Past president

It’s a long day and it’s still going. I stuffed up and so now I’ll have to suffer for it.

The day begins with an interesting breakfast. The reviews of the Hotel Alvio were correct in mentioning it. In addition to the staples of rice, miso soup, fish and salad there are sukiyaki beef bowls, ham and bean sprouts and more. The slice of bread was so wonderfully soft I could have eaten a loaf of it.

It was with some regret that I checked out at 8 AM and caught the pair of Noto Line diesel rail cars waiting at the station.

If the first part of the ride through the Noto Peninsula up to Nanao was a little underwhelming, this leg more than made up for it.

Winding through forests and tiny fishing villages, emerging into serene views of the coast. Herons and other water birds waiting for prey, boats moored by the reeds, shrines hidden within forest mounds jutting like islands out into the water.

I only have a short time at the terminus of Anamizu, but there is a local goods store adjoining the station. I buy some edible omiyage and a train themed tote bag. I would love to get some of the gorgeous local lacquer ware, but it is expensive and I don’t have time to think through it.

I wouldn’t mind returning one day.

In the meantime my camera is displaying an error message, so it’s back to the phone camera.

I have not decided where I want to go next. I was thinking of catching some trams and local lines in Fukui perhaps. But as we approach Wakura Onsen I see the Ltd Express Thunderbird for Shin-Osaka waiting there and decide to give myself a rest by riding it to Tsuruga. From there I’ll catch the Obama Line and complete another segment of the Western Honshu coastline.

I don’t remember a Thunderbird 20, but I have the original television show soundtrack and the movie playing as we travel back along yesterday’s route.

At Tsuruga I get off with half an hour to spare before my next train. The station has been dramatically renovated as the new terminus for the Hokuriku Shinkansen beginning in March next year. Eventually it will be extended to Osaka.

That’s enough time for a quick bowl of tempura soba noodles and a trip to the convenience store. There’s also a sashimi bowl vending machine!

The Obama Line local train is a modern electric two car unit. There are plenty of commuters on board. The elderly and school kids, a few others.

We turn away from the line to Kyoto and enter the mountains. Anywhere else and this would probably be considered very scenic. Here? It’s another beautiful line.

A group of SE Asian female workers join the train and fall asleep. I think they are employed at an electronics factory further down the line.

We stop at Obama, which was not named after the first African-American US president. I don’t get out.

From then on we get glimpses of the coastline, more lovely scenery.

The train terminates at Higashi Maizuru Station, but I need to get to Nishi Maizuru. So I jump aboard the old green electric train and ride it one stop.

At Nishi Maizuru I leave the JR system and buy tickets for the length of the Tantetsu Miyamai-Miyatoyo Line.

We rode the other connecting line as part of the Kyoto Tango Railway to Amanohashidate in 2019. Now I’m doing the big loop around in a single car diesel featuring comfortable interior decor and wooden floors. Some of the other trains on the line look luxurious.

It’s another long ride, but it really is scenic, with lots of mountain and coastal scenery, made even lovelier by the golden light of the late day.

There is the famous Amanohashidate pine lined sandbar that is one of Japan’s top three views, although not from this angle. It looks quiet on a Monday.

The sun sets and we arrive into Toyo-oka at dusk. I decide to stop here. I’m tired and it’s dinner time. I think I’ve found a nice hotel.

I walk towards the hotel. Toyo-oka looks nice, although many shops are closed on Mondays. I arrive at the Green Morris Hotel, which looks rather swank and is, unfortunately booked out.

Same at another hotel and the one adjacent to it looks busy.

There must be something on.

Kinosaki Onsen, just up the line, is booked out as well. Pity, because it’s such a pretty place.

Now I’ve wasted time. My only options seem to be a long trip to the big cities of Osaka or Kyoto, or a shorter trip north to Tottori that will still get me there after 9 PM with no dinner.

Well, I was planning Tottori anyway, so I guess it’s there.

Two old orange Kisha 47 rides later and I am at the Washington Hotel. Obama? Washington? It’s US politics in Japan!

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