28.9.2009 – Day 1, part 2: Paris – Tokyo

We had a two-hour layover at Charles de Gaulle Airport meaning we just had time to move to another terminal, pass the security check and do some souvenir shopping before boarding the flight. One thing that I find really annoying about this airport is that in addition to checking my laptop, they made me unpack all my camera gear on the conveyor belt, including all my lenses. This hasn’t happened to me anywhere else, but it seems to be normal procedure in France. I wonder if there are other airports that are as strict?

An airport bus in Paris

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We got to board the plane 20 minutes late, because they were cleaning up the cabin, or at least that’s what we were told. As expected, most of the passengers were Japanese, and as they often do when they have spare time, most of them dozed off as soon as they got to their seats. A Japanese woman sitting next to me fastened her seatbelt, opened her French novel and went into coma before the plane even started moving. She actually slept through the take-off. For me the take-off was like the opening scene in Mel Brooks’ High Anxiety and I would’ve rather skipped it. I wouldn’t mind flying if I could skip the take-offs and landings, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

Teriyaki chicken on an airplane

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All in all the flight was extremely boring – partly because I was so anxious to get to Tokyo, and partly because the entertainment system kept crashing. The system didn’t allow rewinding or fast forwarding the movies so I would have to start watching the movie again from the beginning after every crash. Eventually I gave up watching The Hangover and watched some stuff I’d loaded on my Creative Zen. Our flight attendant was also very entertaining, because he stubbornly spoke to me in French although he knew that I couldn’t understand a word. The most exciting part of the flight was when the Japanese lady next to me tried to get something from the overhead luggage compartment and dropped a pair of crutches on an old man sitting behind me. It turned out that she was very good at apologizing in French.

After the sun set, I slept for about an hour and then just watched some TV until the morning. When we started approaching Japan I got a bit nervous; not because of we were about to land, but because this was my first time to Japan for seven years and I didn’t know if I would still be as thrilled about Japan as I was when I first lived their or if I would find it disappointing after having so much expectations.

Almost there. Photo by Teacher.

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28.9.2009 – Day 1, part 1: Helsinki – Paris

We woke up at 4:15 am and after a couple of cups of coffee and final packing manouvers we left to the airport at 5:30. It was raining and the weather was freezing in Helsinki, so leaving to Japan for three weeks was feeling like a better idea all the time. We were pretty sure that with our luck it would be raining in Japan too, but we thought that at least it would probably be warmer there. The check-in and security control went smoothly and when we were finally waiting to board the plane, it started to sink in that in less than 24 hours I’d be back in Japan.

Airplanes at Helsinki airport

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The first leg of our trip was a flight from from Helsinki to Paris. We chose to fly Air France, because it was the cheapest option and we could use the money we saved to buy 21-day Rail Pass that allowed us to use most trains operated by the Japan Railways Group, including the bullet trains. The breakfast served at the flight to Paris was supposed to be ratatouille and spinach omelette, and it wasn’t too bad. I was so hungry anyway that I would’ve eaten whatever they served. The nice thing about the flight was that they also served red wine, which made the flight and the morning much more enjoyable.

Breakfast in the airplane

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Lack of sleep and the red wine did the trick and I spent the rest of the flight half asleep.

Airplanes at Charles de Gaulle airport, Paris

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27.9.2009 – Day 0: Helsinki

I originally created this site as a travel blog when I visited Japan in 2009. This site has since gone throuh a number of changes and it’s now more of a photography site than a travel blog. I wanted to keep the original travel entries here, however, because personally I like to read this kind of travel descriptions.

During this trip to Japan, my first in seven years, I traveled from Tokyo to Kyūshū and a number of places in between, accompanied with my sister and her boyfriend. This was also when I started taking photography seriously after dabling with it a couple of years.

We left Jyväskylä to Helsinki a day before our flight so that we could stay overnight at my friend’s place and get to the airport early in the morning.

I had been packing frantically the whole night and spent the first leg of the trip in a coma on the backseat. I woke up when it was time to eat our breakfast/lunch, which meant a couple of cups of coffee and a Japan-themed cake made by the others. The main ingredients of the cake were cream candies, chocolate and brandy – plenty of them. It tasted like a kiss from a chocolate-loving rummie, but it did the trick and woke me up.

Japan Cake

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After arriving at my friend’s place we left our luggage there, had dinner at the local Chinese restaurant, walked around for a while and bought some breakfast. We had to be at the airport at 6:50 in the morning, so we spent the rest of the evening watching TV and went to bed early.