Tokyo Day 2

This post about our time in Tokyo several weeks ago is being written aboard Viking Orion somewhere in the South China Sea between Shanghai and Okinawa.

After disembarking Celebrity Millennium, we took the provided shuttle to the nearby station to ship our suitcases ahead to Kyoto. This is a common practice all over Japan. For a very reasonable price, your bags can be shipped same day from the train station or airport to your hotel or in two days to just about anywhere in Japan. That’s Mike filling out or more accurately having the agent fill out the paperwork. Total cost was under $35 which was much easier than dealing with them on the metro and trains we would be using to get to Kyoto the following day.

Those are our big bags over on the right. But wait longtime readers are saying, y’all went to Europe for seven months in just a rollaboard apiece, why the big suitcases for this trip. That is the same question we’ve been asking ourselves since we rolled the bags into the train station in Vancouver!

Previously we have been staying in Airbnbs with washing machines but there were 13 days between leaving the ship in Tokyo and boarding Viking (which has free washers and dryers) in Tianjin. So we had enough clothes for that length. (We planned well, we each had one pair of clean socks when we boarded Orion!) Anyway, we have learned our lesson (again). We have agreed that never (ever) will be travel with more than a rollaboard!

After shipping the luggage we took the train/metro to the Hyatt Regency in Shinjuku which Mike booked using points. The hotel was very close to the station and they provided a very nice shuttle bus back and forth to the station. The lobby had the biggest chandeliers I’ve ever seen hanging over more orchids than I’ve ever seen in one place outside of a greenhouse!

They let us check in early (around noon) and we had a great room, though the bed was very low. This was also our first experience with the electric Japanese toilets. We liked them, unfortunately neither this hotel nor the one in Kyoto had opted to install the drying option 😢 The Hotel also lived up to what we had learned (thanks YouTube) about amenities at Japanese hotels. In addition to the usual shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, the beautiful box included a comb (snagged), a nice folding brush (snagged), a sewing kit (snagged), nice toothbrushes, disposable wash cloths, hair bonnets (sorry Karen I didn’t snag one for you 😢) and other assorted necessities. Out in the closet were bathrobes and slippers and on the bed were nightshirts. Of course none of the last three fit us 😢

After a bit of a rest (finding our way out of the huge station had been a bit stressful), we decided to go explore the neighborhood and have lunch. We ended up at a ramen place highly recommended on TripAdvisor, Menya Musashi. Wow, so delicious. We had ramen and tsukemen which is ramen but rather than being served in broth, you get the noodles on the side and then dip them into a thicker version of the broth. When you’re done with the noddles, there are pitchers of chicken broth that you thin out what’s in your bowl and drink like soup.

The whole experience was a blast. There is a machine at the entrance with pictures (and sorta English descriptions) of the eight or so dishes you can order. You make your selections, feed cash into the machine, get a ticket and then go stand along the wall behind folks sitting at the counter until a seat is available when the nice lady behind the counter takes your ticket m, asks what size you want (all cost the same-we got medium) and waves you to a seat.

Then the fun really begins. There are pitchers of ice water along the counter, along with napkins and bibs! You can see the ordering machine behind the picture of us modeling the bibs.

It was great fun to watch the well oiled team, cook noodles, rinse them for the tsukemen, slice the pork belly, add it, egg , seaweed and deliver the bowls to the waiting customers.

We were really glad to have the bibs as we are still beginners with the chopsticks. I gave Mike a hard time as the six year sitting next to him didn’t use a bib and had nothing on his clothes when he was finished! The ramen were everything you’ve ever heard about them-just so so good. Certainly not Cup o’Noddles!

We explored the neighborhood a bit on our walk back towards the hotel. It’s an interesting area with the nearby train station, several shopping malls, new high rises and little side streets with tiny restaurants. And of course everywhere signs of the upcoming summer Olympics.

We intended to go the observation deck on one of the towers of the Tokyo Municipal Building, but between the long line (it’s free) and an impending rain cloud we decided to head back to the hotel.

After watching the National Sumo Wrestling Match on tv, we decided while not hungry enough to have a real meal (the medium bowls of ramen were large!) we did need a bite to eat. Luckily there was a 7-11 in the same building as our hotel! So we had the feast shown below, which included (clockwise from the lower left) a corn dog, a salad, egg salad sandwich, yogurts (for breakfast the next day), edemame, an egg roll, chicken on a skewer and in the center for dessert, a banana pancake. Everything was very fresh and tasty. The dessert was a pancake that most closely resembled the cake of a Little Debbie Swiss Roll, filled with a chocolate dipped banana and some whipped cream.

While we enjoyed our one extra night in Tokyo, if we had it to do over we would elect to stay In Yokohama. I didn’t expect it to have anything interesting to do. But between the Cup o’Noodles Museum where you can make your own custom cup, the other sights near the cruise port, the lower hotel costs and in general it being easy to get around, if we ever cruise back (and we hope we will) we would stay in Yokohama.

After finishing watching the wrestling and attempting to recreate their incredible forward facing manbun, it was time for bed as we had a morning train to Kyoto the next day.

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Vancouver

After a long wait in the line to get through customs preceded by a longer wait for the draw bridge to close, we finally officially arrived in Vancouver about an hour late.

After another wait in the taxi line, we arrived at the Hyatt Regency. We aren’t sure whether it was his good looks or the shout-out I gave to Hyatt on Instagram this morning but we ended up in an executive suite. For free!

Mike has the Chase Hyatt credit card and one of the benefits is a free night once a year. We tried to use it in Tokyo but the hotel wasn’t offering any rooms-in fact we tried to book here initially with the same results. But about two weeks ago I suggested Mike look again and Voila we are now living that high life…literally, the 32nd floor!

Aboard!

After breakfast at the Hyatt Place Hotel this morning, about 10 am we ubered to the Pan American pier (it’s the one that isn’t in old town where cruise ships typically dock when on a port call). We dropped our luggage, checked in and got our key cards-there were maybe 10 other people doing the same and at least 30 agents waiting to go to work.

We then ubered to Old Town San Juan with the intent of taking the free tourist trolley. Unfortunately it was out of service but they had a golf cart replacing it! We rode almost one loop and stopped and walked along the base of the city fortifications through the flower and sculpture garden to the beautiful fountain on the waterfront. While there, Silver Seas Yacht Club Silver Spirit made her way to the pier.

We left downtown around noon, and headed back to the ship. There were a few more folks checking in but the guests were still greatly outnumbered by the clerks waiting to go to work!

The Restaurant wasn’t open for lunch today so we headed to the World Cafe (buffet) for lunch. We were greeted there with a glass of bubbly to welcome us onboard.

Mike and I ate a light salad and had some grilled to order shrim…ahem….prawns. Lois however wanted to try it all! 😂

About 1:40, they announced everyone’s rooms were ready so we did a tour of the upper public levels of the ship (pool, wintergarten, Explorer’s Lounge) as we headed towards the bow. We then went to our respective rooms and unpacked. Mike and I are finished and Lois is “almost”. Once she finishes, we will go explore the public areas on Decks 1 and 2 before the muster drill at 5.

San Juan.

Had an uneventful flight from Raleigh to Orlando. Got “my seat” with lots of legroom and an empty middle between us!

Connection to San Juan was completely full but even though it was a different plane it was the same Southwest crew and Egda had somehow kept “my seat” open so flew in comfort (at least my legs-the middle was not empty this time) into San Juan too!

Left Orlando 30 minutes late but arrived in San Juan only 10 minutes after we were supposed to. Grabbed a cab (cash only $15 + $1 gas surcharge and $4 for the two bags). Uber can’t pick up at the airport but is available otherwise. We made it to the Hyatt House (using Mike’s Free night from his Hyatt credit card) by 8.

Unfortunately the only food options (hadn’t eaten since 9:30 am except for Southwest’s peanuts) were Olive Garden or Long Horn Steakhouse. We decided that our last meal ought to be a burger so even though I had been hankering for mofungo, Long Horn it was.

Back at the hotel and anxiously waiting to board the ship tomorrow!