Tuesday, September 29 - Hakodate, Japan

This was a tiring day, but Hakodate is an interesting city. Nice welcome to the ship from the city.
 Our first stop this morning was the Goryokaku Tower, overlooking Goryokaku Fort.

We rode an elevator up 98 meters to the top observation deck, from which we could see the city and the fort spread out below us. The history of the fort is cleverly presented in a series of dioramas with explanations and graphic-novel-like stories. On the lower observation level there are parts of the floor made of glass, so you can look straight down. Not quite as scary as the CN Tower, but impressive.  The fort area is now a park and we could see families wandering there.

 We moved on to the Morning Market, which has evolved from the Black Market of the war and post-war years. There is a lot of seafood, particularly very impressive crabs – you could use some of them as dining tables! The fruit looked amazing and so did much of the other produce on offer. There were many things we didn’t recognize at all. Fortunately I didn’t buy any of the candy I admired. I found out later it was squid. That would have been a shock to the taste buds! Our next stop was the Beer Restaurant for lunch. The beer was good, but the meal was only so-so. Cod with teriyaki sauce was tasty, though and there were fresh strawberries for dessert.
 The high point of the day was also the high point of the city – the top of Mt. Hakodate. We rode a cable car to the top, then got out and felt the full force of the wind. The view was amazing, and we enjoyed wandering up there. The bus met us at the top and we drove down through a forest that hasn’t been touched for about 2 centuries. Towering cedars and thick undergrowth. Beautiful. We had asked our guide if we could stop near the churches and temple that are all grouped on the side of the mountain. We were able to see them all from the outside on a brief walking tour of the area. Western religions were banned here until a couple hundred years ago. Only the Dutch were allowed to trade here because they agreed to leave their religion out of it. Our final stop was the shopping area that has taken over the old red brick warehouses near the harbour. We didn’t see anything that interested us, but many of the people on the bus had purchases. Back on the ship we found that our butler and suite attendant had prepared a luxurious bubble bath for us. I enjoyed it for about a half hour before I had to get ready for team trivia. Another disappointing day, and we’re clinging to third place. Sigh. We really do have fun with our great team. But it’d be even better if we were to win once in awhile. Tonight’s entertainment was a great show by the Cruise Director, Kirk, backed  by the SilverSea Quartet. He's an amazing entertainer -- good singer, lots of humour and very high energy.
Click for other photos of the day 
Click forward to Aomori, Japan