We’re home!

We haven’t been able to post in the last few days. Our last day in Osaka was a little busy. We started out the day by packing and cleaning up the room we had stayed in, and then headed to Umeda one last time for lunch with Hiro. We ate at his restaurant because he had to work all day, and seemed to want to say goodbye to us. We wanted to say goodbye and thank you to him as well, and I think Sean was quite happy to have okonomiyaki one more time.

While eating we chatted about some of the things left undone, and decided to take care of one last gift we had been contemplating. That started a last minute hunt for an item that we had previously had no trouble finding, but of course as soon as we decided to buy it we couldn’t find it. We eventually got our second choice because time was running short.

From there our luck seemed to change for the better though, as the cab we hailed to take us back to the apartment for our luggage turned out to be a stretched version and was a little bit larger than the standard cabs. So, our worries about getting 4 large bags and 4 small bags to fit vanished and we asked the driver to wait so he could take us to the train station. Luckily we had left the apartment with everything ready to go, and all we had to do was grab our bags and drop the key in the mail slot… and with that we bid farewell to the apartment we have spent the last few weeks in.

The next bit of luck was that the cab driver dropped us at the perfect entrance to the train station. We were relieved to find that the train lay just beyond the gate, with no need to drag our bags through the maze of underground passageways and stairs we have come to expect. Thanks to the taxi all we had was a short walk and one escalator to deal with, and our timing was perfect as we only had to wait 15 minutes for the next train to arrive.

40 minutes later we arrived at Hotel Nikko at the Kansai International Airport. We were looking forward to our stay a little, as we have become accustomed to excellent food and service from Japanese hotels. However, we were very disappointed by this hotel. It is a shame that it is the only hotel at the airport. I wish we had chosen a less convenient hotel back on the mainland (the airport is a manmade island 3 miles offshore).

Seeing the prices for the hotel food we decided to try a little eatery instead… but the food was so awful we just ate the better bits and then went back to the hotel for room service… which was worse. We also had breakfast from the hotel room service, which was another “American breakfast” only this one was not nearly as good… and it cost $80 for the both of us! The fruit was not very good, and the meat was pretty much ham cold cuts. The eggs were good though, and the toast was good… but they didn’t give enough butter. It was a disappointing end to our Japanese food experience.

After a night of fitful sleep on the most uncomfortable mattress we had ever slept on, we boarded another sold out plane back to America. We were already tired from a night of little sleep, but it was still hard to sleep on the plane somehow. At least the return flight is a bit shorter, and seemed a little easier.

When we landed in Detroit we both felt so glad to be home, and were eager to step off the plane and be in our own country again. Not that we didn’t love Japan, we just missed the simplicity of being in a culture that you are familiar with and being able to speak and read fluently.

Detroit was a bit of a pain. We had to wait for what felt like forever to get permission to offload the plane, but I guess it was only about 10 minutes of everyone standing crammed in the aisles. Then we had another huge line to stand in for immigration. After that it was waiting for our luggage… which they put on two different baggage carousels, so Sean had to watch one while I watched the other for our luggage… then we had to lug it all through customs. Customs is such a joke in my opinion. It seems you can just make up some reasonable amount for your purchases and you are stamped and let go. I don’t think I have ever given a customs agent a real price for what we have spent… it is hard to keep up with it. After that we had to recheck our bags and wait in another long line to go through yet another security screening.

After all that we only had time to grab a quick bite to eat before boarding our next flight. Which of course ended up sitting on the runway long enough to make our flight go from an early arrival to a late arrival. Evidently DTW has closed down some runways for maintenance or something.

But, yesterday, at 3:40 we finally arrived at RDU. That was a great feeling to be back at a familiar place, and know that home was only a few minutes away. Although… we knew it would take us longer than that to get there of course. First up was baggage claim, then we went to Sean’s mom’s to retrieve the car and spend a little time chatting with her before coming home.

It was great to walk through our own front door for the first time in nearly a month. Our exhaustion seemed to lift at the sight of it. We then shared some of our toys with Wendell like excited kids. It wasn’t long before we had a surprise visit from George, who brought us a digital picture frame loaded with wedding photos as a wedding gift. That was awesome! I had been wanting one of those for a while now, and planned to get one very soon for wedding and honeymoon photos.

Not long after that we all met Marie and Tim at Petco to pick up a freshly bathed Jack. He was so excited to see us! Our first sight of Jack was a little head bouncing up and down behind the counter at the PetCo grooming salon. We could hardly get his collar back on him. He was so excited to see four people he hasn’t seen in what must be forever to a dog.

We then went back home to enjoy some take out Carino’s food and the company of George and Wendell for a while before finally sleeping in our own bed. We missed our bed so much! After a month of sleeping on futons and hard Japanese beds, our pillow top bed was wonderful. We happily called Jack up to cuddle with us, and we were soon sound asleep.

Today we ease back into the real world… we are getting ready to go get hair cuts and do mundane things like grocery shopping for the next week. It is hard to believe that we have to go back to work Monday. It still feels a little surreal that yesterday we were in Japan. I miss it already.