As our plane touched down in Tokyo-town, I was not exactly sure what lay ahead on our adventure. Just kidding, those of you who know me wouldn’t believe that for a second. I tend to over-research our destinations and spend way too much time trying to find the perfect hotel and recommendations for the best sights to see wherever we go. This trip was no exception, but I was surprised that we were able to keep a good balance of enjoying the best of Tokyo at a non-killer pace and without busting the budget.
We landed in the evening, and took an hour and a half train from the airport into the city, a journey which panicked us about 45 minutes in as nothing out of the train window looked like the “urban” Tokyo of pictures and movies. We were so nervous we had hopped on a train in the wrong direction that we had suitcases in our hands, ready to exit the train when we finally recognized a train stop that was actually listed on our pocket map. Despite that (almost) hiccup, the travel guide I picked up proved to be of great service to us this weekend.
We found some Tex-Mex, a British pub and even some golden arches! But no good ramen.
Upon arrival at our hotel at close to 9 PM, let me tell you, we were hungry. I. mean. HANGRY-hungry. Like the Snickers commercial kind of hungry. We had planned to try to find the Golden Gai – a post-WWII black market turned bar district in East Shinjuku, known for lots of ramen outlets, so we headed that direction. With patience running thin and delicious-looking ramen nowhere to be found among the international restaurant varieties, we settled on an Italian joint (yep, in Tokyo… we’re those people). Hey, they had some fantastic sangria and I was able to enjoy fresh basil for the first time since leaving the States.
Sunny Side Cafe in East Shinjuku is a delicious pit stop.
Without much time left to enjoy the city and nightlife, and knowing a long day lie ahead, we headed back to the hotel. Not without a pit stop for crepes, though – more on that later, we ended up bringing the rest of our group back there the next night! I was excited to head back to our pricey “room with a view”, until we opened the door and saw the lights to Tokyo Tower had already been turned off for the night! So much for that.
The view of Tokyo Tower from our hotel.
I guess, then, it was a good thing that J’s alarm unexpectedly went off at 6:30 AM. We were thankfully able enjoy a view of Tokyo Tower just post-sunrise, so at least I got those coveted photos. An alarm reset and two snooze cycles later, we headed off to enjoy some breakfast at, yes, Starbucks; arigato to whomever invented the chocolate pretzel mocha… So good!
My goal is to get Starbucks in all of our destinations! The exit sign is an indication of our metro madness: if you didn’t get out at the right exit on your stop, you could be miles from where you intended!
Appropriately caffeinated, we were ready to go, but this day was a doozy; it will take a few posts to cover it all! Stay tuned for our excursions for the day: discovering a little Ohio in a foreign land, becoming wedding witnesses, and our tastiest meal in Asia to date. That was, until we had dinner a few hours later.