We got up at an ungodly hour, did the usual morning things and packed the last things. We had ordered the taxi for 7:40, so we got ready at around 7:30 -- and lo and behold, a taxi was already waiting. However, it was not clear to us that this was our taxi and, if it was, that the driver knew where we wanted to go. Asking him didn't seem to work really well, so we had to summon the just-out-of-bed innkeeper to ask the driver in Japanese. But then it was confirmed: this was our cab. So we loaded the suitcases, and after a short ride we were delivered to the bus terminal at the Herbis Hotel at just before 8:00 -- well before the scheduled departure time of our bus, which was 08:28.
A helpful bus-director pointed the ticket machine out to us, and the fact that there would be a bus leaving for to Kansai International Airport at 08:08. Why wait out at a busstop when you can wait in a (semi-)comfortable airport lounge? So we hopped on that bus, well ahead of schedule.
The bus did a small tour of Osaka's Kita district, the main business district. We walked through it right after our arrival in Osaka, but we were mainly focussed on getting to the ryokan, so we saw relatively little of all the attractions. The bus ride put certain landmarks that the Lonely Planet mentioned on our mental map, so to speak. We'll be going back to see a few things in more detail, that's for certain.
We arrived at the airport exactly one hour later than we had left the Herbis Hotel, at 09:30. Our flight was scheduled for 11:55, so 9:55 was the latest check-in -- so we were well ahead of our schedule. But when we checked the monitors, we saw that our flight had been delayed to 12:30. We had even more time in the airport than we thought.
We checked in to get rid of our bulky luggage. I saw the scales, and our combined suitcases weighed in at 45.50 -- well above the weight limit, but the check-in lady said nothing about it. We got away with that one. :)
After that, we checked out the shops. We bought two mochi sets for our parents, and then settled in an "Italian" café for the inevitable coffee (or tea) & cake. The waiter, who spoke suprisingly good English, presented a plate with one of each of the possible cakes they had on offer -- I think they were wax reproductions. There was the usual fare like strawberry shortcake and stuff like that, but he didn't know how to describe goma, other than that it was delicious. So klik took that and I took the other non-standard cake: apple & sweet potato pie, which amused the waiter greatly. When we paid the bill he popped up again and wanted to know how we liked our cakes. :)
We went through the security check, dodged perfume-selling ladies on the concourse and lounged about for a bit before we took the shuttle train to the gate -- right at the same moment as the flight crew. We had only a short wait at the gate before we could board. This time, we flew in a 777, which is a tad more spacious than the 747-400 we had on the way to Japan. This plane also featured personal interactive video screens, so you could select the movie you want to see on-demand, which is pretty cool. Mine crashed pretty badly right after take-off, and I saw a linux boot-screen scroll by...
It's just as well that we are pretty well-trained in sitting in one place and watching a screen, because that is what we did most of the time for the next eleven hours. Luckily we had a 3-seat row to ourselves, so we could move around a bit. There's not much else to say about the flight itself.
Then we arrived and we got in line for immigration. That, too, was a painless process (we hold a Dutch passport after all), and within fifteen minutes we arrived at the baggage belt that would come to hold the luggage from our flight. As we walked up to the belt, klik said: "Hey, those look like our suitcases!" And indeed, our two suitcases were just rounding the mid-point of the belt, with no other piece of luggage yet in sight! The transportation gods were certainly smiling down upon us, because we were sitting in the train for home scarcely half an hour after touchdown!
We arrived in Nijmegen without incident, took a cab home, had a shower and something to eat, and then crashed hard. We hit the sack around 20:30, because we were nodding off on the couch. :)
And so ended the vacation. We'll go back again, and this time it won't take five years.