Friday, 1 January 2016

Gearheadz Travel, Japan Tour 2015, Day 2

Monorails, Mega Web, Temples and Burlesque.
Friday started in a bit of a haze, too much of the Miso Soup bar had slowed us down, we left the Citadines Central to walk to Shinjuku station, on our way we stopped by Hanazono Shrine a beautiful building in a green oasis, a refuge from the harsh buildings and noise of the surrounding area, from there we walked to a local cafe for breakfast, the toasted ham and cheese croissants were delicious, as was the coffee, it is almost impossible to get bad coffee in Japan.
After breakfast we made our way to the station, I gave the group a  quick demo on how to purchase subway tickets, tickets purchased we found the platform jumped on the train and headed for Shimbashi Station, once there we boarded the New Transit Yurikamome, you get a fabulous view of the city and Odaiba from the Monorail, we left the Monorail at Aomi station which is connected to Pallet Town home of the Toyota Mega Web, an interactive car theme Park and the History Garage Museum.
Toyota Gazoo racing
There is a lot to see at the Mega web so allow plenty of time, Toyota displays its latest model range at the City Showcase, you can test drive one of the new models on the 1.3 kl “Ride One test track” or if you a fond of TRD cars the Toyota Gazoo Racing display is for you, it featuresToyota’s hybrid race cars as well as an accessory shop where you can by all sorts of lovely carbon fibre bits to dress up your Toyota, The Mega Web also has some great activities for children, a cafe and a merchandise shop among other attractions, definitely worth a visit.
Future Urban Transport Vehicle
Across the plaza is Venus Fort shopping Mall, the interior is a faux European City streetscape, complete with realistic sky ceiling, the Mall is full of high end retailers and plenty of restaurants, if you make your way through the mall you eventually find a hallway that leads to the History Garage a small museum with a very good range of classic cars, featuring Japanese, European and American classics, the cars on display change from time to time so there is something fresh each time you visit.
Venus Fort Mall
The Restore Pit lets you spy on the restorers as they work to keep their collection in mint condition, there is also an extensive display of model cars, visit The GP archive or stop for lunch in the Alessandro Nannini Cafe, then rest your bones at the GP memorial lounge surrounded by portraits of drivers from the past, you could spend at least two days exploring Odaiba the whole area is a themed shopping and entertainment precinct, absolutely ideal for taking the children, Tokyo Big Site is located here, and is the venue for the Tokyo Motor Show, held every October, it is an amazing building in its own right. but for us having spent more time here than we had expected it was time to jump back on the train and make our way to Asakusa.
Citroen Convertible History Garage
Back in the dim dark past Asakusa used to be Tokyo’s Red light district full of unsavory types and rather untidy, now however it is a very popular spot for tourists who come to visit the Senso Ji Temple, make sure you enter via the Kaminarimon (thunder gate) that way you will be able to stroll through Nakamise-Dori, a street lined with small shops selling food, souvenir’s and a wide variety of interesting and beautiful items, make sure you try some of the snacks along the way, once past the shops you come to the Temple, day or night there are always crowds here the Hondo, or main hall is magnificent as is the pagoda, take a stroll through the beautiful Japanese style gardens, then stand on the bridge watching the carp swim effortlessly by in the pond, to really enjoy Senso Ji make certain to visit by day and by night for the full experience.
The Senso Ji Pagoda by night
We left the Temple complex and walked to an area that is full of little bars serving Izakaya style food, basically light snacks to be eaten while drinking, a lot of salary men and women stop by these bars for dinner on their way home from the office, the proprietor may not speak english but it is not to hard to order a meal and drinks, don’t get frustrated just go with the flow, they often have picture menus’s on hand, once we had eaten and quenched or thirst, tourism is very thirsty work we set out for Rokza a Burlesque venue in Asakusa, Rokza is Gaijin friendly, that means non Japanese patrons are welcome, entry is 5000 Yen and you can get drinks as well as light snacks at the bar, the two hour show is usually based on a Japanese folk tale, with women playing all the parts the quality of dance and costume is quite high, and the show is very entertaining although being in Japanese difficult to follow and just a little risque, Couples are welcome.
Shibuya Junction
After the show we took the subway to Shibuya, Ashley had heard about Shibuya Junction and was keen to see it, Shibuya Junction is the intersection of five major streets that converge just outside Shibuya rail station, the buildings surrounding the Junction are covered in electronic advertising , which makes for a spectacular back drop, the show starts after crowds have built up at the pedestrian crossings waiting to cross, then all the crossing go green at the same time so you get hundreds if not thousands of people all crossing from different directions at the same time! the light return to red traffic takes ove and the crowd builds once more, awesome. Oh while you are at Shibuya Station be sure to visit Hachiko Japans most revered and well known dog, give him a pat for me.
Hachiko, Shibuya Station
By this time we were all feeling pretty tired so for the last time that day we took the subway back to Shinjuku, made our way back to the Hotel, to get some rest before moving onto Yokohama and MOONEYES!

Gearheadz Travel, Japan Tour 2015

Shinjuku, So Good To Be Back In Japan
  Seven days after leaving for Japan we have arrived back in Melbourne, bringing to an end the 2015 Gearheadz Travel tour to Japan, the first of many more to come, the tour went very well, I had a fabulous time escorting Tony, Togga, JW and Ashley around Tokyo, Yokohama and Nagoya, we manage to squeeze a lot into our time in Japan.
  There were two core activities to accomplish one was to visit the 24th Mooneyes Hot Rod and Custom Show at the Pacifico centre in Yokohama, an event I am passionate about and which showcases some of the best custom cars and bikes in the world, the other to drive high performance cars through the Hakone Mountains an area made famous, for car enthusiasts anyway as the location for the film Initial “D” one of the first and most well known drift movies, more on both those activities later.
  I had arranged for a mini bus to meet us at Narita airport, much easier than battling public transport after 14 hours in transit, Our first stop after arriving in Japan was Shinjuku, our hotel was fabulous, in a good location, well I say that despite being smack bang in the middle of the red light district, I have no issue with that apart from the unwelcome throng of touts who try to coerce you into the brothels and hostess bars, they are a pain in the arse.
  After checking in we showered, changed into fresh clothes and headed out into the cool night air looking for a place to eat, we stumbled on a terrific Izakaya style restaurant not far from the hotel and settled in, the food was delicious to say the least, best deep fried chicken I have ever tasted crisply fried, tender and moist inside and deliciously spicy, once we had eaten our fill and enjoyed a couple of beers we walked back toward the hotel via a winding landscaped path, a quiet lane way which took us to an area know as Kabuchiko, consisting of dozens of tiny bars usually two story with one bar at ground level and another on the second floor, some offered music some where cigar bars, the one thing they had in common was that they housed no more than at most a dozen patrons.
  We, by no particular criteria chose a bar called Miso Soup, and were welcomed by the two barmaids, Hatsume and Massume, who made us feel very welcome and set about introducing us to the locals, including the owner, drinks where bought and drunk, then more and again more, time slipped by unnoticed until it was well past midnight before we called it a night we had enjoyed the company of these to lovely bar maids the owner and the bars regular customers, but sleep beckoned we had a full day of activities ahead of us, so we bid farewell to our new found drinking buddies, and retired to our hotel.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Goodwood Revival, The Cars and Bikes (it did start out as a race event)

Yes well, Goodwood Revival did start out as a race event for vintage and Classic Race Cars and Motorcycles from the period 1948 until 1966 the type of vehicles that would have raced at the Goodwood circuit in it's hey day, during that time Goodwood race track was one of Britains premier circuits hosting Formula one racing, TT sports car events and the Goodwood nine hour.
The circuit is relatively unchanged, therefore it has that look of days gone by during the Revival only period vehicles are aloud into the circuit, excepting of course modern emergency service vehicles even these keep a low profile,  and what with officials and competitors all dressed in appropriate attire, white coveralls and helmets for drivers and black leathers for riders and officials wearing anything from coveralls to trousers, shirts, jacket and tie the whole event takes on a back to the good old days ambience.
For the fans of the golden days of motor sport and I say that because those were the days when a small almost backyard concern could develop a car that would change the course of history and bring the leading marques to their knees, when drivers had charisma not just a pr machine and spectators could get up close and personal with their hero's, the motor car was developing at a frenetic pace as was competition developement, to walk the pits and see these ground breaking cars, each a celebrity in it's own right, to be trackside seeing and hearing these magnificent cars in action is a treat not to be missed.
There is no point naming all the Manufacturers represented at the Revival, because whatever Marque you drool after it will be here, being driven flat out and swapping paint with the other greats of the motor racing universe, the owners and drivers of these classics are to be congratulated for not only are these cars here to be seen, but to be raced and raced hard, the Revival is not a time trial, it is guts and glory stuff, the drivers do not go out of their way to damage these thoroughbreds but will use every horse under the bonnet and command every inch of track in an effort to take the checkerd flag, making for some incredibly close and exciting racing.
Goodwood is not just for the likes of Ferarri, Maserati, Jaguar, and Aston Martin the St Mary's Cup is where the cars the likes of you and I could afford are raced, road going family sedans tweeked and transformed into formidable racing machines by the likes of us tinkering in our sheds, the on track performance of these specials gives us an insight into the potential within a car of humble origins competing for glory on the race track, their drivers engaging each other as if for champion of the world status, you cannot help but smile at the sight of a two cylinder BMW pursuing a V8 Jaguar and giving it a very hard time!
The Motorcycles compete with no less enthusiasm, these guys are the embodyment of the do it yourself racer most with small budgets and limited resources but using every ounce of their skills both in the saddle and mechanically in the pursuit of victory, walking through the pit area you can see the team mechanics, sweat pouring from their brow as the try to rebuild a blown clutch or refine the tune to achieve a few more revs, which could mean the difference between winner or bridesmaid, today just as it was back then Motorcycle racing is predominately a blue collar sport.
I hope I have convinced you to take a trip down this particular memory lane, which is Goodwood Revival and if you do go, go all out and join into the spirit of the event, you will not be disappointed.

1949 Gordini Type 23S

1952 Frazer Nash Le Mans Replica

1953 Jaguar C Type

1958 Lister-Chevrolet 'Knobbly'

1958 Lister-Jaguar 'Ecosse' exposed

1959 Jaguar-Lister 'Knobbly'

1959 Lotus-Climax 16

1960 Maserati Tipo 61 'Birdcage'

1962 Brabham-Climax BT3

1962 Lotus-Climax 25

1962 McKee-Chevrolet 'Mahrya'

1962 Tyrrell-Cosworth

1963 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

1964 Ginetta G4

1965 Warrick GT350

Aston Martin DB1

BMW R32 Modified

BSA Gold Star

Gilera Saturno

Jaguar C Type

Lotus- Escort


Norton ES2 

Norton Manx 500

Wrenching in the pits

Austin A30

Ferarri GT250

Pre race prep for a Vincent

Rudge TT

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Goodwood Revival, more than just a classic and vintage race meet !

Goodwood Revival has been running since 1998, the revival is a three day festival of Classic and Vintage race cars and Motorcycles being raced as they would have been in the day, no quarter given none asked! racing is however a only one facet of what the Revival is, the the Revival is a celebration of the past a place where lovers of all things vintage, or retro if you prefer can put on their best threads from which ever era stirs their imagination, from the forties unto the sixties meet with like minded enthusiasts and for those three days live the dream.
Lord March and his enthusiastic legion of organisers and volunteers have managed to put together the finest vintage / retro festival in the world, complete with vintage and classic race cars and motorcycles, vintage vehicles of all types, an incredible display of classic aircraft, art, music, vintage themed bars and vendor stalls and street theatre all of which allows you to descend into the perceived comfort of days past, and quite convincingly too.
In this Blog I will be bringing Goodwood to you bit by bit this first instalment will be the People of Goodwood, showcasing some of those wonderful people who go the extra mile and dress in their chosen style, this but a small example of those wonderful folks who help to make the Revival what it is, and add so much colour and life to the weekend, the best thing about dressing for the Revival is you don't have to be beautiful or handsome, everyone shines at Goodwood, passion is what shows thru.
There is a dress code for all competitors, officials, journalists which simply put is look the part or don't bother coming, but even the vendors take the opportunity to look their best in period fashion as they attend their stall which by the way has a retro theme, even the big companies such as Tescos, BMW, Porsche etc get into the spirit of things themeing their displays and stores to continue the illusion, the organisers leave no stone unturned to bring together an event where you as a spectator can feel at ease engage as much or as little as you like and enjoy a hassle free weekend away.
When it comes to the fashions on the street anything goes and it is extremely interesting to see what those around you decide to wear, I will start by saying that i was wearing a dark blue pinstriped suit hand made in 1947 in the town where i live by Joe Tailor a Polish refugee, the suit spent three months traveling Europe with us, and survived I am glad to say.
As you walk around the Revival you see a lot of men and women dressed in Military dress, Army, Navy and Airforce and land army uniforms from various countries, there are women dressed in nannies uniforms, casual street clothes the muted coulours and austere suits of the war years giving way to the phsychedelic colours and patterns from the sixties, both men and women strive to have the correct accessories and of course hair and makeup for the ladies, hats, neatly trimmed beards and moustaches are de rigueur for the men, there sense of fun and glamour everywhere but it never takes itself too seriously, FUN is definitely the order of the day.
Anyway here come the photos, Enjoy!