Monday, April 19, 2010

practical magic

I stand by my previous recommendation that travelers take the train instead of the bus from Narita airport into the city of Tokyo, with one very important exception. That is, me, i.e. parent traveling solo with two "high-energy" boys and three very heavy suitcases. The Airport Limousine Bus may hit highway traffic and you might have to sit through multiple hotel stops before reaching your destination, but it's easy-peasy to find it and get on -- no trying to herd the cats while also lugging the big valises up and down escalators, through ticket gates, across platforms, and in and out of the trains during the 10 or 15 seconds the doors remain open. You just wheel that Smarte Carte out of customs and through the terminal front door and let the courteous and totally competent attendant/bus baggage handler take over. (This is Japan, after all, a country that seems to me to have set the gold standard for customer service. Returning from a two-week trip to New York this past weekend -- it was the boys' Easter break -- I nearly embraced the man who thus unburdened me.

I'm not exaggerating. It was a revelation. I always feel so alone on that Narita Express platform. Alone and annoyed, at my boys who don't stand back from the edge, and those train doors that only stay open a few moments while I shout "LIFT! ROLL! LEAVE IT AND GO FIND YOUR SEAT!" like a Crazymama. But on Saturday, I was practically serene. I never knew if we hit traffic or not. It didn't matter. I was dozing, the boys were DS-ing. And when we arrived at The Westin hotel in Ebisu, a 5-minute taxi ride away from home, I think the boys and I wheeled the three mammoth bags about 6 ft. before a nice man wearing a cap lifted them into our cab's trunk.

I used to pooh-pooh (or is it poo-poo?) the "limousine" coach because I so love love love the trains here, I really do (in terms of cost the difference in fares is negligible: 3,000 yen for the bus vs. 3,300 yen for the Narita express), but I have seen the light. If you don't have kids or much baggage with you, I still say N'EX all the way, but from now on I will be catching that coach.

Unless Terry is with me, because when he is, he does all the heavy lifting while I hand out the snacks.

1 comment:

joan said...

When I go to Paris, I catch the 6:50 am coach in Cerulean tower hotel shibuya (last stop). I do not touch my suitcases it is easy peasy I am in Narita at 8:05 just in front of my airline company.
On my way back, I run to Takyubin on the left hand side of Narita and it is magical, few hours later my heavvvvvvvvvvvy suitcases are at my door. Meanwhile I take the keisey line ltd express and I am in Nippori 1h20 min later etc and it costs Y 1000 only