I have a secret I've been keeping for close to eight months now. And no, I'm not about to become a father!
This past February, I attended the New York Times Travel Show and won a drawing for a free trip to Tokyo, Japan.
The prize, courtesy of Japan's tourism office, included round-trip airfare on Continental Airlines, a two-night hotel stay, a $150 train voucher, and, oddly, a small (cheap) sculpture of a “lucky cat,” which was mailed to my home.
I gave little consideration to visiting Japan on my trip around the world, writing it off as too expensive. And while I enjoyed sushi and learning about Buddhism at the time, I have a deeper appreciation for both due to the last few years.
Also, in talking to other travelers who have either been to Japan or speak of it as a dream destination with a sparkle in their eye, I've become a little more curious about what the country and culture have to offer.
Earlier this year, I considered taking the trip in late August or early September, so I would be in a position (weather-wise) to climb Mt. Fuji, the highest peak in the country. When my parent's sold their house, my priority was a return to Colombia.
The hotel stay, only two nights, expired after six months, as did the train voucher. The real prize, in the form of the round trip airfare, is valid for 12 months.
As my second stint in Colombia closes in mid-December, I'm preparing to book my flights.
Once the NYE partying dies down, I'd look forward to:
- Exploring the food (sushi) and tea culture
- Riding a bullet train
- Visiting Mt. Fuji
- Playing arcade games I don't understand
- Using a toilet equipped with a heated seat and remote control
- Buying some futuristic technology not yet available in the USA
- …and whatever else I can fit into two weeks
Have you been to Tokyo or that region of Japan?
If yes, please share a few suggestions on what I should do there. I'm giving myself about two weeks, excluding the transit, days to/from Washington, DC.
This is the biggest prize I've ever won, so the next time you're at a travel show, be sure to enter those drawings because people win them!