Saturday, June 7, 2008

Day 1: Trip - Arrival and first exploration (Saturday)

The day started early (We left home around 3:45AM to board on 6:15AM departure flight). This first flight took us to Dallas where we made our connection and from there straight to Tokyo (some 13h flying in this segment).
The only complaint that "the boss" had was that AA switched our seats and we ended up in the bulk head row. Other than that, my only comment is... what a long trip. I don't remember how many movies I watched. And I also had time to work a little (oops!), read the tour book (Tokyo related piece only) and slept (very little).
Upon landing, we took a tram from the satellite to the main terminal and luckily encountered a very short line at immigration (they were asking for citizens from Peru, Bolivia and Brasil to fill out a questionnaire but I pretended I did not listen to that and they did not refer to it at any moment anyways). Bags were out very fast and we had no issues in customs (no questions asked. We are traveling moderately light - 1 medium size luggage and one back pack each).

After exiting the customs area, I exchanged dollar into Yen. The exchange rate was 103.06. This is a much, much better rate than what I could get had I exchanged money back in the US. Thank goodness I exchanged some ideas with some fellow travelers at the fodor's forum.
Finally I paid for the transportation from the airport to the hotel (Limousine Bus) 7,500 Yen for 2 adults and one child. It took us about 1h30min to get to our hotel (Hilton Shinjuku - including stops at the Shinjuku station and the Shinjuku Washington hotel). Bought the ticket at 2:20PM and the bus departed at 2:25PM. Talk about Just-In-Time. The commute was also uneventful mainly because it was a Saturday, I think. We ended up not having time to look for a Tourist Information Center at the airport but hopefully we will find one today.

Tokyo View from Hilton Shinjuku - DayTokyo View from Hilton Shinjuku - Night

After freshening up, which included a visit to the executive lounge area (another benefit of being a frequent traveler), we went for a walk around the Shinjuku neighborhood. In fact our walk was limited to 3-4 blocks from the Hilton to the Shinjuku station. We basically had time to view what was available at the Bic Camera store (which made my wife itchy to spend her fist Yens since she is into photography) and the Odakyu Department store (known as depato here). We concentrated in the grocery floor (another big wife interest) and then finally went to the lowest floor where the restaurants were. My wife went for some Octopuss balls and Gyoza. My daughter and I decided to split a butterflied panco breaded Shrimp (technical term according to the in-house expert) with rice and curry. By that time, everyone was tired, especially me and my daughter, so we decided to come back to our hotel, eat the food and call it the day.

Expense summary (all in Yen):
Transportation Airport - hotel: 7,500
Food: 483 (Takoyaki) + $620 (Gyoza) + 1500 (Breaded Shrimp+Rice+Curry) +370 (two bottles of Coke Zero) = 2973

Other stuff: We got some plug adapters for the Japanese power outlets from the hotel but we are planning to buy at least two for our many electronic gadgets.

See ya.

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