what shall we now discover
to threaten our trip?
With the little frisson of Takayama Festival safely behind us I settle down to the slog of going stage by stage, train by train, car hire by car hire through the whole itinerary. My daughter-in-law commented on an earlier post with a fine Japanese word for us – Ganbatte. Apparently a literal translation would be Exhaust yourself but it’s used as an encouragement to hang on in there, chin up, stick with it or come on my son. With this exhortation taken to heart and being of a thorough, and cost-conscious nature I start out consulting about four or five sites for each location. A pattern soon emerges – the Japan based sites with the extra hassle of converting yen or dollars to pounds soon start to fall by the wayside with fewer and fewer hits from me among the forest of tabs open across the top of my screen. Then there’s the tedium of consulting my master plan to see what dates to enter and the number of nights for each hotel and entering them in different formats on each site.
I discover that to select a hotel I think will be appropriate, bookmark it for ratification later in the day by Dee who doesn’t share my benefit of working from home and book it with a secure ability to cancel with no fee all takes about an hour to an hour and a half depending on the destination. Choosing the one hotel with a room near Takayama should have been speedy but I still had to look at all the SOLD OUT ones before I got there. Even checking the “show only available rooms” option is not infallible as it doesn’t filter for my choice of a double room so I look at a lot of hotels with only singles. It’s time consuming, frustrating and one day I’ll invent a proper booking site that meets all my criteria.
Oh do stop whinging! It may take a while but you are going to Japan! Get over it and get on with it! My alter ego always was most encouraging. Eventually it seems the best option for me is to use Trivago.com to do a comparative trawl and then as it transpires select the best option on either Booking.com or Agoda.com which always seems to have the lowest rates between them – sometimes one, sometimes the other with no real pattern, rhyme or reason.
Three days later, I finally manage to get a spare hour or so to show Dee my selections. She starts to glaze over after about the fifth but we plough on and agree that without her looking at all the available options herself I’ve done a good job. Well time will tell won’t it?
I’m fairly comfortable with e-tickets, showing my phone to go to the cinema, green about recycling and cutting down on paper but I can’t resist printing out each booking confirmation – being careful just to include the core information and not the other three pages of guff that incautious printing from websites always seem to include. At the top of each I write the hotel number and the dates we’re staying there. The last one reads “Hotel 15, 3 to 9 May Tokyo”. So we have accommodation for every night of the 29 nights we’ll spend chasing all over Japan except for one night on a train still to be booked.
There’s a map of our day-by-day schedule on the blog but the main stages are:
|1||Tokyo||2 nights||2||Mount Fuji area||1 night||3||Kiso Valley||1 night|
|4||not too far from Takayama||2 nights||5||Kanazawa||1 night||6||Kyoto||3 nights|
|7||Okayama||2 nights||8||Takamatsu||2 nights||9||Kobe||2 nights|
|10||Osaka||1 night||Train Osaka – Hakodate||1 night||11||Hakodate||1 night|
|12||Tomakomai||1 night||13||Sapporo||1 night||14||Asahikawa||2 nights|
And then Hong Kong for four nights where we hope free accommodation might be on offer.
So far so good – it looks like it will work but now to gauge the distances, train fares, mostly with a Japan Rail Pass – but the extras for sleepers – car hire, fuel costs and expressway tolls to give us an accurate estimate of what it will cost and whether I or the tour operator experts were right.