I managed all of 45 minutes sleep after my last post until the air hostess woke me up for another meal. This meal I was less impressed with. Everyone else got ham and cheese with a pastry. (Sensible – it was now 10am time in Tokyo so solid breakfast options). I had…. drumroll please… a chicken salad. Yep. For breakfast.
I didnt eat much and adams tasted a bit like a dairylea lunchable so I wasn’t massively missing out.
We’d been kind of chasing dawn for a few hours so had a very strange light in the cabin, but it was quite pretty outside.
Watched the intern for the last stint and we landed with no issues at 11.20am.
As we departed the plane and walked down the exit walkway – theres an offical looking man holding a sign. And guess what it says.
That is NOT what you want to see getting off a plane. Initial thoughts: how the hell has the taxi got here a) so early b) this far into arrivals and c) why is he dressed in a suit. Followed swiftly by – hang on that can’t be the driver, maybe all my visas have flagged something. Followed quickly by – its someone in an Alitalia uniform. ITS THE BAGS.
So guess what guys – Adams bag didnt make it!!
We also didn’t get any customs forms on the plane even though everyone else did. Alitalia were not doing great right now – Adam gave them 3/10 at this point. 1 for getting us to Rome, 1 for getting us to Tokyo and the third for not killing us. Would I fly with them again? Probably not. Unless it was half the price.
So once back out of the customs queue to fill in forms, then back through again, customs itself was quick, easy and remarkably polite. Clearly too used to Orlando at this point.
We headed to pick up my bag, which did arrive. Then spent some time with the alitalia staff at Narita, who – bless their hearts – were so apologetic and lovely. They gave us all the info required, helped fill in the forms, and took us through customs.
We’d been a bit longer than expected here, but still had 2 hours so were fairly comfortable. We needed to go and collect a wifi dongle, which i’d paid for and booked in advance, as well as change our train exchange passes for actual train passes.
I’d done a lot of research here and had airport maps and knew what we were looking for – images of the shops are on the web as well (both were handy to look up in advance). This didnt take long at all and we were again impressed with how polite and lovely the Japanese people are – even in the airport.They had signs up on Japanese etiquette as well, all hand written which was super cute.
My stomach was rumbling at this point, and with a 6 hour taxi journey ahead, a meal before was most definitely required. We headed in the direction of Subway (long day – something familiar was tempting) but decided against it when seeing all the amazing food displays they have in front of the restaurants.
After a bit of dicussion – we decided on soup. It would fill a hole. Be ‘Japanese’ and keep us going until Hakuba. On very few Yen.
Lemon chicken and an oolong iced tea for me – and same soup for adam with three apple juice. The soup was great, so was the juice. The tea not my thing but drinkable. In fact adam loved it and had both.
After lunch we popped into UniQlo to get adam some extra tops to tide us over until they (fingers crossed) deliver his bag to Hakuba.
At 2.30pm, we headed out to hold up our printed sign to catch our chuo taxi (shared taxi service) to Hakuba. It collected another guy who was on his own, and a lovely family who we chatted with a bit. I think their names were Kevin and Kat (Mum and Dad), and then three kids – one of which I can’t remember the name of, but the other two were Junior… and ELVIS! What a name!
They were all nice people and lovely to chat to, though by this point we’d been up for 28 hours so were less chatty than we probably should have been.
Anyone considering this option to get to Hakuba – two things – one) its more comfortable than I thought, they have blankets etc for when it gets cold and there is plenty of space. And two) they stop for toilets every 1.5 – 2 hours. I’m a big fan of constant toilet access (weird – I know – hence the love of trains generally), but its totally fine. The stops were our first experience of the amazing shops, weird named drinks and crazy toilets…
I am glad we did this in the end, as we saw the sun setting coming up to the mountains, and though the photos aren’t great (i wish I could have gotten out with my tripod!) the memory is!!
We arrived in Hakuba – Echoland at about 9.15pm and were met with an empty reception and a phone. How very ‘Saw’ esque. (It was totally normal this morning to ring the receptionist… think the extreme endurance test on hour 31 was playing tricks on my mind).
Rang the number to be greeted by an Aussie! Said Aussie then appears from behind a door and checks us in, and also tells us they are still serving food (I was contemplating eating my arm by this point) and sends us on our merry way to dump our (three not four) bags.
The room is massive – western style – and facing… THE MOUNTAIN! I could barely see it as it was dark, but I can now, and through the snow its such a lovely view. I’m currently chilling on that sofa. Ooooh yeah.
We popped down to the bar for some grub and had a bit of a chat with the barman / receptionist / boarder. I always forget how laid back Aussies are – they crack me up.
Adam went for fish and chips (can take the man out of england….) and I went for a fajita (wooop low gi all day on day three!!) both were taaaasty and at less than £20 including a beer for Adam. He’s on untappd as barrowsmith if you’re a fan of craft ales and use it. (And its pretty much the only way he’s documenting this trip. Standard)
So that was day three. We headed upstairs (sounds kinky. Wasn’t). Washed off the 32 hour day and went to bed for a much needed sleep.