I have a secret I've been keeping for close to 8 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, two nights 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 as a result of 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 has 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, which was only two nights, expired after 6 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 draws to a close in mid-December, I'm preparing to book my flights.
After celebrating New Year's Eve in various foreign cities, such as Christchurch and Paris, I can't resist the idea of celebrating in Tokyo.
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 heated seat and remote control
- buying some type of 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 by far 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 really do win them!