May 17, 2011

Travel in the Stone Age and Travel in the Iron Age

Traveling is fun, and planning a travel is fun, too.

My wife and I are now planning to travel to New York and Washington D.C. for our summer vacation. We really enjoy it.

Before I could use the Internet, planning a travel abroad was completely different from now. I call the age before the Internet the Stone Age. I'd like to write about travel in the Stone Age.

At first I, the Stone Age man, had to buy a travel guide, which was printed on "papyrus". At that time there was no good travel guide for personal travelers written in Japanese, so I used to buy a travel guide published by Lonely Planet. In the Stone Age of course there was no, so I bought it at a small foreign bookstore, for example Iena bookstore in Ginza. I loved such foreign bookstores, but in the Iron Age has wiped out these lovely foreign bookstores.

A travel guide published by Lonely Planet was quite useful, but it was full of words. I tried to decipher it with an English-Japanese dictionary and an English-English dictionary, which were of course printed on "papyrus", and I found where to visit.

The next step was to go to a travel agency in the "real" world to buy air tickets. There were small travel agencies selling cheap air tickets in old and small "caves". HIS is now one of the biggest travel agencies in Japan, but at that time it was one of such small travel agencies. In order to get the cheapest air tickets I went to such travel agencies and compared the prices of air tickets. To get real information I had to walk around by foot in the Stone Age.

When I visited Europe in the Stone Age, I used Aeroflot, because it was very cheap and fast. At that time airlines in Western countries could not fly over the region of Soviet Union, so they went a long way around from Japan to Europe. Aeroflot, which was managed by the government of Soviet Union, could fly straight from Japan to Europe. I took an old airplane called Tupolev, which was made of "wood", "cloth" and "fur".

I usually didn't book a hotel, because it was bothered. Travel agencies in Japan didn't reserve cheap hotels, in which I wanted to stay. I looked for a cheap and clean hotel in a travel guide published by Lonely Planet reading small letters. When I arrived at a city, I directly went to a hotel and looked over at it to judge if it was a safe and clean hotel. After checking it, I got into the hotel and made a negotiation with a clerk, who was usually an "Aarchanthropine" at that time. If there was no vacancy or the price was too expensive, I would try the next hotel.

Sometimes I made a hotel reservation from Japan. I should make a phone call or sent a fax or a letter. At that time I wasn’t used to speaking English on a phone, so I really got nervous.

Now in the Iron Age it's very easy to find a hotel. I search for a hotel on Expedia. I read comments about it, and I also check its website. I can expect what kind of hotel it is, and I have never been disappointed with what the hotel really is. After I have decided in which hotel I’ll stay, what I have to do is just click a button of reservation. And then the hotel is waiting for me!

In the Stone Age I had to buy a train ticket at the station, a ticket for a sport event at the stadium, and a ticket for a show at the theater. I wasn’t sure that I could get a ticket before I arrived there. Sometimes I couldn’t get a ticket and had to change my travel plan.

But in the Iron Age I can arrange everything while sitting at my desk. I met a lot of unexpected accidents, for example finding a "dinosaur", in the Stone Age travel. It was a kind of adventure, and very exciting. The Iron Age travel is easy and comfortable, and everything in it can be expected. I can’t do the Stone Age travel in the Iron Age again (because I’m not so young now), but I miss such travel a little.

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