It was the dawn of yet another beautiful day in Japan. The sun was just beginning to shine down on the tracks as we waited on the platform to catch our train to Osaka. Thankfully we were assured by the kind young man in uniform that we had the right platform. Kyoto is a pretty busy station and it was a little challenging for us to find one of the “local” trains since they don’t seem to be as well marked as the Shinkansen. Our train was right on schedule and we were soon aboard and on our way to Osaka, which is only about a 30 minute train ride south of Kyoto. Another full day was on the schedule since we had planned to go on a 3-hour bike tour of the city, followed by a baseball game later that evening. At this point we were both actually a little tired and we wondered if we had enough gas left in the tank to keep up the twenty something hipsters that were sure to be on our tour. But life is too short and we thought that we may regret our decision if we didn’t go in spite of ourselves.
As instructed we met at the JR Fukushima station and waited for the rest of our group to arrive.Eventually we found our tour guide Mayco (or May like the main character in the My Neighbor Totoro movie), from Cycle Osaka, and were soon joined by a lovely couple from Australia and a father/son from Hong Kong. Then we walked a few blocks to get our bikes and go through a quick orientation meeting.
Here is May showing us the route we were going to take, which would take us along the river and all the way to Osaka castle and then back again. Ready, set, go! Our first stop was at the river where we got our first glimpse of downtown Osaka…
A picture of us with one of the cutest buildings in Osaka in the background…the little “TEA” building! It’s so cute and is THE place to go for afternoon tea. There was another cyclist that caught my eye in the rose garden… And believe it or not he was riding a Trek bike, which is a Wisconsin based company. Next we geared up for our first climb… Which I’m happy to report that both of us made to the top of the spiral without having to stop!!!
Another stop to admire the lovely koi pond… A fun bridge crossing… Then we were on the castle grounds, but stopped for some ice cream after a few steep hill climbs! Just one more hill to climb..and we were rewarded with a picture perfect day to enjoy the grounds of Osaka castle… Luckily I won a prize for being the first one to spot the building that May pointed out at the beginning of our ride. It was her favorite snack food (Calbee potato sticks) which I happily shared with the rest of the group. Then we cruised back down the hill and made our way through the busy streets of Osaka… One last stop at another beautiful rose garden… Thankfully we all made it back in one piece and enjoyed a cold beverage and each other’s company as plans were made for the rest of the day. I really love the “wefie” that Felix took of our group. It pretty much sums up our feeling of joy and accomplishment, and ended up being my favorite picture of the day! Thank you May and Cycle Osaka for a really awesome tour. We had the best time and couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to share in the adventure.
Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike. ~ John F. Kennedy