Thursday, 4 June 2009

Day 16: Fujieda - Fuchu (22.8km)

I got up at 5.30am, showered, shaved and dressed, and went down for breakfast at seven. Breakfast was in the same restaurant in which I'd had dinner the night before. The hotel was an old-fashioned business hotel that had been "spruced up" with new carpet, duvets on the beds, modern light fittings in the rooms, etc. And while the accommodation wing with its single, clunky old elevator showed its age, the restaurant and bar area, which I gathered was a recent extension, was quite flash.

Breakfast was an absolute delight. The pastries were among the best I've ever eaten. The freshly baked rolls were firm on the outside and soft and warm on the inside, and the mini dark croissants were flaky, rich and buttery. To go with the bread I took some yoghurt, cereal, fresh fruit, milk, and fruit juice from the buffet and combined them in a bowl. Accompanied by a couple of cups of freshly brewed coffee, the result was my ideal breakfast.

I set off at 8.30am. My legs were still tired from the climbing the previous day. I stopped now and then to do a bit of stretching and before long they felt OK. After an hour or so I took a break and then left the main road. At this point I had to negotiate some road works. A series of special temporary signs had been put up for people walking the Tokaido to show them how to negotiate the changes in the road layout.

I crossed the Hanashi River and took another break before pushing on to the post town of Okabe, arriving there at 11am. I knew there was a climb ahead of me, so I took a toilet break and filled my water bottle at a little park just down the road from the restored honjin. But it took me another hour to reach the point where National Route 1 and the Tokaido part company, the former heading through a tunnel and the latter continuing up to Utsunoya Pass. I was reluctant to attempt the climb on an empty stomach, so I bought an onigiri at a mich-no-eki and ate it in the car park.

The track over the pass, which climbed through a forest, was steep for the first hundred or so metres but not too difficult after that. I could hear mosquitoes, so I resisted the temptation to stop and instead took swigs of water on the go, eventually making it to the top at 12.30pm. I then descended into a quaint little village before rejoining National Route 1 at the point where it exits the aforementioned tunnel.

I was hungry from the climb and on the lookout for a lunch place. I saw another michi-no-eki, but it was on the opposite side of the highway and I couldn’t work out how to get across. So I pressed on to the next post town of Mariko where I spotted a Shizutetsu supermarket. I spent quite a while walking up and down the aisles eyeing all the wonderful prepared meals, eventually settling on some kakiage-don (rice topped with vegetable tempura) and potato salad, which I ate on a bench in front of the supermarket. A little further down the road I found a convenience store and bought my favourite iced coffee.

I reached the Abe River at 2.50pm and crossed it into the city of Shizuoka. I still had to walk another couple of kilometres to reach my hotel by the station, and I made things worse by getting a bit lost. I'd been to Shizuoka many times back in the 1990s when I lived in Mishima, but it seemed to have grown since then, plus I was in a part of the city that was unfamiliar to me. I eventually got my bearings again when I passed the Isetan department store, which was marked on my map, and I had no trouble getting from there to the station. I reached my hotel at 3.50pm.

I dumped my things in my room and had a coffee in the Pronto coffee shop downstairs. I then went out to check out the station building. I ended up having dinner at an Italian Tomato restaurant. I then bought some bread from a bakery and some cheese and a small bottle of French red wine from a supermarket and took them back to my hotel room. As the next day was a rest day, I figured this didn’t really contravene my "no alcohol while walking the Tokaido" policy.

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