Gaby Book 14 ~ The Girl ~ Chapter *18* Homeward Bound

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*Chapter 18*

Homeward Bound

Once off the ferry our convoy reconvened.
“Good a bye laydeez,” Vincenzo told us.

Neither he nor Genji were going to the airport with us, well there was really no need so we made our goodbyes there on the dockside. It was a little bit weird, especially with Genji; I think Dad had picked up more Japanese than Genji had German! Vincenzo of course, being Italian was all kissy kissy – not like Toni but like over the top air kissing – even with Dad and George.

So this is it, the end of our Japanese trip, far too short on the tourist front but very successful on the cycling front although not without its moments! I’m pretty sure most people would call it a success, our sponsors certainly got good coverage and I’m sure our presence stimulated interest in the fledgling Japanese women’s racing scene. Not only that but it was good fun.

It’s not a long drive from ferry port to airport, scenic it’s not but our memories of Japan are already formed.

“What’re you thinking?”
“Just about the trip,” I allowed.
“Yeah,” Mand sighed, “it’s been a bit of a blast.”
“Wish we were here longer though.”
“Real life tends to get in the way, I start school when we get back.”
And I’ve got a date with a plumber next week.

Ken dropped us off at departures, of course that meant more goodbyes; George presented him with a bottle of whisky, which produced the most animated response I’ve seen from him all week. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not been a grump, just the opposite in fact, going out of his way to help but a lack of common language does limit your interaction somewhat. He departed leaving us with a pile of cases and about four hours until departure.

Check in, security, immigration – each one ate more of the time but we arrived airside with a couple of hours to kill. Of course our gongs and trophies caused some delay but apparently from curiosity rather than any other reason.

“Okay everyone,” George got our attention, “lunch is on me, Vincenzo suggested we use some place called Esduel Binario which is near our departure gate. I suggest if you want to do any last minute shopping you do it on the way, we’ll meet there in thirty minutes.”
Pretty much everyone wanted to check out the shopping opportunities so there were no arguments there.

“What did George say?” Mand asked as I grabbed hold of my cabin bag.
“We’re eating at some place called Esduel Binario but we get to shop on the way.”
“Phew, I forgot to get my rents anything.”

Of course airport shopping isn’t much different wherever in the world you are, designer labels, alcohol, chocolate, cameras, books and generally some sort of tourist souvenir store. Here in Haneda this was supplemented with a Kimono store and more food outlets than you can shake a stick at. Whilst I already had presents covered you have to look don’t you?

I did manage to spend the last of my Yen on some sweets, a calendar and a copy of ‘Cycle Sport’ that somehow had made it to the other side of the globe. Mand rejoined me as I admired the Kimono’s having likewise spent up.

“I can’t believe how much they are.”
“Yeah, even the cheap ones are €2000,” I agreed.
“They are nice though,” Mand sighed.
“I hate to think how much that stuff I wore in Kyoto was worth.”
“Yeah, so what’s this restaurant called?”
“Esduel Binaro?” I suggested.
“Well there’s a place over there but it’s not called that.”
“Well I don’t see anymore further on,” I observed.
“I bet that’s it then.”

The sign over the frontage was in some fancy script which I deciphered as Esse due il Binario , which looks like it does Italian – well that makes sense I guess. We were the first to arrive, only just; George turned up in short order, everyone else joining us over the next couple of minutes mostly bearing extra bags. Our manager secured seating, the staff pushed a couple of tables together to accommodate the nine of us.

‘All passengers for Lufthansa flight LH717 please proceed to gate 117’ the tannoy announced in German after giving the same message in Japanese and English.
“Looks like us,” Dad stated.

We’d eaten lunch, pizza and the salad buffet, only leaving when the staff started giving us dirty looks as we sat taking up valuable seating – they weren’t exactly full. So now we were occupying the less than comfortable seating nearer the gate. The 15.20 flight looked like it would be pretty full so whilst they’d called the flight there wasn’t much point in rushing, you just end up sat on the plane longer.

“You all right Mand?”
“With what?”
“You know, flying.”
“I’m trying not to think about it.”
“’Kay, what seat you in?”

We trundled out to the end of the runway to await our turn; I’d grabbed the window seat so I could see what was going on. There was a short queue waiting for takeoff but eventually we taxied onto the tarmac, the engine noise changed in pitch and we started rolling forward. Sayonara Tokyo, sayonara Japan!

“Here, one each,” Mand stated passing Jules and I a plastic bag once we were airborne.
“What’s this?”
“Open it and see.”
Jules was quicker than me, “thanks Mand, you didn’t have to.”
“You’ve looked after me all week, it’s not much.”
Not much was an ‘I♥JAPAN’ t-shirt, Jules was blue, mine pink, oh joy – its not that I’m ungrateful but pink?
“Cheers Mand.”
“I got one too!” she beamed holding up her own example in red.
Why did she get me pink?

It’s a long flight of course, almost twelve hours and eight time zones. This time I stayed awake for several hours, one meal and a showing of Mama Mia! Before succumbing to sleep about nine Japanese time. I was woken by Mand poking me in the ribs.

“Wake up, time for dinner.”
“Dinner?” I managed with a stretch.
“Well that’s what the attendant said.”
“Isn’t it morning,” I suggested squinting out of the window into the wide blue yonder of forty thousand feet.
“Time zones?” Jules suggested from the end of the row, “The plane’s on CET now.”
“So what time is it?” I enquired as I quizzed my watch.
“Five o’clock,” my sister advised.
“In the morning?”
“Duh, you tell her Mand.”
“In the afternoon,” Mand sighed in exasperation.
Well how was I to know?

It seemed like no time at all after our second feed before our imminent arrival at Frankfurt was announced. It wasn’t fully dark yet but daylight was waning quickly even above the clouds, as we dropped the first indications that there was land below appeared, twinkling lights I’m guessing somewhere in northern Bavaria. Not just lights but apparently rain too – what a welcome home.

We were due in at seven fifteen but we were actually a few minutes ahead of that docking at the terminal. One good thing was our ability to fast track immigration, the Japanese and other non-EU passengers having to jump through hoops to get into the country. We all congregated at the carousel for our bags, we had a few minutes to wait of course, even the German’s aren’t that efficient!

George took the opportunity to address us, “So, training as normal Mittwoch, we still have races to ride.”
“Yes boss,” Anja sighed.
“Your dad picking you up?” Tina enquired.
“No it’s the train tonight.”
“Here come the bags,” Jules advised as the carousel juddered into action.

Once we’d collected the cases and exited into the concourse we made our farewells and everyone went their own ways.
“I’ll go fetch the car,” Dad told us, “I won’t be long.”
His idea of long and mine are clearly two different things, it was gone eight when our Mercedes finally hove into view. Somehow Dad got our enlarged luggage loaded and we started the final leg of our journey home. I fell asleep almost as soon as we got on the autobahn, ha, I scored a seat by the door, Mand was in the middle this time.

It was ten o’clock when we arrived at Chez Bond; all anyone wanted to do was go to bed after the longest day ever!

“Come on, Gaby, up and at ‘em!”
I grabbed my alarm clock and blinked several times before the figures came into focus, seven o’clock, urgh.
Back home, back to school and – oh sugar, I’m supposed to be at Thesing’s in like ten minutes!

“I’ve got prezzies but I’ve not emptied my case yet.”
“Ooh, I like prezzies.” Con cooed.
I was late getting to the bakery; I missed getting coffee but Con made me a take out which I was sipping at as we rode into school.
“So did you go to that Akibar place?” Steff enquired.
“If you say so.”
“Uh huh, it’s pretty cool.”
“So’s Iceland,” Brid mumbled.
“What did you guys get up to?”
“Usual stuff,” Pia offered.
“It’s okay, Gab,” Nena put in, “you can mention her.”
“So erm?”
“Everyone came, the church was quite full,” Steff advised.

I felt guilty all over again for not being here to attend the service; instead I was half way around the world enjoying myself in Tokyo. I felt a tear run down my face.
“Come on, Gab, don’t take on, you know she wouldn’t want you making a fuss,” Nena told me.
“I know, it’s just, well I should’ve been there with everyone.”
Talk about a guilt trip, I’d barely thought of stuff going on in Ahrtal while I’ve been away but the ghost of Claudia Fischer won’t go away.

School of course is the same as ever; for once this year I’ve not really missed anything though.
“Max,” I allowed, pausing to let von Strechau catch up to me.
“When’d you get back?”
“Late last night.”
“It’s a long way,” he noted.
No shit Sherlock.
“So um you want to do something after school?”
Seriously? Where did that come from?
Why am I even continuing this conversation?
“Erm, you could come and see Gran.”
Clearly he’s put a lot of thought into this – not!
“Er maybe some other time, I’ve got to sort my stuff, from the trip like.”
“Right, yeah of course, maybe later in the week.”
Sugar, did I just almost commit myself to going out with Max? What the hell am I thinking of? I am so not interested in boys, Max von flippin’ Strechau in particular!
What now?

Marty was on cloud nine, at least I know he’s not trying to get in my knickers, ew, what a thought.
“So they’re coming over for Weihnachts,” he grinned.
“Cool,” I agreed, I’ve missed Bern; we got pretty close this year. “Where are they gonna stay? We don’t have a spare room now.”
“That’s okay, they’re gonna stay at the farm, we’ve got plenty of space.”
“Not in the barn I hope,” I joked.
“Well it was suggested.”
“You’re kidding?”
“Why you, Preiser!” I made to slap his arm.
“Ha ha ha.” He chuckled.
“I’m guessing everyone’ll be cooing over Andrea, hey we’ll have to do something special.”
“She’s not a year old yet.”

Maddy Bell 18.11.15

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