenery. So in Hokkaido, near to Sapporo, there are a few ski resorts, seeing that there are a few mountain ranges to the north and south. The most popular ones are Niseko, Rusutsu, Teine and Tomamu, to name a few.…

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    Winter in Hokkaido Part 8 – Tanukikoji Shopping Arcade

    (This post is part of an ongoing travelogue. To start at the very beginning, click here.) From Asahiyama Zoo, we took the free shuttle bus back to the JR train station (this time we all got seats). The train station was quite empty, as it was quite early in the afternoon. I can imagine how packed this station will be later at 5pm when zoo is closed. We were looking for a cafe or a snack bar to get some hot food and drinks, but there weren’t any after the turnstiles, but we found one on the platform. We bought some hot coffee. When the train arrived, we had to…

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    Winter in Hokkaido Part 7 – Asahiyama Zoo

    (This post is part of an ongoing travelogue. To start at the very beginning, click here.) Day 3 started very early for us. Today, we are going to the Zoo! Asahiyama Zoo, located in the town of Asahikawa, about 137 km from Sapporo. When we first arrived at the airport on our first day, I bought a ticket package that include unreserved train to Asahikawa, bus to the zoo and zoo entry ticket for JPY 6,130. We had really wanted to get the Limited Express Zoo Train that is decked out with animal decor, but it had been sold out. So we had to settle for a regular train. Weather…

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    Winter in Hokkaido Part 6 – Jingisukan at Sapporo Beer Museum

    (This post is part of an ongoing travelogue. To start at the very beginning, click here.) From the Tsudome site, we walked back to the subway station and took a short train ride to Higashi-kuyakusho-mae Station. Our last stop for the day is the Sapporo Beer Museum. From the station, to walk quite a little distance to the Museum. At this juncture, we got a little lost, since it was quite dark already, and fresh snow had covered whatever shortcut path (mostly through side lanes and parking spaces). And to top it all off, our WiFi egg battery was dead so we could not use Google Maps. But getting some…

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    Winter in Hokkaido Part 5 – Snow Festival at the Tsudome Site

    (This post is part of an ongoing travelogue. To start at the very beginning, click here.) So after having our long and late lunch in Curb Market, we decided to take a cab to the nearest subway station, since it was quite a distance to walk back. This move saved us a lot of time, which turned out to be a very important decision in the course of the day. So here’s a bit about using a cab in Sapporo / Japan. Usually, most guides and blogs tell you that cabs are expensive. But for us, since we were travelling in a group of four, it was often cheaper to…

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    Winter in Hokkaido Part 4 – Curb Market (Sapporo Jōgai Ichiba)

    (This post is part of an ongoing travelogue. To start at the very beginning, click here.) In every major city in Japan, there is at least one market where seafood is sold. Usually, you can pick your fresh seafood, go to restarant nearby and they can cook the food for you there and then. In Kyoto, you have Nishiki market. In Tokyo, there is, of course the world famous Tsukiji fish market. In Seoul, we have also visited a similar market called Noryangjin. Here in Sapporo, they have two – Curb Market (Sapporo Jōgai Ichiba) and Nijo market. In preparing this itinerary, I was rather undecided on which one to…