Monday, 6th November 2017
Today was our check-out day for Shingu and we hadn't actually been to Kumano Hayatama Taisha to finish our Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage! We had to go there before we left Shingu. We also had to go there before we checked out, otherwise we'd have to carry our bags with us when we went.
We got up early, packed everything up and left it inside by the door ready to go as we knew time might be tight when we got back. We only had an hour or so before our check-out time, so we borrowed the two bikes that came with the Airbnb and headed off.
It was a lovely sunny day, and we got to Hayatama shrine quite quickly.
Kumano Hayatama Taisha
Haytama Taisha is the third of the Grand Shrines of Kumano, and the last stop we needed on our pilgramage.
With this shrine, our Kumano pilgramage was complete, but there was one other popular shrine to visit in Shingu. So, back on our bikes and off we went.
We parked our bikes at the bottom of the hill and with one eye on our watches, we started to climb the many steps up the mountain towards the shrine.
We didn't make it to the shrine. The steps seemed never-ending and we had no way of knowing how far up the mountain we had to go before we reached the shrine. (Our various maps and map apps just listed the location of the shrine as where the steps started back at the main road.) We had to turn back if we were going to check-out of our accomodation on time, and then make it to the train station in time for our train.
(Later on, we tried to figure out how long the paths were with some satellite photos and we probably weren't too far off the top. We just didn't know that at the time...)
Travelling to Toba
We raced back to the rental on the bikes, grabbed our bags, put the key through the letterbox and then reconsidered how to get to the station. We were going to walk, but we'd taken too long and wouldn't make it. We wasted several minutes standing by the busy road hoping that a taxi would drive past before we remembered seeing a taxi rank by the nearby shopping centre.
Of course, there weren't any taxis in the taxi rank, but there was a dedicated taxi phone. We knew that "eki" means station, and that's a fairly common taxi request so we hoped we'd ordered a taxi correctly.
We practically jumped on the taxi when it arrived, loading our luggage into it before the taxi driver managed to get out and take it; but we made it to the station with a minute or so to spare.
Toba station had this helpful "You are here" map:
Toba Hotel International
Toba is a town famous for its fish and the hotel boasted several restaurants filled with the local delicacies. Unfortunately, this was a very nice hotel and we couldn't really afford the £150 set menu of lobster stuffed with oysters.
On the plus side, this was a very nice hotel! We asked the concierge to recommend a local restaurant. She was very helpful and not only selected a restaurant, but rang ahead to secure a reservation and rang for taxi that took us from door-to-door. We must have been eating a little early because we were the only people in the restaurant when we arrived and it felt as though we'd booked the whole place just for us.
Alyssa had a sausage and potato pizza, whilst I had a curried chicken pizza.
The pear tart dessert was excellent.
When we were finished, another taxi swept us back to the hotel for the evening. We were feeling quite spoilt.