Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sayonara Niseko, Konnichiwa Sapporo!

On Friday morning, we walked up to the Welcome Center on a gorgeous blue-sky morning and
embarked on our bus journey to Sapporo City. We had spent 12 amazing days in Niseko, thoroughly enjoying the powder, gourmet food, onsens and wonderful company of friends.
Yotei san's peak was almost visible and all the lifts appeared to be open.
Sapporo is infamous for not only its annual snow festival, but also for its ramen and beer!
While GQ & Herminator took Sleeping Beauty & Polar Bear to the Sapporo Beer Factory for lunch and then ice skating at the Makomanai ice rink, Hot Toddy, Trooper and I walked across the street to Ramen City, where there were 5 or 6 ramen specialty shops in one area. We chose a ramen shop with a long queue in front, waiting for lunch to be served. The specialty soup had a unique black smoky broth with flavorful pork, bean sprouts, green onion, bamboo shoots and lots of noodles.
The handmade gyoza were great as well!
We hope to return next year to try a different ramen shop.
While we tried to avoid lolly gagging, we walked through the underground mall near the subway station and found Gift Gate, a Hello Kitty store! Trooper was happy to see the popular cat.
Our real shopping destination was Tokyu Hands. Trooper and I walked through all 7 floors, checking out the shopping. On one of the floors, we found "Booty" next to the shoe polish!
In the costume section, there was the "Mr. Obama" mask.
Our group reconvened for dinner and we walked in the snowstorm to...
Kani Honke... one of Sapporo's all-crab restaurants.
This particular restaurant had 7 floors of seating. We ate crab tofu, crab salad, crab tempura, fried crab, taraba crab, snow crab, king crab, hairy crab, roasted crab...
...crab gratin, crab miso soup, crab miso (brains), etc.
Our final dinner in Sapporo was crabby! Totemo oishi!!!
Crab is my favorite food so I was thrilled to eat a lot of it on my last night.
The snow shower dumped a lot of snow onto the streets as evidenced by these bikes.
We had just missed the Odori Park illumination festival as they were now preparing for the annual snow festival for early February. But, we saw some nicely lit trees.
We stayed at the Hotel Gracery, just right across the street from Sapporo Station.
The hotel had a glass elevator which gave us great views of Daimaru department store and the train station.

On Saturday morning, we took a long bus ride to the airport and whisked through the airport to do some onigiri and chocolate shopping before boarding our Continental flight to Guam.
GQ was sad to leave Sapporo. Trooper was sad but she was also excited to see her family in Saipan. We are blessed for the opportunity to travel with so many of our friends on this trip: the Johnson's, Lamar's, Misaki, Brostrom's, Camacho's, Graf's, von Siebenthal's, Suzuki's, Kento, Horai's, Gardener, Goodwin's, Auther's and of course, Mimi! The overall experience is incomparable to any other trip as we're able to enjoy so much time with our friends.
We look forward to the SWAT party in February!


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