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Japan - Cherry Blossoms and Tranquility

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Japan & Russia on HAL Westerdam - April 2019

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Part 13 - The Finale

Our last full day on board was a day at sea. When we walked to the Lido Market to have breakfast we encountered all kinds of wild animals along the pool.

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For dinner we had made plans to get together one last time with all the couples with whom we shared so many great experiences during our excursions. The last hours were marked by the same joy, laughter and interesting conversations as the days before. It was a joy and privilege to have met such wonderful people again and when we think back to this cruise and the time spent together we miss them all.

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Unfortunately the beautiful sunrise the next morning marked the final hours on the ship.

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When we sailed underneath the bridge in Yokohama and past the Queen Elizabeth, the Red Brick Warehouses of Yokohama were shining in the sun. The beautiful wooden Yokohama Terminal is usually a very enjoyable sight. Today, however, looking down at it from our breakfast table, made us realize that we would leave beautiful Japan again all too soon.

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We had arranged to join a transfer to Shinjuku with a Canadian couple and found the driver with the sign at 9am sharp. In Shinjuku we went to our respective hotels. Birgit and I had booked the APA Kabukicho Tower as a simple place to stay just for one night.

Again, the size of the room made everything a team effort... you always had to wait until the other was hiding in the bathroom to be able to move.

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We headed out again right away to make the most of the day. First we took a train to Ginza. The world of Fendi, Armani, Louis Vuitton, Hermes and other luxury brands.

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Much to my despair we managed to find the world‘s largest UniQlo store, where Birgit left me in a corner for more than an hour. I watched the busy street outside being turned into a pedestrian zone after 12 o’clock (because it was a weekend day) and waited to be collected again.

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With the added load of a shopping bag we walked back to Tokyo Station for lunch. The famous „Ramen Street“ hidden in the maze of the underground tunnels was our destination. The best restaurants could be found by looking for the longest lines - some were so long that we joked about people probably getting in for dinner. We picked a restaurant and were rewarded with some of the best Ramen we ever had.

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After lunch we left the station through the exit of the grand old brick building, followed the avenue leading away from it and headed towards the Imperial Palace. The watchtower’s reflections in the water of the moats were a beautiful sight.

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The next subway took us back to the hotel for a little rest. Later in the evening we met Brenda & Neil again, the Canadian couple with whom we had shared the transfer, for some Yakitori in Memory Lane.

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To add a bit more to the experience, we took a train to Shibuya and looked at the one minute madness of the Shibuya Crossing once more before heading back to the hotel.

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The next morning we took the train and monorail to Haneda Airport. We had time to spare and had not had breakfast yet, so we looked at the upper level of the terminal and found the restaurants and shops designed like a Japanese Village - nice!

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A Ramen place caught our attention and you know by now what’s about to come. We had a last Ramen in Japan.

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In one of the sweets shops we bought a „Tokyo Banana“ for dessert before heading to our gate.

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Thank you for following along on our trip to beautiful Japan - a place well worth visiting. I sure hope we were able to convey that it was a beautiful cruise. Not just for the country but also because of the great people we met along the way. Again Birgit and I enjoyed Japan immensely - so much that we already booked another Japan cruise for 2021.

If you are interested in more photos and places of Japan, you might like the more extensive travelogue of our previous Japan cruise. http://www.travelandcruise.net/travellove_en/Our-Trips/Celebrity-Millennium-Japan/celebrity-millennium-japan.html

Arigatou gozaimashita and Sayonara!

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