Friday 22 August 2008

Day 1 and Day 2 - Our Travel Days

It's hard to believe it look the best part of two days to get over to
Japan and recover from the journey. I write this entry on the morning on Friday 22nd Aug, what feels like our first day in Japan, but is actually our second.

We left a very cold, dull Dublin two days ago, on Wed 20th, taking the 7:20 AerLingus EI154 to London Heathrow. Our bags where checked straight through to Japan, which was class. Our flight was
perfectly on time; after arrival we transferred to terminal 3 to check in with Virgin, flight VS900 to Tokyo. I've only ever eaten in the pre-security area of terminal 3 before so it was a great treat to gain access to the vast duty free and food halls post security.

Our Virgin flight was such a pleasure. If you can, fly them anywhere. Their staff always have a smile and really made us feel welcome aboard. From free alcohol to little novelty gift packs (including socks and tooth brush) this really was how flying was and is meant to me. It had all the touches from sweets at landing to in-flight ice cream breaks. The food and entrainment was first class even through we flew coach. With at least three main course options to choose from and at least 50 odd recent movies on-demand we really where spoilt for choice.

Our route surprisingly took us directly over Russia, initially north and then south to Japan. The 297 other passengers and us took off at 1pm local in London and landed at 8:30am local in Tokyo, just shy of 12 hours later.

Clearing immigration and customs was a doddle, nothing like entering America. It did however take us some 3 hours to find our way to our hotel and attempt to check in.

The Tokyo public transport network is very clean, on time and well, all in Japanese! It's best to ask as many questions to the staff in the airport as once you leave, no-one will understand you. We purchased a SUICA card, the local equivalent to the London Oyster card for ¥2000 which comes with ¥1500 loaded for travel. A must; with 2 different companies running the cities underground and a very complicated pricing structure with fare difference machines and all sorts, its hard to understand. That's where the SUICA card comes in - swipe and go at entry and leaving, it works out the price and deducts from your credit. It works on all subways, JR trains and buses. It even is accepted in local newsagents for cash purchases.

We arrived at the hotel at 1pm to find out (1) check-in wasn't until 2pm and our room wasn't ready and (2) the room had feather pillows and duvets! NO! I argued a little but when we checked in at 2pm it was sorted for us. To pass the hour we walk around the local area,Akasaka . Its very beautiful and clean. The local TV broadcast tower and centre is right in-front of the hotel. On it's grounds they appears to have areas set up for each of it's main TV shows. Kids and adults mixed and laughed as they watched their stars on TVs and generally enjoyed the entertainment. Ice and wind machines blew cold air around, very much so needed, this place is HOT HOT HOT!

We checked into the hotel and went straight to bed around 3pm - we slept straight through a massive down pour and thunder storm to wake up at 1:30am. We dressed and took a walk up to Rappongi, what fun! This area comes to live at night. From bars, clubs, karaoke huts and women everywhere trying to sell themselves, it's and eye opener. As westeners we couldn't hide our out of town appearance. We where an open target and we where pounced on. Fun!

Returning back to the hotel for 5am with food in hand we drifted off to sleep. Aug 21st appeared to come and go without announcement, it was also my 28th birthday today too! Yahoo! Fully rested and re-charged Friday 22nd will be our first full day to experience Tokyo! Wish us well!


Anonymous said...

Glad you arrived safely, looking forward to the next post! :) Guy

Martina Jolie said...

"Travel does what good novelists also do to the life of everyday, placing it like a picture in a frame or a gem in its setting, so that the intrinsic qualities are made more clear. Travel does this with the very stuff that everyday life is made of, giving to it the sharp contour and meaning of art.
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