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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Weekend in Vienna

A few summers ago, I took advantage of an invitation and went to visit my friend in Vienna.

It was my first proper visit there, so I decided I would enjoy Vienna and see the city I’ve  heard and read so much about. Being a history geek, I know a decent amount about the history of the region and the Habsburg family and I was excited about seeing it all in person.

So, on a Friday afternoon after work, I hopped on a train. I made the wrong decision of grabbing a seat in a compartment with four Australian teenagers, who were doing a big Eurotrip and despite having already visited Berlin, were convinced that they were “going to Germany.” All in all, it was not a very comfortable train ride.

Four and half hours later, I stepped off the train in Wien Praternstern, where my friend was eagerly awaiting me. We walked to her place, which did not take long and grabbed dinner on the way, while catching up on the recent events in our lives.

On Saturday morning, I was woken up by the sound of rain against the window. Luckily, it was just a short shower and we were soon able to leave and explore the city. We walked and I saw some of the main sights –  St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the Opera house. We ducked into a few stores along the way, which made me realize that my German is worse that I thought.

After a walk through the city, we hopped on the metro and went to see the Schonbrunn palace. After making our way through large amounts of tourists – and stopping at a café for lemonade and the famous Sacher Tort, we finally emerged in the palace gardens. The only word I can think of to describe them is magnificent. The palace and gardens  were bigger and grander than I imagined them. Even the sun decided to come out from behind the clouds. While walking through the gardens, my mind went back in time, imagining the lives of those who lived here a mere hundred years ago and their ancestors. We climbed up to the top of a hill, where the Gloriette stands. The view was amazing and it is easy to see, why this specific site was chosen for the palace.  We sat down in the grass and I was taking in every moment, every image.

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After deciding that we should probably get going, we went back to the apartment to make dinner. We had a lazy evening, but decided that we shouldn’t stay in. So we went for a walk in Prater. We wanted to avoid the tourists and the loudness of the attractions, so we walked through the park.

Sunday morning came fast and with it the need to pack. We then went for a short walk, where I bought a few mandatory souvenirs and postcards, and saw the Hundertwasser house with its interesting architecture and fun designs.  A short visit to Starbucks (and the purchase of the Vienna mug from their collection), concluded my visit and I got on the train to go back.

I have to say, I really liked Vienna. Nothing there surprised me – the architecture and history makes it very similar to Prague or Budapest. I wish I had more time there, which means that I am definitely planning on coming back – there is still so much to see. But, before I visit again, I plan on improving my German and reading more about the city’s fascinating history.  


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5 things I never leave at home

IMG_5758I am usually the person who has everything in their purse – need contact solution? check. Nailpolish? Check. Tissues? Pens of various colors? Extra 50 hair ties? Check, check and check. I’m the person who goes away for a weekend with a suitcase (bigger than those tiny carry-on little things), a giant purse and possibly a laptop bag (due to the large amount of things I have in my purse, the laptop sometimes doesn’t fit). And if I’m flying on a long haul flight, add a travel pillow and refillable water bottle. But what are the five items it all boils down to that I can’t live without? Important documents aside, here’s what I never leave at home:

  1. iPhone and charger. This goes without saying. I make sure to update my apps to include a dictionary from English to the local language of where I’m going, possibly a tour guide or map. I try to have a lot of things prepared on my phone, just in case. There are also times when I don’t bring my laptop, so iPhone has to do all the work.
  2. Extra battery pack. Especially with my iPhone getting older and it’s battery life decreasing all the time, you never know when you’ll need to recharge and won’t have access to an outlet. I originally bought mine when going to a music festival, but bring it everywhere now.FullSizeRender
  3. A book (or two…or three). Ok, I’m not the best at judging the correct amount of reading material. On beach vacations, I read a book a day. If I’m traveling for the sake of exploring, I barely read. So it depends on what you’re doing, but I always have a few books of different genres with me in physical copies. And the rest I have as e-books, but I don’t like to rely on having a power source to read (also, electronics and beaches, pools, rain, sand etc. don’t mix well).
  4. Fluffy/warm socks. These are an essential for flights. I basically use them as in-flight shoes. I don’t want to wear my shoes for long haul flights, but I also don’t want to walk around the cabin barefoot or annoy my fellow passengers. So I opt for fluffy socks, which keep my feet warm and safe from whatever may be on the airplane floor. Tip: a plastic bag to put them in after use is always a great idea.
  5. Notebook and pens. You never know when inspiration will strike. I also like to jot down notes about interesting events or things we encounter. Everytime I forgot to bring a notebook, I ended up buying one at the airport (or train/bus station) on my way to my destination.

And, as we’ve said many times before, do not, under any circumstances, forget earphones. Personally, I use them only for the plane/train/bus parts of my travels because babies cry, people talk loud and it’s nice to be able to drown that out. Once I hit the ground at my destination, though, I rarely wear them so that I can enjoy the sounds of the place I’m visiting as well.

I hope that my tips helped you and let me know in the comments what you can’t leave for a trip without!


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Emirates – worth the hype?

For the past year or so, I’ve been hearing a lot of praise for Emirates. I’ve flown with quite a few airlines already, but I kept hearing how Emirates is off the charts wonderful. Finally last week, I got my chance to check it out and see how the airline compares to its competition. So what did I think?

My Emirates plane!

Pre-flight

To be honest, I can’t judge their booking process, as I haven’t gone through it myself. But from the point of receiving my tickets onward, I was happy with the pre-flight process. A day before each departure (from Prague and then from Dubai on my way back), I received a text message, reminding me of my upcoming departure. What was great about this text was that it included a link to online check-in, so I could complete that fairly quickly. At the airport, it was pretty standard – bag drop, quick coffee, security. The one thing I have to say is that on the way back, my check-in, passport and security checks were completed in a total of 15 minutes. That was a first for me, so I was fairly impressed and at a loss for what to do in two and a half hours I had until boarding.

Flight

On my way there, I sat in the very last row of the plane. I don’t really sleep on planes, so I’m not bothered by travelers or flight attendants frequently walking by my seat. I was flying in a Boeing, but I was immediately impressed with their in flight entertainment, which you can start watching as soon as you sit down. Boarding was a quick process and I even got lucky – the seat next to me was empty – probably the only empty seat on the plane. And on medium to long haul flights, this is something I always hope for. I held my breath and was so happy when they closed the cabin door and it was certain that I won’t be fighting for my spot on the armrest. The flight was almost entirely a smooth ride, with no major turbulence or other disruptions.

In-flight entertainment

Even before takeoff, we got hot towels to freshen up and headsets were already on our seats. As soon as the safety video was over, I started looking through my movie choices. The selection was impressive and included several movies that I have been planning to see. Which means that precisely at that point I decided that I’d use the six or so hours to catch up on movies and tv, rather than sleep. (I was grateful for the same selection on the way back, because even then I didn’t watch everything I wanted to).

The in flight entertainment was so great that I didn’t even feel the need to test the in flight WiFi or turn on my phone, which were also within the realm of possibility on these flights. 

Emirates food

Cabin service was amazing. When mealtime came, I was worried that, as often happens in the back of the plane, I wouldn’t be able to choose my meal. And guess what? They still had chicken when they reached the last row of the plane, which almost never happens. And it was not just edible, it was good. I also fell in love with their adorable mini snacks that were a part of the meal. But my favorite part? When they collected my tray ahead of time, so I didn’t have to wait for the cart to reach my row.

 

Emirates luggage tag.

Does it stack up?

Both of my flights, Prague to Dubai and the return journey a few days later, were great and comfortable experiences and we landed before I could get bored.

My conclusion: you have to try it. It’s still an airline, but if you’re traveling far and want to feel at least a little pampered even in economy class, do it.

More details on my adventure in Dubai are coming soon, so make sure to check in later!


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