.: The Yearning
I can't believe it. All it took was a couple of television advertisements, Flight Centre's European Holiday Expo and their Early Bird Airfares ad. All day I have been staring up at the aircraft as they flew over and I have an incredibly strong urge to book flights to Europe. Then I could start planning our trip - the one that we are not going to take next year. The international travel bug has bitten me and it's a chronic infection!
Unlike last year's trip to Europe, where I arrived back exhausted, with a very bad case of jet lag and a number of assignments to complete, I returned from this year's trip feeling pretty good. In fact, I really did not want it to end - I was enjoying it far too much. Because schedules and clocks played a relatively minor place in the trip - we did things when we wanted to - and because we stayed for a few days in a location with a timezone only two hours different to home the jetlag seems to have been minimised.
The holiday is over and we are at home in Sydney. In some ways it is good to be back in comfortable and familiar surroundings, a place where we can relax. However, there is much that I will miss about overseas and it won't be fun to return to the familiar problems. Anyway, I'm too tired right now to think or write about much.
The final day in Tokyo was spent wandering around through Takashimaya, eating a couple of bento box lunches from the basement food market up on the level 12 viewing area. Almost bought a Sharp Muramasi minature notebook computer, but upgrading the memory beyond 256MB would be difficult due to the proprietory modules.
Instead, walked across to West Shinjuku to purchase a Sony Vaio VGC-M53B/D computer from Yodobashi, which took longer than expected. Rushed back to the hotel and somehow lugged two big roller suitcase bags, one tatami mat, purchased from Tokyu Hands, two bags of porcelein plates and two daypacks up through busy Shinjuku Station and on to the Narita Express. Fortunately we were in car 1, closest to our platform entrance.
I am so very depressed. We are leaving Japan tomorrow. I don't want to go. I'm not yet ready for our holiday to end. There is still so much to see and do.
Whether due to jet lag or someother reason, I had trouble sleeping last night. I decided that things need to change when we return to Australia. Time to think about the future. I do know that I am deeply unhappy with the state of my country, though I wonder if it is somewhat more pronounced in Sydney.
After all my thinking I managed to get perhaps an hour of sleep before we awoke to ready ourselves for today's trip to Nikko.
We purchased a one day Free Kippu - a ticket allowing unlimited rides on the suburban rail system.We caught the metro system from SHinjuku to Asakua, then bought tickets for the Tobu line to Nikko. The Tobu "Spacia" train was like a toy on the incredibly tightly curved railway platform.
Our second night in Tokyo and I am dreading our return to Australia. We haven't left Shinjuku since arriving here from the airport about the Narita Express.
After staying mostly in basic 2 star hotels I hoped that we were in for a bit of luxury in Tokyo. We don't generally need or use the facilities, but it's nice to be pampered now and then.
My first impression of the room was, "this looks very tired". Then I looked out the window. The Shinjuku Prince Hotel could do with some renovation - the TV looks like it should have died years ago. It all works though, and from the 22nd floor we have a great view over the skyscrapers of West Shinjuku and of the trains as they rattle through the world's busiest station.
The toilet has lots of buttons too! A seat warmer, arse washer and more. Very nice and perhaps it uses less water than in the manufacture of the toilet paper. Want one for home.
Not at all impressed by British Airways or Flight Centre. Firstly we were bumped to the morning flight to Tokyo and told that it was the only one. Nope, the previous flight is still there and would have lets us get up at a reasonable time. The fact that we were transferred without even asking our permission and lied to about it annoys me.
What annoys me even more is that fact that we are sitting in the centre row near the back of the plane. A bumpy ride and I can't even look out the window. I specifically asked for a forward window seat when we were booking the ticket and BA and Flight Centre didn't do it.
Add this to BA's other faults and in future I'll try not to fly BA for long haul. I really hope the Qantas flight back from Japan works out better.
I got very little sleep last night after using the internet connection and with the worry of waking up for the flight. It turns out that I could have worried a little less. Daylight Savings ended for the French on Sunday morning, so we had an "extra" hour to sleep in. This caused me great concern when I woke up at what my watch said was 4am but the Zaurus (and acting alarm clock) showed as 3am. It wasn't until I had consulted the Lonely Planet and web that I could go back to sleep.
We spent our last full day in Paris shopping. Finding that the shops around St Severin, near our area, weren't open until 11:30, we took the metro to Boulevarde Haussmann, the location of the grand department stores Galaries Lafayette and Printemps.
We entered the latter store and spent about an hour and a half there, got hungry, left to search for food, ate pizza, returned, stayed a few hours more, purchased,wandered through the Havre Arcade, bought the most wonderful chocolate (knew this from last time) from the Chocolate Atelier. Don't try the red streaked chocolate. Hot chilli (yuck)!
Returned to Printemps less than an hour before closure. Purchased some stuff for my beautiful wife, then left as it closed (7:30pm).
Shopping is not one of my favourite activites, but Parisian shops stock good quality items. Some are reasonable in price, others outrageously expensive. Most of it would be the latter if sold in Australia. The clothes seem to fit B a lot better as well.
I love Paris. It's a city that celebrates learning, thinking,subversive ideas and the enjoyment of life. So unlike Sydney.
We began this very sunny Sunday with a walk through the Sorbonne, France's premier university, up to the Pantheon, the resting place of famous French men and women, including Victor Hugo and Madame Curie. Unfortunately, the massive classical domed building was closed for renovations. So we walked back down the hill towards the Notre Dam and our next stop Sainte Chapelle.
This small chapel, located with the Palace of Justice (courts) has a beautiful and colourful interior and exquisite stained glass windows on the top level.
From Sainte Chapelle we continued walkin along the Ile de la Cite to the Ile St Louis, taking the time to admire the wonderful views of the Seine river. Amongst the line of tourist oriented shops we even found the small store selling the van Gogh cushion covers and umbrellas from our honeymoon trip to Paris.