Travelling light makes everything so much easier. Wherever Dr HH and I are going, and for however many nights, we always pack the same amount: a regular, day backpack that will fit under the seat in front on a flight. It means that we can’t pack anything surplus to requirements, and it also means that we can navigate around relatively easily without dragging suitcases of wielding gigantic backpacks that could knock someone out. It was a massive bonus on this trip in particular because we spent so much time hopping between destinations, and everything was just easier without huge luggage to worry about. On one day in particular it was a huge help: we were travelling from Osaka to our next destination, Okayama, and we were able to stop along the way to visit Himeji as well, without hauling loads of stuff with us.
Himeji was on the itinerary just so we could see the castle. I’m very much a traditionalist when it comes to castles (moat, drawbridge, dungeon, turrets, etc), but I did enjoy the castles in Japan. They were just beautiful!
Then we resumed our journey to Okayama, and found ourselves boarding the Hello Kitty shinkansen, which was quite a fun surprise! Almost everyone on the platform whipped out their phone to start taking pictures as it pulled in.
Then we arrived in Okayama! It was on our itinerary for two reasons: firstly, the castle (I enjoyed the contrast with the white castle we’d just seen in Himeji), and secondly as a base to visit the art island of Naoshima (more on that on Monday). We stayed for two nights, and I wouldn’t have stayed any longer – there weren’t too many sights to see (some very nice gardens though), and the vegan options were particularly disappointing.
Happy Cow gave us a few places with vegan options, but the opening hours were unfavourable, or nothing was labelled vegan on the menu, or they were sold out of that one vegan dish when we got there. It was a tough place!
When we arrived we went for a late lunch at Merci Moncher, located in a shopping centre near the station. Nothing was labelled vegan here, but from the list of ingredients and allergens we deduced that the falafel plate should be fine. And “fine” is what it was: not spectacular, no amazing flavours, just a solid plate of food to sustain us for the afternoon.
We got two nice but unexciting falafel, some brown rice, two different kinds of hummus, some pumpkin and carrot, plenty of red cabbage, a bit of salad, and a little dish of minestrone soup on the side. It was expensive for what it was, but we didn’t really have an alternative and were happy just to find somewhere. It was colourful and fresh, and it did the job!
As vegans, falafel is often a good backup choice when on the go, with the bonus that it’s generally cheap and cheerful. It was a bit of a nuisance that it was so expensive here, but sometimes you just have to take the hit!
Is falafel your saviour on the road as well? And do you travel light?