Things of the Week #1 – Okay, the first week is over, it’s time to write a post. I think I just start writing what happened and then see if it makes any sense at the end.
I started the trip on Monday at 7pm in Budapest and after two boring overnights in Doha and in Tokyo I arrived to the Sapporo train station on Wednesday morning. I was looking for Nina, my good old Chinese Hustep classmate who arrived one day earlier from Huainan, she was supposed to meet me there. I didn’t have a smartphone and I couldn’t read messages since Monday, so after one hour waiting I left the station, not knowing what’s the matter. I went to change some Euros one metro station away, then one more station to my hotel to ask if I can check in earlier. They only allowed me to let my luggage there, and come back in 3 hours. It was raining of course and I had no idea how to kill the time. I started to stroll around and visit some random shops near the hotel. And guess who I ran into on the 4th floor in one of the million random shops, kilometers away from the train station? Absolutely correct, Nina herself! That was a really happy moment. She said that it was a miracle. I agreed. And to reduce the chance of similar miracles in the future, we went to a phone shop so I could buy a smartphone.
My biggest worry about my journey was that I’ll have some unforeseen expenses and I’ll be short of money at the end. Buying a smartphone on the day of my arrival is an excellent example for that (I know, maybe I’m not very good at foreseeing things).
I knew from experience that the trip to Sapporo will be followed by a strong jetlag and that if I fall asleep at 6pm and wake up at 4am, I want to do it alone. So for the first two nights instead of the cheapest accomodation ever I looked for the cheapest accomodation ever with a separated room. That’s how I found the place called Spa Hotel Sole Susukino. The entrance of the hotel was an elevator which went up to the reception on the 8th floor and the rooms were between the 4th and the 6th one where you could go by other elevators. I don’t know if this is a common sturcture for hotels but it was strange to me. In the room there was a capsule bed, a small table and a locker. Everything I needed.
The Spa in the hotels name was a hint for the free hotspring on the 6th floor. Showers, pools with hot water (45 degrees, to be precise), a pool with very cold water, sauna, self-cleaning corner with every possible shampoos and creams. Since I was a retarded foreigner, I got a paper which explained me step by step how to use hotspring. It said that “It is important to note that use of a bathing suit / swimsuit is not normally permitted”. Yeah, people are only allowed to enter fully naked. So that’s what I did. It was weird first, strolling around between old naked Japanese men but didn’t take much time to stop caring about it. And now I can say that hotspring is a really good invention. I went there three times in two days.
When I was in Sapporo for one semester, I joined to the university’s Piano Club so I could practice the piano and even try to socialize. I was the only non-Japanese member but that was perfectly fine. I always preferred the company of the locals over the other internationals, wherever I went: in my year abroad in Florida I joined to a full American soccer team instead of the so called International FC, in my semester in Warsaw I worked in a restaurant where only the boss could speak English, when I moved to Germany for my master studies, I was looking for apartments only where all the flatmates were Germans. And the lucky group in Sapporo I chose to be the only foreigner member of was the Piano Club. And it was a good choice. Without the people I got know there I wouldn’t have enough reason to visit Sapporo again. One of the members offered me accomodation for the weekend, I went to play squash with another one, I invited a few to cook lángos together and we made a few plans for next week as well. Besides that I also had Fumika, my classmate from last time who is a Cycling Club member, she gave me a bike and we went to a mountain next to the sea. And Nina from the first paragraph came here theoretically to prepare for her TOEFL exam but she’s really flexible with her free time so since Wednesday we could meet every day.
I really enjoyed all of these but I’m not sure what’s next. When I arrived, all of my programs were planned for this week and I had no idea what I’ll do in the second one. We’ll see.
Weekly Best Of
+ the excitement on the way to Sapporo that after so many months I finally started the journey
+ small things in Sapporo that reminded me of the time of my exchange semester: vending machines everywhere, sitting on Japanese toilets, bunch of annoying bicyclists on the pedestrian streets, the sound of the pedestrian crossings, the music in the convenient stores etc.
+ going through the programs that I’ve been planning for a long time: biking with Fumika, squash with Rie, looking around with Nina, cooking with the piano club members