i made it! truthfully, it wasnt nearly as difficult as i thought it might be. second flight was turbulent, but uneventful. i had a window seat next to a couple – he would smack his lips and she would punch him to get him to stop….luckily, i slept through most of it.
customs and immigration were like i remembered them, but each one was a separate step and separate form here. i dont remember that from either time in london. but, the officials were helpful, had never heard of my hotel, and laughed at my suitcase contents – you mean it’s not normal to bring a bag of individually wrapped things of peanut butter and a bag of peanut butter gu?
then came the taxi ride. the people running the taxi stand were really helpful too, and somehow i lucked out with a driver that spoke english…or at least some english. like the customs people, hed never heard of my hotel, but was able to plug the address into his gps. the cabs were interesting, somewhat old fashioned compared to the other cars on the road. and the one i was in had doily type things over the seats and headrests. i couldnt resist a photo. the driver sat on the opposite side as in the US, and wore white gloves. i thought the gloves were cool until he used one as a tissue….they lost the coolness factor real quick after that. overall, he was a nice guy, asked where i was from but then let me happily gaze out the window.
after he dropped me a block from the hotel, and the giant suitcase and i made it to the hotel, i find out that the hotel has overbooked, and as a result, theyve upgraded my room. hello 21st floor….and really awesome view of the city. and im pretty sure this studio is bigger than the studio i had when i lived in the sunset and has more closet space than i have at home.
showered, unpacked, and re-combobulated, i headed out in search of food. and…i just wanted to walk around. what little of the city i saw tonight was so cool….so many people, doing so many different things. bikes on the sidewalk….red and green lights for pedestrians. small, narrow streets with as many businesses as the main streets. i just wanted to explore, but, food first.
so many restaurants…and so many of them looked like the japanese version of fast food….so many menus outside….i ended up just picking one that had at least some english on the menu. at the start, i was the only one in the restaurant. the waiter came over and starting chatting at me and i just nodded…then he held up one finger….i guess before he was asking if it was just me. i ended up in a quiet corner with giant picture menus – at least i could see what i might be eating and guess what it was…since, well, the english was selective. and i could point. but then he brought me a smaller, english version of the menu.
i ended up with some strawberry cocktail, though im convinced there wasnt any alcohol in it. then there were two sets of fried asparagus with some sort of sauce, two sets of chicken skewers, and fried pasta. overall, a good experience for my first dining abroad adventure. then, i couldnt figure out why no one was brining me a bill….finally someone came over and understood what i was asking for, so they brought it over. i gave them what i thought would cover dinner and a tip, gathered my things, and made my way out. on the way out, someone else handed me my change….i took it, but felt bad. i didnt want to not leave a tip, but wondered if that might be customary. as i was walking out the door, i wished i had done better research. then i fell up the stairs….way to keep a low profile.
on the way back to the hotel, i stopped in a small liquor store for a bottle of japanese red wine. this is me we’re talking about – must have my red wine….haha. it actually tastes like grape juice, and im also convinced that there isnt any alcohol in it. but, i got it, and made it back to the hotel in time to enjoy a glass while watching the sunset. i took a few pictures, but honestly, they dont do it justice.
and the tipping thing, totally not customary in japan. and, apparently it is customary to pay the bill at the register vs. having them bring it to you. thank you google, now i know. and ps, google shows up in japanese here….
tomorrows adventure – a bike tour through the city, but first a train/subway ride to get there. for now, it is 8:30, and i think its bed time.