I am at Ueno Station, on my way to Narita airport to catch the Cathay Pacific flight to Perth. I had planned to take the local subway (the Ginza line), to get here, only to find that my station of departure at the hotel, was closed until 5.40 am. (Then how come the train schedule showed its first train departs at 5.18 am? Oh well). So I just took a taxi here.
The Tokyo Skytree is the tallest freestanding broadcasting tower in the world. The lines for its public observation decks were short today, and so, up I went. The view of Mt Fuji in the distance, blanketed in snow, and floating above the clouds and the Tokyo skyline, was wonderful to see.
It was finally time for me to try one of the other express trains (besides the Narita Express that I had taken several times to and from the airport). I picked the Nozomi (のぞみ, meaning ‘wish’ or ‘hope’) Super Express – the fastest of the fast bullet trains – running on the Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen lines.
The ride to Shin-Yokohama station towards the south of Tokyo Bay takes only 20 minutes. We started out in Tokyo, made a quick stop at Shinagawa station a few minutes later, and then the Super Express could express itself and pick up speed.
I went out to Shinjuku Station today to Tokyo’s skyscraper district, west of the station. I took a little break after lunch and went back early in the evening, to take a few pictures of the billboards and neon signs.
Man! There is a lot of people out and about on a Saturday night – what a surprise, right?
First on my agenda today, was to buy a train ticket to get me back to Narita airport in a few days. Since the first Narita Express will not get me there early enough, I have to take the Skyliner Express, which runs out of Ueno Station on the Keisei Line.
Then I ran out to the Yodobashi Camera store in Akiba. I love that place! LOL. Just beware: the store’s theme song will stay in your head, long after you had left. Its words are set to the tune of The Battle Hymn of the Republic, and sung in an animated voice:
Marui midori no Yamanotesen (‘The round green Yamanote Line’)
Mannaka tooru no wa Chu-ousen (‘What goes through the middle of it is the Chuo Line’)
Shinjuku nishiguchi eki no mae (‘In front of the west exit of Shinjuku Station’)
Kamera wa Yodobashi ka me ra! (‘[For] cameras it’s Yodobashi Ca me ra!)’
Finally, I walked around the Ginza shopping district a bit, to watch the streetlights come on, and storefronts get lit up, as the sun was setting.
Whew – I made it into the Marriott Courtyard here at Tokyo Station. The flight on All Nippon Airlines was uneventful*, as was the express train ride into the city.
After that, I had to work a little to make my way to the hotel with all my luggage. The express train platform is five floors down from street level, deep under the sprawling Tokyo Station complex.
*I forgot to take my large camera out of my big bag as I checked it in. So I fretted that the camera might get damaged by the baggage handling process, or frozen while in the cargo hold .. but it seems to have survived just fine.
I made it to the airport. We will board in 30 mins or so.
It’s great to get to this point! Just to get packed up and the house taken care of before a long trip, leaves me frazzled. But now I can relax a little.
.. well, almost. I’m heading out to Tokyo in the morning, as part of my itinerary to get me to Perth, Australia, in a few days.
It was a beautiful first day of fall here in Seattle, with puffy white clouds in a blue sky and mild temperatures (65 °F/ 18 °C). I went down to South Lake Union for just a bit, and took the streetcar and No 8 bus back up to Capitol Hill.
Fall has started, and the cruise ship season is winding down. (The last sailing from Seattle is Oct 10). Friends of ours left on a cruise this afternoon from the Smith Cove cruise terminal. Bryan and I went there to wave them goodbye – but we could not get quite close enough to the pier! We settled for views of the cruise ship departures from the Elliott Bay marina.
Hmm .. I see The Economist has given Vienna the nod as the world’s ‘best city’ to live in. (Melbourne had been at the top of the list for seven straight years). No American city made the top 10 .. but of course: Seattleites scoff at the notion that Vancouver is better than Seattle. That number 6 pointer on the map should move south to just below the Canadian border!
A vintage-LEGO-set-for-cash deal went down in a Tacoma parking lot today. (I made a run down there to buy a LEGO set advertised on Craigslist. Will show what I got, later).
On the way back, I stopped on Pacific Avenue in the old downtown of the city of Tacoma, and took a few pictures.
I hopped on the ferry on short notice this afternoon, to go out to my friend Paul’s in Hansville.
Wed morning 7/18: A few more pictures, from my return trip to the city.
I had to Google Uruguay after their win over Portugal in the World Cup. Officially the ‘Oriental Republic of Uruguay’ (Spanish: República Oriental del Uruguay) – it is a remarkable country, slightly smaller than the state of Washington, with some 3.3 million people.
More than half the population live in the capital of Montevideo. Uruguay gets high marks for its ‘liberal social laws, and well-developed social security, health, and educational systems. It is one of the few countries in Latin America and the Caribbean where the entire population has access to clean water’ (from the CIA World Factbook).
The country gets 95% of its energy from renewable resources. (Washington State is at about 85% electricity generation from renewable resources, with 8% of electricity from burning natural gas, and 7% from burning coal).
The Norwegian Bliss is brand new, and the biggest cruise ship to visit Seattle yet. (Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas is slightly bigger).
The Bliss’s passenger capacity is 4,004, crew of 1,716, cruise speed 23.2 knots from diesel electric engines, length is 1,094 ft (333.5 m) and maximum beam 136 ft (41.5 m).
She was constructed at Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany.
I had no problem getting an Uber driver at 3 am this morning. There is a new, designated spot in the Seattle airport’s parking garage, and Abdulqadir (my driver) showed up in his Toyota Prius in 7 minutes. As always, it was nice to unpack my little souvenirs from Mexico, from my bags today!
My wonderful time in Mazatlán came to an end today – alas! Off to the aeropuerto it was, at noon.
My layover is again at Los Angeles (LAX), and I will catch a red-eye flight out to Seattle in another 3 hours or so.
I will try to summon an Uber car in the wee hours of Thursday morning, to take me home. If I don’t succeed, I can always stay over in a cheapie Seattle airport hotel until later in the morning.
Estero del Yugo is an estuary in the far northern outskirts of the city of Mazatlán. There is a trail around it that we traversed today. The foliage around the estuary is dry this time of year, and the water level was low.
Even so, we spotted herons, ibises, pelicans and a beautiful pileated woodpecker with its red-crested head. A single deer across the water made an appearance as well, but we did not see it again, even after we had made it to the other side.
We took the bus today to Juarez in the north of the city of Mazatlan. It’s complicated for a visitor, since the bus stops are not marked with route numbers.
One has to look for the destination that’s written onto the bus (and even then the bus does not always go to the same place in that destination). A good thing I had a little help from my friends here!
On Sunday, we drove out to the town of El Recodo and made a stop at Villa Unión for lunch at a famous seafood restaurant.
We were very lucky to run into a tour guide in El Recodo to show us around. He also phoned ahead to the very popular restaurant in Villa Unión, which allowed us to get in almost right away.