In order to see that sunrise, mind you, I did have to travel to Japan where I was flying to see my oldest child during her junior year abroad. Little did I know that I would be flying on the one remaining airplane that has no back of the seat or personal video devices. Seeing those tiny movie screens dangling from the ceiling was a blast back to the past. I immediately recalled what travel used to be like with small children before the days of individual screens or, worse, before the age of iPhones and iPads! Does anyone remember when you had to bring with an entire bag full of activities to keep the small fry occupied? Now you have everything you need in your jacket pocket. Of course those were the days when they would let you bring on a diaper bag, a snack bag and an activity bag, all in addition to your regular suitcase. How do parents travel these days when you are barely allowed to bring on one carryon item?
At least in those days of shared inflight entertainment, more often than not, you could game the system by booking an aisle and window seat leaving you a free middle seat to spread out on. Those days are gone, mi amigo! We were crammed shoulder to shoulder with nary an inch of legroom. I remember when my daughter Ming was a toddler we had so much space between the seats that I would bunk her down in a little nest of blankets and pillows on the floor in front of our seats so she could sleep flat as a pancake. Completely illegal I’m sure even then but the pursers never even knew she was down there (actually now I wonder what on earth they thought happened to the child in seat 28C?).
OK, looong, looong 15 hour flight from Philly to Toyko, even longer walk down memory lane, but we finally did arrive in Narita airport. I kept waiting for a big “You are in Japan” moment but instead it was just “Excellent! Subways!”. You see, the airport itself is so easy to navigate and literally everyone I interacted with spoke such perfect english I felt just like I was arriving in NYC except with slightly more Asian faces. A stop at baggage claim, whizz by an ATM to pull out yen, a brief stop at the well marked rail ticket counter to buy a metro pass & a ticket for the Narita express and, well within 15 minutes of disembarking from the plane, I was on a train rolling into the center of the city. I wasn’t sure how I would proceed from that point, I had rather assumed I would slump into a taxi and be hand carried to Ming’s dorm (yes, she just miraculously grew from a toddler to a college student on a junior year abroad; well, that's how it seems to me). But, when the train pulled into the station, I saw the metro connecting me to her station was just one escalator down so I figured, what the heck.
Yay! And this is the joy of travel, no matter how much we might complain about flying overstuffed cattle cars, the fact that we can leave one side of the world and reunite with a loved ones on the complete other side of that world in less than a day is really, truly magnificent. We are so lucky and so spoiled to take that for granted