What a hectic trip! Over the last two weeks, I have stayed in Japan, Amsterdam and Hamburg.
It’s a profound relief to have travelled safely throughout, to have had a fun time with my whole family as well as Luca’s, and now to be back home.
I stayed for four days in Tokyo and three days in Kagoshima. These seven days were devoted to many family gatherings. Initially, I was determined that I was going to keep my body clock operating on UK time because it was a short stay. But in the end, I took some melatonin to sleep longer to adjust for the local time on the first day, and it worked well and helped me to enjoy all the family events.
My flight back to the UK was delayed by two hours, and so I missed the connection in Amsterdam. The airline rebooked my flight for the following morning, which meant having to stay in Amsterdam overnight.
The craziest part was that I had to walk through the huge Schiphol Airport to find their service desk and get a hotel voucher, and then take a shuttle bus to a hotel. The following morning, again I had to run at the airport to seal a bag of two bottles of wine that I had bought at a duty-free shop in Narita Airport the day before and then find the check-in counter. Schiphol was so vast and busy with millions of people travelling for Christmas!
After flying from Amsterdam to the UK, I arrived home and repacked for Germany. The following day, Luca and I flew to Hamburg to spend Christmas with his family.
My first impression of Hamburg was “so organised!”, and I observed many Scandinavian elements in the city. Christmas décor in each home was very neat and absolutely beautiful.
We had a warm welcome from his family, a great time, Christmas presents, family gatherings and a variety of homemade meals for four days. This was the very first time I had met them. On the last day of our stay, Luca’s grandmother prepared a three-course meal for dinner. It was more than just a meal; she also told us how happy she was to have us over Christmas. I got very emotional and couldn’t hold back my tears. This was the most fantastic Christmas experience I’ve ever had.
My Japanese family barely celebrates Christmas as the New Year is more important, and Japan’s Christmas is overly commercialised for couples rather than family-oriented. I used to be too independent to share the festive season with family and tended to prioritise my work over going to see them.
Family time – To celebrate it, more and more I feel like developing ties and bonds with family, and it’s becoming everything for me. I love this quote from Mother Teresa:
If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.