1/6/16. A new month, a new start. (It’s difficult to believe it is June already. Time flies!) When the boss man was making the arrangements the previous evening we were sure that we were told there was no breakfast available (which would clearly make sense if the hotel was closed). However, when we woke there was much bustling going on in the kitchen/dining/living area where we had had dinner and the lady called us into the room where we found the table laid with a selection of dishes – some familiar, some less so. (See photo on Food page which was taken before the arrival of the bowls of rice and soup.)
We set off in lovely weather with two islands and three bridges to go before we hit the mainland. The views across the millpond-like sea to the other islands (apparently there are more than 3,000 of them in the Inner Sea between Honshu and Shikoku) were stunning.
As we came off the bridge onto Shimokamagari, the last island in the chain, the main road headed off above the little town at the water’s edge so Stephen set off uphill. Reaching the top, he stopped to enjoy the view and to wait for Christine. After about 5 minutes she hadn’t appeared so, with a slight nagging worry, he turned round and went back down to find her waiting patiently at the roadside reading her Kindle. She had spotted the cycle route sign pointing down into the town of Shotoen! It was a lovely little place with lots of old buildings.
Arriving on Honshu, we saw a 7-11 convenience store almost immediately and felt much more at home! It was the absence of these (or any of the other chains) on the previous day that had been a little disconcerting. The route towards Kure looked as though it was going to be hilly but thankfully was not as it passed through a series of tunnels, all with street lights and pavements on which we could ride away from the traffic. The last of these was particularly impressive being 1.7 km long and having a glass screen separating the wider than usual pavement from the road. This screen was a real blessing as it deadened the noise. One of the worst things about cycling through a tunnel is the way the traffic roar is amplified and reverberated – quite unnerving.
We decided to stay in Kure, assuming we could find a hotel, as it is only a short train ride from Hiroshima. Spotting Hotel WR almost as soon as we entered the town, Stephen went in to enquire about a room. The lobby had a strong smoky smell and his suspicions were aroused when he couldn’t see an obvious reception desk. A voice came from behind a sort of curtain over a counter which left a gap of about 6 inches through which you could only see each others’ hands.
“Do you have a room for 3 nights please?”
“For 3 hours?”
It’s one of those hotels!!! (We inadvertently checked into one in Korea two years ago and, in our naivety, only realised when we saw the free condoms and “stallion cream” in the room!)
Stephen beat a hasty retreat.
In the town centre we found a tourist information centre which we figured would be able to find us more appropriate accommodation. With that sorted we had a relaxing couple of hours until check in was available, reading and eating a late lunch.
Kure is a naval port and it was here that the largest battleships in the Japanese navy were built in the war. Stephen visited the small museum dedicated to these, the most impressive part of which was the 1/10 scale model of the Yamoto.