Tylor Skory's Travel Blog

Archive for the ‘City’ tag

Exploring Tokyo

leave a comment

Oh Japan. There’s so much to say about today. It’s was just an amazingly jam-packed day, full of more than I could possibly fit into this post. But I’ll do my best!

My grandpa and I had a tour scheduled for the morning. It was a city tour and then a trip to Tokyo tower. We got up nice and early at 6:00am and met for breakfast at 6:30. As we arrived in the port, there were people outside banging on drums and welcoming us. They typically do that when we arrive someplace (which I think is really cool).

As we were eating breakfast, Dan invited Ben (the other kid on the ship) and myself to go out and explore the city after we got back from tour. It worked out pretty well that we had the city tour beforehand, because I got a really good lay of the land for explore later. We had a bus drive us around, narrating our route through the city all the way to Tokyo tower. Tokyo tower looks exactly like the Eiffel Tower, but in the middle of Tokyo. From the observation deck, we were able to look around and see just how massive of a city Tokyo really is. I’ve never seen anything like it before. As far as you could see were skyscrapers. Even in Sydney, which was a large city, you could see in the horizon where the buildings stopped and the city ended. But here it just went on forever!

Driving around was interesting because it was a fascinating mixture between the traditional Japanese culture and the modernized city life. Because America is such a young country, we don’t really have any ancient culture like some other places do. I find it really fascinating to see these buildings and style of architecture that are so unique and special to to Japan.

We got back to the ship and ate lunch then I met up with Dan and another couple who were coming along. Our plan was to visit the fish market (which Dan and I had driven past on the tour earlier, so we knew how to get there), and then visit Ginza (which is the iconic Times Square-esque area of Tokyo). The fish market was really facilitating. They really utilize every inch of restate here and that was especially evident in the back alleys that they used to set up shops. They were really only back-alleys in the sense that they were the space between buildings, but they were nothing like what we have at home. I don’t think there was a single, empty alleyway. Each one had shops or vending machines or something down them. It was so amazing to see.

After passing through the fish market, we separated from the other couple to go inside a mall type place. There was a lot of indoor restaurants and shops and even an art gallery. We stopped off to use some free wifi for a little bit and chatted. After that, we walked around some more and even decided to pop down and take a look at the subway system. Neither of us wanted to actually attempt to ride the subway, in fear of getting lost, but it was really fascinating to go down there and see all the hustle and bustle.

When we finally emerged from underground (it was a bit of a maze down there), we found ourselves in the heart of Ginza. It was awesome. The place was so busy. There were so many stores and shops and places I had no clue what they were. I’d never been in a large city like it. It was just incredible. And again, even with thousands of people and hundreds of stores, we were walking past a random noodle house and noticed a few passages from the ship. We popped inside to say hi. We even stopped in the Apple store (which was ginormous) and looked around. It was four stories tall.

We managed to get back to the ship without any problems. We actually only walked down the same street the entire time, so getting back was simple. We probably walked 7 miles or so in all. I was exhausted by the time that we got back to the ship. Apparently there was some really rough water that evening that people were having trouble sleeping through but after that day, I was knocked out!

Tokyo was really cool. I definitely want to go back and stay longer!

Written by Tylor Skory

March 13th, 2012 at 7:49 am

Posted in Tokyo

Tagged with , ,

Trolley Ride Through Guam

leave a comment

We arrived in Guam and I was pretty eager to get on land. Not that I’ve been sea-sick or anything, I was just excited to take a break from the cruise routine and tour the city. It took a while before we actually got off the boat. We had to go through customs, eat breakfast, etc. Additionally, we didn’t have an excursion booked (they were sold out) so there wasn’t a real schedule we were sticking to. We got on a shuttle (provided by Princess) which was constantly going to and from the ship to a hotel in downtown guam throughout the day.

Once at the hotel, we took advantage of their free wifi and grabbed a snack from the cafe. I was able to chat with my family back home for a little while (surprisingly clear FaceTime for public wifi). Once refreshed, we decided to buy a day pass for the trolley system. I’d actually never been in a city that had a public transportation system like this. It was awesome and supper efficient. The day pass cost us $10, but you could also buy them cheaper for larger chunks of time. Basically, there were a series of bright red trolleys that ran all over the city. They each followed a colored path, and using one of the many maps located around the area, you could determine which trolley color you needed to take to get to where you needed to go. It was really, really cool. And a new trolley appeared at each stop around every 5 minutes.

So, with our day pass in hand, we basically just hopped around the downtown area of guam and explored. We stopped into shops and malls and just had a really good time. Again, it was super conveniently and really fun to be able to just pick a spot on the map, and wait for that colored trolley to come and pick you up and take you there. I really wish more cities would do this because it worked out really well.

Guam seems like a really nice place. The downtown area reminded me a bit of the local downtowns in my area (think Royal Oak or Ann Arbor) but there were a lot of name brand stores and a few attractions (I saw a carnival looking ride, an aquarium, etc.) and the beaches we beautiful. I’m talking crystal clear water. The downtown area was definitely the nicest. There was an interesting mixture of glamour and urban life on the island. I noticed a lot of nice cars and big mansions up in the hills overlooking the water. But there was also a lot of abandoned buildings and run down houses. The downtown area was definitely my favorite spot.

It was interesting too, because most of the people were Japanese. Obviously the island has a lot of Japanese history, but being American now, I hadn’t really expected that. It really felt like we were in Tokyo or something. It was interesting. All of the signage was in both english and Japanese. And even the trolley drivers (who weren’t Japanese) could speak Japanese. It was really surprising.

On a side noteā€¦ It was funny, as we were driving around the city, we passed people on the street that I recognized from the cruise. I just laughed to myself when we walked into a random store or dove down the street and was like, “Oh, I know that person!”

So, all in all, I’d definitely say the the Guam trip was a success. It actually worked out really well that we didn’t have an excursion (because frankly, it was the one place that I didn’t really like any of the tours they were offering). I thoroughly enjoyed the self-guided trolley tour and even want to go back again to explore some more!

Written by Tylor Skory

March 11th, 2012 at 7:46 am

Posted in Guam

Tagged with ,