31.01.2011 - 31.01.2011 2 °C
We started the day with another traditional breakfast – gave G time to get awake before we had to get everything packed away safely. It is a great rounded meal to start the day, but I am sure the average Japanese start the day with cereal or toast like we do.
We head into Tokyo station and around to the Imperial palace. Today we cannot get into the East gardens, so we have to be satisfied with a very pleasant walk around the outside of the moat. Weather today is again cold and crisp – I am dressed up as yesterday, and G has gone for the down jacket.
We are not the only ones here, there are a few tourists, but there are hundreds of locals who obviously use this as their daily run or walk – including a number of high school groups, some of whom were not enthusiastic about the exercise on a bloody cold day.
We know it is cold because the water in the moat is frozen over in parts, which has the swans looking a bit confused. The moat is about 15 metres wide, with sheer stone walls on the castle side which would have taken some work to get through. There are also some elaborate, but secure gates at the end of each of the bridges. As I say we could not get into the gardens, but we enjoy what we can from the outside.
Next we check out a few duty free shops in Akihabara, but there is nothing that we really want here, and I wanted Sennheiser headphones but only the local brands are available. Last look in the model shops, then we head back to the ryokan. On the way we find a vending machine selling - yes – pancake drink for the last time. At Homeikan we do the final shuffle of papers and stuff and get a taxi before saying goodbye to the team.
We head back to Narita on the N’Ex, using up the last day of our JR east pass. This has worked out well for us, and I would do the same again. As we head out on the N’Ex the departures board lets us know that we are well on time as the Jet Star flight is already 90 minutes late. At Narita 3 hours before original scheduled take off. They are not going to open check in for another hour, but we are 100th in line already. Get talking to some other snowboarders in the line. They were also in Hakuba, and went to Cortina one day, which they said had the deepest powder, but was a real schlep to get to. We get through, and another delay is announced. Nothing much in duty free (Bombay Sapphire is much cheaper then Aus) but we grab some food to snack on. At the appointed time we get to the gate and at least there is an explanation why the delay – a volcano has erupted in Bali and the flights have had to take a wide detour around. I am getting a bit jack of volcanos.
Finally the flight takes off for Cairns. No entertainment so I watch District 9 on the netbook. We meter out the food, none of which is healthy. The delay up and back means we will miss the appointed transfer time back home – the 4 hour stopover has disappeared. At Cairns we are told that the flights are held and are waiting for us. We get the baggage and run across to domestic. When we arrive, the crew say don’t rush, there are loads more to come. We are the first to arrive from our flight and there are loads more from the Osaka flight that comes in even later. Find out later that these delays are not unusual with Jet Star normally, but today they have been especially keen to wait as the airport is closed later in the day as Yasi comes through that night.
The rest of the trip is uneventful, just the weather changes – freezing in Tokyo to 30 and 95% humidity in Cairns to a dry 40 in Melbourne! We have had a great time, we are happy to be home, but we are also determined to get back to Japan for some more skiing, so watch this space...