Saturday, 3 May 2008

Higashi ni Sugoi no Ryokou Monogatari - Day 0 & 1 - Part 1

I think it is high time I started reporting on the trip to Japan. I have been meaning to, for quite some time, but there is this golden rule of journalism, that local news must take precedence over anything else, no matter how important or cool (well, unless its consequences are world-encompassing). Therefore, the BIOS and KABATZA parties had to come first (especially with Sugizo being present at the latter), along with all the photo-editing and writing that entailed. Now, however, I am ready to begin the lengthy process of presenting our journey. This first post, try as I might, managed to encompass only the trajectory from Greece (Eleftherios Venizelos Airport) to Japan (Narita Airport). Therefore, I fear it might bore you a little but I will try to keep it interesting.

It all started with a phone-call somewhere around the end of February:

“Get ready man! We are setting off for Japan!”

“What? How? When?”

“There’s this cool offer from SOYA Shop, called ‘Otaku Tour’, which covers a 6-day stay, trips to Ghibli Museum and the Tokyo International Anime Fair, as well as a mound of other things!”

“OK, just a sec. When is the departure?”

“Oh, there’s loads of time – around a month – but we have to hurry if we want to make sure there will be open spaces.” Something started to tighten inside me.

“So… March. When, exactly?”

“Of what I see here, umm… on the 26th”. My heart sank: I had the last exam for my Physics degree on that very day, Quantum Mechanics II no less, toughest cookie on the main curriculum. Not only that, the exam was from 18:00 – 21:00 so I had absolutely no way out. Did I say “sank”? No, blackened with depression, envy and sense of injustice, was more like it. At that point, I thought that was that and contended to wallow in misery, while studying for the exam. Somewhere around a week, maybe ten days later, I was told that there were 5 dates of departure, one of which was on the 27th of March, right on the razor’s edge. At that time, I swore to myself that I would not count my blessings until I had found myself inside the airplane that would take us there, but would do anything and everything humanly possible to grasp the slim chance I had been given by the Powers That Be.

Sure enough, against all odds (sickness, potential strikes and protests at universities and the change of dates of many exams), I managed to study for the exam, make the payments for the trip (1670 euros for a 6-night stay, airplane tickets to there and back, as well as a number of other transport services) on time and clear my head enough to write decently (though I am still waiting for the results). However, until a week before the day of the departure, I was not sure I would be able to go (and my oath about blessings still held). Nevertheless, after a series of unrelated events (such as meeting an old, dear friend, whose tracks I had lost for over a year – and who, meanwhile, got herself engaged, as well as some old classmates who had come from Italy right when I was leaving), I found myself at the airport around 04:00 in the morning, armed with my trusty journalist jacket – full of my basic equipment (money, passport, boarding papers, pen, paper, batteries, MP3 player and other odds and ends), my digital camera and an empty suitcase, which contained another, nearly empty suitcase, which contained the bare minimum clothes I would need over there. Other friends’ trips to Japan have taught me you must go carrying nearly nothing, since you are bound to buy everything there and there’s a severe cost for overweight. Having a deserved reputation for never being on time, I decided to err on the side of caution and so found myself at the airport half an hour early (we had agreed to meet at 04:30).

Indeed, shortly (in my perception, since medium cold doesn’t affect me and I was right on the verge of feeling blessed), the members of our traveling company arrived and after exchanging greetings and excited cries, we proceeded to check in. In order to get to Japan, we would make a little detour in Paris: the first leap of the journey would be a mere 2,5 hours which meant, leaving from Athens at 07:00, we would be there at 09:30 Greek Time or 08:30 Local Time.

The view from the airplane window, during
the transit from Athens to Paris.

Sleepless Bunnydragon.

Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris.

Nya-chan, Usagi-chan and Kame-chan, also sleepless.

Nya-chan and Kame-chan more alert, as the time for
our flight to Japan nears.

At Charles de Gaulle, we had roughly 2 hours to kill (approximately half of which was dedicated to crossing almost the whole bloody airport to the transit area), so we got some coffee and magazines (personally, I got a magazine about French Comics (dBD #21) and an Hors-Serie Anime Land dedicated to bloody anime and manga - ridiculous, given our destination but at least I can read French, contrary to Japanese), also puzzling with where exactly our transit gate was. Finally, around 11:00 Local Time we boarded the plane to Japan, for roughly a 12-hour trip over Norway, Russia, Siberia and continental Asia.

Now, I have traveled quite a bit, over land, sea and air, but honestly? I don't care much for airplanes, unless we are talking short distances (up to 4 hours, I can take). The prospective 12-hour flight did not sit all that well with me but I ground my teeth and bore it for the sake of the goal. Kame-chan and Usagi-chan, who had never before got on an airplane, seemed to get the hang of it pretty easily (though Kame would NOT sit at the window). As for me, I think the trip would have been much more bearable, had not an idiot, stuck-up and annoying French couple sat in the front seats, considering perfectly normal to push their chairs all the way down, taking the time to complain to us or the stewardesses for being loud! Thank God you are allowed to get up and walk about during the flight, to avoid thrombosis, else I would have probably killed them.

In truth, I believe the only time I felt myself (silently) panicking a bit, was when, at some point, I looked at the available GPS and realized we were 12 Km above the Siberian Steppes. "Say we fall. We are in the middle of the most desolate place on Earth!". Of course, my rational mind told me that a plane crash would result in death long before the Siberian wildlife took to us but still, it was an unnerving thought (nothing an ice cream couldn't solve though). On the other hand, the view was breathtaking, at least as we crossed southern Norway and Sweden.

Leaving dear France (most of my friends
hate it but I have a special place in my
heart for it).

Red Twilight and a Fjord. Ah, my Viking heart sings
the Skalds' Sagas (crossing southern Norway and Sweden).

2 Hours to our destination... Yay!

Our full trajectory.

First glimpse of Japan!

Mercifully, the sign informs me I can feel blessed. We
are on Japanese soil!

So this is where I will pause the First Day of our journey or, more appropriately, the transition from the 27th, to the morning of the 28th of March. We arrived at 09:15, trashed and ready for our greatest adventure yet. Stay tuned for the events of the 28th of March, among which, X-Japan's "Night of Destruction"!



Read Next Part


Skuld Skauksson said...

Sugoi no ryoukou daneeeee?

Otan koitas apo pshlaaaa... I almost envy you!

Anonymous said...

Sugooooi neee?!
I Katerina einai gia noseblleds etsi pou ..dagkwnei to mpiskoto:P

Ergo Proxy said...

Hehe, ondos file norvige itan apistefti i thea kai tora eimaste mono sto post tou pigaine.

Katerina mottou nosebleede me to mikro... baguette!

kyo said...

Kala vre ti einai afta pou kaneis?Vasanisitria me episodia?Afto part1 kai meta alla tooosa!!!Thes na me synxeiseis eee?Kala perimeno ta alla flavours epifilasomai

rosenred said...

Hey, what a coincidence! I was on that plane too!! (>0.0)> <(0.0<)

Speedgrapher said...

Kyo be patient (i must get sober again), all will be posted in time.

Deva said...

Oh my,how dare they complain about u?
come on sweet Andre,u know u're Looooud when the dwarf awakens!

Speedgrapher said...

Well, there is always someone who complains and that is why I always carry an extra, extra-heavy beer tankard with me. Arigatou,dear deva.


Gia su agorare!!!
To kimeno pu mu ipes na diavaso to mesimeri gia to party pu tha gini tin kiriaki sto kavantza itan gamato!
o tonos sto ma!!
Pali kala pu imastan sto taxidi k ta exume di apo konta ta pragmata giati tha se eixame katharisi apo tin agonia mas!
Sinexize na kanis afto pu kanis pio kala grafis :)

filakia polllllla

Speedgrapher said...

A, afto ennoouses "pou kano kalytera" hmmm!