Woke up at 7:30am, got ready for the day, and packed the last of our stuff. Went on the ‘net really fast, just to let everyone know that we were not involved in the train wreck. Then, while the guys were getting ready, I went out to videotape the monorail circle from the front seat and the audio from the Miracosta elevator, where Mickey talks, in Japanese, to announce each floor (yeah, I’m still a big ol’ Disney geek).

Got back to the hotel and called Bell Services to come get our bags. We recommended they send 2 people and 2 carts this time (wink). Not only did we get that, but one of the bell people was a guy! (I think it was only the 2nd time throughout the trip that the bellman wasn’t a 20-something year-old female)

Went down to the bus stop by 10am and the bus picked us up at 10:32am, as expected. Stopped off at several other hotels near TDL, then off to Narita Airport. We stopped off at Terminal 2 first, then our stop, at Terminal 1.

Airport security hand- checked 2 of our checked bags (“It’s all just dirty laundry, I promise!”), then we checked in with United and Immigration without a problem (3 “checked” in the same sentence…am I good or what?). Went to Duty Free but didn’t find anything of real interest. Since Joe and I were flying Business Class (we had been saving Frequent Flyer miles for over 7 years…these flights cost 120,000 miles each), we were able to use United’s lounge until it was time to board our plane. Free WiFi…woohoo!

And here we sit, in seats 8A and 8B. As of this writing, according to the plane’s map, we’re over Canada, somewhere between Edmonton and Winnepeg. Steve is back in Coach, row 21, although he was able to upgrade to Economy Plus.

Some random thoughts on Japan:

…It is SO clean! If there are no garbage cans around, people just hold their trash until they find a garbage/recycling can, or bring it to their destination.
…Everyone is polite and respectful in one-on-one situations. Always. In crowded stores however, it’s not unusual for patrons to push and squeeze past each other without a word or eye contact.
…On the whole, Japanese children are much better behaved than American children.
…Although I would recommend knowing more of the language, you can get away with just knowing how to count to 99 and say rudimentary “yes,” “no,” “please,” “thank-you,” “you’re welcome,” “good morning/afternoon/evening,” “restroom,” “excuse me” and “I’m sorry.” Simple sentences (“restroom?”) and miming our needs helped a lot. So did the “deer in the headlights/I don’t know what you’re saying” look.
…Thankfully, there are MANY more escalators and elevators in the train stations of big and medium-sized cities than when I went in 1994. More signs in English, too.
…There are still a LOT of steps in Japan. LOTS. And hills. Steep ones. I am in MUCH better shape now than I was 3 weeks ago.
…I saw many more caucasians (businessmen and tourists) this trip than in 1994.
…In restaurants, it’s the norm to get just 1 or 2 menu’s for the table, you order your whole meal (including dessert) at one time, drinks are often in (approx.) 8 oz increments and “free refills” on drinks is unheard of (except for a few restaurants at TDLR). They DO understand “no ice” though .
…NOTHING in Japan is sweet enough.
…Some of the stuff in vending machines is WEIRD (Bikkle drink = milky lemonade??? Calpis. Pocari Sweat. Amino Supply.).
…Most of the stuff in 7-11, Lawsons, etc., is even weirder.
…Some of the Engrish is hysterical!
…I am still short in Japan. Very short. But not very, very short like I am in the States . Joe and Steve are very tall in Japan. But not very, very tall.
…I love toilets with seat warmers.
…Fanta grapefruit soda is AWESOME.
…Coca Cola barley tea is NASTY.
…Diet Coke exists in Japan but is very hard to come by.
…Don’t believe Ice Station Cool at Epcot…VeggieBeta soda does not exist.
…Kyoto, Nagoya, Hakone and Tokyo tap water are all LOADS better than Orlando tap water.
…Cherry blossoms and other Japanese flora are beautiful but suck for allergies…I haven’t had so many allergy-related problems since I was a kid (I outgrew most of my hay fever when I was in my teens).
…We want to go back again. In 5 years. Year 2010.

Update: It’s 7:08pm and we’re home. We landed at 5:05pm and Joe’s dad picked us up from the airport without incident. Drove to our house because that’s where Steve’s car was, as well as Big Joe’s (he had taken my truck to the airport because it can fit more luggage). After Steve left, we went to Joe’s parents’ house to see Amile (my mother-in-law) and pick up Pippi (cutest 14-1/2y/o poodle in the world). And now we’re home. We’ve been awake for about 21 of the past 24 hours and are pretty much ready to crash…just wanted to let y’all know that we’re home safe and sound and that you don’t have to read these journals anymore . Well, not until 2010, anyway.

And what was the first thing I ate in the U.S.? Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups! America…what a wonderful country!

Sayonara!

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