This post was extremely difficult to put together because I had so many gorgeous images to choose from – I think I got my favorites, but who knows; there are hundreds. We always take a ton of photos on any trip, but, for some reason, Kyoto had us totally shutter-happy. Ok well, not really “for some reason”, Kyoto is amazing with pockets of breathtaking beauty around every corner, and inside every temple and shrine (that’s a lot!). The gardens are like nothing I had ever seen because every little detail was immaculate and well cared for (we saw a guy trimming a small plant with scissors), so every way you turn gives you a new view that you want to remember forever… by taking another photo.
Of course, by this point in our trip we were exhausted, and, as usual, trying to fit so many things into a limited time frame. When you’ve been going non-stop for weeks and are exhausted, things start to blend and you get overwhelmed very easily. We got to the point where we were basically dragging ourselves into new temples and Zen gardens, but would instantly get a second (or nineteenth) wind because the space we had just entered was spectacular. You don’t expect it – the gates are always so plain, and you have no idea what you’re in for from the outside.
It was surprising, however, going from Tokyo (where most things are pretty technologically advanced) to Kyoto, where it took us hours to find a working ATM. Kyoto is calm and traditional, which made for a lovely change of pace, but freaked out two impatient New Yorkers who needed cash to buy lunch. With a fifth failed attempt to withdraw money at a bank, I asked where the bathroom was, and the very helpful man who didn’t really speak English took me upstairs and waited as I went inside. While the ATMs wouldn’t read an American debit card, the toilet was ultra high-tech but also all in Japanese with NO symbols. I found a large, green button and figured that was surely the right one to push and while the toilet certainly didn’t flush, I could hear a faint alarm outside and people running down the hall. At that moment, there was a knock on the door and Dan just said, “ummm, that wasn’t the flush button”. Oops… I had set off an alarm through the whole bank and people were running over to help. I did, eventually, figure out how to flush the toilet before laughing hysterically all the way to the next ATM.