Saturday, September 29, 2007


(Matsushima Century Hotel, Matsushima)

Didn’t sleep well. Got up early to get the circus happening. Decided, given the itinerary for the day, to pack an overnight in my backpack, and forward my rucksack on ahead of me. There are awkward bulky sticky out presents in the rucksack. Hopefully they survive the trip.

First leg; the limited express back to Nagoya. Just over two hours travel time. As luck would have it, the woman next to me had a wee little baby travelling with her, and the French couple across the aisle had an even wee-er little baby travelling with them. Extraordinarily, I heard not a peep out of either. Cute little big-eyed critters. She apologised and tucked her baby in every time she stretched her legs or reached out towards me. I didn’t mind. I liked the feel of little baby feet.

Second leg; shinkansen from Nagoya to Tokyo (y hallo thar), stopping at Odawara (been there, done that) and Shin-Yokohama (been there, done that). Just under two hours travel time. Fuji-san can be viewed on this trip, but as luck would have it, the rain was out, and Fuji-san was wrapped in clouds and wouldn’t come out.

I’ve decided I hate shinkansen. Sure they have big comfy chairs and they certainly get you where you’re going fast, but it isn’t a comfortable journey. The pressure inside the carriage is exactly right to make my ears hurt. Not even aeroplanes do that to me. Not happy camper. Somewhat disconcerting to watch the walls of the train flex with the air pressure inside the mountain tunnels.

10 minutes between arriving in Tokyo and departing. Bit nervous about that. Thankfully, the shinkansen platforms are all lumped together, and made my next train with plenty of time.

Third leg; shinkansen from Tokyo to Sendai. Just under two hours travel time. Ears hurt. The train followed the mountains up Tohoku, the backbone of Japan. It took an hour to leave Tokyo’s urban reach.

(Sendai Station)

Arrive at Sendai, and transfer to local JR line to get to Matsushima. Realise have failed one vital point of research, and don’t know which direction I need to go on this line. There are no line maps in the train, or on the platform, and the one in the corridor is not very helpful. Ask conductor, and am directed to another platform, and kindly told exactly which train to get on.

Fourth leg: local train from Sendai to Matsushima. Approx thirty minutes travel time. Get out LP to check the route to the hotel. Realise am going to wrong station, and am in fact on wrong train line. Have been on train for many hours, and don’t care. Stagger out of Matsushima station, see taxi, get in taxi, make it taxi driver’s problem.

Short taxi ride later, am at hotel. Hotel is a resort hotel, picked for convenience more than price. Am alarmed when tiny woman greets me at entrance, and takes my backpack. Am accustomed to lugging around backpack containing laptop, toiletries, two cameras, various books, and sundry stuff. Note tiny woman stagger slightly. Am escorted to front desk, and check in. Another tiny woman takes my bag again, and has trouble with it, but insists on carrying it to my room.

Room is large, with a lounge area, three sinks, and a big big bathroom. Room is worn, with the varnish on the desk peeling, stains in the carpet, and wrinkled wall paper.

Room does not have internet access.

Bugger resort hotels. Business hotels have what I actually want.

It’s that dead hour again. Going to take me for a walk down by the bay before hunting up some dinner. Methinks a bath will happen tonight.

(Fukuurajima Bridge at night.)

The thing about holidays is that although you take a break from life, life doesn’t stop while you’re gone.

I don’t know if I should be here.

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