Japan/USA diary, day 5

29 October, 2015

Friday 5 June, 2015. 16:30

I got up this morning for the usual routine of heading out to the convention centre on the subway, buying some rice things for breakfast at the 7-11 near there, and then eating them in the warm shelter of the convention centre as it was very cold out. There was also a driving drizzle, making it rather unpleasant. I tried an item with pink rice today, and it had sweet adzuki beans in it, which was nice. I didn’t get anything sweet this morning, figuring I’d tried enough strange sweet things.

Sugar Margarine Snack!
Sugar margarine snack… mmmm…

Read more: It’s all basically food today!

Japan/USA diary, day 4

28 October, 2015

Thursday 4 June, 2015. 23:13

It’s been a bit of a long day. I slept in until almost 07:30 this morning, then made the usual trek out to the convention centre on the subway, buying some sushi packs from the 7-11 again for breakfast, as well as an intriguing looking baked good labelled as a “cheese mushicake”. It was almost savoury cheesy in a slightly unpleasant way that didn’t approach the niceness of cheesecake, and I didn’t finish it. I sat inside the convention centre to eat this morning as it was really cold out today.

The meetings today were considerably more disagreeable than yesterday. No real heated argument, but certainly some frustration by different delegates that we couldn’t agree on certain technical points about various proposed standards. I won’t go into too much detail here.

The lunch break was a bit shorter, so today several of us just went to the restaurant in the convention centre. Their menu was fairly uninspiring, but I chose a katsu curry with rice, which had sliced mushrooms in the sauce. It was a typical Japanese curry and reasonably good.

Sapporo Beer Museum
Sapporo Beer Museum exterior.

After lunch were some more technical sessions, finishing at 16:30 in time for us to leave on a bus at 16:45 for the Sapporo Beer Museum and Beer Garden restaurant for the social event of the meeting. The weather outside had turned frigid and as we arrived there was a light sprinkle of rain, which Jackson described as ice particles and even snow, but I’m sceptical that it was that cold at all. It just felt like a drizzle with a brisk wind to me.

Read more: Visiting the Sapporo Beer Museum, and cooking our own food at the ISO meeting dinner function at its restaurant.

Japan/USA diary, day 3

28 October, 2015

Wednesday 3 June, 2015. 21:39

Today we got into the ad hoc discussion groups in the ISO meeting, which was more interesting than yesterday. These cover the actual technical discussions leading to standards definitions, and often people have differing views on things. Mostly it was a lot of agreement, but there were some disagreements which will need to be nutted out over future drafts of the proposals.

I got up at 07:20 this morning and checked the weather forecast for Sapporo. It said 100% chance of rain, so I took my umbrella, though it wasn’t raining yet and the weather was actually warmer and the sky a bit clearer than yesterday (though still very cloudy). When I got to the convention centre I mentioned to Jackson that I’d brought my umbrella since the forecast said it was going to rain today, and he was surprised as his weather app said there was only a 30% chance of rain.

Night bikes
Rain in Sapporo (evening).

Read more: standards discussions, exploring Sapporo in the rain, dinner with a surprising English menu.

Japan/USA diary, day 2

27 October, 2015

Tuesday, 2 June, 2015. 20:54

I slept really badly, struggling to fall sleep most of the night. At one point I opened my eyes and saw the light of dawn coming in the window and thought it must have been almost time to get up, but when I looked at the clock it was only 03:45! The sun comes up really early here. I closed the curtains tighter and went back to bed to try to sleep some more.

I got up eventually at 07:00, quickly dressed, and left to make sure I could find my way to the convention centre okay. I popped into a convenience store across the street from the hotel to buy a couple of packaged rice snacks for breakfast, and carried them with me on my trip into the subway.

I had to get to Higashi station, but managed to confuse myself and got on the wrong subway line, because the station near the hotel caters to three intersecting lines. Instead of the Orange Tozai line, I got the green Namboku line, since it has a station called Hiragishi, which I mistook for my destination in my hurried reading of the maps as I was negotiating the maze of tunnels in a streaming mass of commuters. I realised when on the wrong train, but thankfully before reaching the next stop, so I turned around and only had to come back one station to correct my error.

Sapporo Convention Centre
Sapporo Convention Centre.

Read more: First day of ISO Photography meetings, sushi lunch, exploring Odori Park, and Old Ramen Alley for dinner

Japan/USA diary, day 1

25 October, 2015

Monday, 1 June, 2015. 20:46 Japan time

I am sitting on the rapid airport train from New Chitose Airport to Sapporo, just waiting for it to leave the airport and carry me into the city. The airport is a long way out and the trip apparently takes 45 minutes or so.

I got up at 05:00 back in Sydney this morning, dressed and called a taxi to take me straight to the airport. The driver was chatty and kept saying how mechanically terrible his taxi was, and how in particular the brakes needed fixing. Traffic is light that early in the morning.

I checked in and managed to get the last exit row seat on the flight to Tokyo. I had no large bag to check in, packing light enough to keep everything in carry on. After getting boarding passes through to Sapporo, I went through customs and into the departure terminal, which is being renovated, again. The huge duty free shop at the entrance has been moved into what was the large elliptical open area in the middle of the terminal, crowding out several other shops and food places.

Being so early, many of the food places weren’t open yet. I found one place that served muesli, with yoghurt and a poached pear, which was interesting and very nice. Though it cost a whopping $17. After eating, the sun rose spectacularly through a panoramic window looking north-east to the city, and I grabbed a few photos.

Leaving Sydney
Sunrise at Sydney Airport.

Read more: Flight to Sapporo via Tokyo, then dinner at restaurant in Sapporo.

South Australia diary, day 9

25 October, 2015

Friday, 15 May, 2015. 12:12

We got up early this morning, just before 07:00, so we could drive up to Adelaide and get breakfast at the Adelaide Central Market before catching our flight home to Sydney. We packed our bags and left the motel room, then joined the procession of cars in the weekday morning commute into the city.

The weather has finally fined up here, on our last day. The sun had barely risen as we set out and McLaren Vale was shrouded in morning fog. The main road north to Adelaide was pretty light on traffic, especially compared to Sydney. On the freeway we witnessed an accident happening right in front of us. A car in the innermost lane clipped the concrete barrier and came to a crunching stop. Several other cars stopped to assist by the time we had pulled level, so we drove on.

The traffic intensified a bit closer in to the city, but was still not a problem. We navigated on to King William Street and from there turned into Grote Street and the car park for the market, arriving a bit after 08:00.

Poached eggs and smoked salmon
Poached eggs and salmon at Adelaide Central Market.

We had a brief look around and M. got a cup of coffee before we found a cafe bar where we could order some breakfast. M. got some banana bread with ricotta and rhubarb compote, while I had poached eggs with smoked salmon on some very thick slices of toast. The eggs were good, though could have been just a touch softer in the middle.

Read more: More food and yummy stuff at the market, before flying home.

South Australia diary, day 8

25 October, 2015

Thursday, 14 May, 2015. (no time recorded)

We walked out to Bracegirdle’s House of Fine Chocolate for breakfast this morning. Being a good Hobbit name, I expected we could have had second breakfast as well if we wanted to, but a serve of muesli and a hot chocolate was good enough to charge us up for the day. Bracegirdle’s is also a chocolate shop, and has a sign boasting award winning chocolates. It seems every second cafe, bakery, winery, and restaurant in South Australia has won awards for something.

Breakfast at Bracegirdle's
Breakfast at Bracegirdle’s.

The muesli was a gluten-free mix with no oats, but lots of little seeds and rice crisps. It came with yoghurt and fresh strawberries and banana slices, all piled in layers in a large glass. Which looks nice, but makes it highly impractical to stir and mix everything before eating it. It tasted good though.

Read more: We drive through the hills, visit a gallery for lunch, go to the beach, see a spectacular sunset, and have Italian food for dinner

South Australia diary, day 7

13 September, 2015

Wednesday, 13 May, 2015. 09:33

We have woken up to a fine and sunny morning in Hahndorf, but very cold. We walked out to Cafe Assiette for breakfast. They had muesli on the menu, served with fresh banana, yogurt, and local honey. M. asked if she could have something substituted for her banana, and they said would strawberries be okay. M. said yes, and the other serving (mine) would be fine with banana. Then the lady said they didn’t have banana this morning! The fruit choices were strawberry or fig. M. asked for strawberry on both, but when they came they both had both strawberries and figs. Which was good, because I preferred the figs, and we did a swap. The muesli was really good, and the honey was a bit spicy which went well with it when mixed in with the yoghurt.

Muesli at Cafe Assiette
Muesli at Cafe Assiette.

On the way back we popped into a chemist to buy some sunglasses for me, after I lost my pair somewhere yesterday. I got a cheap pair, which M. says looks almost the same as my other pair.

Read more: We check out the jam factory at a berry farm, the home of one of Australia’s most famous landscape painters, and travel to the McLaren Vale wine region for more good food and wine.

South Australia diary, day 6

6 September, 2015

Tuesday, 12 May, 2015. 17:36

We are in Hahndorf after a day on the road from Nuriootpa.

We got up and went out for breakfast, driving the 2 km from our motel into Angaston. We went to the Soul with Zest cafe and both got the muesli, which was untoasted and unsweetened, and came with a small bowl of chopped fresh fruit on the side and milk. M. swapped her banana slices for my apple slices. I noticed the cafe had an interesting looking vanilla slice, with a cream layer and brown icing, and tried that, but was disappointed with the coffee flavour and overwhelming sweetness.

7 Grange Hermitages
Bottles of Grange Hermitage at Penfolds Winery.

After breakfast we checked out of our motel and drove into Nuriootpa. Just out the other side we stopped at the Penfolds winery to taste some wines, getting there right after they opened at 10:00. It was a bit early in the morning for M. but I tasted some starting with a Pinot Gris, which was very nice. The red wines started quite heavy with a Shiraz Cabernet blend, and only got richer and weightier from there. They had several bottles of the famous Penfolds Grange there, for sale from around $800 a bottle and upwards. They did offer tastings of Grange, but unlike the complimentary tastings of other wines, they charged $50 for a tasting amount of Grange, not even a full glass. They had a range of other Shiraz and Shiraz blends to try, and I tried several of them, before settling on a selection for a case of six bottles to be shipped home for us.

Read more: We leave the Barossa Valley, travel through scenic countryside hills, and find a Bavarian village!

South Australia diary, day 5

30 August, 2015

Monday 11 May, 2015. 16:30

We’ve checked into a motel in Angaston in the Barossa Valley as we wind our way south again, having said goodbye to the Clare Valley today.

We got up and headed into Clare to have breakfast at Wild Saffron, a cafe that M. wanted to try. We got there just as the doors were opened at 08:30. We took a table near the front window, next to a wall where various celebrities had signed and left messages. We identified messages from Catriona Rowntree and Stuart MacGill among some other less familiar names. To eat, we both had the “healthy trio” muesli, with fruit salad and yoghurt. The muesli was slightly toasted but not sweet, and had macadamia nuts in it. The fruit salad was watermelon, rockmelon, pineapple, and grapes.

Monkey has a cuppa
Breakfast coffee at Wild Saffron.

After breakfast we returned to our motel to check out and then drove out to Mintaro to see the Mintaro Maze and Martindale Hall. The maze is a classic hedge maze, the goal being to navigate to the hidden circular pond in the centre, and then find your way to the exit. We arrived right after it opened at 10:00 and entered the small gift shop at the front of the property. It looked like the maze had been grown by someone on their own private property and was just run as a family business. The lady who took our entrance fee of $12 each gave us a sheet of paper with some quest questions on it and a pencil. Some of the questions were: “What team does the lost football fan in the maze support?” “One hump or two?” “Who is lost in the maze (it’s someone you may recognise)?” “How many sisters are there?” “How many gnomes are in the maze?” “Who in the maze is associated with love?” And “How many gnomes in the gnome village have red hats?”

Read more: We get lost in the maze, visit a Georgian mansion, have lunch at a winery, and eat the Best Pizza in Australia (2009) for dinner!