Playing with the sand at the side of the road

Japan 2017 Redux: Day 0 "The French quarter"

Lockdown was supposed to be one of those fallow periods of time that would bring ideas to fruition that had long since been put on the back burner. The mantra was being repeated everywhere—we all have so much time now!

What sweet, sweet children we were.

This set of blog posts is something I’ve now been meaning to do for exactly four years. The impetus to do the work of compiling these scatterbrain notes and pictures together waned as the years went by.

But this year is different. Not only did I remember I still needed to do this, I remembered a few weeks before the anniversary of the trip itself. Such providence would never come about again, I thought. So, here we are.

To the point of this series: I travelled to Japan in April-May 2017 for 10 days. During that time, I had the idea to try to write down impressions, thoughts, and inane details as a kind of travel diary, though it was mostly to make myself look busy when sitting in a cafe by myself.

At this point I’d been to Japan once before, in 2015. I was very excited to get back!

Day 0: 2017-04-27 Thursday

05:50 - 08:55 National Express 787 Cambridge (Parkside) - Heathrow T3

Google Keep note

What’s an international holiday without a ridiculously early start on a National Express coach? A better holiday, that’s what.

I’d thought for sure I would have used my Lounge Club card to get in to the Club Aspire lounge in Terminal 3 to have a shower after a ride like that, but I have no record of doing so. It must be the case, because looking at pictures of the lounge makes it seem familiar, but then again it does have the same feel of every airport lounge ever.

11:25 - 16:20 EEST Finnair AY 5904 (BA 794) Heathrow T3 - Helsinki T2 55 minute layover

17:15 - 08:55 JST (Friday) Finnair AY 73 Helsinki T2 - Narita T2

Google Keep note

Overall I would recommend the Helsinki connection to Japan. It isn’t the cheapest option, but the Scandinavian shortcut does shave some time off compared to the connections in the Middle East, and it’s very favourable compared to the usual high price you can expect from direct flights.

For reference the flights, in Economy class, cost £462.30 return. This felt like a decent price given the slightly quicker route taken and the timing of the annual cherry blossom season and Golden Week.

My notes from the HEL - NRT leg make me feel like I wasn’t operating at 100%.

  • Fried chicken/rice
  • Sat in the French quarter
  • Announcements in 3 languages
  • Front facing cams on plane
  • Downward facing camera broken
  • Watched Kingsman The Secret Service (swear words badly dubbed is hilarious)
  • Breakfast omelette / spuds
  • Satellite internet with typically extortionate prices (~£7/hour?)

My notebook

Try as I might, I cannot remember what prompted me to write “Sat in the French quarter.” Maybe I happened to overhear a bunch of French from my plane neighbours?

Either way, after the flight lands on Japanese soil we’re officially on Day 1, so look forward to the next post for the continuation of this thrilling tale.

My literal first purchase, Pocari Sweat
My literal first purchase, Pocari Sweat