What I Spent In Linz, Austria (Just kidding.)

I love the “What We Spent” posts that Ali writes when she travels, and I wanted to do one for my side trip to Linz, Austria last month.  Alas, I didn’t track my spending very accurately.    I can tell you that I spent somewhere around sixty euros for all my food in Linz, and I can tell you that I spent €12 on a ticket for an art exhibition, which I will come back to later in this post.  I also spent around ten euros for various public transit needs around the city, €6,30 of which was just for the Pöstlingbergbahn.

It turns out that tracking my spending in such minute detail isn’t really my style, so I’ll leave that to Ali and go back to doing what I do best-  posting waaaaaaaay too many photographs.  Seriously, I came back from a twelve day trip with roughly five hundred photographs, and I did not take a dedicated camera.

While the overall trip ran about twelve days, I was only in Linz for about a day and a a half.  I started off on Tuesday morning from Regensburg, traveling in one of my all-time favorite conveyances, a Deutsche Bahn high speed ICE train.

After I reached Linz, I dropped my bag off at the hotel and set out immediately to start my tourism.  Here’s the highlights of a brief visit to Linz.

The Mariendom. 

Also known as the New Cathedral, this very enormous cathedral is the largest in Austria, although not the tallest.  The style is very similar to the cathedrals in Regensburg and Cologne, although this one only has the one spire.  It was really difficult to get the entire thing into a single photograph.

I took a bunch of pictures inside, but I think this one gives you a sense of the size while also showing you some pretty, pretty stained glass.

Schubert, Kepler, and Mozart all lived here.

While I was in the city, I sought out the listed former homes of Kepler and Mozart.  The Mozarthaus is actually kind of difficult to spot because it’s part local government office (hence the Austria and European Union banners on the building) and part cultural location with shops and restaurants.   The only obvious sign I could find was a bust of Mozart and some commemorative placards just inside that archway.

The Kepler house was much easier to spot-  the sign over the door says that Johannes Kepler lived in this house, and the little one off to the right has a bunch more information.

I didn’t set out to find the Schubert sign on purpose, I just sort of stumbled across this one.  Basically, it indicates that Franz Schubert came here to visit family friend Josef von Spaun.  The bottom floor of this building now holds a Douglas, which is a perfume and cosmetics store.

Höhenrausch.

Höhenrausch is an art exhibit that Linz puts on every summer.  This year, it runs from late May to mid-October.   The theme this year is “The Other Shore,” and everything has to do with water in some form.  There are regular exhibit rooms, but the true delight of Höhenrausch is that it winds its way over the rooftops of the city, through church and building attics, and up a custom-built tower.  This is the flyer they give you at the start, showing you the full path you take for the exhibit.

I paid my twelve euro admission, climbed over the starting barricades seen all the way to the left of this flyer, and moved onward.  On a nice sunny day, the views as you clamber over the rooftops are spectacular.

I’m curious to know whether these walkways stay up year round, or whether they build them anew every year like they do for the decks at Cave of the Winds at Niagara Falls.

After I first emerged on the outdoor portions of this exhibit, I saw the sculture man in the distance.  I didn’t yet realize how large he is.

It had rained before and after my day in Linz, and this was a perfect day for this part of the trip.

As I got closer, I saw just how large the  sculpted man is.  His name is El Pensador, sculpted by Cuban artist K’cho.  He is made from the remains of Cuban fishing boats.

The tower behind El Pensador is called the Oberösterreich-Turm, which just translates to Tower Over Austria, I think.   Regardless, it was tall and I wanted to climb it.  Long time readers know that I always like to climb the tallest thing in any new city I visit-  I get a little bit King Kongy when I travel.  I wasn’t able to climb the spire at Mariendom because that’s only allowed during tours and my visit didn’t coincide with any tours. So, I climbed this instead!

Partway up the sculpture was “The Flying Ship,” said to signify a “new departure.”

Here’s one of the views from about two thirds of the way up the tower, looking toward the top of the Flying Ship sculpture.

Here’s one last look at the Linz skyline from the rooftops of Höhenrausch, before I head back inside.  Nice view of the Mariendom’s spire from here, don’t you think?

I took lots of photos of the art inside of Höhenrausch, but most of those photos were set aside before I started writing this post because I already had more than thirty shots to include.   Besides,  I feel like most of the art in this exhibit loses something in a still photograph.

Even this piece, “Uncertain Journey,” a dense network of woolen threads created by Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota, loses a lot of its impact in a single photograph.  Pretty neat though.  I wonder if this was created within the space it currently occupies, or if it was made elsewhere and then installed here.

These pictures are only a fraction of the Höhenrausch exhibit, and if you have a chance to swing by Linz before it closes in mid-October, I highly recommend checking it out.

Hauptplatz and the Trinity Column

Hauptplatz is one of the largest city squares in Europe, and it’s home to the Dreifaltigkeitssäule, or Trinity Column.   The column is a giant Baroque sculpture which was installed in 1723 as a monument to those who had died in plague epidemics.

This building is in the square, and this interesting relief work on the building was directly over a restaurant.  I have no idea what the history is on this, but it looked pretty nifty.

Hauptplatz is also the launching point for this adorable little tour train that goes through the old city, as well as the end point for the Pöstlingbergbahn.

The Pöstlingbergbahn and Pöstlingberg.

Linz has a wonderful system of Straßenbahn (street cars,) but the Pöstlingbergbahn is a special part of the tram network.  The Pöstlingbergbahn is considered the steepest mountain rail in the world.  It was built in 1898 although it has since been modified to use updated rail technology with a more commonly used gauge of track.  To ride the Pöstlingbergbahn up to Pöstlingberg, you will need to pay for a round trip ticket, and then wait-  it comes once every thirty minutes.   The ride is picturesque as you climb the mountain.  The Pöstlingberg stop at the very top is quite pretty for a tram stop.

This is the door to the men’s room at the tram stop.  I just thought this was hilarious and kind of adorable.  And I cracked my head on low hanging stone at least twice trying to get a good photograph.  I feel like this is what it would have been like if Gandalf needed to take a whiz in the Shire.

When you walk out of the tram stop, there’s a sign to let you know that you are at the very border of Linz.

As you walk into Pöstlingberg, you quickly come across an open space that looks over Linz.

Pöstlingberg is high on a hill, on the bank of the Donau (Danube) river.  At 539 meters (1,768 feet,) the view of Linz is pretty great.  This was not the same day as the earlier pictures from Höhenrausch, and you can tell that this was a much more hazy day than in the Höhenrausch shots.

One of the big draws for families in Pöstlingberg is the Grottenbahn, a train ride geared toward small children.    As you approach it, fairytale creatures help to point the way.

I found the entrance to the Grottenbahn, but decided not to ride because there was a pretty large number of small children already waiting to ride and I just didn’t feel like waiting.  I will say that the walkway leading up to it was cooler than the rest of the hilltop by several degrees, and this was a very refreshing place to walk.

The decorations on the entrance walkway give you an idea of what you can expect inside.

Another major point of interest in Pöstlingberg is the Pöstlingbergkirche, a large pilgrimage church built at one of the highest points on the hill.

The walkway leading up to the door of the church has a fenced platform which has begun to collect Europe’s ever-present love locks.

I honestly have run out of things to say about the inside of churches throughout Europe.  They’re all pretty ornate and they’re all very impressive.   And most of the time, the people I find inside them are tourists rather than congregants.

The Ars Electronica Center.

After I rode the Pöstlingbergbahn back down the hill, I got off the tram one stop earlier than Hauptplatz so that I could go to the Ars Electronica Center.  It’s a museum that has exhibits related to technology, and I was curious to spend a few hours checking it out.  I had heard that it was a really cool place to visit.

Unfortunately, it was closed.  I didn’t catch that on their website-  they opened up again about a week after I left.    I got to see the entry vestibule, but that’s about it.  Anyway, the building is right on the bank of the Donau, directly across from Hauptplatz, so I walked back over the river.

Four random pictures that don’t fall into the rest of the narrative for this post.

This street is Landstraße.  I spent a lot of time traversing this street because it was kind of central to everything else I was doing, and it led directly to Hauptplatz.  It was also the path that most of my tram usage required, including going to and from the train station.

I hate a couple of times at Deli-Linz while I was in town, and this was my favorite snack of the visit-  Peanut Butter Bread with bananas and cracked cocoa beans.  With a Fritz-Kola.  Sehr lecker.

Last, but certainly not least, I saw a great many interesting vehicles during my visit.  This brightly colored Vespa was just too cute.

Have you ever been to Linz?

Los Angeles 2: Electric Boogaloo

While my first Los Angeles post was about Saturday night, most of what I’m including in this post took place on Friday.  We had arrived on Thursday night, and after a bit of sleep, we were ready to go see Los Angeles like proper tourists.

This awesome little Starbucks had just opened next to the hotel, and after briefly caffeinating, we were ready to go see the city.  (We sat on that deck once or twice, later in the weekend.  It’s really very nice.)

We started out a little before lunch, and Amelie’s friend Wendy met us at the metro station closest to the hotel.  We had a short list of things we wanted to see, so we set out on foot.  Halfway to our first destination, I realized that we were in front of the Webhosting company I’ve been using since about 2003.   Hi, Dreamhost!

We also walked right past The Bradbury Building, a lovely old built in 1893.

If this looks familiar to you, it’s probably because it’s used often in television, movies, literature, and even comics.  The Bradbury is where Sebastian’s apartment was located in Blade Runner, and there’s a Blade Runner sign posted near the stairwell detailing the movie’s production at the Bradbury Building.

Later in the day, we went to City Hall to take advantage of the free observation deck on the 27th floor.  I wish we had known that the night before this, they were shining the Bat Signal on City Hall in memory of the recently departed Adam West.  I would have liked to have seen that. Our visit was mid-afternoon on Friday, so no Bat Signal.

Across the street from City Hall is a signpost showing all of the sister cities of Los Angeles.

Once we went inside the Main Street entrance to City Hall, we went through metal detectors and checked in with the security desk.  First we took an express elevator to the 22nd floor, followed by another elevator to go up to 26.  On our way up, we saw the Mayor’s office, which in no way tempted us to knock.

After the elevator to floor 26,there’s one flight of stairs up to the observation level.  Inside, there’s a lectern set up, which leads to mugging for the camera, of course.  The first two are Amelie and her friend Wendy, and the third is me doing my best Shatner.  I’m not sure why podiums make me go full-Shat, but there it is.

Once we were done playing with the lectern, we went out to the observation part of the observation deck.  While City Hall isn’t the tallest building in LA, the observation deck goes all the way around the building for 360 degree views of Los Angeles.  You can even see all the wonderful LA traffic!

City Hall is just a block or two away from the Los Angeles Times, which gave us a pretty great view of that building.

This is the Walt Disney Concert Hall, a Frank Gehry building with a pretty interesting face.

Union Station is the main train station for Los Angeles.  We walked through it when we first reached LA the night before, and it’s a very pretty station.  It’s also much larger than I realized-  the red roof here is all part of the station, along with the many tracks behind it.

Here’s part of the Los Angeles skyline, as seen from City Hall.

The Hollywood sign and Griffith Park observatory are both visible from City Hall, but it was kind of hazy so this was the best shot I got on Friday.

I took a few dozen photos from the observation deck, but mostly it just looks like rambling cityscape.  Here’s a nice picture of tall LA buildings from sidewalk level.

During our walk on Friday, we also walked right past  the Angel’s Flight funicular.  It was originally opened in 1901 about a block away, and was moved to its current location in the mid-1990s. It’s been closed since 2013, but is currently being restored with some safety enhancements and should re-open later this year.  I’m sad it wasn’t open- I love a good funicular.

This next picture was not taken on the same day- this was a different part of our visit, where we were at a Hollywood metro station which was closer to the Griffith Observatory.  There’s a Dash bus line which runs between this metro station and the Observatory on a regular schedule.   You can actually see the very top of the Dash bus in the bottom edge of this photo.  Not pictured:  A tiny Rocketeer taking off from the Observatory to fight a Nazi zeppelin.

You can always tell where you are in LA by the decorations in the Metro.   Not sure you’re in the station closest to the Griffith Observatory?  Just look for starfields in the station’s rafters.

The last picture in this post is not related to anything else in the photo- it’s just a Korean restaurant where we had dinner on Sunday night.  We all thought the name of the place was pretty entertaining.  The food was delicious, if a bit zippy for my tastes.  I had Kimchi pancakes, and tried Soju, a clear Korean liquor that was similar to vodka.  Tasty stuff.

Have you been to Los Angeles City Hall? 

Lost Photo Post: The Orlando Eye

This is one in a series of photo posts where I took a bunch of photographs, intending to make a blog post out of them, and then never got around to actually writing the post.

Anyone who has read even a little bit of this blog has probably already figured out that I love tall things.  Tall buildings, tall ferris wheels, you name it.  I even have a tall-stuff tag for posts that involve being up high!

The Orlando Eye is one of those places that I wanted to go as soon as I found out it even existed.  I’ve been on the very similar London Eye several times now.  They were building it when Amelie and I went to Megacon in 2015, but it wasn’t quite open yet.  We planned on going on it the next time we were in Orlando, and we almost reached the location but there were thunderstorms and high wind, so we decided to postpone.

Fast forward to Megacon 2016, and we finally had time to stop back at the Orlando Eye.  I’ve got a bunch of pictures below, but first some details:

The Orlando Eye is on International Drive, not terribly far from the convention center, Universal Studios, and Sea World.

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The Eye is a 400 feet tall ferris wheel with enclosed and air conditioned cabins that rotate slowly around the ring.   It’s similar to the London Eye, although the structure and mechanisms are slightly different, and the London Eye is only 43 feet taller.

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Since July of this year, it has been rebranded as the Coca-Cola Orlando Eye.    From the capsule, you can see the Universal hotels.

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The ride is very smooth- a complete cycle takes about thirty minutes.  This view is the Orange County Convention Center, where Megacon has been held for many years.  You can just make out the Sea World roller coasters behind the Convention Center.

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This is another view from the Eye.  I honestly cannot tell which roller coasters are visible in this photograph.  I think it’s Universal Studios Islands of Adventure, but International Drive is in the heart of the biggest concentration of tourist attractions, so it could be almost anything.

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A little bit more of I-Drive, with one of the capsules visible.  The Orlando Eye capsules are heavily tinted, because this is Florida.   The view here isn’t as interesting as on the London Eye, I’m afraid.  For one thing, the Eye has no tall buildings around it to look at.  If they had built this in downtown Orlando, thirty minutes to the East, it would have had a better view I think.

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This restaurant is a short walk from the Orlando Eye.  I suspect that they did the roof lettering deliberately to attract the attention of hungry Eye-goers.   This appeals to me immensely:  I like when things are clearly labeled!

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Off in the very far distance, you can see Epcot.    This one required some zoom lens.  And, to be fair, the only reason I can tell that it’s Epcot is that Spaceship Earth is pretty distinct.

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Finally, here’s a couple of horses.  As crowded as International Drive can get, Central Florida is still covered in swatches of land that is either undeveloped or used for farming and livestock.  So:  horses!

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Have you ever been on the Orlando Eye?

Editor’s Note:  I’m attempting to blog every day in November with CheerPeppers.  I don’t expect to succeed because life be crazy, but any blogging in excess of my previous post-free month is a win, right?

Osaka

In the second weekend of my time in Japan, I did some very intensive travel.  I started in Hiroshima, and on Saturday afternoon, I hopped over to Osaka.   I took the rail directly into the center of town, dropped off my bag at the hotel, and immediately set out to see stuff.

One of the first things I checked out in Osaka was the Castle.  On my way there, I walked past this building and I really wish I had paid more attention to what it is.   All I know for sure is that it’s attached to the Osaka Historical Museum, the curved building to the left.

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Osaka Castle is in a very large green space with ascending walkways spread out over fifteen acres.  I wasn’t expecting the way to the castle to be quite so twisty.  You walk through several large gateways to get there, and this was the first one.   This is Otemon gate.

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This charming fellow with the Samurai’s top-knot is Hideyoshi Toyotomi, the founder of the Edo period.  He’s the ruler who built Osaka Castle.  The original version of this statue was destroyed during World War II, and this one was remade in 1943.

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I quite like these little Samurai guys.

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This is the castle itself.  According to local legend, Godzilla destroyed it in 1955 by pinning another giant monster against it.  It has since been rebuilt.

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Every once in a while, I have to stick myself in here so you can see that I was really there.  Truly!

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I kept walking through the grounds, past the keep, only to discover that the walkway to the castle from the other side was significantly less shorter.  Much less scenic, however, until you get to this side, just past the moat.

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With my mission to see Osaka Castle completed, my next task was to find Amemura, or Little America.  “Amerikamura” was founded in the 1970s in Shinsaibashi, where it was a central place for the import of fashion from the United States.  It has since become a place with a trendy nightlife, and a rather interesting blend of American culture into the area.    I knew I was getting close when I saw this giant kitchsy bowling pin.

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The most well-known landmark of Amemura is arguably a scale model of the Statue of Liberty atop one of the buildings.

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This is how I knew for certain that I was in the right place, because there’s not really much else to indicate that you’re in Little America.

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Before returning to the hotel for the evening, I had one more thing on my to-do list.  I wanted to go to the Umeda Sky Building, sometimes referred to as the Floating Garden even though it isn’t really a garden.  That tall building with twin towers in the center is the building in question.

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When you get closer, you can almost see why it’s called the Floating Garden.  Two tubes contain the escalator up to the very tall observation level.

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At the top side of those escalator tubes is a round open-air observation deck with amazing views of Osaka’s skyline.  While this isn’t taller than some of the other places I’ve been on this trip, it’s still pretty nifty.

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“Over Macho Grande?”  “I don’t think I’ll ever get over Macho Grande.”

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I’ve pointed out Love Locks in Regensburg, Cologne, and Paris, and here they are again in Osaka.

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I digress.  Here’s the amazing view to the other side of the observation deck.  If you look carefully, you can see my reflection near the center bottom, as I took this photograph.

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Osaka contains over 19 million inhabitants, which makes it one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world.

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It’s still not as crowded as Tokyo, though, or at least that’s how it feels.

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I want to say that this is the Dojima-gawa river, but I have no clue if I’m reading the maps correctly.    Pretty view, though, don’t you think?

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By the time I was done at the Umeda Sky Building, I went back to my hotel room near the train station.  I had a very nice room, and the view from my hotel room window was pretty nifty.

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In the morning, I took a little side trip before getting on the train to the next destination.  On that side trip, I happened upon a giraffe made of Lego.    The building over the giraffe’s shoulder is the Osaka Aquarium, but that will be the next post.

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Have you ever been to Osaka?

Tokyo’s Tallest, or Getting High In Japan

Given my well established love of very tall places, it is probably no surprise to anyone that I pointed out the view from Mori Tower in my Star Wars Visions post and the view from Granpark.  Mori Tower is the 12th tallest structure in Japan, and Granpark is the 25th tallest.

In Tokyo, there are many, many tall buildings.  During my time in Japan, I made certain to stop at as many tall places as possible.  Three of the tallest in Tokyo are Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Skytree, and the twin observation decks of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Center.    This post is about my visits to these three.

I started with Tokyo Tower.  Tokyo Tower is painted white and international orange, the same color as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.  This Eiffel Tower inspired structure was built in 1958, with a total height of 333 meters.  I visited the tower on an overcast day, approaching from the Akabanebashi station of the Metro.

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The Tokyo Tower has two mascots.  Older Brother is wearing the blue outfit, and Younger Brother is in the red.  They were introduced on December 23, 1998 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Tokyo Tower.

It is not at all clear to me why Older Brother has a bandaid on his head.

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Inside the tower, there are many shopping and tourism opportunities.

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A thick glass floor is set into one area of the tower so that you can reach the parking lot in a hurry if you need to.

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From the observation level of Tokyo Tower, I had a clear view of the Zojo-ji temple, less than a kilometer away.   I visited Zojo-ji on the same day, but I’ll be putting those photos in a separate post.

Anything further out than this was too hard to see, because of the very hazy air.

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Fans of the popular anime “One Piece” have a special exhibit to see on one of the lower levels of the tower.

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Distant viewing was useless during my visit because of the haze, but that didn’t stop other people from visiting.  The sign over this man’s head is pointing to Tokyo Disneyland, which I will also cover in a later post.

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Tokyo Tower shaped water bottles- pure marketing genius.

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The next tower in this post is Tokyo Skytree.  To go there, you will most likely see the Tokyo Skytree station, which has an advertisement for a Moomin Hosue Cafe.  I never had a chance to find the Moomins, but I wish I had.

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Tokyo Skytree is the tallest structure in Japan.  At 634 meters, it’s the tallest tower in the world, and the second tallest structure.  (Burj Khalifa is the tallest structure in the world, with nearly 200 meters of height over Skytree.  Still, this is damned impressive, don’t you think?)

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I waited for a sunny and clear day for my first three attempts to get into Skytree.

On the first try, I arrived later than I had planned and the line was insanely long.  I parsed several hours of waiting, so I opted to try again on a day that wasn’t a weekend.

On my second attempt, the line was also too long.  I needed to get to work, so couldn’t stay.  I decided to try to get there much earlier in the morning, closer to the tower’s opening time.

The third attempt was closer to successful-  I arrived much earlier in the day, and the lines were not so long.  However, the tower’s elevators had been closed due to high wind.  Strike three.

After my first three failed attempts to get into Skytree, my manager told me about the special foreigner line which is designed to allow tourists to bypass the longer lines by paying a slightly higher rate and showing their non-Japanese passport.  This turned out to be moot, though-  on my fourth and final attempt to see Skytree two days before leaving Japan, the weather was overcast and hazy so the lines weren’t very long anyway.

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Skytree has mascots, of course.  The girl is called Sorakara-chan.  I’m not sure about the dog or penguin.

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Tokyo Skytree has a glass floor panel as well.  This is definitely not for people with acrophobia.

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Despite the haze, you can still see Tokyo Tower in the distance, nesteled in amongst some other very tall buildings.

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The view was great, but I wish I’d managed to get up here on a clear day.

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My third and final tall building for this post is the ninth tallest structure in Japan.  The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku is split into two separate towers above the 33rd floor.  The elevators to the observation level are free, which was a nice change after spending money at Tokyo Tower and Skytree.

The day before I visited this building, it had rained a great deal.   There were moderately high winds, which blew out much of the haze from my other tower visits.

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In fact, the air was so clear over Tokyo that I was able to catch sight of Mt. Fuji!

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Don’t be deceived by my amazing camera zoom, though-  Fuji-san is still a long way from the center of Tokyo.  This is the same view as the previous picture, with significantly less zoom.

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The Kanda river.

 

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A longer view of the river.

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Tokyo is a very dense city, with many very tall buildings.

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They still manage to squeeze a lot of green spaces in,though.  I think this is Shinjuku Central Park.

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What’s the tallest building you’ve ever visited?