26th of August 2019 – We arrive promptly at Schiphol Airport. We had taken an early train to prevent missing the flight because of delays. I do not want to miss my flight to Osaka. At Schiphol we look for a place to have lunch. An egg-sandwich shop is our final choice. I have a good lunch, although it is hard to eat because I would have to say goodbye to my family for a while.
It is time to check-in. Before I go and stand in line for the check-in, I say an emotional farewell to Katja, Koen and Jip. Suddenly I realize the moment is there to leave them behind. I will go off to Japan! We will be missing each other for a month or two. I give them a great hug and tears come to my eyes. That only makes it more difficult to leave them behind.
I set myself to go to the queues. Had done my checking in beforehand, so I can just walk on by to put my luggage on the conveyor belt. Koen and Jip are standing at a distance watching me slowly move forward in the queue to get my luggage weighed. After a scan of my boarding pass, the machine gives me a sticker. Mu backpack weighs eight kilos. I put the sticker on my luggage, on the rain cover I had packed my backpack in for protection. Finally, I have time for a last wave to the family and I head for the passport check.
Waiting and waiting
I am still me says the machine that checks my passport. So, I can get in the departures section of the airport. And then I have all the time in the world by myself. Waiting for two hours at Schiphol always means just hanging about a bit. Luckily, there is a space to sit close to a pianist, where I can scan through the Route Guide for a bit. In my carry-ons I have the Guide, a pullover, my earbuds and a charger, some snacks, and an inflatable pillow. In all peace I take a look at the first few pages of the Route Guide again and try to form a mental image of what I can expect of the coming time. Oddly enough, it only makes me more nervous and uncertain.
Saying goodbye to the Netherlands
The gates have been made known, so I can move through to the seating there. Waiting, waiting, and even more waiting. Then, finally, the gates open for Sky priority, business class and then for everyone. That means standing neatly in a queue again, before boarding the plane. In the plane, luckily, I have an aisle seat, so that is not too bad.