Readers will know just how much I miss travel. In 2020 alone, I had to cancel twenty separate trips, so I’ve basically gone cold turkey on the travel front.
In the scheme of things, I realise how lucky we’ve been when it comes to the catastrophe that was the last year. I still have a job, we’ve remained well and our extended families are doing okay. I’ve only had to deal with the ever-present pandemic-related sense of existential dread and a heathy dose of boredom from time to time.
The news of a successful vaccine being rolled out was just what I wanted to hear. I’m realistic and know that it will be months before I get my shot and, even then, months more before we have any sort of an ‘opening up’ of society as we remember it. But having spent a nice walk around the Isle of Dogs fantasising about trips to Japan, I actually sat down and booked a trip for August.
I know, I know. There’s a good chance that I won’t be able to go. Either I won’t be immunised and able to travel, or Japan will still be closed to foreigners. I’m well aware it’s a gamble. However, I booked my flights with Qatar Airways as part of a flash sale, saving 50% on a Business Class seat. On top of that, the tickets are 100% cancellable with no penalty. I’ve also booked a hotel that has no deposit required and can also be cancelled up until 24 hours before I’m due to arrive.
With all those caveats, I’m still looking forward to it. In fact, I’m just enjoying having something to look forward to, even if it’s not definite. Will I be disappointed if I have to cancel? Of course. Am I enjoying planning how I’ll spend my time while I’m there? Most definitely.
Did I mention I’m going alone?
Yes! I’m traveling solo and looking forward to it. Put it down to lockdown cabin fever, but I think I’m going enjoy my own company for a little while. Lots of time out walking, lots of time soaking in the various onsen, people-watching in coffee shops and geeking out in Tokyo’s excellent stationery stores.
I was actually due to visit Japan solo last August, but the trip was cancelled due to…everything-going-on-in-the-world. I was pretty disappointed, but obviously, it got lost in the maelstrom of chaos that surrounded us all last summer. And the deluge of travel cancellations that happened pretty much at the same time. I think I got a little numb to it all towards the end.
We actually booked a trip to Japan last year, which is set for this April. I think we have less than a snowball’s chance in hell of going then, but it’s not a disaster – the whole thing was booked with points, so we can cancel with next to no penalty. And if we do end up going in April, then I’ll be a very happy travel-addict, enjoying two visits to Japan in a single year.
I make no secret of the fact that it’s my favourite place on earth and just can’t wait to visit my old haunts, catch up with local friends, bar-hop through Shinjuku Ni-Chome and eat far too much delicious Japanese food.
Now. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed that the vaccine is rolled out efficiently, that Japan starts to open up and, most of all, that it remains a sensible thing to do by the end of August.
Hope springs eternal, as they say.