Today began with another fabulous, private-dining breakfast – just as good as the previous day’s, but tinged with a feeling of regret that we were about to leave this wonderful place. I had my shower and a spell in our private, outdoor hot tub before preparing to leave. (Bruce had already done this earlier, before I was even awake!) We packed and checked out at around 1045, taking a taxi to Noboribetsu Station, then a limited-stop, express train to Sapporo – in the Green Car, obviously!
Prior to boarding, we spotted vlogger John Daub (‘Only in Japan‘), having already seen him several times in Noboribetsu Onsen. This time, Bruce seized the moment and went over to tell John that his videos were the reason we’d come to this place! The camera was on, and I can confirm that Bruce is now on YouTube. (I am too, at a distance, when the train is arriving and a member of station staff moves me fully behind the yellow line to John’s commentary “Busted!”)
On arrival in Sapporo, we negotiated the subway system and rode two stops to Susukino, where we easily found the Holiday Inn. We went out to the nearby ‘Ramen Alley’ for lunch, finding a tiny place that nevertheless had room for two more sit-in guests. We both agreed that our choice of Salt Ramen had a particularly light feel, which was ideal for lunchtime. We made our way back to our newly acquired room amid growing snowfall.
Afternoon and evening in Sapporo
We spent 2.5hrs relaxing in the room, planning sightseeing and keeping an eye on the heavy snowfall outside. Eventually, it was time to make a move. We went down to the lobby and through a direct-access doorway to The Long Bar, an absolutely incredible, upmarket whisky bar situated in the same building as our hotel. The layout reflected the bar’s name, and the place carried a vast stock of whiskies from around the world, including several from my native land that I’d never even heard of! At this stage of the evening, however, we were content to redeem our Holiday Inn ‘welcome’ vouchers for a free beer. (We could also have chosen from a range of alternatives, but beer seemed fine for now.)
Later, we walked to ‘Covered Street’, which is exactly as the name suggests, and strolled along it looking for a suitable place to have dinner. We found a little Izakaya (local grill) and had an enjoyable light dinner of grilled meats and vegetables. Finally, we returned to the hotel and visited The Long Bar one more time for a nightcap: The Yamakazi 12yr-old single malt.