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Alethea & Athena
We're back! 
23rd-Jan-2016 06:27 pm
Those of you following us on Facebook learned a while ago that we have returned safely from Japan! Tadah! I like to call today The Longest Day, because we woke up at about eight or nine on the 23rd in Japan...which was about 26 hours ago. It's kind of cool, though, because it's like we traveled back in time! We left at about 7pm on the 23rd and arrived at about noon on the 23rd! Like magic! I think we must have dozed off on the plane, because we're not dying nearly as much as I'd expect from being awake for that long. We are definitely feeling the effects of sleep deprivation, though, and I'm not entirely sure how my fingers are agile enough to type this post. Right now we are waiting for the much longed-for real American pizza that we had been so deprived of during our trip.

Despite the lack of familiar pizza, we did have a really good time! And we managed to stay relatively unbothered by the cold, which is pretty much a miracle. Now that we're home in a warmer climate, I'm already in need of a blanket as I sit here at the computer, inside and protected from the elements.

Anyway, we have a very busy week ahead of us next week, so the sooner I start reporting on this trip, the better. But first, I think I did want to mention the trip we took to Disneyland before we left the country. It was kind of annoying, actually, because the timing didn't work out at all, so we left the park early and Gaston and Alice went back to Fresno without driving us to the airport and we had to rely on SuperShuttle after all. But that was okay, because it turns out SuperShuttle is pretty awesome. (Athena: "Super", you might say.)

But we did see the new Jedi Training Academy Show...and if you know how we've felt about most of the new stuff at Disneyland, you'll know we didn't care for it much. Basically this time the Jedi trainers are taking all the younglings to face the Trial of the Temple, so instead of the Jedi master pulling up a bunch of kids from the audience and getting a surprise visit from Darth Vader, the visit is expected because that's how the temple's trial works. This time, they added more of a story element by having the Jedi Master's padawan be kind of bumbling and massively afraid of Darth Maul. So the Sith Lords show up (including the...Seventh Sister? or whatever her name is; she looks pretty cool, but sometimes the shape of her helmet makes me go, "Wha...?"), and all the kids (who have to pre-register to be in the show now) do their little lightsaber routine, but gasp! the illusions don't go away! Oh no! What's wrong?

Apparently they have to show they're not afraid by putting away their lightsabers. I kind of get how the concept is supposed to work, but it doesn't quite come across so well in an interactive show like this one. And that was my story complaint. My other complaint is that it was just more fun with the Stormtroopers and having a kid do a Force push on them. Oh well.

On the bright side, we did get to try a Pastry Menace, which is an eclair frosted with black and red Darth Maul face stripes and decorated with almond slivers to make horns. It's filled with spiced chocolate...that didn't taste spicy at all but did set the back of my throat on fire.

But moving on to what you all(?) really want to know about(?), our trip to Japan! We left many many days ago... It feels like a lifetime... (Maybe that's just the sleep dep talking.) Thanks to the super SuperShuttle, we made it to the airport even earlier than planned, and that's where we met up with our travel buddy, whom I'll codename Cecille, because she was all about Uta no Prince-sama and Cecil is her favorite character. We flew Singapore Air, an airline I would highly recommend, because the staff is very friendly, and on the flight there, they made sure to keep everybody well fed and hydrated. (The flight back was sort of overnight, so everyone was asleep and didn't need food or beverage.) Of course, we didn't eat most of the food that was provided, and what we did eat was outside our food comfort zone so we're not ready to seek it out again, but even so, we could tell it was good. (We'd been told as much, too. We mentioned to our bishop that we were going to Japan, and he asked what airline and when we told him, he said they have really good food. He was right.)

On the flight, we watched Ant-Man and Inside Out (two movies we had a mild interest in, but didn't want to ever pay to see). The former was okay, the latter was annoying. I mean, we understand why all the characters acted the way the did, but that doesn't mean we were any less annoyed by their bad decisions. And it seemed like they couldn't quite decide if an emotion took control because of Riley's reaction to something, or if Riley reacted certain ways because a certain emotion was in control. And the whole world that Joy ended up in seemed kind of contrived, but that might just be my own prejudice.

We also watched Tom Felton's documentary about superfans, which we found to be quite fascinating.

And eventually, we were in Japan. The first order of business...well, there were a bunch of things to take care of, because that's just how airports are these days, but once we had all our luggage and our yen, we had to figure out how to get to the hotel. We stayed at the Hotel Metropolitan Tokyo Ikebukuro, which turned out to have just as excellent a location as the Booking.com ratings suggested. But we decided to take the train to get there, which was fine because the Japanese train system is amazing, but the problem was it was so unlike how we usually do things (and by "how we usually do things", I mean "stay shut up in our apartment whenever we can help it") that we were very uncomfortable, and the whole way there I was relieved that it was working out okay but also thinking about how I just don't like being outside of the States.

I thought about it during the trip, and I came to the conclusion that part of the travel anxiety comes from not wanting to do things the Wrong Way, and realizing that since it's another country, there are probably a lot of common sense things that aren't common sense to gaijin like us, which is the perfect recipe for doing the Wrong Thing. But later I realized that people are usually pretty forgiving about that stuff so don't worry about it so much.

Anyway, I feel like I keep bringing up all these details that aren't really important. I mean of course we checked in to our hotel room. And there was nothing especially eventful about that, although it may have been my travel anxiety speaking, but I felt like the guy at the reception desk was not very friendly. Maybe I was imagining it, or maybe he was annoyed because we showed up after the hour window I'd said we'd show up in. Or maybe he was just tired because it was late.

But it didn't matter, because we had big plans. We checked the schedule ahead of time and discovered that, of the days we'd be in Japan, Fantasmic! was only showing on two of them, and on one of those days, the park would be closing early. So that meant the first full day of our trip would be spent at Tokyo DisneySea!

...And the pizza arrived while I was typing that paragraph, so I'm going to make that the stopping point. Stay tuned!

Today I'm thankful for having a lovely trip in Japan, making it home safely, being back with our kitty, finding the hotel without any problems, and the idea of getting a good night's sleep tonight.
24th-Jan-2016 12:04 am (UTC)
Welcome back. I'm glad you had a good trip. I can't wait to read more about it. I hope that your adjusting back to the time zone won't be too much trouble. Yay for pizza!!!!
24th-Jan-2016 02:19 am (UTC)
Thanks! I think the biggest concern as far as jet lag was keeping ourselves awake long enough to go to bed at a normal-ish hour, but now that hour has come, and we're excited to go to sleep.
24th-Jan-2016 08:36 pm (UTC)
Wow, you did get right to the reporting!! That's impressive. I feel tired just reading about your long long day; hope you got to catch up on sleep and rest today!

Glad things worked out well (so far in the report) with hotel location and transportation! Figuring out how to get places (and not do the Wrong Thing, as you mention) does sound like one of the more stressful parts of visiting another country (...or state, or anywhere unfamiliar really).
24th-Jan-2016 10:44 pm (UTC)
I know, right? I think it had to do with inertia--I was ready to just keep going and going...and then Athena was taking a shower and instead of Doing Something, I just lay down to relax, and from then on I couldn't stay awake for the life of me. We're feeling much better now, but the day has been so busy there's a strong chance we won't get back to the report until tomorrow. (Next up: dinner, followed by stake choir practice! We just hit the ground running with everything these days.)

Thanks! It was pretty scary at first, but less so this time since we'd been to Japan before, and then once I got over it, I realized that aside from a few cultural things, most stuff really is pretty much the same everywhere.
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