Pre-cycling Days – Tokyo

Friday 14 – Sunday 16 February, 2020
Pre-cycling Days / Tokyo

A new adventure begins! Before kicking off our next cycling adventure we spend a few days in Toyko – a city we are familiar with although the early effects of Covid-19 are evident as the city is noticeably less crowded than previous visits. International travel hasn’t been restricted yet and nothing has gotten too serious in terms of quarantining so we are still fairly relaxed although cautious, having worn face masks at the airport and using hand sanitiser a little more frequently than normal.

Konnichiwa Tokyo!

Our accommodation is right at the edge of Shibuya, where we normally like staying as it’s close to the action and public transport. The hotel is less than a 700m walk from Shibuya station but we underestimate the weight and awkwardness of our fold-up bikes and it feels like the world’s longest walk. What would normally take less than 10 minutes for us to stroll probably takes a good half hour while making our way across pedestrian crossings, through crowds of people and up slight inclines that feel like massive hills while taking frequent rests. We eventually make it with our hearts pounding and shoulders feeling bruised.

Some guys taking a Super Mario Karting onesie tour of Tokyo

We’re quite excited that is the first trip where we have brought our own bikes. We feel like every cycling trip that we do, we become more self sufficient. However I don’t think we’ll quite get to the level of those cyclists who sleep under the stars and carry all their camping gear with them. We still like our little luxuries like a comfortable bed and a hot shower at the end of the day.

Signs showing how you can and cannot transport bikes (and dogs!) on the trains

We spend Saturday re-familiarising ourselves with the city by taking a walking tour. Here are a few of the places we visit around Nakameguro many of the thanks to Paolo from Tokyo, who you can check out on YouTube and Tokyo Zebra.

LOTUS BAGUETTE
One of the places recommended by Paolo from Tokyo. If you don’t already know, I get very excited by bread shops. Paolo recommended the charcoal croissant so of course I had to order one. It tastes just like a regular croissant except that you get black crumbs all over your clothes while eating it.
https://www.lotusbaguette.com/en

PREMARCHÉ GELATERIA
Another place recommended by Paolo from Tokyo. This place lots of unique flavours including vegan and dairy free gelato. We didn’t get anything on our initial visit but promised to return before the end of our trip.
https://gelato.organic/

DON QUIJOTE
One of those shops where you can buy almost anything. We always stock up on snacks and souvenirs here, plus buy the odd item you can’t find anywhere else.
https://www.donki.com/en/

BALLON FALAFEL
This is the BEST falafel I’ve ever had. Never mind the fact that it’s located in Tokyo or that it’s 100% vegan or that they generally only have two things on the menu. The first time we went there, I basically forced Cheye to try some of mine because it was so good and he hadn’t ordered anything (I think he was full from coffee and baked goods). We returned at the end of our trip for a second round, the next time ordering one each. Do yourself a favour and check them out – you can thank me later!
https://www.ballontokyo.com/

NOODLE STAND TOKYO
You’d totally walk past this place if you didn’t know it was there as it’s down a few flights of narrow stairs. However it looks like they’ve relocated since our last visit so it may be easier to find these days. It’s not far from Takeshita Street in Harajuku which we walk past on the way back to the hotel. The shopping area is still busy at this time of night but we give it a miss as we’ve been there before and find it overly touristy.
https://www.noodlestandtokyo.com/

The following day we pack up our things and prepare our bikes for the journey to Kanazawa later that evening. We explore Shinjuku, which is also where we’ll be catching our overnight bus. Cheye finds a really cool café called Blue Bottle Coffee.
https://store.bluebottlecoffee.jp/pages/shinjuku

We discover a cheap and cheerful tempura shop for lunch called Tendon Tenya where you order from a touch screen outside the store.
https://www.tenya.co.jp/english/

We’ve parked our bikes at this huge undercover bike parking station which is pretty neat. Also pretty lucky as it had started raining a bit. We stock up on a few supplies for the journey and have dinner at a DIY Okonomiyaki place before making our way to the bus station.

Tomorrow morning we will wake up in Kanazawa bright and early, provided we get any sleep during the nine hour journey!

Want to read about our previous cycling trips? Check them out here!

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