I'm back! Back!! Back!!! Etc.
Having had the most amazing short break in Japan, I'm trying, now, to get my head around BST, when to get up, when to go to bed, when to eat and what year it is. The past seven or eight days seem a blur just now, but with every visit to Alan's blog and browsing through the photographs he took, the photographs I took, it's all coming back. Bit by bit.
Our journey to Tokyo was far from a nightmare, but neither was it a pleasant experience. Rising at a reasonable hour is hardly ever acceptable to me, dear reader, so imagine how I felt when the radio-alarm went off at a quarter to four in the morning of 30th May. I'll tell you how I felt - like a ghost ascending from a corpse after a rather nasty traffic accident.
The lady checking us in at Edinburgh airport was super. How people can be kind, helpful and friendly at five o'clock in the morning is beyond me, let alone apply flawless make-up. Unlike the last Edinburgh check-in, our lady was a constant smiler, asked us where we wanted to sit on the aeroplane and wished us a pleasant journey and a pleasant holiday.
The holiday was beyond pleasant, the journey was not.
Lufthansa flew us from Edinburgh to Frankfurt on what I think was a Boeing 737. The aircraft was old, scruffy and dirty - as were the cabin crew, and sour to boot. Our on-board breakfast consisted of stewed coffee, stale bread and greasy, cheap cheese. Vile.
On landing in Frankfurt, I made my way, rather hurridly, it must be said, to the retail areas of the naff, lifeless, grim, dated and dull Frankffurt airport. Plenty of CDs were available, but no Sandra, no Reflections, no The Art Of Love. Minge became sad, but was cheered slightly by the Pflaumkuchen und kaffee to be had in a delightful coffee shop with views of the apron.
It's been a few years since I've spoken German with a native speaker and was slightly nervous when ordering our coffee and cake, though I needn't have been. I was relieved, on ordering our snackette, to find the waitress not only understood me but paid me the compliment of responding to me in German asking me if Phyllis or I required milk, cream or sugar.
With only four hours in-between flights, the time spent on German soil, thankfully, passed quickly.
I was eager to see the inside of the 747 taking us to Narita. Like a child at Christmas, having asked Father Christmas for a bike, I was disappointed to receive only a roller-skate. Our second Lufthansa aeroplane of the day was just as old and scruffy as the first. The cabin crew were kurt, rude and as miserable as sin. The food was inedible and the entertainment poor. Every other long haul flight I've taken has been fabulous with video screens in the headrest of the seat in front of me; a choice of amazing movies and telelvision programmes; a moving map; games. Lufthansa provide a drop down 1970s television from the ceiling of the cabin and show the most appalling films. Anyone foolish enough to watch said movies is soon rewarded with a stiff neck.
Unable to take much more, I popped a pill and was soon fast asleep.
I couldn't wait for the eleven hour flight to end. And it surely did.
Passport control at Narita was not a fun experience, though with typical Japanese efficiency, the massive queue of three or four hundred people was dealt with in less than an hour. Customs was fun. The guy questioning me was the first to assume I was in Japan either on business or studying. My holiday revelation was greeted with raised eyebrows.
Although my mind and body thought it was still Wednesday 30th May, everything around and about me was shouting Thursday! Dazed and confused, I visited an airport shop for a bottle of chilled green tea, not only for its reassuring Japanese taste, but for the caffeine. A brief wait for the airport limosine bus and we were on our way to the Park Hyatt, Tokyo. All the green tea in Japan wasn't going to keep me awake, though, and I must confess to having dozed on the bus.