Well, we are into January now and it’s treating me pretty well so far. I had a spectacular New Years Eve. I don’t think I can do it full justice by trying to explain it too fully on here but I’ll just give you a brief summary. We left the house fairly late after a few weeks and walked to Brandenburg Gate to celebrate the countdown with what was predicted to be about a million people. I have spent New Years in quite a few different countries now, but I have never seen fireworks like I’ve seen in Berlin on New Years Eve. *EVERYONE* has fireworks. The streets walking to Brandenburg Gate are lined with people, every few steps, with their families, friends and children, with champagne and other libations, lighting off insane amounts of fireworks and fire crackers. Some do make colours and something to look at. Others are purely to make a crazy loud BANG!!! that I never got used to. Bottles, paper, small fires in the street. Everywhere. Craziness.
Tonnes of people walking towards Brandenburg Gate. In truth, we didn’t get more than two or three blocks away from it. We could see the gate and the main fireworks display but there were too many people to get to the other side of the gate, where allegedly there was 2 miles of stages and food stalls and included performances by the Pet Shop Boys? Anyway, we didn’t get anywhere near that. But it was all good because we were in such a nice group of people who were all happy, fireworks were exploding all around us on all sides of the street and it was all very beautiful.
After midnight we headed to Tresor, a nightclub that I’ve been wanting to go to for at least 12 years. It’s famous to me for the music they play, and their record label. Tresor used to be in an old bank vault but it’s now in a huge old power station. I’ve never seen a club of this size before. It took us at least 45 minutes to figure out where all the four bars were in the building. Stairwells that lead to other bars, underground, pitch dark tunnels and DJ’s in industrial underground cages. It was so, SO fun and we stayed all night, without narcotic assistance! Staff were so friendly, it wasn’t as smoky with cigarettes as the other club we went to here and the air circulation was generally better, mostly due to the size of the place. Walking home in the Berlin sunrise was another highlight and the streets were filled with garbage that is still not all the way cleaned up.
We’ve been taking it easy since that night. I have been getting over a cold that I woke up with on the 30th but I feel much better now. Met up with some friends for dinner and today it has been pouring with rain and windy all day so we’ve been working in our next travel plans and bus routes/schedules etc.
I haven’t been really updating my blog too much on what’s been going on behind the scenes with regards to our future plans and where we are “settling down” as much as we ever do, after this stint of travel. We had shallow hopes of staying in Europe for work, but as I mentioned before, Europe’s not really in a good way as far as jobs go and we frankly just can’t compete with multilingual people holding EU passports. We always sort of knew in the back of our heads that we’d end up back in Japan, but we were keeping open to any possibilities in the meantime. Now that we are getting closer, and our allotted visa time in Europe is 2/3 done, we have to get more realistic and we’ve come to the conclusion that we want to give it a go in Tokyo again.
We lived in Tokyo for a little over 2 years from 2005-2007 and we haven’t been back since. I’ve missed it terribly during my absence. I love so many things about it. There are difficulties and challenges to going there, of course. One major one being a vegetarian that no longer even eats seafood as we did last time we lived there. It wasn’t too difficult to get by eating seafood there. Not eating seafood is going to prove a HUGE challenge, especially with the language barrier. I speak SOME Japanese and I can read and write SOME but I have a long way to go. Getting work, interviews, commuting and the massive strain on our finances getting set up are all going to be hard things to deal with at first, just as they were the first time we moved there. But we know we aren’t ready to live in Canada again. At least for now. Apart from our family and friends there, who we can still visit, there is nothing really there connecting us to a feeling of “home”. I worry about disappointing my family and friends by going there, but we have to do what is best for us. I know they’ll be worrying about us and the earthquakes. If it wasn’t for the tsunami of last year, I’m sure they wouldn’t be AS worried for us, but now that that has happened, it adds an extra strain on people, I know. And it’s worrying for us, too. But I am always resisting the pull to live in fear or to take the easy way out of things. It’s easier to live in Canada, in many ways. But I feel it’s also a compromise. It’s hard to explain and it’s hard for other people to understand. Basically I’d rather DIE doing what I love (travelling/living abroad) than die inside from not living my life how I want to. Okay, this is getting cheesy.
So, we are due to check out here on the 11th. We ended up extending our stay here by another week. And now we are planning a return to the Netherlands. We really want to travel to more countries on this trip. I really wanted to go to Paris. But since we have this big plans now of heading to Japan and we need to buy some pretty big plane tickets, we need to lay low to save funds! Holland is the cheapest way for us to do this. We found a beautiful room to rent in Haarlem which is outside of Amsterdam by about 15 minutes by train. We rent a room in a B&B but then the owners are going to be away so they are leaving us with their place to ourselves! The rent, being out of Amsterdam is a HUUGE savings for us. It’s pretty much the cheapest place we could stay and also happens to be in a country we are so in love with. It works out cheaper than renting a flat for a month in my own country, by quite a lot! I’m very excited to get to know a new part of Holland and explore a new small city. It’s close enough to Amsterdam that we’ll probably buy a monthly pass for the train to get back and forth. Groceries and whatnot are also slightly cheaper there than Germany.
We have a lot of adventure coming our way in 2013 but for now we’re going to take it day by day to enjoy our last week in Berlin. Staying focused on the present while being mindful of our bigger goals. Thanks for sticking with me!