An unspecific timeline of a long layover

Even though the tagline of this blog was “adventures of the traveling duck” at some point, I wouldn’t consider the duck and myself frequent travelers. We’re too lazy and chronically broke for that. Despite that embarrassing lack of travel experiences for the self-proclaimed travel enthusiasts we are, there is one specific category of travel experiences that the duck and I could easily do without: spending too much time at Heathrow Airport. Some time ago, I learned that we would get to add another seven hours to the tally, this time bound to a comparatively tiny terminal 2, an experience the duck and I had been lucky to have avoided up until that point. Can you imagine the stress I felt beforehand, considering that falling asleep to then miss my flight or have my stuff stolen is one of my biggest travel fears? Thinking about all the things that could go wrong wasn’t fun. But the duck and I made it through and even ended up somewhat enjoying it –
airport memory duckwith the help of some purchased pals once the voluntary ones had left to catch their flight. This picture shows the duck among our seven-hour layover exploits, remembering this unexpectedly entertaining (and surprisingly expensive) airport session. Here’s how we got there: Continue reading

Coming “home”: Our first lesson in Berlin tramsportation

The duck and I have an unofficial tradition: Whenever we have moved to a new place, within the first few weeks, we (try to) embark on a little trip to Ikea because, in a way, if you block out the price tags, your local Ikea could be almost anywhere in the world! I’m pretty sure that, in a few years’ time, right next to Billy bookcases and Kallax shelf units, Ikea will sell Teleportbas portals connecting to Ikeas worldwide, for those who would prefer to pay for their Lack side table in Yen rather than Euro.
From time to time, while we’re at our favorite Swedish furniture store, the duck and I like to sit back, sip on a cup of free coffee or tea and do some reading (to combat those stationary bookmarks). This is also the perfect setting for reviewing how we got to where we are, literally.

Ikea duck

Isn’t this snap of the duck at the Ikea restaurant lovely? Just wait until you read about how fun our day was leading up to this photo.
Do you remember how we were afraid that we would find taking trains outside Japan utterly terrifying? Well, this is one story that, while not necessarily proving those worries, is definitely related to the feared different experiences in public transportation:

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Tokyo on wheels

Each time the duck and I travel around Tokyo we are a bit intimidated by how huge it is! Not only when we, once again, find ourselves inside a packed train are we reminded of how many people actually live in this metropolis; walking around Shinjuku station is always an adventure in and of itself when the crowds of people just add an extra level of difficulty to trying to find your way to that one specific spot that you know you’ve seen somewhere around here… Even when you go to the less touristy spots, there are lots of things that remind you of just how densely populated certain areas of Tokyo are; take Shinonome, for example, where all you seem to be able to find are huge apartment complexes that line all those canals Kōtō ward is known for.
A dense population also means rather dense traffic. That, in turn, means that a car is not necessarily the perfect mode of transportation for getting around those areas in central Tokyo.
First, let’s do a little guessing game: What is the duck posing in front of?

Bicycle duck

If your answer was ‘lots of bicycles’ you get 25 Duck Bonus Points that you can exchange for a 25-minute break from bad puns (just leave this blog now and come back in 25 minutes)! So, as you might have already guessed, this post is about bicycles:

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Ducktectives in Action: Solving Tokyo’s Underground Mysteries

That should be our new tag line! Because, even when we’re not actively trying to solve puzzles, we are constantly trying to debunk the mysteries of life in Tokyo (and acting like normal human and duck-y(?) beings). However, this is not what this story is about.
This story is about the former: solving puzzles – and I’m writing professional ones, almost like the ones solved by real literary detectives! To be honest, as a kid I wanted to become a detective and solve exciting cases like the infamous Sherlock Holmes and his not so well-known great-grandniece Shirley Holmes; in fact, in 5th grade I wrote my first play – a very badly structured murder (non-)mystery; and a year later I started my very own detective club with two friends – we had a cool logo but not a single case. As I grew older I found out that being a detective isn’t as adventurous as I had always imagined it to be because, strangely, most real-world detectives don’t seem to emit gangster pheromones that mysteriously attract criminals the way Detective Conan does, so I gave up my dream of becoming a detective and, instead, solved crimes and puzzles vicariously through Holmes, Dupin, Monk, Conan, Professor Layton, and their puzzle-solving pals.

Ducktective - ready to solve riddles!

When the duck and I, on one of our fun subway journeys, discovered an ad for the Tokyo Metro Underground Mysteries, an exciting game that sends you through central Tokyo solving puzzles, our Sherlock-sense began to tingle; we quickly assembled the Shinjuku City Pals (our Baker Street Boys) and set off on an all-day mystery adventure through some of Tokyo’s Metro stations: Continue reading