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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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!


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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!

Awaji Island

Ferris WheelAwaji Island is across the Akashi Bridge from Kobe and it was the last place I visited in Japan. It is a great day trip, but in a typical fashion, I only had a few hours before I had to pack and leave for the airport.

Just driving around the island was great. The island is made up of rolling hills and mountains, so just driving around is a lot of fun, because you can see a lot. When you first drive over the bridge, you can see the ferris wheel. As you drive on the highway, you pass different towns or just small settlements of the island. You can also see different beaches and even fishermen’s nets set up in the ocean.

 

We drove down to the southern part of the island until we reached the town Sumoto. There we got off the highway and stopped in park for a short walk. Or what we originally thought was going to be a short walk. It ended up being more of a hike that took about two hours. So my tip is bring comfortable shoes! You really never know when you will find yourself on a hike :D!Hiking

The hike was definitely worth it! There were a couple of stops along the way to the top with viewpoints, where we took lots and lots of pictures. When we finally made it to the top, we loved it! Whatever despair or regrets about our choices of shoes we may have felt, it was all worth it when we got to the top. The view was phenomenal! We could see Sumoto on one side and the ocean on the other side of the hill.

IMG_8336So, after taking copious amount of photos, we had to head back down. At this point very thirsty and craving coffee. Since we didn’t really expect a hike, we didn’t bring any water so, my second tip is bring water wherever you go! Again, you just never know when you will want to go on a hike!

Lockers for shoes in RestaurantWe got back down in about 45 minutes and we were starving! Luckily we passed a Yakiniku restaurant on our way there in Sumoto, so all we needed to do was find it. And I’m glad that we did, because we order lots and lots of delicious food, that I still have dreams about! The restaurant is called Tenzankaku, and I really recommend it, because you depending on which set you order, you can eat as much as you want, there is a time limit to what you can eat, rather than the amount of food. Bottomless drinks and ice cream are included! So if you are in that area, definitely go to this restaurant! This is a restaurant where you have to take your shoes off and leave them in little lockers by the door, so just keep that in mind.

On our way back we stopped by the ferris wheel. Obviously, if you are afraid of the heights, don’t go, because it goes very high. But if you aren’t and you love things like this, like I do, the view is so worth it! From the ferris wheel you can see the Akashi Bridge and Kobe/Osaka on the other side of the Akashi Strait. Even if you are afraid of heights, it is a good place to stop. You still get an amazing view of the cities and the bridge from the ground! Also there’s Starbucks right under the ferris wheel, so it is a great spot for a coffee break.Akashi Bridge

Awaji Island was the last place I visited. I wish I could’ve seen more of it, because there are a lot of things to see there, like various Shrines and Castles, beaches and gardens. Definitely go if you get the chance, and let me know what the places I didn’t get to visit are like!


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Arima Onsen


Arima Onsen

Arima Onsen is another place that I visited only briefly, after my trip around Mt. Rokko. It was enough time to just walk through and explore. It is an adorable little hot-springs town, with various different spa places and lots of shops selling sweets and other souvenirs.

When you park in the center of the town, you can walk along the spring to a red bridge, which is one of the local sights to see. You can also go down by the river, when it’s warm enough, and just sit and hang out for a while.

12822645_10153929314523363_803331105_oWhen you walk into the older part of the center, there are public hot springs on the street, where you can just put your feet in the water (with about four strangers) and warm your them in the 42 degrees celsius water. Sharing the water with four strangers might seem gross but since it was freezing cold that day, we didn’t hesitate and warmed our feet.

Tip: bring a small towel with you! We didn’t and then we didn’t know what to do with our wet feet :( they also sell towels by the hot springs!

 

After warming up, we went looking for some of the shrines that are around the town. After walking through the tiny streets, we found a gorgeous Buddhist temple. Sadly, we did not find the second shrine, but maybe next time :)

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In Arima Onsen there are a lot of hotels and spas, some of which offer public baths in the hot springs and some private. I haven’t visited those either, but I heard they are quite amazing, so definitely look into it, if you have the time!
Arima Onsen is a great place to buy souvenirs and to just go for a walk, especially if you go after seeing Mt. Rokko. I suggest you at least go see the town, even if you don’t want to go into the hot springs!


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