This post is long overdue, mostly due to the fact that it did not feel to me as if we were travelling at all in December and January.
But that isn't the whole story... although December set a record for not travelling!
Osaka & Kansai
We spent the entirety of December in Osaka, without even a single side trip to a nearby city or province. It was the most "normal" month we have had in a long time, and both managed to do a lot of work and get a semblance of routine in our lives. I managed to go running very frequently and converted Celine to join me with yoga practice.
Christmas and New Years' Eve were uneventful, although we did attempt to go to a local temple on 1st of January (as is the custom in Japan, if you don't already go at midnight). It was too crowded though, and we just ate takoyaki instead... I think that's what a lot of other people also ended up doing.
Mid-January, a friend came to visit us in Japan, and for the last 10 days in the country, we ended up seeing a few more places in Kansai: Nara, which is always worth a visit, Arashiyama in Kyoto, which both Celine and I had never made it to before, and Himeji Castle, which I had been to before during the renovation. Out of all Japanese castles, this is the biggest and one of very few which are original and have not been rebuilt after the war. Himeji City pretty much is a one trick pony, but it's just a little over an hour from Osaka by train, so well worth the detour.
Back to London
So, this was the end of our Japan experiment (for now!), as no teaching job materialised for Celine. When we landed in London, culture shock hit us hard, especially since the UK is gradually turning into a more grim and hostile place, thanks to Brexit, politics and the general disillusionment of the population, no matter how they voted in the referendum. It's always good to catch up with friends, but this time, I knew upon landing what had been coming for a long time: I will not call London home in a very, very long time to come. Being told on a daily basis how I don't belong, having random strangers asking me "When are you going home?" might not be as bad as downright hostility or racism, but it does not make for a country I feel comfortable living in.
A whirlwind Germany trip
After a few days in London, we set off to Düsseldorf to catch up with friends and family on the other side of the canal. Mostly, there was food and dogs! I also managed to pick up a new snazzy backpack for our upcoming trip, which I had sent to my mum. We then popped over to Leipzig for a gig and also to meet a friend, and then spent a few days in Hamburg, mostly to look at what is going to be our home for the spring and summer. A nasty cold managed to grab hold of me, so I spent most of the time in our Airbnb, pitying myself.
Coming up: Mexico, Colombia and Hamburg!
On 1st February, we landed back in London, where we are spending 10 days, followed by another 9 days housesitting in a small town near Bath. This year is going to have a lot less travel than the previous two years, but before we settle in for the spring and summer, we will be spending 6 weeks in two countries we've been meaning to see for a long time: Mexico and Colombia!