Sunday, July 05, 2015

Tokyo Metro Scenes

It doesn’t matter where you are located in Tokyo, as long as you are near a Metro, you will be able to reach any corner of the city just a matter of minutes. The metros go fast and regularly; you are at your destination in just a few stops.

Thus, truly the best way to discover the city is with the Tokyo Metro.

Although very few people speak English in Tokyo and the personnel at the metro stations rarely speak English as well, all stations in the city have their English translations. Moreover, the ticket machines have an English version and once inside the metro car, the destinations are announced in English as well.

So if you have metro experience, deciphering and riding the Tokyo Metro is really easy peasy.

Compared to the Netherlands, mass public transport is much, much cheaper here. We found the city quite affordable and were a bit perplexed why it’s been tagged by the media as a very expensive city. Perhaps the real estate is what makes Tokyo on the list of the most expensive cities in the world?

Nevertheless, taking the Tokyo Metro also gave us a peek into the local life and culture of the city.

These pictures were mostly taken in Chuo City.

The black suit is the official uniform in Tokyo for the salary or corporate man. Very few women go back to work after childbirth in Japan. The culture is still very conservative and male dominated.

He did stand out amongst the black suit uniform =)

It is standard etiquette in Japan to wear a mask if you have some sinus issues. I was sick with Bronchitis which turned to Pneumonia (which I did not know first) and was coughing in public. The locals gave me angry stares so I bought quickly a mask.


The mobile phone generation.

The Tokyo Metro maps. Except that it is in Japanese, it is not really that complex as the Tube in London or the Metro in Paris.


The metro trains do come on time =)

I saw a group of older women dressed in kimonos but was too shy to take a picture of them so I took instead a picture of their backs. Wearing kimonos in public is still done in Japan. I have seen many doing it.

Travel Period: November 2014
Destination: Chuo City (Tokyo), Japan

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Saturday, July 04, 2015

Tour de France in Utrecht 2015: Behind the Scenes

We arrived from the Greek Islands today to a city brewing with so much activity. Utrecht is hosting the Grand Depart of Le Tour de France this year, which means before the Grand Depart takes place, which was earlier today (4 July), 3 days of activities were already lined up (1-3 July) in the city attracting lots of international attention, the media, sponsors, tourists, guests and Tour de France fanatics.

We could not even get to our neighbourhood by car as the roads and neighbourhoods surrounding the centrum are barricaded. Which is good I guess as I really dislike it when people come to our area and park their cars in order to get to the city centre.

So we quickly did our food shopping at a nearby supermarket (the roads to our usual supermarket of choice was blocked as well so we had to search somewhere else) and then afterwards, we hit the road on foot to the cycling tour. We ended up near the Jaarbeurs area where the athletes take off, along the route on the Overste den Oudenlaan.

The weather was also searing hot. I was sweating madness. It is not really that nice and comfortable to walk under a very hot sun.

On the streets, sidewalks, shoulders and every green space near the route is packed with people. Many were just sitting on the grass chilling away with a beer. On the sidelines along the route, people were screaming and cheering whenever a cycling athlete passes by. It was difficult, quite impossible in fact, to get a space to watch the stage 1 of the race cycling event. I mean, many people have come early to reserve their space!

Utrecht this week is a one big showcase, thriving with so much energy, passion and excitement. I hear several languages spoken around me. The crowd is a good mash of locals and internationals. There are lots of festivities going on. Fun, parties and such.

Helaas, the heat, the crowds, as well the tiredness suddenly crept into our system. We woke up rather early this morning for our 10AM flight. So we decided to call it a day and went back home.

Tomorrow, the last day of the event in Utrecht, we might drop by again. So we shall see.

Here are the pictures behind the scenes and along the sidelines.

When it gets too hot, you need an ice cream, a gelato one. I ordered a lemon and a mango.

The special balcony of the event sponsors.

The French police, the Gendarmerie, are also around.

We had to laugh about this, the stoplight in front of the building. A passersby, who obviously is not from Utrecht commented to his group of friends how on earth did they install a stoplight in front of the building when vehicles would not be able to see it. Well, this building is just a temporary one, erected for the Tour de France.

Spectators have camped on a nearby football field. Truly diehards.

Utrecht, Netherlands
July 2015

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