Tag Archive: travel

Dec 23

SEISHUN 18 KIPPU – Day ONE

Arriving bleary-eyed at six in the morning; rushing along platform after platform to not only make your connection, but to get a good seat; finally pulling out your laptop and connecting to the internet to post your thoughts, just as the train plunges into a week-long tunnel; high school girls in their ridiculous full-length parkas, face masks, and athletics gear laughing at your clothes; amazing mountain scenery that you can’t be arsed to photograph because you’ll get a shit photo through the train window anyway; the disgusting smell of beer and dried squid (yes, before 8:00 in the morning) of the two old men riding across the aisle… this is all part of the great experience of training it through Japan.

 

My wife and I bought SEISHUN 18 KIPPU, hopped on the Moonlight Nagara train last night at 23:30ish, and have been in motion ever since (except for a 20-minute stopover in Maibara where I was able to brush my teeth).  We’re due to arrive at our destination at 10:00am this morning (Kanazawa station).

 

For those of you too lazy to read the link above, the Seishun 18 Ticket is a ticket that costs 11,500 Yen or so, and gives you five days (midnight to midnight) free travel on all JR local trains, and a limited number of special trains (like the sleeper we were on last night).  I’ve been wanting to do this for ages, and I really wish that my wife could get more than one day off from work (today’s a holiday, tomorrow she took off, and then there’s the weekend) so we could travel for five whole days.

 

It does involve a lot of hours on trains, the heaviest day being today and the 25th, when we ship out from Kanazawa to Shizuoka (leave at 10:00, arrive at 18:00, lots of little transfers in-between).  What a way to spend Xmas!  We’ll have to call my family that night from the hotel.  If we’re lucky, the hotel will have an internet connection so we can save on long distance charges.

 

But this is the way to travel Japan.  You can take your bullet trains and your highways and your busses; the clinking clanking local trains are the way to see the country.  I just wish they weren’t so aggressively heated; I feel like my damn legs are burning up.

Jun 10

Calgary AEROPORT – Ho-Hum

Air Canada flight 10 landed about 20 minutes late at Calgary, and those of us continuing onto Toronto on AC10 disembarked, went through customs (no matter how friendly I try to be, I always piss the Canadian customs guys off—this time it was answering “I live there” when asked what I was doing in Japan), picked up our bags, went through the final customs line and then checked-in again.  The woman at the connecting flights check-in booth then told me where to go:

 

The gate was B23, but the security gate was A, due to construction.  Her directions: go out the door, turn right, go up the escalator.  I went out the door, was forced to turn left due to a partition, looked right, saw no escalator, saw all the ‘connecting flights’ signs pointing left, saw an escalator on the left, and got fucking confused.

 

There were no airport information staff, and the Calgary whitehat volunteers were nowhere to be seen (there were three of them right when we got off the plane—not sure why, because there’s only one way to go from there).  I followed a couple of women I recognized from my flight, and managed to find an escalator waaaaayyyyyy down to the right eventually, which led me to the correct security gate.  I’m shocked that the non-native speakers made it to the connecting flight, but they did somehow.

 

I got to the security gate, got through without setting off any alarms—I was told by the guy in the army surplus store in London, England that my boots were hard-toe but not steel-toe.  He was wrong, and I set off the metal detector at Narita.

 

One thing about this kind of half-assed direct flight is that my itinerary made no mention of the boarding or departure time from Calgary.  So until I got to the gate, I had no idea how long I had to, well, get to the gate.  In the end, it was a good thing I didn’t stop to use a vending machine or anything, because we boarded almost right away.