Worrall Travel R's

Worrall Travel R's
Roz and Russ

Worrall Travel R's - Kicking the Bucket List

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We are the Worrall Travel R's Roz and Russ Worrall. Our goal before we "kick the bucket" is to see as much of the world as we are able, learn about world cultures, experience making friends around the world, and share goodwill and what we learn with others. WE HOPE YOU JOIN US VIA THE BLOG ON OUR TRAVELS.

We started our world travels in 1969 in VW camper van in the USA, Canada, and Europe, but didn't actively blog about our travels until 2009 aboard our sailing vessel SV Worrall Wind, a 44 ft Nauticat Ketch.  On September 5, 2009 we left San Francisco and took a left at the Golden Gate to Explore the World.

From to Sea to Land
After almost 4 years of cruising Mexico and the South Pacific, we sold our beloved boat in Australia, 2013. The Worrall Travel R's are continuing our travels around by many other means of conveyance -boats,trains, planes, sometimes camels, elephants, rickshaws, and hot air balloons.. 

Russ is a retired engineer, optometrist, professor from U.C. Berkeley. Roz is a retired computer programmer/analyst, educator, (teacher, administrator, professional developer). 

Our Mantra:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
~ Mark Twain

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Himeji Castle, WTRD 27 of 49, September 30, 2017

We asked this traditionally well-dressed couple directions to the castle

After a leisurely morning in Okayama, we arrived 35 minutes away by fast train to Himeji to see the most massive and well preserved castle in Japan. Read more about this castle's history here. By the time we visited the tourist information center, chatted with the guy below,  

got settled at our hotel, ate lunch, and walked to the castle it was about 2:30-3:00 pm.

A model of the castle shows how massive the castle and 85 outbuildings are. 

Built on a hill,  the castle dates back to 1333 and according to Wikipedia  "is frequently known as Hakuro-jō or Shirasagi-jō ("White Egret Castle" or "White Heron Castle") because of its brilliant white exterior and supposed resemblance to a bird taking flight.[" 

The castle has been rebuilt and restored many times since then.  

Still standing after bombing in World War II

When we left the south entrance of the train station, Himeji  castle dominates the horizon.  

It is about a 30-40 minute walk.  The castle is partially surrounded  by a moat 

and  it is a challenge just to get in (climbing up the hill with multiple twists, turns, passageways, and gates, all a part of the defensive strategy to protect the occupants.  

Archer's windows on wall

Artistic arrow openings pilfered from a temple.

One must stoop to get through this door.

The massive boulder walls are built on an angled up slope with large rectangular holes at the top of the wall. While the angled wall made it easier for invaders to climb, it also provided a better view for the defenders to see the position of the enemy and with more precision roll out large rocks out of the rectangular openings to crush and kill invaders.

Inside the castle, the first floor is very dark, with little outside light from small openings in the thick rock walls.  

More interesting than the other castles we have been in, this one is not a museum and still maintains the character and design of the rooms of the original castle.  The rooms at the base are quite large and become smaller but with increasing light until the top layer of this castle is reached.

The top two levels of the castle provide an excellent observation tower.

After a couple of hours at the castle, we walked back along the main boulevard to the train station doing a little window shopping, 

and dining along the way.  

Tomorrow, we plan to visit a Buddhist Temple where part of the movie the Last Samauri was filmed, and take the train to Kobe.....maybe for dinner of Kobe beef, and then return to Himeji before heading to Hikone on Monday.

All is well with the Worrall Travel R's in Himeji Japan

Friday, September 29, 2017

Castles, Gardens, Shopping in Okayama, WTRD 26 of 49 - Halfway, September 29, 2017

Butterflies and Flowers along the Asahi River
Our little hobbit room has room darkening shades, 

and I slept in until 8:30.  That is remarkable for me, since 5:30 or 6:00 is my wakeup norm.  Russ had awakened earlier but let me sleep and scrunched himself under the tiny desk on the tiny stool with no place for his knees.

After our continental breakfast looking out large picture windows of the street below, 

we took off by foot to visit Okayama castle first built in 1597 and the Korakuen Garden.  Our walk to the castle took us by the Okayama Symphony Hall.
This Mom waits for light.  She has either dropped off the other kids or is planning a bigger family.

Intrigued by the stair case we went up to look around, but a conference was in session, so stayed outside the Halls.

We had a great lunch in a little cafe overlooking the river and castle, 

Okayama Castle (museum on the inside)

Called the Crow (Blackbird) Castle because of the black (somewhat faded now) color

Magnificent views of Okayama.

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The Japanese feudal lord, Ikeda Tsunamasa, daimyo ordered the construction of the garden in 1687.  It was completed in 1700. In 1884 the garden was opened to the public.  The gardens are impressive and serve as a beautiful backdrop for wedding photos.

Bamboo Forest

KOI feeding frenzy

Frogs' eye view from pond looking up at lotus leaf.

Geocaching & Shopping

After a refreshing rest at our hotel, we set off again toward the train station to find a geocache.  Success!  We looked for three of them the day before in Kurashiki and didn't find any of them.  We continued our walk just taking in everyday sights and sounds of Okayama.

We had an Italian dinner at an underground mall, and then for evening entertainment, we went into the four story Bic Camera store.  

We have never seen anything like this, maybe a Frys on steroids.  It was a cacophony of sounds being emitted from thousands of electronic devices, stereos, arcade machines, music boxes, player pianos.  The store has everything electronic and kids stuff too.  We got an especially big kick out of the men and women who were trying out the massage chairs.  This may be a Friday night ritual.  One guy had kicked of his shoes and was fast asleep.  All the chairs were full.

The chairs about 5,400 dollars, so if it is too expensive, the next best thing is to stake one out in the store for a nap.  Here are few other shots of the myriad of products.

Hair Dryers

Rice Cookers

Multi-door and multi-drawer refrigerators.

Remote controlled light fixtures.

Toilets that wash, dry, and play babbling brook sounds to disguise toilet noise.

Friday Night Fun with the Video Arcade machines.

Need a new suitcase?
All fascinating and examples of rampant, crazy consumerism.  We preferred the gardens but wouldn't have missed this!

All is well with the Worrall Travel R's in Okayama leaving for Himeji tomorrow.