One day, last spring, I suggested to my mom that we go on a quick weekend trip. Naturally, moments later, we had a quick trip in two weeks planned…to Tokyo. Are spontaneous trips a good idea-heck yes! Across the globe for less than a week…in retrospect…not recommended. Fast forward two weeks of challenges preparing to travel including the fact that you cannot take many of your prescription medications to Japan, I’m getting off track.
We arrive after many hours of travel and horrors such as being switched to United from All Nippon Airways at the last-minute; we arrive at our hotel that is about the size of my bathroom at home, not the master, but the powder room. There is a slightly larger that twin size bed accessible from one side; I like my mom, but not that much. Rookie mistake: double beds does mean the same thing in Japan as it does in the US, also rooms always appear larger on the website. I wake up the next day, and get that terrible sinking feeling, you know the one, the scratchy throat, congestion, head feels like it’s going to explode feeling, I’m sick. What can you do? I suck it up and we go attempt to hit all the major sights in Tokyo within a very limited time frame. We head to the metro station overly confident that we have been all over the world and never had too much difficulty with public transportation. We assumed Japan would be no different, plus the guidebook said it would be easy, and as you know, the guidebook is always right. Here’s the thing, it was sooooooo not easy. There were a thousand different metro lines and it was organized in a totally nonsensical fashion. Our typical English-speaking arrogance made us believe that people would speak a few words of English, no one did, not even a word. We managed to figure out how to get around, often just taking taxis by showing the driver our destination on my phone in Japanese to places like the world’s busiest intersection (Shibuya Crossing), world’s most crazy town street (Harajuku). We are not city people, in fact, we really don’t like people that much, and so the overwhelming masses were not pleasant in the unexpected heat. Locals wore boots, hats, and winter jackets, which made us cringe as we sweated in t-shirts.
We needed to save this trip. So far the best part had been all the incredible toiletries in our closet sized hotel room, and the toilets. Oh these toilets, the cleanest, most interesting toilets that played relaxing music and had so many buttons I was afraid to push. At this point, I am thinking, maybe it’s happened. People have been telling me for years that eventually, I’ll grow tired of these crazy adventures and “settle down.” Maybe I’m not cut out for the challenges of travel abroad anymore.
Here’s where the lesson comes in, with the wisdom and creativity of my mom, we decided to play to our strengths, what do we love? Nature and Disney. We went to see Mt. Fuji to get out of the city and the crowds, turns out the masses had the same idea. The most peaceful part of the day and one of our favorite memories was our time at Odawara Castle. We were in our element, wandering around, photographing the truly incredible cherry blossoms in full bloom. This made us feel like us and the passion and energy that only comes from exploring some place you’ve never been began to return. Part two of our plan to save the trip: Tokyo Disneyland. We are Disney fanatics and have been to many of the parks around the world. This warrants a whole new post that you can expect at a later date, but Tokyo Disney Seas rivals the best park in the world and a way, sick or not, adult or child, to bring joy and wonder to anyone.
Here is what I’m trying to say, sometimes travel is super hard and makes you want to hide in your living room watching reality television and never leave. Don’t. Be spontaneous, but know your interests and your limits. When things go wrong, take the time to be creative and do things you know you’ll love, you can find these things anywhere. Take the cab for an extra few bucks to save yourself some stress and always, always go to Disney.
-Generations of Adventure