Tokyo adventures: Disneyland

Tokyo adventures: Disneyland

While we were in Tokyo, we couldn’t resist spending a day at Tokyo Disneyland. We just can’t resist a good theme park. Our bodies had given up on any sense of time, so waking up early to make our way through Tokyo rush hour traffic (wouldn’t recommend it to my worst enemy) and make it to Disney for opening time.

IMG_1145

Getting there:
The trip there is easy – we took the Keiyo line from Tokyo station to the Maihama stop. You can see the part from the train and it’s a quick 10 minute walk from the station. We didn’t have our tickets ahead of time, so we first had to go through security and then to buy our tickets. Since we were there early, all of these procedures were pretty quick. When we left, we took the same route back. We already had the Tokyo subway system semi figured out, so it was pretty straightforward and we managed even without wifi.

IMG_7772

The Park:
We were there in early October, so the park was beautifully decorated in Halloween style. I definitely recommend paying it a visit this time of year. Also, considering the time of year, it was hot all day, so by the end of the day I sported a not so cute sunburn. So even if you think you won’t need it, bring sunscreen.
First things first, Pav downloaded an unofficial app, estimating the wait times at different attractions. Since they don’t have wifi in the park, we brought the pocket wifi from our Airbnb. In combination with the park map, we were set.

            1st tip: If you have pocket wifi, bring it with you.

 

The Attractions:IMG_7757
There are quite a few attractions in Tokyo Disneyland that are everywhere – Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, Peter Pan’s Flight and Alice’s Tea Party. Most of these are similar to other Disney parks that we’ve visited.

The Haunted Mansion was transformed into a Nightmare Before Christmas theme and it was completely different from the usual way the ride looks. Again, totally worth visiting at this time of year.

Pirates of the Caribbean was themed around Dead Men Tell No Tales and was one of the less popular rides at the park. That just meant that we went on it whenever we needed a relief from the heat outside and to take a break.

Unfortunately (lucky for Pav, who doesn’t like the ride too much), It’s a Small World was closed for repairs, so we weren’t able to go on it. We also visited a lot of other Disney staples: Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, and Star Tours.

 

Pooh’s Hunny Hunt:
This ride is unique to Tokyo Disney. We were a little on the fence as to whether we should go on it or not (let’s face it, it doesn’t sound too great), but the fact that it had a 2+ hour wait almost the entire day convinced us that it might be worth it. Eventually, during the main parade of the evening, the wait was under an hour, so we slipped away from the crowd to go check it out.
The ride itself is definitely worth the wait. Its premise is that Pooh ate too much honey and suffers a psychedelic dream. It functions completely differently from all other rides at the park, so it’s an absolutely different experience.

            2nd tip: Even if it might be against your better judgment, go on Pooh’s Honey Hunt.

Final Thoughts:
We were happy that we spent a day at the Tokyo Disney and it was a great experience. The one problem we ran into was the language barrier – the story based rides were all in Japanese, so it was a problem. But again, if you know Disney, you’ll be fine. Other than that, the usual Disney tips apply: comfortable shoes, plan your day and take advantage of Fast Passes.

If you’re a fan of Disney Parks, you shouldn’t miss this one.

IMG_1152


READ MORE:
Japan

Kyoto

Travel Tips: Japan

This October, we were lucky enough to go to Japan again. And this time, we went together. So, we’ve compiled a list of tips for you, if you’re planning a trip to Japan.IMG_1256

  1. Always have cash on you. Foreign currency ATMs are hard to come by and you’re never sure a vendor will accept your debit card.
  2. Download Google Translate (and Japanese) before you go. It’ll be a lifesaver.
  3. If your hotel or Airbnb offer pocket wifi, go for it! And bring an external battery to recharge. Wifi hotspots are almost as hard to find as foreign currency ATMs.
  4. Get a JR pass. They’re flexible and will let you take as many trips as you want. Plus, trains are a lot more convenient than cars.
  5. Plan, plan, plan. Know where you are and where you want to go. It can sometimes get overwhelming in Tokyo and places don’t always have convenient connections to where you need to go.
  6. Don’t be afraid of street vendors and tiny restaurants. Some of the best places we’ve been to seat less than 10 people.
  7. Bring comfortable shoes and don’t forget nice socks. Chances are, you’ll be taking your shoes off multiple times a day, be it in restaurants, temples or other places.
  8. Shinkansen trains leave on the dot. If you’re late, you have to get on the next one. Luckily, they go fairly often.IMG_1259

Exploring Japan is amazing and we definitely recommend visiting. As everywhere, being polite takes you a long way and you’ll always get great treatment. Enjoy your trip!


READ MORE:

 

Japan

Kyoto

Our ski-less winter holiday in Avoriaz

Our ski-less winter holiday in Avoriaz

This winter, Pav and I hit a few travel milestones and some travel firsts (somewhat unexpected). We had originally planned a family ski holiday in Avoriaz, France, which didn’t quite pan out as we imagined it. First, it was just the two of us without the rest of the family and, second, we had no snow to actually ski on. Which made for quite an interesting holiday.

We arrived in Avoriaz on Dec 31st, 2017 definitely ready to greet 2017 with a big hug. We got there around 4 PM after quite a few delays due to freezing fog, which was present across all airports we visited (we flew Prague-Brussels-Geneva). As we were driving towards Avoriaz our transfer driver suddenly pointed to a cliff and said “Up there is where you’re staying.” My first thought was that I’m glad I’m not afraid of heights.

15826530_10154884065654250_4101665783707806954_n

Immediately after got dropped off and checked in (which took all of 10 minutes), we put our suitcases into our room and decided to go explore. We put on our fleeces (yes, it was too warm for our ski jackets in the mountains) and went outside.

15747653_10154874643774250_5351358736372502699_n

We immediately got a stunning view of the valley below us, the sunset and the town. Our mission was simple – find a place to ring in 2017. After a couple attempts at finding a restaurant, I finally spoke to the owner of a small pizzeria and he told us to come at 7PM. Not a minute later or he wouldn’t seat us. With that, we turned to go back to the hotel to get ready for our big night out.

That night, we had tartiflette and some sort of potatoes with cheese and assorted hams, saw the fireworks (by complete accident we ended up being right across from them when they happened) and made friends with a couple of the local bartenders. Everyone we met that night made sure to warn us not to ski due to the terrible conditions of ice and artificial snow, so we decided to heed their warnings and reconsider the skiing in the morning.

15823083_10154874643419250_6848144724656213015_n

We welcomed 2017 with all the glory it deserves, so we ended up spending January 1st in our hotel. In the evening, we took a short walk up to the top of our nearest slope to see what the snow conditions were for ourselves. There was plenty of artificial snow, but we still decided to wait.

Instead we spent the following days hiking, going to the water park, visiting Morzine and doing other mountain activities. Keep your eyes open for more articles, which will come soon!


READ MORE:

Los Angeles -> San Francisco Road Trip

  Los Angeles: Three month adventure

 

Flying with Finnair

When I decided to go to Japan, the biggest concern was getting tickets for the correct dates, price and availability. Seeing as I was buying these tickets less than two days before my intended departure, availability was key and we chose Finnair. It’s also the shortest route from Prague to Osaka, with 2 hours or so from Prague to Helsinki and then 9 hours from Helsinki to Osaka with a brief 3 hour layover.

IMG_6949Pre-Flight

Pre-flight procedures here are pretty standard. You get a reminder e-mail 24 hours ahead of time and you can check in, nothing to remark on. Everything worked as it should have and I was on my way!

Flight

To be honest, it wasn’t one of my favorite flights, the seats are rather small and the place has a cramped feel to it. My return flight was significantly better, as I had two seats to myself and was able to be a little more comfortable. The best part was that the cabin temperature was pretty near perfect and I wasn’t freezing, as is sometimes the case.

Food

Food was decent, although on the way to Japan I didn’t eat much. On the way back, it was significantly better and we even got ice cream half way through the flight! You get a small bottle of water when you walk on the plane, so bonus points for that, even though it’s not enough for the long haul flight. On the short flight, you have a selection of food and drinks that you can purchase. On the other hand, service was great and always helpful.IMG_1193

TIP! Once you’re past security, bring a bottle of water for your long haul flight. I was pretty dehydrated on the way there so I did this when coming back and felt a lot better.

In-flight Entertainment

I was lucky because I travelled there and back in different months, so the movies and tv shows were slightly different. Overall, there’s a decent selection of movies and shows and I wasn’t bored, even though I hardly slept. One tip for you – you get free earphones, but I recommend that you bring your own, along with a converter to the two prong outlet for sound that airplanes have.

Overall, this was a very convenient way to get from A to B with the shortest possible travel time and best departure and arrival times. And for that alone, I would fly with them again. On the way there I was a little surprised, but on the way back I figured out what I need to do to make my flight more comfortable and it definitely was!

Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix

It has been a while since our trip to Monaco (two years, to be precise), but it left an amazing impression. Since the Monte Carlo Grand Prix is to take place this weekend, it’s a good time to impose some wisdom and share our experiences, in case any of you are going.IMG_2990

We made it a long weekend event – flying out on Thursday and coming back on Monday morning. We opted to stay in Nice, France, which is just a short drive away from Monte Carlo. This was a great decision, because the picturesque city was stunning and offered refuge from the Grand Prix craziness that was going on in Monaco. Our hotel was on the side of a mountain, overlooking the city and the coast.

Our first day came with a mission – go to Monaco and pick up our Grand Prix tickets. Simple, right? Well, not really. We found parking and started walking towards the ticket stands. And here comes tip #1:

Tip #1: Carefully look up maps and road closings, navigation during the Grand Prix is difficult and you may end up in a bunch of dead ends!

Tip #2: get GPS for your car or data on your phone for navigation
DSC_5687So, we did a lot of up and down walking to get to the ticket stand. Fortunately, it was a beautiful day and we got to admire the beautiful views that the city offers. We also watched a little bit of the Formula 3 race.

DSC_5704After picking up tickets (and buying team merch), we had plenty of time left in the day to explore. We hopped into the car and drove back to France, along the coast. We went past Nice, drove by Cannes, and into the small city of Frejus. Our initial goal was St. Tropez but that ended up being a bit too far. In Frejus, we visited the ruins of an ancient amphitheater and took a stroll on the beach. The coast was absolutely beautiful and if we had time, we definitely would have loved to visit more of the coastal towns. In Frejus, we got hungry, so we stopped by for drinks and tapas, which tasted great.

We then ended the day with dinner in the rooftop restaurant of Radison Blu Nice, which, again, had great food and views.

On Saturday, we went back to Monte Carlo to watch the qualifiers for Sunday’srace. We checked out our seats – Grandstand O, above the water and facing the city. We could see the pit lane, as well as parts of the finish line.DSC_5806

We decided to go for lunch in the immediate area, which proved to be a mistake, as everything was full and restaurants were not up to speed.
Sunday was race day! You could feel the excitement in the air. We got there early to see all the pre race events, including the drivers’ parade. Then we had lunch on the stands with food that was sold there (lines insane, but it wasn’t worth it to go back into town again).

TIP #3: bring tanning lotion! You’ll need it so that you don’t end up looking like a crab.

And then the race began! Since it was my first race, I was initially worried about recognizing the drivers, but it wasn’t an issue. It was so much fun to watch and hang out there. We loved it. When the race was over, we got to walk across the race track and as we were leaving, we heard that Benedict Cumberbatch was meeting the drivers and congratulating them! It was almost hard to tell who was more starstruck. Sadly, we didn’t see it happen.DSC_5875

After that, we left Monaco, went to the hotel to change and for dinner. This time, we got dinner in a small restaurant in a village on the other side of the cliff that our hotel was on. There were very few people and the food was, once again, amazing.

Sadly, that was it for our trip and we left early in the morning on Monday. We absolutely loved this trip and definitely recommend it to anybody!


READ MORE:

South Africa Part 2

South Africa Part 1