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Published: March 12th 2017
Wednesday 8th March and Thursday 9th March 2017
We keep on saying we aren’t going to travel overseas for a while, instead travel Australia more in our caravan, but some-one always seems to make a suggestion or invite us to go away. This time our friends Helen and David, from Queensland, mentioned they were going to Japan around now and why didn’t we meet up with them? So here we are and we catch up with them next week for 4 or 5 days in Hiroshima.
It’s been a hard 24 hours we’ve just endured, but it almost feels worth it with our feet up and drinking a few Bushmills whisky that we picked up duty free.
We booked our trip using our Qantas Frequent Flyer points, claimed our free Qantas Club Lounge passes we get through our credit card, only to be told that because our tickets have a Cathay Pacific flight number, we aren’t eligible to come into the lounge. Very disappointing, but Judy made the most of it by getting online and doing a bit of extra university work. Rags dozed, as he hadn’t slept well that night. One way to kill an
evening until our flight at midnight.
The flight itself was ok but neither of us slept much, and on arrival in Hong Kong it was a mad rush to get onto our connecting flight to Tokyo. We made it but the airline obviously had a problem because Judy’s bag was left behind! We didn’t know this until we were in Tokyo waiting for her bag to come off the plane.
A lady from Cathay approached us and was very apologetic. Said the bag would be delivered to our hotel at 1a.m. as it was coming on a later night. Rags told her this wasn’t good enough and we were compensated by a payment of 5 000 yen for the inconvenience. He later felt he should have asked for more as they seemed very happy to pay it.
In some ways it was a blessing because we had earlier decided we were going to use the train system to go from the airport to our hotel. Judy was now free from the burden of her suitcase and was given the task, by Rags, to navigate us through the sometime harrowing experience of changing trains
and navigating to the hotel. The train’s part went quite well, we reached our objective, but then the instructions we had written ourselves, were harder to follow than expected. Thankfully for the App Maps.Me, the iPad got us there easily.
The Grand Fresa Hotel is fairly new and even though the rooms are tiny, had everything we wanted.
After cooling off a little we went off exploring nearby, found a little café named Do-Zo (meaning Welcome in Japanese) and had our first meal here. Udon noodles in curry and an egg and rice dish had both of us replete. A few Bushmills’ whiskies back at the room rounded off the day. Friday 10th March
A good night's sleep made for an early start, Judy waking at 0600 hours and soon having Rags see the light of day. He went down to the front office where he recovered the "lost" suitcase, pleasing Judy greatly as it had all her clothing, cosmetics and other important stuff in it.
After a cup of tea and a plate of our own home-made muesli we were ready to see more of this part of the world!
For reasons unknown to Rags, Judy had her heart set on going to Tokyo Disneyworld, not the most traditional Japanese destination but certainly something a little different.
Getting into Tokyo was no problem, the Underground rail station was right next to the hotel, but getting to the Tokyo station to the correct rail line was more difficult. Whilst we were looking at our maps and trying to get our bearings, a Japanese gentleman stopped and asked if he could help. He then took us down several streets and through some passages, finally pointing us in the right direction. It was obvious that this took him out of his way but his hospitality was much appreciated.
We arrived at Maihama station, which is just outside of the Disneyworld entrance at about 0900, joining quite a few people heading the same way. First up was ride on a train which wound it's way around Adventureland and Westernland passing through forests, past herds of deer, Indian villages, and the usual Disney type settings. We hadn't had to wait or queue for this ride so we became inspired to try another.
This ride was Big Thunder Mountain in
Westernland, right next door. There was a queue, but on asking the guide Judy was told the wait was 17 minutes. Just on 40 minutes later, when the line stopped moving again, she realised she must have misheard, the delay was 70 minutes! The line slowly moved up the hill and we felt relieved when we entered the building after an hour of waiting, only to see it was filled with zig-zag lines to where the entrance to the ride was. There was a Fastpass lane which had people streaming through in front of us. We found we could have used this, just by using our entry ticket to book a time later on. The other line was the Standby Line. Live and learn. We were almost at the entry gate when a guide ushered us into the Fastlane where we almost immediately got on our ride. We were given this privilege either because we were tourists or our age, we didn't care either way. The ride was quite exciting with the train dipping and turning at high speed, but the 2 minute or so ride certainly dampened our enthusiasm for lining up for further rides.
The next few
hours were spent looking at the various attractions, having lunch, and culminating in watching a colourful and spectacular parade of Disney characters. We finally reached the train station, after Rags suffering Judy weaving her way through all the souvenir shops in the World Bazaar, and back to our hotel after a second train ride.
Our evening meal was interesting, in that the cafe we went to had a machine where you first placed in your money, then ordered your meal, after which you took your change and sat down at a long bench. A glass of water was served and a short time later the meal was presented to you on tray. Judy tried Katsudon , a chicken dish with rice, Rags had a set with bowls of beef, rice, miso, salad, and a vegetable relish. Both of us agreed they were tasty and filling.
Back to the hotel, the temperature already quite cool, where we sat in our warm room with a glass of Amarula and our laptops, both feeling that the day had been fun but tiring. What will tomorrow bring? Saturday 11th March
After the best night's sleep in
The houses fronted the road. Bikes were parked outside them with minimum security.
a while we decided to do whatever we fancied and to take it a little easier. The former we did, the latter we didn't. First up we changed our minds regarding going to the Tsujiki fish market early, instead we went to see Tokyo Skytree Town. The tower here is the world's tallest tower and was built to improve the broadcasting for the local TV stations.
We decided to walk the last section of about 1km to the tower and using our iPad as a guide walked through the spotlessly clean residential backstreets. What opened our eyes was how quiet they were and Rags noticed all the bikes parked on the street with very little security on them.
We paid a little extra and jumped the queue by taking the International tourist's fast lane where in a little while we were whisked upwards in a lift almost to the top of the 333 metre tall building. Here there were masses of people already there but even so there were plenty of opportunities to walk around the tower and view the city from all angles. It was interesting to see the neatly laid out city with it's
The tower can be seen in the background.
population of about 14 million people but because of low cloud and probably smog, we couldn't see Mt Fuji.
After having lunch there we made our way back to the train station and stopped at Ueno station to activate our Japan Rail Pass for tomorrow. This is similar to the Eurail pass we had in 2002, in that it gives unlimited travel for a set period. We also took the opportunity to reserve seats on the journeys already planned. From here we continued on to the Tsukiji fish markets but on arriving there found that they had already closed. If nothing else, it added a lot of steps to Judy's Fitbit for the day!
By now we were quite tired and not really in the mood to sightsee any more, so we headed back to the hotel where we were able to put our feet up for an hour or so before going out for dinner. By then we had picked up a little and after a meal at the little cafe almost next to the hotel we braved the cold and wandered through several narrow streets with numerous cafes and other eating places
A different perspective.
in them. This seems to be an area rich in nightlife, with various entertainment venues and restaurants.
An early night followed, off to Hiroshima tomorrow.
(Click below for more photos)
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