And so the final days of our trip would be spent in Tokyo, the metropolis to end all metropolises, a shopping heaven, and an hectic place of noise, lights, and people. We didn’t do much sight-seeing considering we only had two and a half days there, we were pretty pooped from all the sight-seeing that we’d already done, we considered Asakusa and Meiji shrine/Harajuku, but after visiting Asakusa on our first full day, decided that our time would be better spent shopping :D, we’d already visited Meiji Shrine and Harajuku last time any way.
Staying at City Hotel Lonestar in Shinjuju (near Shunjuku sanchome station) we were very close to the Shinjuku shopping district which was very handy. The hotel itself was pretty so-so, the continental breakfast consisted of croissants, herb bread, toast, and some other rolls, all of which needed to be toasted in the old fashioned small grill type oven, which if you leave the croissant in there for one second too long, it’s charcoal. The air conditioner in the room was weird, but did the job, sort of, it was a pretty small hotel with stairs at the front, so you have to carry your luggage in, it’s not too bad (about ten steps) but something to be aware of.
On to Asakusa, at least we did one touristy thing in Tokyo, although we will all admit that it was a bit of a letdown, the gate is nice, and the shopping street has some nice shops selling some cool stuff like prints, and yukatas, delicious red bean cakes, etc. The temple of Senso-ji is not what you expect from a Japanese temple, it’s loud, busy, and full of incense, it’s very busy and very un-zen, it’s much more like a Chinese temple. And so, we cut our visit to Asakusa shorter than we planned and headed back to Shinjuku for some more shopping, which is probably what we really wanted to do :D. But not before we saw a caricature drawing business, and got a picture drawn of little Oscar to go with our Kyoto picture we had drawn last time at Nishiki Market.
With only one and a half days of actual usable time, we spent all of our shopping time in Shinjuku so as to minimise travel time, and it still wasn’t enough, I hardly got anything :`(. This is a note for emmy for next time, don’t bother with Odakyu, Lumine 1 or 2, or any other shopping malls, just stick with Lumine EST and be done with. I was a bit disappointed with the range of shoes they had at ABC Mart, we went to all of them (at least all the ones we could find) and not one of them had a decent pair of Adidas Superstars for a reasonable price (I ended up getting a pair from Eastbay which I may or may not post about late, hopefully I do). We even found the sushi train restaurant that we went to last time, with it’s super cheap reasonable but not great sushi (something like 108 yen for the cheap plate, and 250 yen for the expensive plate), we’ll take that. We also went to Tokyu Hands which is like an upper class Daiso and spent a bunch of money there (probably my favourite shop along with Uniqlo/BIC Camera), although I didn’t get my umbrella despite it being one of the four things that I listed as must-buys :(.
And that was it for our latest sojourn to Japan, we got a return ticket on the NEX train when we arrived so we just needed to reserve our seats and wait for the train to take us to Narita, all very easy, not quite as good as going to Haneda but beggars can’t be choosers. Not sure if I mentioned it in the original Japan post, but Jetstar uses terminal 3 at Narita which has only a small selection of shops which have a very limited selection of goods, there’s a good book/magazine shop though, which is one of the negatives of flying direct with Jetstar. ANA and Japan Airlines both have direct flights from Sydney to Tokyo and possibly even arriving in Haneda, so that may be the option to go with next time. So with that, we say good bye to Japan again, and now we sit at home and wait until December when we next head to Vietnam, but don’t fret, I’ll try to keep this blog updated with great content :D.
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Here is a logical place to start since this is where we arrived in Europe, and where we spent the most time. It was my second time visiting Paris, and I got to see all the sites again, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Chateau Versailles, Champs-Elysee, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, Montmartre, and this time I also visited the Musee d’Orsay, the Eiffel Tower at night, the top of the Arc de Triomphe, the towers of the Notre Dame, as well as wandering around the town a bit more in general, and taking photos in better locations. We arrived at the end of Summer and were expecting the weather to be pretty warm, but it didn’t turn out to be much better than the weather I had last time when I was there in the middle of Winter, although the last two days we were in Paris, the weather was much nicer, warm and sunny. We spent quite a bit of time at the shops as well, mostly Galeries Lafayette which has a beautiful ceiling but probably not enough seats (for weary legs). Yes, the metro is a bit smelly and food is a bit expensive, but still like Paris, it’s a beautiful city with many sights to see and things to do, and full of very stylish and beautiful people. Although the opposite is also most definitely true, we were staying in a flat in Montmartre for the first four days of our visit, and on our last night returning home there was a guy peeing on the entrance to the flat complex, nice. Unfortunately due to ill health (not to me!) we weren’t really able to try any proper French restaurants, only managing to visit one small place in Montmartre, L’Homme Tranquile, which was nice enough. Otherwise we ate a lot of cold baguettes, to the detriment of Emmy, we did a little bit of shopping, mostly at H&M (lol), but picked up some smaller items at various other shops. Getting around on the metro is pretty easy, but unless you’re going to be visiting a lot of different places during the day and jumping in and out of the metro you may as well just get bulk one-way tickets rather than a Paris visitor pass. Hey, entry into France at the airport this time was a breeze, plenty of staff and no questions asked.
Regarding the sights, it seems the Towers of Notre Dame are the longest wait, an hour and a half from arriving at 10am, you have to make your way up a tiny spiral staircase until you eventually get to the top level where you get a great view of Paris, you are allowed five minutes up the top, and you better hope it doesn’t rain up there because we were caught up there without an umbrella and some very cold weather. The Museum Pass that we purchased was quite handy as it allowed us to get quicker access into the Louvre, although as I said, it didn’t help at Notre Dame, nor at Chateau Versailles, the Arc de Triomphe was good, the Eiffel Tower we pre-ordered the tickets online so avoided the horrible queues.
Hey, a quick mention on Cathay Pacific, great flight from Melbourne to Hong Kong, but from Hong Kong to Paris (and back) the planes just are no good, the seats don’t recline and they’re older. We also had a pretty nasty flight from HK back to Melbourne, the plane was good, but the flight was very turbulent, maybe there was more turbulence in the air, I don’t know, any way, I reckon we’ll put higher priority on flying Singapore next time. That’s all for now, I’ll leave you with a bunch of pictures, I may add some more information here later if I think of anything.
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