This travel agent was the BEST! He kept in good contact with updates and planned our trip based on OUR needs and wants. We felt we got a great overview of Japan for our 2 week trip and the Cherry Blossoms were off the charts! 10+++ As were our guides. Very good English and not your typical guide that repeats themselves over and over. That is very annoying as a tourist!
The variety of all the cities and landscapes we saw. Seeing all the UNESCO sites and having my Temple book with all its stamps! only have 3 empty pages.
Kanazawa - The Park was exquisite! Love the chi & feel of this city! The hotel was fabulous and we had 2 of the best meals based on their recommendations.
Kyoto - having a driver for all the temples was the best! And then our travel agent taking us out for the whole day to sip Whisky & Sake plus takes us to the secret temple not in any guide books was very special!
4 star hotels are not the same in the US. We would have only stayed at 4.5 and above.
for the Wide view train – seats 1 are least desirable – farther back is better.
One of our hotels had a free shuttle - found that out when we asked for a taxi - not sure if they will pick up guests arriving & the walk with luggage takes more like 15 minutes – TI next to station with map was very helpful.
In Hakone we had no guide and communication was difficult as we wanted a driver to take us to see the temple, the lake & then to Odawara. It didn't happen but we did see Mt Fuji from the train..better than nothing.
Ryokans - I thought we would be staying at a place more like a B & B than a hotel. Not as charming as I had envisioned. The one in Takayama really did a better job of creating more hominess and explaining how it all works.
Our Osaka hotel was in the train station which would have been helpful to know on our itinerary. Slight mix up as guide was on the platform and we assumed she would be on the other side of the exit gate.
My personal thoughts - the trip should get better as it goes along and Kyoto was the main reason we even went. That hotel was only 4 star because they put a toothbrush & some cheesy amenities in the bathroom. The room was small with cheap furniture. it was disappointing after the Kanazawa experience.
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