8 May 2015
We took our breakfast in the hotel. It was a real surprise as it was again a buffet with lots of hot and cold food available for us to choose.
It was a cold but sunny morning. After breakfast, we visited the Hell Valley, just 10 minutes walk away from our hotel. It is a popular tourist spot and we saw coach after coach arriving. Entry is free but if you go with a car, it will cost you 500 yen.
One of the volunteers suggested us to visit some hot springs up on the mountains. It took us around 1 hour walking back and forth to two of them.
Our second stop was Lake Toya, just under an hour drive from Noboribetsu. We took our lunch in a second floor restaurant with a fantastic view of Mt.Yotei.
We then visited the Visitor’s centre across the road from the restaurant. From the viewing platform of the centre, we saw remains of buildings from the last eruption in 2000 and retaining walls to stop lavaflow. Due to time constraint, our plan for hiking in this preserved eruption site did not eventuate.
We filled up the tank of our car in Lake Toya. It was a serviced gas station. The guy cleaned the windscreens for us too.
Our destination for tonight was Otaru. The original plan was to follow the instruction from Google Map which is a 2-hour toll free drive. But the calculation from our car GPS said differently. At the end we decided to follow the GPS and take the expressway via Sapporo. This was an expensive trip. The toll was more than 4000 yen. The expressway has no upper speed limit but with a lowest 59 km. I drove occasionally at 130kmh, though slower than many.
It was raining hard on the way to the hotel.
We checked in the Grand Park Hotel in Otaru. It is a high rise 4-star modern hotel. We took our dinner in a ramen restaurant. Two middle-aged ladies were the chefs. It was a small shop on the 2nd floor of the shopping mall next to the hotel. We tried the two most expensive ramen (less than 900 yen each) that were on offer and they were delicious.
Later we learned from the newspaper cutting on the wall that the ramen restaurant is one of the top 25 in the country!