Thursday, August 5, 2010
First trip to Tokyo
On wednesday, we went to that pool (from last week) with another group of friends. It was a gorgeous day for the pool and we enjoyed it just as much, if not more, this time around. At the end of the playdate, some of the moms were talking about other playgroups they belonged to. One mom said their group was going off base to get some ice-cream...which sounded super fun. Then another mom said her group was going to "The Children's Castle" in downtown Tokyo...which sounded even more fun! Plus, it would give me a chance to learn how to ride the trains/subways with a group of other friends/kids instead of learning by myself!
So we agreed to join them the next morning. I packed some small snacks and juice boxes, as well as the kids games (DS and Leapster), my handy-dandy Tokyo guide, and some money in yen and USD. We left our house at 8:45am, met everyone at 9 (at the parking lot right before you leave base), and then walked to the train station. This was about a 10-15 minute walk and we were HOT!!! There were sidewalks for most of the walk (only large enough for one person...so we had to walk in a line) and all the other moms had littler kids, so they were all in their strollers. My kids were champs and didn't complain though!!! Thank goodness :-)
Patrick and I inherited some train passes (already loaded with money) so it made it a little easier for me to navigate. You literally just swipe your card when you go into the station and when you arrive at your final destination you swipe it again and it tallies your fare. Like EZPass. It deducts it from your account and you just refill it with cash when you get low. There is a designated area on each train for older people, pregnant people and people with kids...so we were pretty fortunate to get there. Unfortunately, we had a large group and wanted to stay together - but we made it work. I stood but the kids shared a seat. Immediately, I knew I was going to have to take a 1/2 dramamine for my motion sickness...but it never got too bad once I took it. All-in-all, it took about 2 hours from leaving our car until we got to the place we needed. Truthfully, I would've just preferred to drive myself. I don't care about traffic or tolls....I would rather drive anywhere than take public transportation (train, bus, plane, taxi). I am not being snobby...I just don't like it. Plus it was so hot outside - and not much cooler inside the train. It made for a LONG, HOT trip...but an experience I am glad to have had.
The Children's Castle is a large tower in the city designed to let 'inner-city' kids have a place to play. Each floor has different activities; from a pool, to an art center, music hall, playground, etc. It was a pretty neat place - but I found myself comparing it to COSI (the best Science Museum in the US). The kids had tons of fun though...which is the whole point!!!
After all the activites were done, we started to head back to the train station. One of the girls mentioned there was a Razzleberry Ice Cream store (like Pinkberry in the states) so we decided to walk past the train station to get some. We ended up going through the Times Square of Tokyo (very cool) to get there - but the kids HATED the ice cream and started to melt down! Evie was the worst -and I ended up dragging her - SCREAMING - back through the streets to the train station. I promised them that when we got back to the train that they could sit down and nap or play games. WRONG. It was 4pm - when people start to get off work, so it was your typical train in Japan. Literally shoving people in to fit. Eventually one seat opened - which the kids shared while I stood next to them.
We got back to our train station and they were spent (me too) so I paid a taxi to take us back to the main gate of the base. Best 750 yen I ever spent. We got back to our car and drove into our driveway at 5:30. I was soooooo tired (from the walking, the heat and the dramamine) and I was alseep by 8pm. I slept right through the night (except for the 4:30am phone ringing) and got up around 6:30. I am glad we went - but don't think I will be doing it again any time soon!!!