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I've climbed the mountain, I've crossed the river, and I'm almost there!

bee

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#1
Introduction

We've only been back from Japan since Saturday night but I am just itching to get started on this report! We had an absolutely AMAZING trip and I'm not ready to let it go, and writing my TR is one way for me to delay the inevitable return back to "the real world." :) This was the longest vacation I've ever taken, and like any long trip-or any new experience, for that matter-there were ups and downs, good moments and not-so-good moments. There were mistakes, mishaps, mountains, and monkeys. Yes, monkeys! There were surprises and there was DRAMMA!* There were things we will do differently next time we visit Japan, and believe me, we knew less than halfway through the trip that there WILL be a next time someday!

In case you missed the PTR, here it is: Bee's Big Birthday! There you can read about the cast, the general plans, and the reasons for planning this particular trip.

Now about the title: It's a reference to this song from The Princess and the Frog:

I have been kind of obsessed with this song lately and I found myself singing it in my head repeatedly during the trip. You'll see why soon!

So, if you're ready for a journey halfway around the world, thousands of photos, and Double Disney bookends, keep reading!

*I've mentioned it in previous TRs, but I like to spell "dramma" the Italian way because I'm an opera singer and what's more DRAMMAtic than Italian opera?? So please don't think I'm an idiot (for that reason anyway :hilarious:)!
 
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bee

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#5
Day 1: Monday, December 17

Our day began later than most travel days tend to. Instead of waking up at 3:30am for a 6:00am flight, we woke up around 8:00 for an afternoon flight. We finished our packing and had breakfast at home, and called a Lyft to take us to Newark Liberty. We arrived a bit earlier than we usually do since we were checking two bags. We like to travel with just carry-ons usually, but for a three week international trip that would have been unwise.



Before the trip we ordered new suitcases as our old ones--which we bought second-hand for less than $10 each over four years ago--were getting pretty tired and we weren't sure they would last the whole trip. The new ones proved to be quite sturdy and we're glad we bought them.

Check in and baggage drop off went smoothly enough and soon we were at our gate. As usual, the terminal was nuts. As most people in this area will tell you, EWR kind of sucks, but it's a 25-35 minute Lyft ride from our apartment and is by far the most convenient airport for us, so we deal with it.

Although we had checked in exactly 24 hours before our flight time, we both ended up midway through the B group. 😑 Luckily our flight was only about 2/3 full and M and I had a row to ourselves in the back. :)


It was meant to be! These were my last few days of being 29!









The day before we left I downloaded the audiobook for Fire and Blood, George R. R. Martin's new companion book to the ASOIAF/Game of Thrones universe. We listened to a bit together on the plane and so far it's been an interesting listen.



On long-ish SWA flights (4 hours as opposed to 2 hours) the FAs bring around a big box of name-brand snacks instead of the usual peanuts or pretzels.




This is JUST tomato juice.

Our of boredom I decided to braid my hair on the plane. :joyfull:




So close!

In the last hour of so we watched a bit of Chopped on my phone.











We landed about 45 minutes early and therefore had over three hours until our boarding time for our connecting flight. It was 3:30 local time but it felt like 5:30 to us and we hadn't had lunch...so it was time to find some food!

Up next: "Lunch," a ridiculous sunset, and the second flight of the trip
 

bee

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#8
Day 1, cont.

After exiting the plane we located our gate and set off to find food. We ended up at a Mexican place called Los Taquitos (I think) that had lots of veggie options. M ordered a veggie torta and I ordered veggie tacos. M found a seat and watched our bags while I waited FOREVER for the order. The restaurant only had one person working in the kitchen and he was making everything to order. I'm glad everything was fresh, but it took a very long time and we were getting hangry by the time it was ready.


This guy was BUSY!


My veggie tacos. Yes, those are french fries on the tacos! Is this a Phoenix thing?

The food was yummy and totally worth the wait. We decided to stop at Starbucks for a little caffeine to make it through the rest of the day.


Iced quad...oh, and a cake pop!

As we walked back to our gate we saw the beginning of THE most beautiful sunset!


Sorry it's blurry, but I was just too excited to see this!

Closer to the gate:





These photos don't even do it justice. I was just staring out the window with my mouth hanging open.

But all good things must come to an end, including sunsets. As we waited to board we watched a bit of Game of Thrones to pass the time. We started a rewatch (my third time and M's fourth) over Thanksgiving and introduced M's mom to the show. I have the HBO Now app on my phone and we sat against a wall so no kids would accidentally see anything *ahem* inappropriate.


Fun fact: if you try to take a screenshot from the HBO Now app it will look like this. :hilarious:

The boarding announcements started soon and the gate agents kept announcing over and over that the flight was NOT full and that we could spread out. Only 43 of 143 seats had been booked! M and I still sat together because we like each other, ( :inlove: ) but we had a whole row to ourselves again.




Uhhh, I think we're facing the wrong way...



I use Earplanes to avoid pain from the pressure changes involved in flight. Since you have to put them in an hour before landing and the flight was only an hour long, I had to put them in at the beginning of the flight and couldn't listen to anything with my headphones. So I settled for playing Ballz.




I didn't actually eat these because I was so full from lunch/dinner/whatever, so I saved them for a snack later.






So close!



We landed right on time and were off the plane quickly. We had to keep reminding ourselves to stop at baggage claim because we are so used to travelling without checking bags. :joyfull:


Weird fake plants everywhere...

Our bags came out very quickly and we called a Lyft. Last time we were here (for our Disneyland trip in August 2017) we went straight outside from baggage claim to catch a Lyft ride. Recently the airport changed the rideshare pickup area and it was a bit difficult to find. However, soon enough we found ourselves here:



Evidently the change was recent enough that the driver had a hard time finding us, too. One driver cancelled on us and the other was "2 minutes away" for about ten minutes before he found us. The driver that ended up picking us up was driving a silver Prius. You know you're in California when you can't figure out which silver Prius is your driver...because EVERYONE is in a silver Prius! :joyfull:

Our driver's name was Hyun and he was super friendly and talkative. If you want to know the difference between NYC and LA, just take a few Lyft/Uber rides in each! :hilarious: Our LA drivers are always bubbly and chatty and our NJ/NY drivers barely talk to us (which I certainly don't mind! I'm an introvert and sometimes it's awkward when a driver wants to have a conversation!). Anyway, Hyun asked us about our trip and got really excited for us when we told him we were going to Japan. He himself was born and raised in South Korea and has traveled all around Asia and said we would love Japan. He told us about his time in college in North Carolina, going back to Korea for awhile, and eventually moving to California when his company moved him back to the US.

Hyun dropped us off and wished us a great trip, and soon we were checking in at Hotel #1!

Up next: Hotel room, hungry AGAIN, and a bit of Disney magic to end the first night!
 
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amjt660

Well-Known Member
#9
Nice clear skies to take great pictures!
Beautiful sunset pics too

Multiple choice question :

Is Max....

a) excited to hear about your DLR visit?
b) excited to hear about your Japan culture shock?
c) excited to hear about your take on TDL?
d) all of the above (i.e. just generally excited to hear about EVERYTHING!!!)

Until you answer correctly you cannot pass GO or collect $200

Max
 
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bee

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#13
Looking forward to the report!
Welcome!

I've been looking forward to this!
Welcome!

Can't wait! Glad you made it back safe and sound!
Yay! Me too!

Can't wait for the rest of this TR!
Yay!

Looking forward to this!!
Welcome!

Nice clear skies to take great pictures!
Beautiful sunset pics too

Multiple choice question :

Is Max....

a) excited to hear about your DLR visit?
b) excited to hear about your Japan culture shock?
c) excited to hear about your take on TDL?
d) all of the above (i.e. just generally excited to hear about EVERYTHING!!!)

Until you answer correctly you cannot pass GO or collect $200

Max
HMMMMMM...let me think! Could it be...D???

Gorgeous sunset pics! Excited to hear all about the trip.
Thank you!

Can't wait to read all about it!! I am in!
Welcome!
 

bee

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#18
Love it!

Had to google Earplanes, I didn't know ear plugs worked for pressure changes also. I can always tell when the descent for landing begins before they make the announcement.
I used to get horrible pain from the descent, sometimes lasting for literal days. I did everything you are supposed to do-chewing gum, yawning, and whatnot. Since I started using Earplanes I haven’t experienced so much as mild discomfort and my hearing is back to normal almost immediately after landing.

Yippee 😃. You’ve started the TR!
Welcome!

I'm looking forward to hearing all about your adventure! Definitely following along!!
Welcome!
 
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