Sunday, 3 March 2013


After months of planning and two previous attempts to get here in the last 6 months we've finally touched down in Tokyo. This is our first trip overseas with Georgia and first with heavily pregnant Michelle. It has also been almost exactly 3 years since we've travelled overseas and, maybe not so coincidentally, that last overseas trip was to here, Japan. I think we like the place.

The flight was a breeze and Georgia, for a two year old, was a dream. It was like she'd been doing it for years. Horrible early morning start though. The flight was due to depart about 9am which meant getting to the airport by 7am. The pre-booked cab was waiting for us at 6.30am but it took a good 10 minutes or so to take the bags down and load them. Most expensive cab ride to the airport ever. $37. Usually $25 max. That's what happens when the taxi has to hang around waiting for you I guess.

During the 10 hour flight Georgia watched a movie and giggled all the way through it. She'd walk down the aisles to the toilets with us to stretch our legs. She napped a little but all in all, as I mentioned above, she was a dream to travel with.

Watching a movie. Stuart Little I think.

Even slept
My meal
Special kids meal for Georgia
Haagen Daaz ice cream was a winner even if it was frozen solid
They both slept
No major dramas going through customs at Narita. We were dragged from the queue so we could be processed quicker, probably because of Georgia and because Michelle looks really really pregnant (she is really really pregnant - 26 weeks). Thank you Japanese immigration. We piled our bags on to a trolley and looked for the NEX (Narita Express) ticketing office which was down stairs, which can be tricky when you've got a metric tonne of baggage on a trolley. We found an elevator. We found a ticket machine and managed to get it to display English and bought our tickets to Tokyo. They're about 3000 yen (about $30) each and you have to reserve a seat. Another elevator ride down to the platform but no trolleys are allowed on the platform so it was a major exercise to load the bags into and out of the elevator, drag them down to car number 5 and on to the train. Of course I'd booked seats on one end of the carriage but entered on the other so I spent the first 10 minutes of the 59 minute trip transferring our bags to the other end of the carriage.

Because I'd spent 10 minutes or organising our bags Georgia sat in my seat and ate a sandwich. When I was done mucking around with the bags I thought I'd get my seat back. "No daddy, away". Okay, after being an angel for the the flight I think I can stand and let her sit this time.

Waiting for the train to Tokyo at Narita
59 minutes after boarding we arrived at Tokyo station. Huge Tokyo station. We spent a good 10 to 15 minutes trying to figure out which exit was best for us to get to Ginza. Ginza is more less one side of the station. Figuring out where we were on the station map on a pillar in the middle of a million people rushing to and fro can be confusing. I asked a girl if she could point the the Ginza side of the station and she spent a few minutes trying to figure it out for me then she pointed to another map on the other side of the pillar which had a bigger map of the local area around the station. That made it easier to find the exit best for us and close to a taxi rank. You didn't think we were going to walk did you? But first we did have to walk a couple of hundred metres through the station dragging our bags. Tokyo stations mall and shops reminded us of why we love Tokyo. The variety of goods and food on display is extraordinary. Best railway station in the world.

On the NEX to Tokyo
No Daddy, you can't sit
After swaddling Georgia in her jackets at the exit because it was friggin' cold outside we hailed a taxi. The taxi driver looked at our pile of bags and pram dubiously but we managed to load it all. Most in the boot and some spread in the car with us. I gave the taxi driver the address of the Monterey Hotel. It's funny, depending on who you speak to it is either one of the best known or least known hotels in Tokyo. Our driver didn't know it but after fiddling with his GPS for a bit we set off. It's only about 800 or 900 metres from Tokyo station to the Monterey so it didn't take long. I'm not sure how the metering system works for Japanese cabs but within a certain area and a certain time all you'll pay in 710 yen. Georgia seemed a bit bemused to be sitting in the back of a car with both mummy and daddy and not in a child's seat.

It's been 3 years since we've been in Tokyo but everything seems oh so familiar. This, I hope, is a good sign.

Georgia waved bye bye to the taxi and we checked in to the Monterey. The booking was honoured and a room on level ...., for 75800 yen (about 15000 yen per night), would be our home for the next 5 nights. Just before we headed up stairs the concierge gave me a letter. It was the data SIM I'd ordered for my phone. I'd completely forgotten about that.

Twin beds
We have a twin room because, A, they're bigger than a double, and B, we couldn't book a double with a child. You can get a double at the Monterey for as little as 12000 yen (about AU$120) per night but we were happy to have the slightly larger twin. Slightly larger is relative because it is still smaller than most motel rooms in Oz. Because Georgia is 2 we weren't able to reserve a cot. Babies have to be under one for that. The Japanese presume that little kids, under 5, co-sleep with one or both of their parents. That's why we brought a porta-cot with us. Phil & Teds Traveller. Only 3kgs. Way lighter than any other porta-cot on the market, 3 or 4 times lighter. A bit of bitch to assemble but its portability outweighed any inconvenience in putting it together.

The view
Back in 2010 the Aussie dollar was valued at 20% lower than today. So the 12000 yen double we had then would have cost us closer to $145 as compared to today's $120. You've gotta love a strong dollar for travelling.

The office :)
Also in the 3 years since the last time we stayed here they've upgraded the internet service to WiFi. There's still the Ethernet port in the desk but the FREE WiFi is way more convenient. I could connect both phone and computer. The toilet is still like the command chair of the Enterprise and heated to boot. They also still supply the sexy PJs. I didn't bother wearing them this time because they were just a little bit tighter but if you want to see them I blogged about them 3 years ago here.
The dunny

It was still reasonably early so it was time to eat.

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