I love it when a plan pretty much comes together. The plan for today was to do a self-guided walk using an app called GPSMYCITY. Since we had overnighted in Naha, we didn't get up until after 8am and that was a short night after staying up late the night before. So we went up to breakfast and came back and our room keyscard wouldn't open the stateroom door. We called our cabin attendant over and he tried his card, and it wouldn't open the door either. He said it was probably a dead battery in the lock assembly, and that it would take a while for the locksmith to come and fix it. We indicated that we needed in to get our things to be off the ship for the day. So he called the front desk and a front desk clerk came down with a physical key and let us in to collect our items.
We carded off the ship, and just outside the gangway, Angela remembered that she had forgotten her iPhone. So I stood with Phil, the EXC guide, and helped passengers with routing while Angela went through the drill of scanning back on the ship, going to the front desk, drafting someone to go the the room with a key, and then repeating the first departure process.
With all of our goods in our possession, it was a short walk to the Naminoue Shrine which was the first stop on our tour route. The shrine which literally means 'above the waves' is perched on a cliff with some pretty caves in the sandstone. Nearby is a poignant memorial to the Tushima Maru ship that carried some 1600 children and teachers and soldiers who were being evacuated August 22, 1944 to Nagasaki. The ship was torpedoed by American submarines and almost everyone was killed. It's another reminder of the horrors of war.
From there we walked across the harbor area to the Tomari International Cemetary where many foreigners are buried and there's a memorial plaque honoring Commodore Perry who landed near there in 1853. If you Google the cemetary name, you can find an excellent article about the cemetary and one man's attempt to document all of the graves there despite the names being rendered unreadable due to the ravages of the elements. At this writing there are only 6 remaining plots available and the cemetary will be closed to further burials.
Just down the road from the cemetary was the Naha fish market. This was the cleanest and neatest fish market we've ever visited in all of the world. It certainly smelled fishy, but wasn't overpowering. We even bought and consumed some sushii that was quite good.
It was then a long walk and hike up the hill to the Okinawa Prefecture Museum. This is a relatively new museum that is a very large and stark fortress appearing structure. Inside it was bright and cheery. We aren't art fans, so we passed on spending much time in it other than to use the restroom, visit the gift shop and the hands-on exhibit.
From the museum, we walked about a mile to Sugar-Loaf hill which was the site of one of the bitterest battles of the American's fight to capture Okinawa. There's a plaque on top of the hill (over 100 steps to climb or a more gentle ascending path on the backside of the hill) describing the battle with a picture of what it looked like during the battle. It was again a reminder of the horrors of war. Now there is a water tower on top of the hill and it appeared that major parts of the hillside had been landscaped more steep than the original from 1944 as shown in the picture.
Nearby we found the fairly large Catholic Church which had for my taste a very refreshing sanctuary design. It was rather plain with good architectural detail and a simple sculpture of Jesus with outstretched arms at the altar area.
It was an interesting walk under the monorail tracks and then through the neighborhoods to the pottery street and museum which we visited last year. From there we entered the back side of the market and quickly walked through it in search of the Giant Tug of War Monument which was located behind the Tourist Information Office next to the Market. The tug of war rope is about 4 feet across for the center sections, and smaller ropes are attached for the contestants to pull on. It's a long time tradition that stopped during the war, but was revived in 1971 and is certified by the Guiness Book of World Records as the largest rope in the world. It was pretty cool.
The tourist map then indicated another memorial of what we thought was to Don Quijote (their spelling). After walking back and forth next to the market and not finding it, I pointed to the map with a policeman, and he laughed and pointed behind him. It was a shopping mall! We did enter it and go up to the hard goods section where I looked at small Japanese automobile and motorcycle items.
We were now officially at the end of the planned tour and I was pleased with the app even though I think it needs some tweaking. That part of the plan came together. But would we be able to get back into our stateroom? That would have to wait as we stopped at Burger King for a little late lunch for me and a drink for Angela. We then strolled back down the main tourist street (A. Loki said-Dori Street) and did a lot of window shopping. This city is quite walkable with lots to see and do. If one added in the Monorail as a travel option, it opens up visiting Shurijo Castle Park and the Tamaudun Mausoleum
Back at the port, we showed our passports to the Japanese officials to get back on the ship, got scanned on the ship, went through the metal detector, and then headed for our stateroom. We both bet that we could get into our stateroom as they had all day to get the lock battery fixed. Wrong!! Both keycards wouldn't work. So we had to walk back most of the length of the ship and up 3 floors to the front desk where new keycards were printed for us. One of the guest services personnel then accompanied us back to our stateroom which is 4 doors from the stern or back of the ship. Wahla! It worked. Finally that part of the plan came together.
We then made our way back the length of the ship and up 8 floors to the Crow's Nest to watch the sailaway. We were there after 5pm and missed Happy Hour, but we met up with Rick and Pat and shared about our day. We set sail on time at 6pm with a modest 22mph wind and only one tug assisting us to do a clockwise stern first rotation from our berth. The harbor exit has two breakwaters that are slightly offset and the Captain skillfully navigated us through the narrow opening despite the wind. As we were leaving, commercial and military jets overflew us on their takeoffs and they were quite low as the airport was nearby.
Tonight was another Asian night in the Lido with primo sushii and a full compliment of Asian cuisine. The whole area also had lots of Asian decorations and it was a very popular dinner venue and was crowded.
After dinner we decided to see the 8pm Main Stage presentation of Frozen Planet Live which we've seen multiple times before on other ships including when it was first released. It's a film produced by the BBC for HAL, and is accompanied by a live orchestra. It's always fun to see the penguins and baby polar bears and the sheer majesty of the ice formations of the Arctic and Antarctic.
Given that we walked over 10 miles today, we came back to the room to get to bed early and it allowed me to update my blog for the day. Tomorrow is fortunately a sea day so I can prepare for leading the Palm Sunday Interdenominational Service in a few days. As part of the turn down materials there was an advertisement for a HAL shore excursion in Shanghai to see Chinese acrobats on the first evening of our 3 day stay there. So I booked us for it on the Mobile Navigator which is HAL's smartphone application that doesn't require the use of the internet but allows one to see the daily schedule, plan dining options, book shore excursions, review your statement, chat with other guests electronically with text messages and much more. It's actually pretty nifty,
We're looking foreword to the sea day tomorrow. We need to catch up on some rest. Stay tuned.