Holland won from Denmark! I watched the match in a sports bar in Atsugi with some friends. After that we also watched Japan vs Cameroon, which was incredible. Quite a good atmosphere. When the match finished it was about 1AM, and I went to fetch my bicycle and went to the bus stop. It took me a bit more than half an hour to take apart my bicycle and put it inside the bag. I managed to fit everything inside including 3 out of 4 sidebags. The bus would arrive at 5:10AM so I sat down next to my luggage and took a rest.
I woke up at around 4AM when an old man from the bus company arrived to prepare for the arrival. He wished me a pleasant morning, and then told me to go home because I could not bring my bicycle bag into the bus. New regulations, apparently. Rather than choosing to deal with this setback rationally, I decided to fall asleep again. 30 minutes later I woke up again, and the guy told me that there might be a small chance that I could ride the bus after all. Another 10 minutes later a second guy arrived and told me it's no problem as there's plenty of luggage space. The first guy tried to convince the second guy to make me pay for a second seat because my luggage was normally not allowed on the bus, but the second guy told him to shut up and stop being an asshole (well, in my mind this is what happened. In reality the second guy was a bit more polite)
And on we go! On the bus, then waiting at the airport, checking in my luggage and paying for overweightness, then an 11-hour flight and suddenly I'm back in Flatland. I mean, Holland. I miss mountains already. I took a taxi from the airport to my friend's place in Amsterdam. All this time the reality that I was back in the country where I was born, without a way back to Japan, did not quite sink in.
The next day I woke up, my friend went to work, and I put my bicycle back together.
Amazingly, not a single part broke during the flight. I managed to put my bicycle back together in pretty much the state it was when I left Japan. Even better, because I waited until Holland to mount the new bicycle stand you can see under the rear sidebag.
When I was back in Japan I seriously considered the idea of cycling back home, but once back in Holland the idea just seems absurd. This is not a country of adventure, or at least it isn't to me. I just want to get home, so I took the train. Fortunately Amsterdam is not so big, and I was able to zigzag my way towards the central station without too much trouble. Cycling in Holland was a big adjustment for me, as I had to cycle on the right side of the road instead of the left side. Amsterdam's bicycle culture was interesting too: my bicycle usually stands out a lot, but in Amsterdam my bike was one of the least extravagant ones. It was also comforting to be able to park anywhere without having to worry about the police taking away your bicycle, like they do in city areas in Japan.
Sitting in the train the reality of it all finally set in. I had cycled over 3000km's from Tokyo to Kyushu, over mountains, in the rain, in the snow even. It was an incredible trip, and I finally felt the feeling of victory. I'm coming home again, after four years of Japan. Although I am unable to go back to Japan, the country I learned to love so much, for now, but I feel confident that I will return there sooner or later. In fact, the idea of returning there might prove an excellent motivation for me. Right now I'm back in Holland, and I'm a different person than I was four years ago. I'm very happy about that.
Getting off at the final destination, Groningen, I had about 15 kilometers left until I would really reach the last destination on my trip. It was a good ride. There were no hills. Of course.
I took a break at the lake near my home, the Zuidlaardermeer. I organized my things and prepared to surprise my parents at their home. They expected me to come home near the end of June, and they probably expect me to give them a call when I arrive at the airport. I don't think they expected me to just show up on my bicycle.
The sky is incredibly blue here. I have never seen this particular color of blue in Japan. It's intense.
I arrived home, parked my bicycle in front of the house, looked around, and didn't see anybody. I walked around the back, completely didn't see my mother sitting in a corner of the backyard, working in the garden. When I turned around and walked back I finally noticed her, and I very much enjoyed the surprised look on her face as she realized I was back home ^_^.
My father would come home from work later, and I parked my bicycle at the front of the house so he would notice it when he arrived. Again, things didn't go quite exactly as planned.. He arrived, parked his car, and came in from the back entrance! He never noticed me until he saw me sitting on the couch. Oh well, a minor failure, but the surprise in general was a great success! I'm back home now. The trip is over.
So what happens next? Good question. I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do with my life, but it's not something that I can just write down here in a couple of lines. The bottom line is, I have a goal, or a direction, that I want to work towards, but I haven't really chosen how I will do that. I'm planning to spend the next weeks deciding my course, which will affect what my life will look like after I leave this safe place again. Besides that, I have plenty of things related to Japan still left to take care of, so I definitely won't be bored.
And what will happen to this blog? Ever since I went to Japan five years ago I've been blogging - about daily life, Japan, cycling, photography, technology and my thoughts. This probably won't change. The topics might be a little different from now on, but the core theme is always the same: whatever is happening in my life, I will write it down here. A life blog. This post is published live again, no time lag. I'm up to date, and will continue to rant about my life. :D
Until next time!