Friday, December 11, 2015

Homeward...

I'm writing this on the train heading toward Narita.  This has been one of the busiest trips I've had to Japan...only a precursor for what will be in January.  However, come January, I'll have my family here to help keep me centered and provide a sense of realism.  I always find that I work very long hours when I'm here without them.  And I think that's true for a lot of folks...family can help keep that life outside of work visible.

I also didn't have a camera with me for most of the time, so many of these pics are from my tablet....we are in the process of switching phones over to T-Mobile, since they have a better international plan than Verizon.  And the price is much better for the regular plan.  

I think I've mentioned it before, but Joe knew how much travel I'd have on my plate for work this year and he got me an Alaska Air Board Room Membership last year at Christmas.  It's been amazing and has made travel that much easier this year.  Just knowing I'll have somewhere to relax, have a little food and chill before flights was wonderful.  I've used it in a bunch of locations...SEA, MCO, NRT, LAX, ORD.  My one wish is that Alaska had a workable option in San Diego....the partner lounge is in a completely separate terminal and with the way SAN is set up, it's not really usable.  


Anyway, I'm always in the lookout now when I get to Seattle for any of the super cute Alaska Disney Planes and sure enough,met here was one right outside the Board Room!  A great way to start my day....

This trip was really packed. Especially the first 4-5 days.  I was fighting a cold (and losing), so I was worn out on top of being jet lagged.  And I was stressed about getting the apartment set up for the family.  I knew I had to get a few things that people had passed on from last year at work...plus buying essentials...plus actually working.

I had a Christmas party to attend for one of the folks permanently stationed in the area and I wanted to make sure I brought a nice gift.  One of my friends had raved about a patisserie in Kamakura and their macarons.  I knew that I needed to get a couple of those delicious delicate cookies for myself as well.  I ended up making it up there after work in the nick of time...I selected framboise and something else that was equally as delightful...


The party was a hit.  The food was this amazing mix of Korean and Japanese.  One of the Japanese guys brought salmon roe mixed with sake and soy sauce.  Oishi desu!!  Nom.

Sunday was an utterly exhausting day.  The bike situation was stressing me out....what size to get, where to get it, etc.  after taking the train to the place I intended to buy a bike, I learned that they didn't have the size I wanted (27).  So, I walked a couple of miles home, hitting a couple of grocery stores and the exchange on the way,  I was severely loaded down and exhausted.  I stopped into the alternate store, right outside my apartment and learned that the cheap (9200 yen) bikes I planned on getti were not rated for kid seats...neither were the next price level...ugh.  

I ended up with a sweet candy apple red mama-san bike...a little more than I wanted to spend, but no issues with installing the seat (30 min start to finish),  I got a pity discount and then got the sales tax refunded.  


I was a good person and actually cooked a couple of days last week...and then I caved and started enjoying the local food.  I love take out sushi in Japan.  It'sridiculously cheap and good.  It's even cheaper after about 6pm usually...since the focus is on everything as fresh as possible.

The Daiei mall has a large grocery store in it...it isn't the cheapest around, apparently, but I'm still impressed by their freshly prepared foods section.  Tempura, other fried foods, sushi...all there in mass quantities every day.  And the mall has a ton of other food options, all pretty decent.  

I opted for this set of rolls...I guessed it would be tasty and had a safe assumption that it looked like chopped tuna, fried pork, salmon and then crab.  I also grabbed a four pack of white fish sushi wrapped in blanched greens.  Everything was ridiculously fresh for about ¥500...less than $4, I think. 


My other favorite thing to do is to look for odd snacks and drinks.  I found both this trip.  The popcorn was quite good, with a surprising little bite.  I did NOT get the hot clam (?) soup...I'm not that brave. You can't see it very well, but there is a little picture of a mug with beer in it on the side of the can...implying that this is good to eat while you're enjoying a beer.  I'll take their word for it.  



Finally, the Green Car on the way to the airport.  There are a few ways to get to or from Narita.  I honestly had no idea how far away it was until I looked at a map on one of my recent trips.  The Narita Sobu Rapid line train is by far the longest of the options.  It takes almost three hours, if you get a direct train with no changes.  I could take the Narita Express (NEX) from Ofuna, which is quite a bit shorter, but a tad more expensive and I have to move trains.  

So, here I sat.  The green car on this train just means that you have actual seats (versus the normal commuter cars) and a nice attendant comes around with snacks and drinks.  I brought mine from the station.

And, here I sit.  Enjoying a wine and stoked to be heading home.  Can't wait to see everyone and have more adventures with them. 







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