Yesterday we had one mission: get my glasses fixed. (Somehow, I had lost a screw, and one of the arms broke off.) The hotel had no idea what to do but kindly taped them together, so we went to Kutchan, the economic hub of the Niseko area, to get them fixed. Having nearly 3h of time between when our shuttle dropped us off and the next train to Niseko, we took the time to relax and eat lunch. In doing so, we found the excellent Shokukobo Shunsai (http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g1025639-d5887542-Reviews-Shokukobo_Shunsai-Kutchan_cho_Abuta_gun_Hokkaido.html
), a gem that had tasty home cooking for excellent prices. We followed that up by wandering around a supermarket, where I found some excellent craft beer. For dinner, we went to Bang Bang (https://foursquare.com/v/bangbang/4be0f637a7380f47aaff18b0
), which was excellent Yakotori. We walked the 3 miles back to the hotel and I saw one of the things I had hoped for: a fox, hanging out by the golf course. The Hokkaidans are mad about their foxes, so I was very happy to have seen one. Unfortunately, I didn't get a photo.
Today, we had the most climbing out of any other day: nearly 3500 feet, most of it in two long climbs, unlike most of our other days where the elevation came in rollers. We stopped at a rest stop for lunch and ate ramen (perfect for replacing all the salt we sweated out), and rolled in to Otaru around 5pm after a very long climb and a delightful twisty descent to the city. https://www.strava.com/activities/361616190
Otaru is more like what I expected Hakodate to be like, with broad streets, old bulidings, and lots of developed tourism. We walked to the warehouse district and ate dinner at a German brewery that had some of the best Schweineschnitzel that I've ever eaten. The beer wasn't half bad, either.