My Initial Thoughts on Tokyo...
What an interesting place! I'll be doing a full report once I get some time to upload pictures, but just wanted to check-in and give some initial thoughts. To say the least, I'm loving it so far.
First off, the flights went off without a hitch. There will be a detailed trip report on them, but beyond the in-flight service and experience, I was happy that my JFK-LAX pushed back from the gate 5 minutes prior to scheduled departure and we were rolling down the runway at 9:04pm for my 9pm departure- a rarity for JFK. I was originally nervous about my 55 minute connection in LAX, but with the early arrival, I ended up having 30 minutes to kill in the lounge and picked up more 300 point Amex vouchers! I'm using the plural version of voucher because I chummed up the lounge agents in JFK and LAX and got more than one coupon on each occasion. What's that phrase I love to say? It never hurts to ask. ;-)
LAX to Haneda left on time and we landed in Tokyo about 10 minutes prior to scheduled landing. I wasn't sure about public transportation, because I kept reading mixed reviews online about the easiest way to get to the Park Hyatt via public transit, but I knew I wasn't going to be in the mood for switching trains and walking 15 minutes trying to find a hotel on my first time in the city. I also didn't want to pay a cab $80+ (cabs in Tokyo are expensive - more on that later).
I ended up buying a $10 bus ticket on the Friendly Airport Limousine bus. While they weren't exactly friendly and by no means a limousine (it was a regular tour bus), it was fast and convenient and I'd highly recommend it to anyone who is visiting Tokyo for the first time and isn't comfortable with the subway. My ticket actually said "Park Hyatt" and I was dropped off at the door. That's right - I showed up at the Park Hyatt in this bad boy...
Once I got over my mild embarrassment about rolling up to a fancy hotel in a bus (while everyone else was in their Bentleys), I quickly got used to the luxuriousness and extreme hospitality. The hotel is stunning (the top 14 floors of the Shinjuku Park Tower) and my room is pretty darn sexy, so expect a very detailed report coming soon.
Surprisingly I'm feeling good too, though I know jet-lag will probably rear its head in the not too distant future. Though I have to say I love traveling west - whenever I go to Europe I get the waves of tiredness on the afternoon I land. Yet after nearly 17 hours and 8,000 miles of travel, today I woke up around 3:00am Tokyo time, got into Haneda at 4:45am, was on the bus at 5:30 and at the hotel by 6am and I've been up since and have covered a lot of ground - all while feeling pretty good. As I type this at 4:30pm, I feel pretty great, though it also might have helped that I spent 2.5 hours relaxing at the spa at the Park Hyatt (more on that later too).
A full report with lots of pictures to come, but as a recap so far (PS: Thanks again for all of the suggestions, as you can see I have been taking full advantage of them!):
- Yoyogi Park
- Meiji Shrine
- Harajuku/ Takeshita-dori
- Shibuya- my first vending machine ordered Ramen and the first time I hit my head on something going down the stairs at trendy clothing store Bershka. I also discovered Tomorrowland, which is an awesome, high-end good shop where I purchased a really nice new wallet
- Park Hyatt Spa, Club on the Park
And now that I've worked up my hunger again, I'm about to head to the Shinjuku Tokyu Hands department store to get some food and see all of the unique offerings.
I'm sure I'll crash early tonight, but I'm hoping that gets me on a normal schedule waking up early so I can take advantage of the limited time I have here. I was originally considering a day trip to Kyoto (which I've heard so many good things about), but I'm thinking that may have to wait until my next trip to Japan, which will probably be sooner than expected!
A couple teaser pictures to whet your appetite until the real trip reports go up...
And once again: Full disclosure: My flights and hotels were comped by Delta and Hyatt respectively.
This is one installment in my series on my trip to Tokyo. You can find my past posts on the trip below, including: