Discussion in 'Disneyland Trip Reports' started by PrincessInOz, Dec 14, 2010.
Yes....I think that loop would be okay for HA.
Your parents live near there??? Lucky you!
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When you gotta go....rain or shine! Hakone Gardens
I headed down the 9 back towards Silicon Valley. However, with all the water and lemonade I had drunk, and with the rain against the windscreen....well....lets just say that I really needed to make a restroom stop. Really!
I kept an eye out for a place to stop but there was nothing!
I finally saw a sign and I immediately turned off.
It cost me $7 to enter Hakone Gardens; but by that stage, I would have paid anything to get close to 1-ply toilet paper.
And as I had already paid my entry fee, I decided to stay and take a look.
I clearly wasn't the only duck out in this weather.
It really was pelting. But despite the rain, there was no denying that this was an absolutely gorgeous garden.
Hakone Garden is located just on the outskirts of Saratoga. And I mean just!
I was to find out later that if I had kept going on the 9, I would have hit Saratoga in less than one city block! I would even have found shops and restrooms for free. The way I figure it, the entry fee was probably way cheaper than shopping in Saratoga.
There is over 18 acres of garden space and it did start out life as a private garden; only to fall on financial hardship and now is owned by the city of Saratoga. Established in 1915, Hakone is the oldest Japanese and Asian estate gardens in the Western Hemisphere.
I was to find out a short time later by yet another one of those "random acts of kindness" that Hakone is the only Japanese garden in the world that contains all four Japanese garden styles. Most others would only be landscaped in one style.
The rain let up just enough for me to explore the first style - the Hill and Pond strolling Garden.
It was a lovely walking space with the sound of a decent waterfall.
This garden is definitely not HA. There is a surprisingly steep hill to climb....
....and delightful hidden secrets to find. This wisteria arbour must look beautiful in the spring.
The vista looking back at the Pond was amazing.
I did head towards the Upper House or the Moonviewing House on that hill. I didn't end up taking any pictures of it and initially couldn't remember why....and then I realised that when I got there, the gardeners had been out and about. So there were big bags and garden tools all over the house and they had been left there when the rain started; so I didn't take any pictures.
In any event, you could only walk around the veranda. The house was not opened.
I headed towards the Tea Waiting Pavilion. It was located in the second style of garden - the Tea Garden.
The rain came down a little heavier at this stage and it was a dry enough spot to sit it out.
Around the corner from the Tea House, I found in the third style of garden - the Zen garden. I liked this feature building in this part of the garden the best. It felt more like a 'home' than anything else to me.
In keeping with Japanese custom, the Zen Garden is a dry garden whose primary purpose is for meditation viewing. Strictly no entry....but I did wonder if I could have borrowed a rake from one of the gardeners to make it my kind of leftist zen.
Around the corner from the Zen Garden is the Cultural Exchange Centre (CEC) building.
I noticed that the door was opened and wasn't really expecting to gain entry. But as I approached it, a couple of people came out. The random acts of kindness from total strangers......they were Friends of Hakone preparing for visitors from Japan due to arrive the next day. One of them saw me and stopped to have a conversation. He told me that they were setting up the place for a dinner the next night and also invited me inside to take a look.
In his spare time, he does volunteer work at Hakone as a docent. So, I learnt a bit about the garden's history from him.
The CEC is an authentic reproduction of a 19th century (Edo period) Kyoto tea-merchant's house and shop. It had been constructed in Japan, disassembled and then shipped to Saratoga. He told me that they got 6 Japanese carpenters to come to Saratoga to reassemble the building on-site.
There are no nails in this building.
In keeping with the tea-merchant history, there are two rooms at one end of the building.
The first room is where the merchant would have stored the tea leaves.
The other room was the tea serving room, complete with tatami.
He also told me about some of the art on display. Some had been purchased by Friends of Hakone on holiday in Japan....
....others had been donated by artists visiting Hakone as part of cultural exchanges.
I'm pretty sure that this is just a random picture on my part because it was a print of a cat.
Either that....or the docent did tell me something about the picture and it's stored within that hole-y bit in my swiss cheese elephant memory.
The docent told me that this particular spot is where they hold wedding ceremonies.
Why? Because if you look at the view, your eye will be drawn up to the Central Rock up near the waterfall. The stones in the foreground, the stone lantern and the Central Rock all form a straight line.
By this stage, the heavens opened up again and I knew it was time to head out. I thanked the man and made my way out.
It was after I came back and checked my pictures that I realised that I never did make it round to the fourth style of garden - the Bamboo Garden - during my walk round the Hakone.
Something for next time.
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Lick the Screen time - Sweet and Bittersweet Delights
It was Day 9 of this trip and with only one more day left, I knew I needed to visit an old favourite haunt of mine.
I've been visiting the Pilgrims Kitchen for the better part of 12 years now. I first saw it from the window of the CalTrain on the way from Silicon Valley into San Francisco and took a little detour in the car to hunt it out.
It's not the best cherry pie Ive ever eaten; but it's pretty good. I think I normally end up paying less than $5 for pie and a cup of tea here.
I also get to eyeball the other sweet treats here.
I do enjoy my sweet delights here; but it does come with bittersweet memories.
For those of you not aware of it - Ive come to this part of the world at least once a year for the last 10 or 12 years. And when DS was a lot younger, we used to hit this place almost on a daily basis for the entire week that we were in Silicon Valley. I always try to hit this place around 4.30 - 5 pm in the evening.
When I first starting coming here, there was a group of 4 or 5 old fogies enjoying their cake and coffee and a natter. Even though I was an infrequent visitor, three of those old fogies and I were on nodding terms. Over the years, that group of 4 or 5 has slowly dwindled. Last year, in January, there were only two. This time round, there was one....and she was one that I was not on nodding terms with. I don't know when I'll be back in this part of the world; but I suspect that the corner table will be empty the next time I come.
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It really is a Work Trip - More of DHs colleagues
Weve really had a great time sightseeing this part of the world so far, haven't we? Anyone remember that this trip happened because I was accompanying DH on a work trip???
Well....the time between 8 am - 6 pm might be mine to enjoy; but after work....I'm at the mercy of DH's work schedule.
Tonight....well....tonight he had another one of those social work dinners to go to. As spouses and partners, we've all been to these sorts of dinners.
You know what I'm talking about. Sitting around with people you don't know all talking a different language and about people they all know but you don't....yup, really fun. Really.
We'd already met with some of DH's colleagues and tonight we were meeting with another set of colleagues. This set included people that DH hadn't even met face to face before; so I steeled myself for one of those dinners.
A little pre-dinner consolation was in order....it was pizza bar happy hour time tonight. The pepperoni was surprisingly good.
We went to one of those local hip and happening establishments in a nearby suburb. The food was surprisingly good.
My only gripe? It was really dark in here and rather challenging to get a decent food shot. In addition, I tend to be a lot more discrete about taking food porn when in the presence of DH's work colleagues. Still....
One of the guys ordered some springrolls for entree.
I ordered the Steak.
The guy sitting next to me ordered the rotisserie chicken.
The potato gratin was a popular side dish order for most of the table.
The icecream sundae dessert.
I had a creme brulee for dessert and it was really really delicious. Sadly, the picture didn't work out; so you'll just have to take my word for it.
The best part of the evening?
These colleagues were a heap of fun. They were so funny and had me in stitches for most of the night. There was some shop talk; but they restricted it to the first part of the evening and once the food arrived, the conversation moved off to other topics. All of DH's colleagues on this night seem intent on taking the left fork at Albuquerque. We talked about everything and anything....even religion, politics and sports! As I recalled it, we finished the night on World Peace.
DH and I might have had some notion that we would stay, eat and then head out early for a spot of shopping. But we had so much fun with the guys that we ended up staying for most of the night. It was pretty late when we all headed out.
It really can be hit and miss with work colleagues; but all of the diners from this night have hopes of seeing each other at some time in the future. All of the North Americans would particularly like to head down under. And we would like to think that we would hit some of the far-flung US cities that these colleagues come from.
It was a particularly pleasant thought to reflect on for our drive back to our home away from home.
I had one other thought to occupy my mind. It was still raining! I sure hoped it would be better weather for my last day here.
Those garden pics are lovely! Glad the evening turned out better than you expected.
Another great find PIO! Looks like a really lovely garden.
Glad the work dinner turned out to be good too
The garden pics looked wonderful even in the rain, I can just imagine how awesome it would look in the sunshine.
I would imagine you think my parents live close enough to there as yiur next stop was essentially next to the town where I grew up. Hakone Gardens sounded very familiar. Well of course, I know right where that is! My parents live just off Highway 9 just before Saratoga turns to Cupertino!
Beautiful shots in the garden and I'm glad you had a good time with DH's colleagues. I DO know how dull those things can be.
Before Super Bowl today, I got to read the latest updates to your trip report as well as your pictures of the food porn. Those are very nice photos from the Hakone Gardens. Even it was raining during your time, there is something great of taking pictures during the rain just like when I go to the Disney parks while it is raining.
Very nice update
The evening was one of the best "work" functions I've attended. For IT geeks, they had a LOT of personality.
Thanks. It is a lovely garden. I need to take my mother there sometime. She would love it.
You took the words right out of my thoughts when I was there. I had seen it advertised in the local tourist mags around Silicon Valley for years. I've just never made the time. Next time, I hope to visit in the sun.
You imagine correct. If you're parents are in that little pocket, then it's just a 30 - 40 minute drive out.
Thanks Bret. I actually like taking pictures in the rain; providing that I'm properly dressed and also if my camera doesn't get too wet. Lucky for me, there were appropriate undercover structures at Hakone at the start so that me and my camera could shelter and I could take those shots of the rain coming down.
Gorgeous pictures - as always!!! Loved the garden! I drive right past all of this stuff when I go to Disneyland.
And do you stop??? More importantly, will you stop next time?
Probably not. I'm always in a hurry to get to Disneyland and in a hurry to get Home. I will be away from home for a month in Sept/Oct and I'm not thrilled about that. I'm in awe about how much you travel and usually solo. Wow! You go girl! Is your son coming with you on this next trip? DH?
Yes. All 3 of us will be coming along for the trip in Sep/Oct; and we'll all be at the World.
A Calm Morning on the Back Bay
It was our final morning in Silicon Valley and breakfast was an orderly affair. We did start the day early with the hot breakfast buffet and it was to be our ritual morning catch up for DH and me. But this morning, we were joined by a work colleague and I....er....forgot....to take a picture.
We were flying off home tonight so we had to check out of our home away from home. As we had completed most of our packing last night, it was a rather orderly tidy-up and last minute check of the room to make sure that we had gotten all our belongings out.
So, with our bags in the back of the car, DH headed off to work whilst I contemplated what I was going to do for the day.
In the end, I decided to have a very leisurely day simply because I didn't want to do a heap of driving about before a long flight home.
So, I headed to the back bay for a spot of bird watching.
Anyone see a bird? Anyone?
I think this was the first time I've gone to this section and NOT found birds-a-plenty.
I walked along the bay for a bit and did eventually see a Great Blue Heron. But it was fairly thin in the water aside from him.
It was here that I was lucky enough to see my second hummingbird on this trip. Again, not quick enough with the camera; but it was a beautiful greeny coloured bird flittering about the fence of a house with loads of flowers in bloom.
I also saw another local on this stroll.
It's funny. I used to see a lot of the red or fox squirrels in this area as there are quite a few pine trees growing here. In the last 2 years, I haven't spotted any at all. So, I was really pleased to see the black one scavenging for food.
I had come in search of birdlife and was surprised by the lack of them. But that's the nature of wildlife
..they can come and go where they like. So, maybe next time, I'll have better luck.
By this time, I figured that peak hour was over and my destination for the morning would be opened.
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More Shopping - Stanford Mall
Last night whilst we were packing, I noticed the ads on the TV for Macy's. Turns out they were running a Weekend sale and it was commencing today.
I figured it was as good enough an excuse for me to head to Stanford Mall as any.
I like the Stanford Mall. Sure, it is an open air mall....
...but that means lots of scope for pretty plants and landscaping.
It does have a few areas where there is covered seating....
As malls go, it has most of the big name shops and plenty to look at.
I spent the entire rest of the morning shopping. Macy's got more of my money and by the end of it, I think I had ticked off most of the items on my shopping list.
Sadly, I had come in search of shoes. I didn't see what I wanted so I decided not to get anything rather than end up with a pair that I didn't need.
Is that sad or what???
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It's About the Food at Stanford Mall
It's one thing to have decent shops; but quite another thing to have decent food in a mall.
The one shop that I look forward to hitting when at Stanford Mall is the La Baguette boulangerie. With lines that usually stretch out the door, this place is just an amazing sensory overload experience for me. The smell of bread and coffee, the sight of gorgeously presented cakes and patisseries and the sounds of the oohs and aahhs from the other people in line....well, they are all part of snacking at this place.
Experience has taught me that the best time to hit La Baguette is around 11 am in the morning. I don't know why but there always seems to be a little bit of a lull in customers during this part of the day. Maybe it's just between morning tea and lunch time....but as I'm on holiday, it's all the same to me.
I settled on a mango mousse cake.
Light and luscious mouse between two layers of vanilla cake covered with mango jelly.
OMG! Yes, I definitely am cruel like that.
I contemplated lunch here but decided that I needed to branch out a little more.
The Melt is one of those new hip chains that opened up since my visit last year.
It seems to be a purely West Coast thing and I suspect that US domination is not too far away. This chain is all about bread and cheese. Really?
You order and pay at the counter; the line was ridiculously out the door.
Your bread and cheese order is then freshly made and pressed. You can check the status of your order at the screens above the counter. They change status as it progresses through the various stations and the estimated time to completion stated is precise!
The grill and soup combo came under $9. I decided on the mac and cheese grill with tomato soup. I bought the drink to go with lunch. The pickle and crisps? They came free with the meal.
Surprisingly good. Very good.
There was an overt effort towards being eco-friendly and full marks to them for moving with the times. You wont find bleached paper here nor will you find overly processed food. It really is all about the bread and cheese.
I had come in search of good food. I will DEFINITELY be back.
Another beautiful set of pics!
I never would've thought of a sandwich with mac & cheese in it. Who knew?
It's not quite Truffles with mac and cheese.....but it'll do.
Very nice pictures of the bird and the squirrel.
The food looks very appetizing especially the mac & cheese sandwich.
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