|Tokyo, day 7: traveling home :(
||[Dec. 14th, 2017|01:14 pm]
Travel (mis)adventures and the flight from hell
Not a lot of pictures at all here I'm afraid, sorry about that, but things were rather too hectic to spend a lot of time taking photos.
Our last day in Tokyo literally consisted of getting up at 4(!)am to be out of the hotel by 5am to be on the Narita Express at 5.55am to be in the airport at 7.20am to catch our 10.50am flight. Checking out thankfully was a pretty quick affair, and a kind member of staff unlocked the elevator for us so we could get out with our luggage on ground floor.
Sadly, we didn't find an elevator at Shinjuku Station so we had to lug our luggage down the stairs. It's a good thing that Tokyo is so safe, so I could carry one trolly down, leave it with Bert and go back up for the next one. No way I could do that here in Belgium. If it didn't get stolen, someone would call the cops out of sheer paranoia.
Checking in at Narita was sadly not as painless as checking in at Zaventem. In Zaventem they accepted that we had online check-in and wanted to pick up our boarding passes at luggage drop-off without issues or questions. I think nearly everyone does that there anyway. In Narita however, oh boy.
First of all, the girl I was dealing with barely spoke English, which was a massive faux pas on account of ANA in my opinion, seeing it's an international flight.
Secondly, she just would NOT accept that we had online check in, but had no boarding passes.
I had to explain 7 times (and yes I was using super simple Engrish) that whilst online check in can be done way in advance, you don't get the confirmation email 'till the day before your flight.
And that we had ONE smartphone for TWO people, meaning we only could use ONE email confirmation.
We also couldn't print at the hotel, so yes, we would like to make use of the boarding pass pick up at luggage drop off.
Clearly, she either didn't even know the rules of her own company (which are simple and explained in every email you get) or she simply wanted to make our life miserable. In the end, one of her colleagues told her to just print us our boarding passes because we weren't doing anything wrong. Much obliged kind sir! To be honest, I think he just wanted her to get a damn move on it, and I really can't blame him!
Bert had his heart set on buying whiskey, and he hadn't been able to find a place that sold it in Tokyo. So he had high hopes for the tax free area. Meaning he wanted to get through security check ASAP. Meaning, I didn't get to go to Starbucks. Meaning: no 3rd point to get a free totebag, no matcha frappucino. SO MUCH SADNESS!!!!!
The security check went really smooth, as smooth as in Zaventem I would say. The people there were very friendly, and were saying that some of the rules were super stupid, but it was how it was. I wasn't going to argue with them, they were just doing their job, but it was annoying that I had to take off my Palladiums (they're sneaker boots). I didn't have to do that in Zaventem. Mind you, I think I bring these things upon myself traveling wearing boots, because I had to take them off in Nantes too.
The silliest thing was no doubt the disposable camera. The first guy was all “oh yes film! We're not scanning that!” And passed it on very carefully without it going near the scanner. A refreshing change and stark contrast to traveling via Eurostar from London! Then another girl took over past the scanner you have to walk through and was profoundly apologising for a rule that said that if you haven't used up your film, you've got to take a photo with the camera to prove it's just a camera. I thought it was a ridiculous rule too, but I just told her it wasn't an issue and snapped this photo of a parked plane. Its not like she's coming up with these rules, and she was super friendly.
Bert did find whiskey in the end, I found Royce chocolate (which I also didn't see anywhere in Tokyo proper) and melon KitKat (which was alright, but not epic) and bought water for on the plane. Bert put some more 100 yen coins in a gatcha, so I could have a Tsum Tsum keychain, which was nice of him. I got Stitch.
Sadly, there were no USB port chairs in Narita, and we had to share the plugs in the wall with another girl, which was of course totally fine. There were enough plugs for both of us! Thank god I packed my old micro USB travel charger from my previous phone, which is compatible with the tablets, because that long cable sure came in handy! I really feel like an airport as big as Narita should step up to become more mobile device friendly.
For a second it seemed our flight would be delayed, but then it wasn't, and we found our spot on the plane. And NO FUCKING WAY am I EVER doing a long haul in anything but first row. IT IS NOT GONNA HAPPEN!
WORST 12 HOURS OF MY LIFE! I'm not even joking. The guy next to me was rude, constantly shoved his laptop case into my legs (which wasn't supposed to be there to start with!), he clearly hadn't bathed in days (which is just great if you easily suffer from sensory overload) and he was constantly fussing in his seat, meaning he'd constantly bump into me.
But hey, Bert had his window. RIGHT BEHIND THE WING *screams in frustration*. I spent that flight being cramped, miserable and half of it feeling nauseous AF. Thank god for Touristil, whatever will I do when that pack is empty (it's no longer available). Needless to say, I didn't get much sleep that flight, and I absolutely HATED it.
The food was much nicer this time 'round though, but the flight attendants weren't as nice.
So yeah, after a flight from hell, I was glad we didn't have to wait ages on our luggage, and got out of the airport pretty quickly. I did laugh at all the stupid Japanese people that were so rude getting off the plane in a mega rush because they were stuck in a massive queue at customs, and as we had a EU passport we had no queue what so ever. All that pushing and shoving and general rudeness only to be out of the airport later than us. Joke's on them for sure!
The guy checking our passport was really friendly too, which was super nice. And there was no actual customs check. I had been a little worried that I would get slapped with import fees, but customs consisted of three guys standing around chatting, barely paying attention to people wandering past them. Which is exactly how I like customs in situations like these :D.
We managed to get the Diablo tickets without too much of a wait. You have to pay a hefty toll for the privilege to arrive or exit the airport train station and get absolutely NOTHING in return, no trains that are fit to deal with luggage, no station fit to accommodate people traveling with luggage, nothing, you just pay, because that's how the NMBS works, they just charge you for ZERO service.
Luckily, we managed to get a train to Louvain pretty quickly (glad we didn't go over Antwerp because apparently there was a major sinkhole issue in Brussels, and the trains to Antwerp would have been affected). In hindsight, going over Antwerp would have been nicer, even though it would have taken longer, because then at least we would have been able to use elevators and gotten something from an easily accessible Starbucks. Louvain has neither, sadly.
Even sadder was that we had nearly an hour of lay-over in Louvain for our last train (and urgh, why are Belgian stations so horrible when it comes to being built for people with luggage!!!!???). Which was horrid because it was MUCH colder in Belgium than it was in Tokyo. At 5am, I was in a summer dress and it was already pleasantly warm. At 4PM Belgian time, I was freezing in that dress, a hoodie and a thick woolen cardigan (I did come prepared for shit weather). WTF?!
Mind you, I complain about having to deal with luggage on stairs, which is just a massive 1st world problem, because people in wheelchairs deal with this total misery ALL THE TIME and I feel the NMBS should get off their fucking arse so they shouldn't have to. Install ramps and elevators goddammit! Do something about your fail accessibility!
But yeah, Bert's dad picked us up, and I was glad to be home. Not glad to deal with the massive laundry from hell though, which thanks to the foul weather preventing me to dry things outside, took me a WEEK to get through. A WEEK. But at least its done.
So yeah, that was my Tokyo trip. I would definitely like to go back again, hopefully for longer than one week next time. Not for the Olympics though, that's a level of crowdedness I want nothing to do with. I would definitely go in September again, because you know: Halloween season!
On a side note, Loa cat, who generally has a “oh, you're back, now give me whatever thing you got for me whilst away” attitude to us going on holiday had actually missed us. He spent most of the week not going far away from us at all, because he didn't want to be without his hoomans. Of course, months later, he's back to his old self.
Previous day posts:
Day 1 (traveling to Tokyo and Shinjuku)
Day 2 (Shibuya – Harajuku & Omedesando - Shibuya)
Day 3 (Shinjuku)
Day 4 (Harajuku – Akihabara - Shinjuku)
Day 5 (Tokyo Disney Sea)
Day 6 (Harajuku, Omedesando and Shinjuku)
Tokyo haul post
All our Tokyo photos.