… 4 am sucks.
When I was in the military, there would be many times when we would have to wake up early…. like pretty much everyday for PT (Physical Training). I wasn’t a big fan of it then, and since getting out of the military, I try to avoid getting up super early if at all humanly possible. Because, as earlier stated in such an elegant manner, it… SUCKS.
Unfortunately, this is one of those times when it wasn’t something that was particularly avoidable. Our first plane left the airport from Kansas City at 9:10am. They wanted us there 1-2 hours early, and it was roughly a 2 1/2 hour drive from where I live to Kansas City. That means to be safe, we had to leave in the area of 4:30-5:00am. And because I had issues sleeping the night before, that means I was far from the happiest camper when I finally got woken up. Luckily, the excitement I had felt the night would well up again, realizing that we were truly getting ready to set off on our trip!
The trip to the airport was relatively uneventful. I was shotgun with our pleasant driver, while my buddy Jason and his wife snuggled in the next seat back, with their daughter in the seat behind that. It was a 2 1/2 hour drive, but still seemed to last for-EVER. We made two stops along the way for restroom breaks, one of which allowed us to stop at Dunkin` Donuts for some much needed sugar and coffee (I actually got hot cocoa). But then it was back on the road and to the airport!
Arriving at the airport, we got checked in relatively easy, giving over our checked baggage before making our way in the direction of our gate. I learned if you have family with you, you can actually have them request passes to get through security (they still go -through- security though) to sit with you at the gate until you get on the plane, which was really nice for my buddy, so he had a bit more time with his wife and kid before we headed off.
But eventually it was time to board the plane, and of course that is when the tears appeared (more with the wife than Jason). But we finally headed onto the plane and got into our seats. The plane was a smaller one, since we were only heading to Denver, a flight that was really only about 1 1/2 hours in length. But it was the first leg in what is going to wind up being a very long trip to the other side of the world.
When we booked our tickets, Jason got all the window seats, so I was generally stuck in the aisle, which kind of sucked in its own little way. But I got to have wonderful views down the middle of the plane, such as you can see to the side. Exciting, I know. But it was nice to know that we were actually getting going, after months and months of getting ready to go.
Now I’m not particularly much of one for selfies, but as this was a big day, and I was likely going to wind up with a few more over the course of the trip, I thought it’d be nice to get one of me and the buddy as we sat there, waiting for our plane to take off. You can quite obviously see the excitement radiating on our faces, the likes of which you would never see again! And yes, my eyes are a bit narrows, primarily cause it was really bright in the cabin, and I was getting a bit more tired from the lack of sleep…. tired…. with EXCITEMENT! (but not really).
The trip to Denver was relatively short, and even when we got to the airport, it wasn’t particularly anything of great awesomeness. We were getting a bit hungry at the time, so we decided to get something to eat. I ate at a little place called City Wok, deciding some chinese food sounded good, while Jason opted for a more mexican style of eating, though I didn’t remember the name of the place he ate at. The food was relatively good (images will be in gallery), though for nearly 10 dollars, it wasn’t THAT great. But unfortunately the increase in price is one of the things you pay for when you decide to eat in the Airport. And we found out a bit later that our plane actually got delayed by almost 2 hours! So we had a bit of time to kill in the place. We actually spent it primarily trying to set up our blogs, and charging phones and other electronics (I charged up my ipod, he his 3ds).
But after what might have been forever (even if it was only like 3 hours), the plane finally showed up. The very plane that would take us out of the US and onto the lands of Japan! It was a big enough deal that both me and Jason figured we would get a picture with the plane in the background.
Eventually though, after the additional time of waiting for the plane to get cleaned up and refueled, we finally got to board! This plane was obviously a fair bit larger than the first, since it was going to be flying us over the pacific towards Japan. After settling into our seats, which were aisles of 3, we found our that the 3rd person moved to a different seat, which means me and Jason didn’t have to sit elbow to elbow… yay for being able to stretch out! We were also the very last row at the back of the plane, so we were right next to the bathroom, which was rather nice.
Being a larger carrier, we have tv screens in the head of the chair in front of us, allowing us to watch movies and tv, play some games, listen to some audio (like music or audio books) or even just watch the map of our travel from Denver to Tokyo.
As we got into the air, we of course eventually got high enough that taking pictures out of the window, but as we got going, after a little time, we were able to take some rather -awesome- pictures of mountain ranges. The coloring actually makes them kind of cool, though it wasn’t something intentionally done… the windows were tinted a little and reacted that way with the camera in my phone. But regardless, they were rather pretty (I thought). Between the clouds and mountains, definitely some better memories of the plane ride!
Being the long flight that it was going to be (literally like 1 million hours, no joke), we were of course going to get a couple meals on the plane. Needless to say, it was your typical airplane food… I personally didn’t care for it all that much. Jason however found it rather alright, even going so far as to get some green tea ice cream afterwards. Also, as a little treat for ourselves, and because we had little better to do on the plane for the 20 hours it seemed like we would be on it, Jason packed a few small bottles of liquor so we could toast a bit, as well as to help us relax. It did work to some degree, a little baleys actually making the rather yucky coffee they served actually somewhat enjoyable. The meal itself wasn’t too bad, though the bread was rather hard, the butter frozen, and the lasagna (in my opinion) a bit dry…. overall, about what I expected from airline food, honestly. Thankfully, I had packed some snacks before we left for the airport, so was more than able to make up for the light meal that I didn’t particularly care for.
After the meal, we settled in to watch some movies on the tv screens. I myself watched a couple random movies, some I had seen, others I had not. The only one I can remember for definite was Mr. And Mrs. Smith… I hadn’t seen it in a while, and it wasn’t actually too terrible. Certainly distracted me for the two hours it played! But after a bit more flying, Jason noticed a few more opportune moments for pictures, and as he was at the window seat, it really is the -least- he could do. I also started playing around a bit with the black and white function on my phone, fyi. 🙂
Eventually meal two came around, and ultimately it had the same issues as the first one. The actual omelette itself wasn’t bad, but again the bread was too hard, and butter was frozen, so nearly impossible to spread. The cookie was tried, though for some reason, I literally could not tell you what kind of cookie it was. Jason didn’t even try it to help. But again, not all that great a meal, which is disappointing, given how much money goes into the tickets for this flight. But fast forward another handful of hours, and we could finally tell we were above Japan! Though it was only a little past six when we got there, it was actually rather dark, as we were only able to see city lights beneath us at that point. But it was still exciting to know we were actually above Japan, and not just water anymore! (sorry for poor night shots… my phone apparently doesn’t do them well)
But eventually, we finally landed. We were actually in Japan, and even Tokyo itself! Of course, even when we landed, we actually got taxi’d around by the plane for a good 15 minutes as it navigated around the airport towards the terminal it was supposed to be at. But still, we were there! And it sunk it a little more so when we actually managed to get off the plane, and after a little walking, found a rather sizable sign in the hall, giving an obvious greeting to us! It had numerous greetings in other languages, most of which I couldn’t identify…. but the one at top I sure could!
But as we proceeded through the airport and towards our checked baggage, we ran into a hiccup to our trip. We were actually supposed to get on a plan at about 6:45pm or there around and head to Nagoya (we were -supposed- to arrive at like 4:30). But because of that nearly 2 hour delay, we got towards the baggage claim about the time our plane was supposed to be leaving. So unfortunately, we were -not- going to be getting to Nagoya that night. But on the plus side, we actually got to stay in a hotel with free dinner and breakfast, courtesy of the airline!
When we finally got to our room, it was a little surprising. In the states, usually when this happens, it isn’t generally a great hotel they put you up in. But this one was actually rather nice, to be honest. It made me think a lot of a Holiday Inn, but actually a step above it. I took a few pictures of the rooms, which were actually a bit small, though I’m upset that I neglected to take a pic of the lobby or even the outside. Say la vi! But the view from the room wasn’t too shabby…
But after checking out the room and dropping off the bags, it was time for a meal! The hotel was actually nice enough that it had two different hotels within it, as well as a small bar up on one of the higher floors! We opted to eat at one of the nicer looking places we saw on the bottom floor that looked more like a buffet. Apparently, the price to eat was around 30+ dollars… but again, we got the meal for free, so it was nice! They had plenty of traditional Japanese fair, plus a few Americanized things. But being as we just got to japan, we obviously were looking for something a little different than you might find at home!
My appetite wasn’t very high at the moment, despite it being a buffet. I was exhausted, and more than a little upset at not being in nagoya at the time (or even on the way, rather). But Jason was more than happy to try out the majority of the desserts, as you can see. But after the meal, we retired to our rooms for some much needed sleep, and hoping that tomorrow we would finally get to Nagoya and begin getting settled into the place we would be calling home for the next 4+ months!