Day 1. Tuesday 14 May. Canberra to Melbourne to Tokyo.
The around-the world adventure starts with that 0400 alarm set why bother?) in readiness for the first flight at 6.15 AM. When you wake up at 1 AM (T) or 2.39 AM (D) you know you are finally going somewhere. D was restless, with a myriad of concerns and thoughts – not the least being ‘was our phone/internet travel agent legit?’ It sure was and Melanie had done a great job. T was restless with a thousand thoughts – as usual.
Canberra airport at 5 AM is super quiet and thankfully was fog-free but needless to say, D was screened for explosives residue. The flight to Melbourne was on time, although D was still pretty much asleep. So much so, in fact, that he took another passenger’s backpack from the overhead locker. The owner caught up once in the Arrivals lounge, brusquely said ‘that’s MY back pack’ took it away and that was it – didn’t even have the courtesy to bring D’s pack with him! So a wait ensued while all the other passengers disembarked and then the flight attendant good humoredly went back onboard and retrieved it. D had been worried about a short connection time at Melbourne but hadn’t allowed for a ‘theft window’.
Was this an omen? At the international departures security check in, D forgot to pick up his book after screening, but fortunately a guard asked in general if anyone had left it behind. D was decidedly sheepish by this stage. Nothing else could go wrong, could it? From the look on T’s face, she wasn’t convinced. And indeed, there was more. T went through the automatic face recognition/passport matching without a hitch – the machine didn’t like the look of D, so he was shepherded through another line to be screened in person. He passed.
There’s not much one can say about ten hours in a full aeroplane, but we were comfortable, the service and food were excellent and T briefly wondered. at the ‘monogrammed glass’ of chardonnay. T found the seat button for lumbar massage and did not need to worry about the proximity of the baby: the little girl (8 months?) across the aisle was perfectly behaved, if a bit of a flirt.
Trained from the airport to Narita having learned that the hotel shuttle was 40 mins wait and it was possible to train and then a short walk to the hotel. Well, the train actually covered a route of 40.1 kms in about 30 mins; we wondered if we’d got this wrong, as the hotel was listed as an airport hotel. Alighting, we were baffled by any way off the platform other than down several flights of steep stairs. A posse of five uniformly dressed Japanese girls came to our rescue, using Google maps to guide us through a maze of lifts, tunnels and ramps to ground level just in front of our hotel. It turned out they worked in a Travel Agency, so we complimented them on their service.
The room was tiny but comfortable. A couple of local beers as a nightcap and hope for a sleep. Strange that the airport shuttle booked for the morning will only take 20 mins in peak hour!
But to think that we missed this until we were departing.