I rode flight 619 to Tokyo as a sardine.  The sardine on the bottom of the can.  The one squished between the bottom of the can and the next sardine.  And it seemed the whole plane did not sleep, unlike the usual trans-Pacific flights I have been on.  And I don’t think it was because of the many children under 5 on board.  But I don’t know what it was.  Thankfully, I managed to catch a few minutes’ sleep but nothing like I am used to getting on a plane.  And nothing like I would have gotten had I been in first class…  It was a huge understatement when I announced to Susan, my travel mate, then that “I prefer to fly first class.”  No duh.  Who doesn’t?  It was a funny pronouncement but what I meant to say is: I am going to try to fly first class home because I cannot endure another flight like that.  It didn’t help that I was on the cusp of first class – – they were right in front of me lying prostrate in their little recliners with their down duvets and pillows.  That will be me on the way home, I vowed.

Upon arrival to Narita I realized I had to jump-to and get my wits about me to figure out what’s next.  After making it through the requisite check stops, having a left/right index finger print taken (I could not get it on the first try and had to try again; I didn’t know you had to push down once your fingers were in place), having my photo taken (worse than a drivers license pic and like there, no do-over even though I scrunched up my nose at the guy for the international non-verbal meaning, “Yuck!”) and getting my bag (the too-huge backpack I’ve committed to lugging around), I was ready to figure out the next step: getting to the Sutton Place Hotel in Ueno, Tokio.  (I’m already picking up the correct spellings). 

I followed the well-marked path to the Japan Rail (JR) station where I was to turn in my voucher for an unlimited 14-day rail pass.  You cannot purchase these rail passes in Japan; it must be done prior to arrival.   I was told the process and procedures, given a ticket with the verbal instruction, “3 minute that way!”  Off I went.  And happily, I made it!  With plenty o’ time to spare.  In Tokyo I did as I was told and switched to the green line, the Yamanonte line, and proceeded to ride it 4 stops to Ueno.  I promptly found the Iriya exit and endeavored to find the hotel.  My insticnts are most usually correct and I headed not-to-far out of the way and found my way correctly by asking a policeman who non-verbally explained how to go.  The hotel is literally 30 seconds from the door of the train station!  How perfect.

I arrived in the super-small room (about 100 square feet) and took photos of the thing but had no room to get a good shot so stood in the hallway and looked in.  It is small – – and there are two of us!  No matter, though, because we won’t be in this room much.  I organized my bags, showered, and took a short nap before Susan began texting with her ETA.  After having a taxi that broke down and having to change mid-stream, she arrived in one piece and we stayed up until 2 a.m. talking about everything under the sun as though not a minute had passed since our time together one year ago! 

After a good nights’ sleep I am in the hotel lobby having bread/jam and coffee and writing this blog.  There is no WiFi in this hotel so I am using the computer provided by the hotel – – the one with all of the Japanese characters.  租意日d用アド案dウィll他lkと用ァ手r。(So for now, I bid you ado and will plan to write more later).

We are off to Nikko for the day with Colin Hickey and his girlfriend (friends of Susan’s from the mother country) where we plan to lounge in the natural hot springs and drink some wine.