Quito to Tokyo – Four flights, only one missed

The musical maestros on the terrace in Quito
Sunset over Quito from the hostel roof terrace

We are currently sitting on the Hikari Super Express Shinkansen train from Tokyo to Kyoto which will cover a few hundred miles, stop 5 or 6 times all in just over a couple of hours.

This mode of transport is right up Jen’s street after the 36 hour trip from hell which took us from Quito to Tokyo via Bogota, Mexico City and Tijuana and included us missing one of our connections.

Leaving the hostel a 4.30am wasn’t exactly easy but we’ve done a few early starts already so we sucked it up, feasted on pancakes at Johnny Rockets at Quito airport and all was well. The brief two hour flight to Bogota was a little bumpy. The plane lurched a good few times and even had the stewardesses looking a bit panicky. That may have been because somebody spilt their coke all over the place, from the ceiling down.

We eventually landed and set off for the international transfers place, all good so far. We sat and waited for our plane to board. With ten minutes to take off there was no sign of the boarding, the big screens had no information, we didn’t hear anything over the tannoy so we wandered over to see what was going on. Turns out we had missed the plane. Brilliant. It must have been the only plane to take off on time in South America this year.

There followed some not very happy words from me in garbled Spanish trying to explain to the two stewardesses who had been allocated to sort out our situation just how important that flight was. Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum were not that helpful but did smile a lot and walk very slowly. Neither seemed to have a clue what to do so we set off back through the airport to buy a new ticket and find our luggage. Considerably poorer we were at least going to make our connection in Mexico City and there were a few positives: new stamps in our passport (Columbia), we had broken up the 10 hour waiting time and we ate some excellent rotisserie chicken at Bogota airport.

The rest of the journey to Tokyo all went pretty smoothly if you excuse the fact that the AeroMexico plane we were to call our home for 18 hours had last seen improvement works in the 1970s. This was a seriously old plane. Before we got on board we were trying to work out what films we would like to watch but by the time we had sat on the plane and had a look around we were more concerned about whether the plane would make it there at all (and for the record, no, there were no films).

One positive I did manage to read the new Dennis Bergkamp book written by David Winner. It is exceptional and a great insight into one of the modern greats. Fingers crossed Bergkamp returns in a coaching role to Arsenal at some stage.

As a brief note on our two days in Tokyo so far – unbelievable, wish we had scheduled more than two days! A fuller blog post on Tokyo will follow!

The last appearance of the beard (at Senso-Ji Temple