Yesterday was one of the most ridiculous days….ever. No wait…..EVER. Our day started at 3:30am, despite the fact that our previous day had ended at 2am. We zipped up our bags and headed downstairs, and as I was rolling our luggage out of the elevator, I jammed one overweight piece of luggage right into my big toe. Apparently, I rammed it so hard, that I actually broke my toe. At 4 in the morning. Boo.
We arrived at the airport before the counter guys, and had to wait for them to get to work before we could check in. When we finally boarded the plane, we just had to laugh, because apparently I somehow booked us on Retro-Air, to put it nicely. I am not exaggerating when I say that the inside of that plane was held together with zip-ties and duct tape. Though they were classy enough about it to use the colored kind of duct tape, so it matched the walls. The T.V. screens were, no wait, they didn’t have T.V. screens. They did however have projection screens. You know the kind that your science teacher would pull down from the ceiling to show slides on? That kind of projection screen. The whole plane made creepy noises, as if it only had half a wing. The food was among the worst airplane food I have ever had. I know that airplanes are not known for their high class cuisine, but what was on my tray was absolutely inedible. But, we made it safely to Osaka, and that is the most important thing.
Going through Immigration was a task and a half. First we had to go through a fever/sickness check, then through immigration, then again through baggage check. Our guy gave us a hard time, probably because of the ridiculous amount of luggage we were carrying with us. As much as I tried to send most things home, I still ended up with two suitcases (one large, one small), my laptop bag, backpack, purse and a pillow. Kris had his backpack, suitcase, and a carrybag of goodies and gifts I received in my last few days in Hong Kong. We probably looked like we were moving into Japan. Which is probably why the guy gave us a funny look when we said we were really only staying for 5 days.
Finally through those gates, money exchanged, we started searching for the train. Picture two very haggard looking Americans in a Japanese airport, dragging around an obsence amount of luggage, trying to figure out the train system…in Japanese. We thought we had figured it out, and even made it on to the train. But after departure, the ticket guy came around to confirm our tickets, only to inform us we had purchased the wrong ticket. Or not enough tickets. Or something that required us to give him more money.
Once in Kyoto, struggling to get our luggage through the tiny gates the lead out, we were stuck, as our tickets wouldn’t open the gates. A serviceman had to come over and jimmy the system to let us through. We stepped into the chilly city, found a taxi, and were on our way to the hotel. We kept driving, and driving and driving. Pretty soon, we were going through a tunnel and out into the mountains. The hotel is in a beautiful location, but it is not close to anything. Except incredibly scenery. Which is fantastic. The colors of a lingering Fall and approaching Winter are breathtaking. Mountains of gold and crimson remind me of my love of North Carolina, though the unique Japanese architecture draws me back and reminds me that I am far from home.
Kris and I are oddly out of place in the hotel we are staying in. Fancy beyond our normal means, but yet affordable. The hotel is full of old business men and international conference-goers. We have heard just as much French as we have Japanese. The room is enormous. The bathroom practically the size of my Hong Kong flat. Two showers. A heated toilet seat. The kind of luxury that would be very easy to get accustomed to. We just spent the afternoon relaxing after a rough day of traveling, resting my poor little foot. For dinner we decided to dress up, as it was our first dinner alone together in 16 months. All dressed up, me in my high sandals (there was no way I was cramming my broken toe into my boots) we set off to find food. Into the cold, sans jackets, we wandered. And wandered. And wandered. Well, I hobbled. And sporadically tripped slash fell off my shoes. Which never ceased to make Kris laugh. Finally, after passing a McDonald’s and giving it serious consideration (that’s how hungry we were), we finally smelled something wonderfully delicious. We tried to follow the scent, but somehow, I think we missed it. The restaurant we ended up in was the Japanese version of Denny’s. Instead of a soft-serve bar, they had a beverage bar. We just had to laugh about coming all the way to Japan to eat in a Denny’s. We walked/gimped back to the hotel, and crashed out by 10:30.
What a first day.