Saturday, 27 October 2007

Day 5: Sekigahara - Gifu

Distance covered: 31.4km
Weather: Rainy, then cloudy

Although we both heard rain on the roof during the night, it had stopped by the time we got up. My shoes had dried well. Unfortunately, however, some of the clothes I'd worn the previous day were still damp.

Breakfast came at 7am and consisted of rice, a fried egg, salad, tsukemono (pickles), miso soup, nori (dried seaweed), and green tea. I needed my coffee fix, so I got some from a vending machine along the road soon after we left. We had aimed to get away by 7.45am, but it was closer to 8am by the time we set off, the delay caused firstly by Erik mislaying his money belt (he found it, but only after emptying the entire contents of his pack on the floor of the entrance), and secondly by a heavy rain shower, which necessitated us donning our raingear.

The rain didn't prevent us enjoying the scenery, although the closer we got to our destination of Gifu (a major city) the less interesting it got. We also had to cross a couple of big rivers long the way, which entailed leaving the original Nakasendo and climbing onto busy road bridges and then climbing back down onto the original route once we'd crossed, as in the old days these rivers were crossed by ferry.

We had trouble finding a place for lunch, but ended up eating at a pleasant little restaurant called Yellow Tomato that served spaghetti and pies of various kinds. Erik opted for a pie, while I went for Atlantic Spaghetti, which consisted of a plate of spaghetti with two deep-fried salmon fillets and a couple of scallops on top! It was accompanied by a cute little potato salad.

The last few kilometers into Gifu were tough. For some reason (probably just exhaustion) my pack felt especially heavy, and my groin was starting to ache. To make matters worse, I missed a turn as we were entering the city, and we had to ask a dear old woman in a shop how to get back onto the Nakasendo. At least it had stopped raining by this time. Plus we got to see a beautiful sunset and a rainbow just before we got to the city centre.

We eventually made it to our hotel, the Comfort Inn Gifu, just after 5pm. We checked in and freshened up before meeting our good friend Hitomi, who took us out for dinner at a nearby izakaya. I had my first drink (a beer followed by some hot sake) since leaving Kyoto, and it was comparatively late (10pm) before I got to bed. My right calf had been very sore ever since our arrival in Gifu, and it was cramping up as the night wore on. Luckily the following day was a rest day, otherwise I might have been in trouble.

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