I’m on the bullet train to Kyoto from Hakone right now. It’s a two hour ride and maybe I’ll fall asleep while writing this back dated post. Our trip is already at its half way point which feels way too soon!!!
Day One was a very very very long travel day. We got up at 3am, I think I had gone to bed at 11pm, and got ready for the airport. Robyn had scheduled an uber to pick us up around 330am, which I had not realized was a feature. As one would expect, there was zero traffic on the way to the airport and we were at SFO within fifteen minutes. What I failed to realize was that the ticket counters aren’t open 24/7 because the airport was completely dead! It turns out they don’t open until 430am, at least Air Canada doesn’t, so we spent the next 40min watching a Mainland Chinese man play a video outloud on his phone, do nothing for his daughter when she fell off the chair and onto the floor, and shave himself with a wireless razor while sitting in his chair. So. Weird.
We got our bags checked, and then went through security pretty quickly. After roaming around some stores, we sat down and fell asleep waiting to board.
Touched down in Vancouver for a FIVE hour layover. Thankfully their Internet is free! To connect to an international flight as a non Canadian resident, you have to find the most obscure door ever in an airport. Walked around the airport which was probably interesting for 3 hours, before we sat down so Robyn could read through her Japan tourist books, which I’d never realized was her habit. I think I’d be insanely stressed if I hadn’t begun my research while looking for hotels months before departure.
I had never has Church’s Chicken before but we got a wrap and it was delicious! We also got a burger and poutine fries from A&W but that wasn’t anything special. The only other really interesting thing at the airport is a giant aquarium tank.
Our flight was, I think, ten hours long? I watched Blue Valentine with Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling, Central Intelligence with The Rock and Kevin Hart, and episodes of Jane the Virgin. Nothing mind blowing.
I thought food was decent though I always ordered the wrong thing. Luckily I had Robyn’s food to eat as well. I first ordered the beef dish for dinner and was sad to see Robyn’s chicken dish had rice, which is what I prefer over potatoes. For breakfast I then ordered the beef dish and was really sad to see Robyn’s dish was chicken karaage! I was a little wary of taking Air Canada but I actually liked their plane quite a bit. The flight wasn’t full and we were able to have a row all to ourselves. It was a pretty quiet plane too. From now on I know for international flights I want to sit in the first section before the restrooms and towards the sides of the plane, not the inner middle seats.
Upon arriving in Tokyo at 440pm, we got on the Keisei Skyliner and set off for our hotel. I had initially planned on getting a pass that would include 3days of using the Tokyo Metro along with the trip to and from Narita airport, but I’m glad we didn’t because we only used that metro company one day, and the other day we used the JR instead. Tokyo public transit is very reliable and fast, but very confusing.
The hotel was wonderful – Park Hotel Tokyo. Its lobby is on the 25th floor of a news company building. Robyn had gotten an “art studio” room meaning every room on the 31st floor was decorated by a different artist. We looked through a pamphlet of the other rooms and I felt like ours was the cutest! The hotel is closest to Shiodome station, a Toei subway line that we never used, and is about an eight min walk from the Shimbashi JR and Tokyo Metro stations which we used for everything. Our hotel is connected to these stations and many other buildings via an above ground pedestrian walkway which was really nice. I could never remember exactly how to get back to our hotel entrance from the subway but luckily Robyn actually has a sense of direction.
The hotel also provided free breakfast which was delicious. On top of toast and pastries, we could have paninis and fresh vegetable and fruit smoothies. Their coffee machine also had delicious matcha lattes which I will really miss when we’re back in America. I ate myself full, but I know that I would have eaten FAR more, if it wasn’t SO quiet in there, and there wasn’t an employee manning the smoothie and panini station. I imagine they judge everyone and think to themselves “I bet SHE’S going to be stuff herself, typical American!”
That first night we walked around our hotel area, Ginza, which is a big shopping district. All the stores were closed at that point but there are many good restaurants nearby, the type in SF that would be $$ on yelp and have an hour plus wait but no wait in Tokyo. We ended up going to Ippudo, getting delicious ramen, and then walking back to our hotel. I stopped in a grocery store to get various KitKat flavors, but as I continue to see so many cute sweets being sold, I may buy those instead. (Note from the future: it turned out that I never stopped to buy more KitKats toward the end of the trip, so I’m really glad I bought what I did on the first night, and now wish I had bought MUCH MORE).
Ok time to nap! One hour left on the bullet train!