After months full of excitement we made it: Japan here we come.
Our plane departed from Tegel airport at 8 o’clock in the morning. Planned arrival was 8 o’clock in the morning, too. Thanks to all the blogs out there and to some of my colleagues at Zalando we got the hint to stay awake the night and sleep during the flight. So we tried to be busy for our last night in Germany.
To achieve what has been planned we visited the opening of Bread&&Butter, played some Xbox, had a shower in the middle of the night and of course spent time to finally pack our backpacks. We managed this successfully so we left home around 6:30 in the morning.
The first part of that day was our flight to Helsinki, where we had a stop over. As we had plenty of time we decided to go to the city center to have some lunch. We visited the cat cafe “Kissakahvila Helkatti Helsinki” where we had luck to get a high demanded slot. 45 minutes was what she could offer us for staying. Well, enough for us. It was so cozy. A nice spot to relax, to forget about the stress and to just enjoy the cats. Definitely worth a visit if you are in Helsinki!
A long long flight
After that the second part of the day started. We went back to the airport, passed the security gate and reached our reserved seats in the plane. We booked some additional leg space. Good decision for our first intercontinental flight.
In the first couple of hours it was great. Good entertainment (some good and actual movies to watch) as well as good dinner and breakfast. But after all it’s hard to just sit down for hours and hours. We tried to sleep – more or less successful.
After 10 hours flight we finally reached our destination: Fukuoka Airport. Having a humidity of around 90% and around 30°C it was horrible to wait in the queue for immigration and customs. After one and a half more hours we could eventually leave the airport.
Japan, here we are!
The first thing we wanted to do was to check-in at the hotel we’ve booked: Hotel New Gaea Hakata-Eki Minami next to Hakata-Station. So we exchanged some Euro to Yen, took the shuttle bus from the airport to the subway station and from there to Gion Station as the printed route told us (we were wondering as the hotel seemed to be always next to Hakata Station – which was one station less on the track). Nevertheless we bought a ticket using these crazy ticket vending machines (maybe I can post an image in the next couple of days). But even this we managed easily.
Entering the train and keep orientation went fine. I think we are going to manage this quite well for our stay here. But once we left at Gion Station we were lost. We had the address of our hotel but as stupid I was I did not print a route saying what street we have to look for but something like: 45m then turn left and cross the street. Absolutely unhelpful! Printing the route was one of the very last things I did as I noticed that we won’t have internet right after our arrival.
Looking at a map several minutes helped. We had a direction to walk to and we found it. We found the New Gaea Hotel Hakata. Confident we reached our destination and happy to have a shower soon we entered and said: “Hello, we have a reservation for Kunz and Thiele.” The staff looked at us with confused eyes. As we had all the documents we just showed the voucher. Than she said: “Ah, this is the wrong one. There is a different one next to Hakata Station”. Embarrassing! Luckily we now had a map with our real Hotel marked on it!
As we successfully used the subway already we tried a second time. Really easy to use. And after some minutes of walking we reached our real Hotel – hurray! Even our mobile router (which is providing internet for us) was already there. Awesome.
Now, we could relax a bit. We configured our WiFi to tell everyone that we are OK, took a shower and had a short nap. Yes, we know we shouldn’t do that but there was no other way.
Exploring where we are
After our nap we started to explore the area we are living for the next few days.
Our plan was to find some coffee. So we headed to the AMU Plaza Hakata shopping center. It was so amazing. All the food looked so delicious. We bought some Onigiri, some sweets (which we ate in the evening) and some hot drinks.
Then we started our “sightseeing”. We wanted to see the Sumiyoshi-Shrine, probably the oldest Shintō-Shrine on Kyūshū. Unfortunately we were too late and it was already closed. So we could only see the park around it.
From there we headed to the next shrine: Kushida Shrine. Right after the next corner we saw something funny. The Gallery Bianca! So we had to make a picture of Bianca and Bianca!
On the half way we saw this very cool shopping center which we visited for some time. There we tried a Matcha Bubble Tea and had fun in some crazy stores!
From there it was just a small walk to reach the second shrine.
As time passed by and our coffee-break was some hours ago already we decided to have a small dinner. So we went back to the AMU Plaza Hakata shopping center and had a soup.
Finally we were done for today and we started our way back to the hotel as we wanted to rest.
What we’ve learned
So what did we learn for the very first day? It is awesome here. We haven’t seen that much yet, but everything we did was really cool. What we definitively have to do better next time is preparation to get from airport to the hotel. We will take this with us for the upcoming stops.
One funny thing we learned: We should order single portions. Every one of us. As we ordered the soup they didn’t understand that we wanted to have two portions. Instead they gave us one with two sets.
Let’s see what comes next! For now, we are going to bed. Midnight passed already and we want to see some cool things tomorrow!