Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tokyo for Christmas: Day Six

Note: When we returned home after our trip, we found out that we had no internet service. It was off for several days, due to a problem with our tower. After I called the company and complained, they sent someone out and got us connected again. Amazing how dependent we have become to the internet! I hope to get the blog caught up with the Tokyo Trip soon.

Day Six, December 28th

Well, here we are sitting at the Narita Airport in Japan waiting for our flight home. It is now 3:30 pm, Wednesday, Tokyo time which is 11:30 pm Tuesday back home. Our flight leaves at 6:15 pm so we’ve got about a 3 hour wait. Actually we have been here at the airport since about 1:00 pm. We left the Yokota Air Base on the shuttle at 11:00 am. We’ve got about a 10 hour flight to San Francisco, a 5 hour lay over there and we finally fly into Denver around 6:30 pm on Wednesday MST. I’m exhausted just writing about it. I can only imagine how exhausted I am going to be by the time we finally do arrive in Denver.

I need to catch up with my postings. Left off at Day Six, so that’s where I’ll pick up the story.

On Day Six, which was Monday, Nick had to work, so Mr. Travel and I decided to tackle “downtown” Tokyo all by ourselves. We figured that we knew just enough about the train to be dangerous. We had received a pretty detailed map from the “travel information booth” on base and Mr. Travel did some research on the internet the night before so we thought we knew pretty much what we were doing.

We started around 8:30, once again we were off walking. We had to walk to the train station which is about a 20 minute walk from the air base. We weren’t positive where the train station was since Nick wasn’t with us, but we knew the general direction and found it without incident. We then bought our train tickets, which you buy from vending machines, so you need to know what you are doing because there are no instructions. Also there are so many people who use the train that it seems like no matter what you are doing, there is always a line waiting for you to hurry up and get done so the next person in line can go. This applies to everything, from buying train tickets, to using the bathroom, to reading a menu outside a restaurant, to riding an elevator or escalator, to taking a picture of a landmark! I am telling you, there are millions of people here, everywhere!

Our train ride was suppose to be about 2 hours, but we goofed up a couple of times and got off when we should have stayed on so we were actually on the train for closer to 21/2 hours. We then had to take the subway. We hadn’t done this before, but Mr. Travel led us right to the subway station and we got our tickets with no problem. The subway was just like the train, only underground. The train and subway were both crowded, but not too bad, we had to stand some of the way but were able to sit part of the way as well.

When we got off the subway we wandered around until we saw a street sign pointing us to Tokyo Tower.

There's a 7 Eleven around every corner.

Anyone hungry for gross looking fish things with a slice of lemon?

By george, I think we found it!

Our tour guide on Tuesday told us that they were constructing a second Tokyo Tower which would be twice as tall as the present one and would be completed in the year 2012. She said at present, it would be the worlds tallest structure, but who knew what might be constructed between now and 2012.

They have two observatories at Tokyo Tower, but we only went to the first one. The weather was hazy and we figured we wouldn’t be able to see much more any higher so we opted to save a little money and only go to the first. We ate lunch at a restaurant in Tokyo Tower. The restaurant was a Japanese buffet which was great for trying things we had seen, but weren’t sure we wanted to try. I took all the funky looking stuff while Mr. Travel stayed with things that he could identify.

Base of Tokyo Tower

View of Downtown Tokyo, see Rainbow Bridge in the distance?

I was standing on a "window" on the floor of the observatory deck, see how little the cars and trucks are at the very top of the photo?

Kathi and the Tokyo Tower mascot.

After lunch, we found a little park that had some Japanese maple trees that still had their red leaves on. I keep thinking that all the trees and flowers must be spectacular in the fall and spring. If we ever get to come back, I hope it is either in the fall or the spring time.

Beautiful Fall Leaves of a Japanese Maple

See the reflection of Tokyo Tower in the water?

One Big Tree!

After exploring the area around Tokyo Tower, we took the subway back to the train station. It was now around 4 pm and just starting to get dark. We decided to take a little time and explore around that area before hopping on the train. We found Hard Rock Café. I loved all the lights of the city. Made we wonder if this is what New York City was like?

Hard Rock Cafe Tokyo

Look familiar to any "Amazing Race" fans?

Tiny delivery truck

Cool Scooter

Another manhole cover, they are all decorative like this!

This picture is actually a reflection on a building.

Nice wide streets, downtown Tokyo.

Men Saka Bar? That's what it says!

Beautiful florist shops around every corner with orchids galore, beautiful!

Finally fatigue started to set in and we made our way back to the train. We arrived back at the train station near the base around 7 pm and Nick came and picked us up. We then went out to dinner with Nick and one of his friends. Then it was off to bed since we had to get going early in the morning for our tour to Mt. Fuji.

We just heard over the loud speaker that all passengers flying to the United States are going to have to go through a second security check. We are already sitting down here at our gate waiting so we are wondering if they are going to check us again. They started checking some of the people waiting down here, but seemed to have stopped. Also they were not letting anyone come down here, but they have stated to let people down here to the gate. I was wondering what security would be like since the incident in Detroit.

We were thinking that security wasn’t as tight here as it was in DIA or San Francisco, they didn’t even make us take off our shoes. I guess we’ll find out shortly what is going to happen.

After I put away my computer, several TSA agents came down to our gate and started patting down everyone who was going to get on our plane. I think that was only the second time in my whole entire life I have been patted down. The other time was in Rapid City in 1986 when I went to a Heart concert. They also went thorough our carry on bags, but didn't make us take our shoes off.

Well, that's it for now...

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