Shogatsu vacation

What else did I do during my trip to the Netherlands? Well, I spent an enormous amount of money on clothes, shoes, accessories, perfume, and drugs (medicinal not otherwise). And in between all the shopping we visited a few of my favorite restaurants and enjoyed some very un-Japanese food there:

An ‘uitsmijter’ with everything at Ludiek in Veldhoven

Finished all the Indonesian food at Indonesia in Eindhoven

Gyano loves to ballroom dance, and he’s been going to classes for about 2 years. Just after Christmas he had a ‘dancing exam’, with dozens of other dancers. We decided to support him during his exam, but he really didn’t need us cheering for him, because he turned out the be the best dancer of the people in the silver category. I already thought he was pretty amazing on the dance floor and much better than the others, but I just assumed that I was biased as the big sister, but apparently the jury agreed with me and gave him the highest grades of all of them! Good job little brother!

Gy, the best ballroom dancer

Yasu and I also went to Utrecht. First we made a stop at Eelco’s (Minke’s boyfriend) house, which is a big farm he rents for about €22 per month (all inclusive). It’s that insanely cheap because he works for an organization (‘antikraak’) that fills vacated buildings with inhabitants, to keep the buildings alive and to prevent them from being vandalized. Minke also lives in an antikraak house, but she doesn’t work for the organization, so she pays about €175 per month. Considering the size of her apartment, the fact that she has unlimited use of gas, water and electricity, and that it’s located in the center of Utrecht, one can still say that her rent is insanely low too.

Merlijn, Eelco, Stijn and Minke

After our visit with Eelco and his twins, we headed for Utrecht to admire Minke’s apartment and meet up with Negin in the city center. We went for dinner in a restaurant where all the waiters sang, and not the way we sing at karaoke (horribly) but they really stopped waiting tables to ‘perform’ a song professionally. They could all be winners of the next Pop Idol show. After dinner we went to a nightclub to dance the night away… Well, the others did anyway, I’m not such a big fan of claustrophobic nightclubs. But Yasu really seemed to enjoy the dancing so I decided to stick around for as long as I could, but man was I happy when we left!

Negin, Minke, Yasu and Lou at Minke’s

Unfortunately, all good things tend to end, and so did my lovely trip home. On the 3rd of January we had to go back to Schiphol because our jobs in Japan were waiting for us. My parents drove us to Amsterdam again and kissed me goodbye at passport control:


Normally I always cry my eyes out during painful goodbyes, but this time I kept my eyes dry… Well, the night before I had to say goodbye to Gy and I couldn’t stop the tears and the goodbye-parents-tears came a couple of hours later somewhere in midair somewhere between Europe and Japan. Well, I’ll probably be back in 6 months or so!

On the way to Paris

On the way to Europe we flew with KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines), and that airline really exceeded our expectations. On the way to Japan we flew with Air France, and it being KLM’s partner we were expecting a similar experience. Even without the whole upgrade-downgrade-‘lose your reserved seats’ debacle, Air France didn’t even come close to providing an equally enjoyable flight. First of all, the entertainment system was boring and inconvenient, but we did have individual screens. But the worst thing was that the flight was self-service, meaning that people were constantly walking around the plane in search of something decent to eat or snack. But they didn’t refresh the drinks, so after an hour all the tasty drinks were gone and they when they finally brought out the promised Häagen-Dazs ice-cream it was gone in a few seconds, even though by the time Yasu went to get some only 4 people had walked away with ice-cream and our seats being right next to the galley. Besides that the onboard crew was rude (well, maybe it’s the French thing) which really made you not want to ask for a drink you did like. I could fill some more space with complaints about Air France, but I think you get the picture. The moral of the story, fly KLM not Air France! I know I will next time!

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