I have skipped a week of blogging, not because I forgot it was a Wednesday, but rather because I was half way across the other side of the world in Japan and time ran away. Gerard and I (and Romané) travelled to Tokyo for Gerard to assist in the organizing and hosting of the 2013 World Sommelier Championship, where he also passed on his current championship crown to another worthy winner, his good friend, Paolo Basso, who was representing Switzerland. Well done Paolo, we are thrilled that you won and many, many congratulations.
The competition was exciting, fast paced and fun and Gerard did a brilliant job ensuring all of the candidates felt at ease, in his role on the day of the final as host and Master of Ceremonies- the preceeding days he had been busily helping to plan the tasks, the examinations and the finalizing of hundreds of details to ensure all went smoothly.
Whilst Gerard was so busy working, Romané and I took full advantage to explore the city. We travelled all over town on the Japanese railway and metro lines- we now know the Yamnote line like real Tokyoites and managed to visit all sorts of interesting museums, including the Edo Musuem and the National Musuem of Tokyo, authentic restaurants, historic parks and general places of interest. Sadly we ran out of time to take the bullet train to Kyoto, so we will have to return to do that on another occasion.
There were lots of highlights to the trip besides from the competition itself- we were privileged to see the magnificent cherry blossom in full, spectacular bloom. We were taken to amazing restaurants by our Japanese hosts where the sushi and sashimi were like no other we have eaten- so fresh and tasty; we stayed in a hotel, The Imperial, that was more like a palace than a hotel and we enjoyed fabulous hospitality by every person we met.
One of the most fun moments was meeting up with the NHK TV crew who we had spent so much time with when Gerard won the competition three years ago in Chile and who had subsequently travelled to England to film us- they filmed Gerard again during the final in Tokyo and as time was short we had to be hurried out of the venue via a side entrance to avoid all the melee of photographers and fans, (Gerard is very well respected in Japan and had many people who wanted to have their photo taken with him and his autograph, which Romané and I have teased him about mercilessly since) and were bundled into a TV crew van and whisked back to the hotel where the filming then took place- all very exciting and we felt like celebrities for a moment or two… Romané loved it!
All in all, a great time was had by all and our hosts were superb, the food terrific, the hospitality fantastic and Japan was a great place to spend a week away; the culture, people and buzz of the place made the jet lag all worthwhile.
Till next week