Tuesday, 8 May 2012

We're on our way at last

Sunday 5 May and we have started on our journey. The couple who will be house-sitting for us gave us a lift into the village bus stop where we caught the bus to Canberra where we were met by some of our kids and grandkids for lunch at Café Essen, one of my favourites. I had a full fried breakfast for lunch!

Then onto another bus to take us to Sydney airport or an overnight stay at the Formule 1 before catching the early morning JAL flight to Tokyo. For dinner we walked to the domestic terminal and ate at one of the eateries there and then walked back to the hotel to watch the Estoril Portugal MotoGP on TV. Casey Stoner in flying form again – so fast that it was a fairly boring race. I hope the French MotoGP is a bit more exciting when we are there in a couple of weeks’ time.
Next morning we caught the shuttle bus to the airport where we discovered that our discount JAL premium economy tickets enabled us to avoid the check-in and immigration queues and gave us access to the Qantas business class lounge where we tucked in to the complimentary buffet breakfast.  An excellent  good start so far. I like this premium economy stuff, particularly when it cost us just a few dollars more than ordinary economy because we booked early.

Flight delayed a quarter of an hour due to the late arrival of the aircraft and when we boarded, in typical polite Japanese fashion, they apologised to each passenger for the delay. Gail caused them to break in to laughter when she replied “it was a pleasure, but I had no choice”, a very un-Japanese response. One of them replied “mmmm, I guess it was like that” and more laughter.
Excellent seats. 20% wider than normal economy and 20% more legroom plus a side table. Now it’s 9.00am and I’m drinking Suntory Malts beer, one of my favourites, and eating squid and soy crackers. Gail's vegetarian meal of chickpea chermoula has arrived. Looks good. Side dishes of salad and fruit and a cakey thing. Not sure whether this is breakfast, brunch, or a Tokyo-time lunch, but who cares.

The menu options for omnivores like me are a bit of a surprise – no Japanese food apart from optional miso soup. A bit different to when I used to fly JAL business class before I retired several years ago and used to fly JAL to Tokyo every couple of years. In those days there was a western menu and a Japanese menu and I always enjoyed the Japanese option though often I had no idea what I was eating. About 95% of the passengers on this plane are Japanese but they must be happy with the options so perhaps it just goes to show how westernised Japan must be these days. I guess I’ll find out when we get there.

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