^Thanks Bill! Now that enough time has passed, I'd really have a hard time deciding which trip I enjoyed more because both Scandi and Japan were so different but equally as memorable. The solution is simple, really. Fans of TPR trips will just have to do both.
Up now is a jump back to the official/ unofficial early arrival day in Tokyo at our hotel in Shinagawa, which is also home to the Aqua Stadium and the indoor Intamin Galaxy Express 999.
Before the rest of the early arrival group arrived, there was a chance to head out and explore one of the "must see" areas of Tokyo, Harajuku. This district is primarily the trendy fashion district but for tourists, it's like an amalgam of j-pop, fashion, rock and Japanese kitsch. The pedestrian areas of Harajuku street and Takeshita street are where you're likely to run into Harajuku girls, live anime-like people and cool t-shirts.
After meeting up with TPR later in the day, it was off to Aqua Stadium and then our first group dinner of yakatori in Shibuya, where some of us were much more adventurous than others. "Fresh chicken" anyone? It sounded great, until we found out that fresh meant raw in this case. It was night of trial and error ordering, which was actually a lot of fun when you think about it. I stuck with the less adventurous food and it was delicious. I'm a huge fan of yakitori.
Shibuya is the district with major shops and restaurants. The train station cross walk is the busiest in the world. Shibuya station is also home to the statue of Hachiko the Akita. It was made in memory of the the dog that for 10 years following its owners death, would travel to the station each night at the same time that his owner, Professor Ueno, used to arrive after work before walking home together. It's a fantastic story and worth looking up.
Saying good bye to our Kyoto breakfast and lunch place.
Is there any better way to travel?
Our first hotel at Shinagawa, home to the Galaxy Express 999!
With bags dropped off, it was off to Harajuku.
The busiest part of the district. This street's name is very hard to forget.
Oh yah, we crashed a wedding.
Back to the hotel.
My room mate arrived and this is what having only one outlet in the room looks like in 2013.
The Aqua Stadium was conveniently attached to the hotel.
The pre show for this coaster is worth it alone? A great little Intamin indoor looper.
Arriving at Shibuya station. Wait for it...
Wait for it.....
There we go! World's busiest cross walk--after work hours.
Our first group trip at a Shibuya yakitori restaurant.
Sir, your fresh chicken.
The cooked chicken was really good.
Yakitori is like the Japanese version of chicken wings in terms of how and when you eat it. Oh, I kinda sorta ordered chicken cartilage...I didn't know it but that's what I ordered...
By now, you've guessed that Ben is the only adventurous one on that side of the table.
Heading back to the hotel we got to take part in one more "mass crossing"
The statue of Hachiko that stands outside of Shibuya station.
The Shinagawa prince has great taste in lighting. This was such a great day to kick off the official trip.
....and we're back to the last two days of the trip. After Disney, a few of us spent the remainder of our last weekend in downtown Tokyo, giving Shibuya and Shinjuku another look through. Our hotel was in Akasaka, where TBS is located.
After leaving Disney, we spent the afternoon in Shibuya, spending a lot of time in Tokyo Hands department store, which seemed like it had an infinite number of floors full of every department imaginable.
At night, we headed to Shinjuku's Golden Gai neighbourhood. This area looks like the Japanese version of a European borgo and is the polar opposite of Shinjuku's Times Square-like area. It has a 1/2 dozen alley-like streets lined with house-size bars and restaurants. If you're over six feet tall, you'll probably have a few issues getting into these places but it's great for everyone else to watch you try. Our timing wasn't perfect as we went on the night that most places were closed, including our main reason for visiting: Cambiare, the antipasto bar themed to Dario Argento's Suspiria. Hey look, there's another reason to get back to Japan. We still found a great small bar with a bar tender that anyone could feel comfortable telling their life story to.
I'll end Japan 2013 by saying that this was one of the most amazing trips ever. It was the perfect balance of experiencing Japan and feeding the coaster nerd in us all.
You can't not check out the Tokyo Sky Tree.
Tickets were gone for most of the day so unfortunately didn't get to go up.
If you're stuck with not being able to go up Sky Tree, Tokyo Tower usually isn't too busy and also has great views of the city.
Picking up a few supplies for last night parties.
The best giant crispy cuttlefish snack ever?
Had to do the obligatory walk by the Hilton's wedding chapel before heading out, one last time.
Good byes suck.
Japan's version of a downtown Disney.
As much as saying good bye is horrible, at least another day in Tokyo would help pacify the sadness.
Arriving at our Akasaka hotel, next to TBS
Love Japanese Italian restaurants!
Back at Shibuya station
The best department store ever.
Lots of ways to make your iPhone personally yours.
Ninja star fridge magnets? Sure. Why not?
Making our way through the Shibuya cross walk one last time.
At night, we were at the Shinjuku's Golden Gai district.
Hearts sunk when we finally found Cambiare and it was closed.
We still had an great night at this bar.
A final walk through Shinjuku for the trip.
My last day. Jenn, Travis and Nick had left so there was time for a last look around before heading to the airport.
This was also by far the hottest day of the trip. I was soaked walking 200 ft from the hotel to the subway. I was so glad that it wasn't even close to being as hot as this last day during the trip.
Now knowing what a real transportation network is like, I feel bad for people visiting Toronto.
A few snacks for the flight home.
Oh. I know.
So, that's it. Time really flies by.
Just when you think it's completely over, Air Canada brings out the best snack ever.
Made it home with a bit of Japan for family and friends.
So I promised myself that I'd finally do a Scandinavia TR before the next Scandinavia trip. I'm clearly running out of time.
TPR's Scandinavia 2009 trip was, I think, my favourite trip to date. It was amazing on so many levels and I'm extremely excited for everyone heading over in about a month's time.
With that, enjoy this blast from the recent past! Up first is arrival day in Copenhagen and Tivoli Gardens. My camera was acting up for Bon Bon Land. Not to worry, there are hundreds of Dog Fart Coaster pics out there, just use the "search"
SCANDINAVIA 2009 - ARRIVAL/ AROUND COPENHAGEN
Hotel Number 1 - Intro to European hotels.
The main bus from the airport was arriving later so a few of us took the opportunity to check out Copenhagen.
Day 2 of the trip took us to Tivoli gardens. A beautiful place with some crazy rides and Wagamama. All was good with the world. Seriously, the flat rides here are insane! At the time, a Star Flyer that tall was mesmerizing and terrifying. I still think it's the nicest one built to date with the new one at Grona Lund giving it a run for its money. There also happened to be some insane bumper cars here, even more so than Knoebels.
This was the first part of the trip where a ride operator seeing a TPR wrist band meant getting an extra long or multiple cycles. On a Huss Flic Flac, it can honestly work against you by the fourth non-stop cycle. Demonen, as a roller coaster, proves that you can cram a lot of awesome into small places. Oh, and Vertigo, will give actually give it to you. My favourite flat ride by far. Turbo Boost is a must.
The crown jewel, Rutchebanen, was every bit the classic experience that I'd personally been looking forward to.
Enjoy the pics!
Just a short walk from the hotel and we were finally at the world famous Tivoli Gardens
Pantomime shows still happen here.
This was a great part of the day, without a doubt.
The brake man lives on here.
Our behind the scenes tour. Yes, the ride is very, very old.
Only men were permitted to be ride operators here at one time. Not sure what could possibly give that away.
No brake man wants their name on this wall. If they are here, it means that the train that they were operating was traveling a touch too fast and jumped the track. It takes a day or two to get everything operating again.
Anyone else pee there pants a bit on these things still?
Oh, in Scandinavian theme parks, there are multiple ways to hurt yourself in every fun house. It's awesome.
Huh? What? Where?
A trip to Denmark wouldn't be complete without...
A Hans Christian Andersen dark ride
This was actually really well done.
One of many drop rides that I avoided.
On site brewery, of course.
A bit more around the gardens.
The bumper cars that just wouldn't be allowed in America.
My first Wagamama.
Signing in for Vertigo, our last chances to ride for the day.
We had an odd number of people. Jon made new friends.
Great pics Jason Thanks for bringing back such wonderful memories That trip meant so much to me It set a very high bar That was my second TPR extravaganza and I was much more at ease. The one bus gave us all a great chance to get to know each other really well
Vertigo truly is one of the most bad-a$$ rides in the world, there really is no comparison! (The only other one in the world, that originally opened in Milano, is now for sale on Technical Park's homepage, they are "only" asking € 400,000. I wonder who might pick it up, Drayton Manor wanted one, but I hope for you in the US to get it).
But if you are going on the Scandi trip you can NOT miss Vertigo, it is one of the MUST rides, even if it has a 1h line. I absolutely recommend doing it as early as you can, as the line only get longer the later it becomes. No whossing out!
If you can't stand spin and puke machines, it's an experience just to stand beneath it and watch it go into turbo mode.
No. 1 Water Park guy! The Megalite is *the* roller coaster of the world! (after finally riding Expedition Geforce I'll admit it was pretty awesome as well!)
^^Fran: A pleasure. I knew that I would enjoy re-visiting this trip a lot and so far, that's definitely the case. That was my second TPR trip as well.
^Jakob: I'll gladly take that ride and put it in my back yard, if there was room. Agreed in that you definitely need to get on it early. I think I rode it four or five times at least that day. Watching it is great but as an "expert pilot", it drove me bonkers watching people sort of waste their ride by not doing anything with the plane lol
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