Always Excited to Fly to Narita

Narita

What I look forward to when traveling is experiencing the culture. On the other hand, if there’s any part of traveling that I’d rather skip it’s the wait time – from the boarding, to layovers, to the actual flight. To make good use of the wait time I would have my ebooks ready, or connect to the WIFI and surf away. So I usually end up having tired and strained eyes from all the reading.

It’s different, though, in the case of all my wait times in the Narita International Airport in Japan. I actually look forward to every couple of hours’ stay here, and I feel like I discover new places or things to do in this airport every time I check in or drop by for a connecting flight.

Just like most places in Japan, the Narita International airport is efficient, safe and clean. The airport staff is polite and accommodating. WIFI is free, and connection is fast. On top of these, here are what sets the Narita International Airport apart for me:

Information at my fingertips

Narita has a chatbot named Bebot that travelers can use as airport reference guide. I was able to use this on my iPhone during my last trip, when I asked how to get to another other terminal. The responses were quick, accurate and delivered in a conversational tone.  After my questions were answered I was asked what I thought of the airport – and of course I gave it a thumbs up and said I loved it. Bebot’s response to this was rather very charming.

Narita Observation Deck

In Terminal 1 we were able to access the observation deck where we could view the airplanes on the runway. Access is free and the deck is located at the fifth floor. The deck is enclosed with steel fence, and there were several benches.

img_2335
View from the observation desk

NAA Art Gallery

Located at the fifth floor of Terminal 1 is the NAA Art Gallery. At the time, photographs of Mt. Fuji taken from different angles and seasons were being displayed. The photographers were friendly and even gave me and my husband a photo souvenir each.

IMG_9905
NAA Art Gallery at Terminal 1

Baggage storage

My last trip to Tokyo was for three days, and it was a stopover coming from North America en route to the Philippines. I did not want to tow my big luggage with me in the city, so I opted to avail of the baggage storage services of the airport. After paying the fee (around 520 yen per day for my medium-sized bag), I was given a claim stub and off I went. It was such a relief and convenience walking luggage-free to the city and to my hotel.

Postal service

The post office is located at the fourth floor of Terminal 1. I was able to send the postcards which I bought from the souvenir shops to family and friends abroad.

img_9912.jpg
Post office at Terminal 1

Japanese cultural experience

Travelers can get to experience the traditional culture of Japan through dressing in samurai armor and having a photo taken as a souvenir; or hands on experience on Ukiyo-e printing. Allow for at least an hour before boarding to be able to participate in this as there may be a queue.  I was able to take home my Ukiyo-e print, frame and display it.

At Terminal 1 the Kabuki exhibit shows costumes, wigs, and accessories. I am always amazed by the colorful displays in this gallery.

Souvenirs

I like Japanese souvenirs because they’re yummy, cute, colorful, and unique. My favorite purchases are green tea, doll-shaped rice crackers, Royce Nama chocolates, different flavored Kitkats, and Tokyo Banana. The stationery and pastries in the souvenir shops are packaged so nicely, I’m sometimes hesitant to take off the wrapping.

So far these are what I discovered and enjoy whenever I am at the Narita International  Airport. I’m sure I’ll have more visits to come (Japan is my favorite holiday destination!) and I will find more places and activities to rave about.

Have you been to Narita International Airport? What did you think of it?

Five Faves in Hahndorf, South Australia

Hahndorf

In my last blog I wrote about my favorite places from a weekend in Adelaide. Within those 2 days, me and my sister’s family were able to include a visit to the lovely town of Hahndorf.img_1112

Hahndorf is a German town in Adelaide Hills, South Australia. It is 30 kilometers away from Adelaide, and it took us about 30 minutes’ drive. I didn’t know what to expect – all I know is that my parents raved about it, and when I told friends in Melbourne that I was going to Adelaide for the weekend, all of them recommended having a visit to Hahndorf.

Boy, were they right! The main street was lined with quaint little shops and the pubs reminded me of an unforgettable Oktorberfest trip to Munich years ago.

Beerenberg Family Farmimg_1079

Our first stop was at Beerenberg, a family-owned farm and shop. They make their products from home-grown crops, and they offer strawberry-picking from November to April.  I was able to sample their different jams, and we got a few jars of slow cooker sauces. Beerenberg

img_1085
We also got some handcrafted popsicles – my sister got the dairy-free Raspberry Basil and I got the Choc Banana.

I was also able to buy some postcards which they mail for free.

Seasonal Garden Café

We had brunch here, which I believe is a family favorite of my sister and brother-in-law. Their menu says that they serve “simple, peasant food that is guided by what is available from [their] garden and from the gardens of local growers.”

On that sunny morning we asked for outside seating – this was in their garden at the back of the restaurant. They are vegetarian and vegan friendly, and their pastry display looked tempting.  Our brunch was yummy and filling, giving us the energy boost we needed for that day as we headed off to walk through Hanhdorf’s streets.img_1096

Rummaging Through an Op Shop

I’m supportive of op shops because they promote the reuse of items, which is my way of helping save the environment. I was glad I found the Christian Care & Share shop. My sister was able to get some clothes, and I had a good deal getting my duvet cover from this store for just $12!

Hahndorf Op Shop

Grass Roots

This shop sells vintage items, from garden tools to furniture. Though I did not buy anything, it was quite fun walking around and seeing these items being reused and recycled. I imagine if I lived nearby I would definitely get some of their items for my yard.

Vintage
Vintage finds at Grass Roots

Hahn and Hamlin

Now, Hanhdorf is lined up with several cafes. What made Hahn and Hamlin stand out for me was its red door and its interior’s cozy ambience (the fireplace was awesome!). They sell organic coffee and local cakes, and they have gluten-free and dairy-free pastries. After a couple of hours of walking, we wrapped it up with vegan pastries, and a hot cup of chai and soy latte for me and my sister.

I am glad I was able to see Hahndorf up close. I think in my next visit I should spend at least a full weekend there so I can check out more shops. I saw a couple of cafes claiming they had the best coffee – they’re the first in the list so I could see for myself. Then there’s the gelato place, soap shop, and then the vintage book shop….so many places I have yet to check out!