April 17, 2004 – Izu vacation day 1


Today I woke up extra early to start a 2 day vacation to Izu with The Penpal. I took the Odakyu line to Odawara, switched to the Tokaido line, and met The Penpal at Mishima station. We got into her tiny car and headed off to the curvy mountainous roads of Izu peninsula. Small cars and mountain roads are not friends.

Our first stop was the Cycle Sports Centre in central Izu, which is a bicycle theme park located in the middle of the mountains. There were a number of attractions and activities, but we came for the 5km bicycle circuit. We picked out bicycles and helmets, and then the nice attendant gave instructions on the brake handles. In Japan, the right brake handle operates the front wheel brake. This important piece of knowledge saved me flying over the handlebars.

The course started out with a really fun curvy downhill section. Unfortunately what followed was a miserable steep uphill section that just about killed us both. After about 3km I realized that I was terribly out of shape. We survived the rest of the course and spent a good amount of time recovering in the resting area inside.

Later we went to Ito, which is a city built on the side of the hills next to the ocean. We actually saw palm trees! There was a beautiful beach with people surfing. I couldn’t believe how different Izu was from the greater Tokyo area. It was like I had entered a different country. We ate dinner at an Italian restaurant near the beach, and then went to our hotel for the evening.

We stayed at a small hotel owned and operated by one of The Penpal’s friends. The main attraction of the hotel was a beautiful private outdoor bath. Guests could reserve the outdoor bath for 30 minute blocks. The Penpal and I enjoyed sitting in neck deep hot water looking at the Izu scenery. It was a fantastic day!

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