December 24th 2016
So we arrived in Hakuba! A long journey but we finally made it. Waking up was beautiful. The snow outside the window, a cosy, warm bed…I honestly could have stayed there all day, but there was just so much exploring to do!
Window view in Hakuba
Thankful for the coffee
With our inside slippers on, we made our way down to the dining room for breakfast. Not knowing what to expect on day 1 of Japan, we were pleasantly surprised to be welcomed with coffee and juice. Breakfast was served to the table (very similar every day). Basket of bread, eggs, 1 sausage, 1/2 hash brown, coleslaw or pasta salad, cheese square and 1/2 orange.
With our stomachs full of coffee and bread and 5 layers of clothing , we were ready for the snow!
Luckily many of the hotels in Hakuba have a shuttle bus to take you to the slopes – take advantage of this! We caught the shuttle bus to the entry of Hakuba 47 and stopped off at a ski hire shop across the road to collect our gear. After one hour of trying on boots, goggles and sizing up our skis, we were ready to go (or fall over, as some of us found out…).
TIP: Purchase lift passes from your hotel (if you can do so) and had a lanyard to keep them around your neck as you need them quite often to get up the ski lifts.
Stepping onto the snow was incredible! It had snowed the night before, luckily (Hakuba want had much snow in December until we arrived).
We spent a good 3 hours on the slopes in the Toomi zone going up and down the beginner slope, trying to stay upright and avoid running into people! All that hard work really gave us an appetite. So up the gondola we went to Restaurant Apls 360. I decided in the spirit of our first day in Japan, I should try the chicken katsu curry. Not normally something I would order, however, the deep fried chicken and glutenous curry sauce with steamed rice was actually delicious, or maybe my brain just thought that because I needed carbs for energy to get down the slope.
After another hour of skiing we decided that we were in need of a glass (or bottle) of wine. Returned our ski gear to the lodge and walked the streets in search of a good bar. Due to it being Christmas Eve, we struggled and eventually found Bradbury’s Restaurant and Bar at the Aqua Alpine Hotel.
Drinks by the fireplace and dinner in the restaurant. It was perfect! Following a few too many wines and a delicious steak, we stumbled home and went to bed.
December 25th 2016
Merry Christmas! Today we decided to treat ourselves and go our for breakfast and trust me, you would want to as well – This place is incredible! Make sure if you are visiting Hakuba that you go to ‘Sounds Like Cafe’ in Hakuba-mura. We caught a 15 minute cab ride to get there and it was totally worth it for a decent coffee.
French toast, eggs Benedict and coffee! Feels like home.
Of course, we had to get a family photo for Christmas to send back to everyone in Australia.
With caffeine running through our blood it was safe to say we were ready for another day of skiing. Feeling more confident than the day before we tried the intermediate slope on the other side of the mountain on the Minamisawa peak. The blue sky, fresh snow and beautiful scenery made skiing effortless (well…almost). I managed to have a big fall on the slopes, lose my ski and struggle to get it back on whilst on a hill, for a good 15 minutes. Luckily I didn’t break anything…just a few bruises.
We skied until 2pm until we realised what the time was and how hungry and tired we had all become. Spaghetti bolognese was on the menu at the Base Centre Escal Plaza, so thats where I was going! Needed a walk after the massive bowl of pasta and ended up back at the hotel.
We had been told by the manager that there is a free shuttle bus every night, going to the Hakuba Onsen Juro-no-yu and tonight was the night. The onsen costs 600 yen and is a very strange experience for those (like me) who have never been in one before. The natural hot spring have many health benefits and have been used by the Japanese culture for centuries. Women and men bathe separately. First of all, you remove all your clothing and place it into lockers, walk into the shower room and rinse your body with warm water and soap. When entering the onsen beware of the temperature! We found it extremely hot and difficult to stay in for a long period of time. 30 minutes was more than enough time! Make sure to purchase a bottle of water.
The shuttle bus picked us up and we returned to the hotel and spent the rest of the night drinking more wine, eating chocolate, playing celebrity heads and eating two minute noodles from the snack bar at reception. A very different, yet amazing Christmas day.