Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Japan 2013 - Day 2: On our way to Hokkaido

As per itinerary, we should have gone to Odaiba in the morning, before we head to the airport. But we decided to stay in the hotel so we could wake up later (830am) and have breakfast in the hotel before we check out.

By 10am we were ready to check out and looked forward to our Hokkaido roadtrip. 

farewell for now, Toyoko Inn. We'll see you again after a week!
This huge trash basket was located in front of our hotel. Not really sure why this was there. Maybe it symbolizes proper trash disposal, which we have observed in Japan.

We took the shuttle bus to Shinagawa Station. Again, I inquired what train to take to Narita Airport. Our options were to take either JR Narita Express (3110 yen), which would take us to the airport in 1hr 3mins (2 stops), or JR Sobu Line (1450 yen adult, 720 yen child) which would take us 90mins. Since we were not really in a rush (our flight to Chitose was not until 435pm), and we wanted to save on train ticket cost, the JR Sobu Line was the best choice - half the price!

So we bought our tickets and went to the platform to wait for our train. Again, we were not sure which area to stand and wait/queue for our train. There was a separate marker for Narita Express and for other trains. 

When the train arrived, we got in, but there were no seats available. The next car had better seats, but I remember reading in the travel books that these were reserved seats and we didn't pay for reserved seats. We had to stand in the train for a few stops and were able to sit down for most of the way to the airport. 

Domestic flight tickets were booked a few days after our international flight. Return airfare cost $121.81 per person (Narita/New Chitose/Narita), plus checked baggage 20kg for 2 persons @ $13/pax/sector. I think we were one of the last few passengers flying this route via AirAsia as the airline stopped all services a few weeks after our flight.

AirAsia flights were at Narita Airport Terminal 2 so that's where we hopped off the train. Found our way to the departure area, but we were too early, the AirAsia counters were not even open yet, so we sat at the waiting area for sometime while the boys played games.

When they opened the counters, we were the first ones to queue up for baggage check (xray). I had to open our luggage as they wanted to see the spray cans (one was hair spray, the other was deodorant). Again, they were so polite and respectful in asking me to show them the cans - not the usual arrogant demeanor of some airport officials in other countries (thank goodness!). Even when we were at the check in counters, the service we received was of high quality. One wouldn't notice that we were actually booked on a low-cost airline!

Anyway, so much for our love of Japanese hospitality. Our flight took off at 435pm and landed Hokkaido via New Chitose Airport by 620pm. We got our baggage and looked for the car rental counters. There was actually no one in the counter, but there was a phone for us to use to call to let them know we were already there - ready for pick up. Few minutes more and we were on-board the shuttle bus on the way to the car rental site (big Nissan sign). We were the only ones there - maybe because our flight was late in the afternoon. We showed the email of the booking, they gave us papers to sign and brochures to refer to (eg. what gas to put in the car, rules/conditions in using the car, etc). We made sure that we ask them how to input the phone numbers in the GPS and that the GPS was in English (the prompts/instructions at least). 

ToCoo Car Rental
All-inclusive rate from June 8-16 was 51,400 yen for a Nissan March (Nissan Car Rental). Boot is a bit small (one medium size luggage) but since we had prior knowledge about this, I packed our stuff in one medium and one small (cabin luggage). We were able to put both in the boot! It came with GPS - characters in Japanese but audio prompts in English (phew!). It was a good thing that their GPS accepted phone numbers of destinations. It was very accurate. For some of our destinations without phone numbers, we had to refer to the tab where I plotted them in google maps. I looked for the place in the GPS map and set an estimate location. It worked!

First destination in the GPS, Swanky Hotel Otomo in Sapporo. That's about 46kms from the airport, but an hour drive! Yes, speed limit is mostly 50kph in Hokkaido. So when driving, make sure to allot MORE time than what it usually takes you to travel a certain distance. The google maps estimation was accurate after all.

The boys were settled, seat belts on, route to destination set, maps and tab ready (just in case) and we were off.
driving to Sapporo
took a photo of our rented car so we won't forget which one it was

Along the way, we saw a big grocery store and stopped by to grab snacks for the following day's long drive to Otaru and Shakotan Peninsula.

hairy crab

After buying 2 bags worth of snacks, we continued our drive to central Sapporo. It was getting dark and we didn't want to be out in the streets very late (although in some of our roadtrips, eg. Europe, we got lost on the way to the hotel at 1am!).

We arrived at the hotel, dropped the bags and the boys, parked at the designated parking lot about 2 blocks away, and walked back to the hotel to retire for the night. We booked 2 rooms (next to each other) as they didn't have an available room that could accommodate the 4 of us, during booking.

Swanky Hotel Otomo
Chuo-ku Minami 6-Jo Nishi 6-6-14
Sapporo 064-0806
Phone: +81-11-513-1166
2 double rooms, breakfast included = 40,800 yen (3nights)
Private parking = 1200 per day (cash payment only)
Booked thru
(+) breakfast is included in the room rate (as per
(+) nightgown, toiletries provided (self-service from the cupboards at the lobby)
(+) within walking distance to eating places like Susukino Ramen Alley
(+) private parking available. Fee 1200 yen per day, cash payment only.
(-) parking is around 2 blocks away from the hotel itself

We put our things down in the room and went down to look for a place to have dinner.
From the hotel, we walked a few blocks to the main dining and entertainment area.
the sight of bikes parked along the streets reminded us of Amsterdam

We settled for McDonald's dinner of burger, nuggets and fries. After dinner, we walked back to the hotel. We had to sleep early for a full day of sight-seeing in Otaru and Shakotan Peninsula the following day. 
one of the rooms we booked. 
The rooms were quite small so it was a good choice to get 2 rooms. 
The bathroom was also a bit cramped as compared to Toyoko Inn. But it was not really
an issue cause we won't be staying too long in the bathroom anyway.

Hokkaido looked promising. We couldn't wait to explore more of this island.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please feel free to LEAVE A MESSAGE, ASK A QUESTION or SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCES, too. I would love to hear from you