After a good night’s rest in a bed that wasn’t on a plane, we woke up with the sun, procured travel cards and headed over to the Shinjuku Gyoen (Imperial Garden) to eat our purchased breakfast pastries and drinks (from Family Mart). We were able to buy our tickets from the machines to the right of the entrance (cash only) and they had maps in several languages as well. The greenhouse and grounds were lovely but we also managed to get several bug bites that plagued us for days.
It was a bright, warm day, so the shady sidewalks were quite welcome.
Next we explored the Golden Gai area, wandering through the small alleyways and admiring the handwritten signs on all the bars and private clubs. We thought about going back in the evening but the timing didn’t work out with our other plans.
At this point is was mid-day and pretty hot outside, but we walked through a series of raised sidewalks (past a Rugby pop-up shop that had no medium sizes left!) to the Toyko Metropolitan Gov’t (TMG) Building to enjoy the view from the 45th floor observatory. Annoyingly, we arrived to a sign claiming the floor was closed on the first Tuesday of every month – boo!
Disappointed, we took the subway south to the Shibuya area to experience the scramble crossing (time lapse video taken from the second floor Starbucks) and do some shopping.
The first place (LOFT) was on the pricey side but we really enjoyed the Mega Don Quijote and the beef gyro sandwich we ordered in the street.
For dinner we ventured two subway stops south of our hotel to Ginza and found Tokyo Abura Soba Ginza for ramen. Thankfully the main waiter spoke some English and there was an English menu so we were able to figure out the vending machine. You put your money in first, then make your selections. The machine prints the ticket(s) and you get your change. We placed our order then stood outside in a queue until a spot was ready for us, not quite ten minutes. At the last minute we decided to split a beer, so I went back in to brave the machine again. Once seated, our hot bowls of custom ramen appeared quickly. I got the regular broth (not spicy) with extra green onions (!!!) and a soft-boiled egg. Eric got the regular broth with extra pork. Both were delicious and we were talking about this meal standing out later in the trip.
Since we were nearby we decided to stop into a craft beer bar where they also brew their own beer. Brewin’ Bar Monde was a cozy basement bar and we enjoyed our choices: smoked porter for me and a dubbel for Eric. I found the beers light in body but with good flavors.