Last January on my way back to Australia from Canada, I took a strange flight path through 4 countries, on 4 airlines, over the span of 40 hours. The following was our route:
Ottawa > Toronto > Boston > Tokyo > Gold Coast.
As part our travel itinerary we had a 6 hour layover in Narita International Airport (NRT), which is close to Tokyo, Japan. When we arrived at NRT Airport we were exhausted but determined to stay awake to adjust our internal clocks. Deliriously tired, I didn’t know how I would stay awake for the 6 hour layover until I stepped off the plane and realized that it was going to be no problem at all. Often, airports are pretty standardized and don’t offer very much in terms of things to do, but the NRT airport was full of free cultural activities to teach people about Japan, authentic restaurants, and Japanese shops.
I have never been to Japan so I really wanted to try everything, and I also didn’t want to rest because I knew there would be no going back if we did. We started by watching a traditional Japanese instrument show. Cultural representatives taught people to play the instruments and showed them how to fold origami.
Next, we tried on Japanese kimonos. My boyfriend was VERY against doing this but it’s easy to wear people down when they’ve been flying for over 25 hours. This was hilarious because next to the Japanese ladies we were actually giants, but they insisted on dressing us anyways. In the nicest way possible they expressed some shock with how big we both were in width and height which I thought was funny. We had to wear these funny socks for flip flops that they gave us to keep. They wouldn’t let me stick my giant size 8.5 woman’s feet into the men’s shoes, which still would have been too small for me, and were horrified that I even asked. I had to wear the tiny woman’s wedge flip flops; the largest size covered half my foot.
After the kimonos we decided to grab some traditional Japanese food. There were a lot of restaurant choices so we just decided to randomly pick one. We ordered ramen soup, chicken skewers, edamame, and matcha green tea; everything was incredible!
After breakfast/dinner/lunch (at this point I had no idea what meal it was) I converted some money at the Airport Currency Exchange and went shopping. I bought polaroid film, which is much cheaper in Japan than in North America or Australia, and they had some funny themes like Hello Kitty which I obviously bought. I also bought some traditional Japanese green tea, which came in a nice tin. I spent quite a bit of time looking in the cute shops and wanted to buy everything.
Before we knew it, it was time to board our next flight. Before leaving I quickly sent a few postcards to my family to tell them what a great time we had in the Japan airport. I also got some funny Japanese drinks for the flight and then we were on our way to Gold Coast, Australia.
Many people dread a layover when traveling by air but I actually prefer to have at least one when I’m on a long flight path. As someone who hates airplane bathrooms and airplane food (airplane eggs are the worst) I really like having a break in between to stretch my legs, go to the bathroom and eat real food. I also find it fun to have long layovers in different countries because you get to experience a bit of that country’s culture.
Have you had any fun travel layovers? Let me know in the comments below!