Saturday, November 23, 2013

Two-month report

Well, a little bit late, but anyway...

Two months in to my Metz/Lux adventure, and I think I can say I've fallen on my feet pretty well. In a way, I'm a bit of an old hand at moving to new places now (I think my little self-profile blurb used to say something like I've lived in 9 cities in 5 countries, so now it's 10), but I was in Tours for a very long time by my standards, so of course it takes some adjustment to picking up and leaving all your friends and familiar surroundings.

There has been some positive progress on the friends front though. Everyone (at least those I interact with on a regular basis) at work has been really nice and welcoming, and a lot more social than my old work. I think it's largely down to the expat vibe. Even though the great majority of those I work with are French, a lot of them aren't from the region or have moved from Lorraine to Luxembourg, so they have a bit more of that good old open-minded expat outlook that can sometimes be lacking in our French amis. I went along to Friday night drinks last week (we only work Friday afternoons about once a month, so it's a tradition to go for a drink afterwards) and I've been out a couple of times with some of the girls from work as well. Tonight we're going to meet up for a raclette evening, yum yum. I also got to meet the lovely Andromeda of Blonde in France, so hopefully we can catch up again some time! I even (whisper) have been seeing someone (The Brit) for the past month or so...

The report is a bit more mixed in some other areas. I feel I'm doing well at work, although that's not hard because it is very easy. Bit depressing at times to be doing the same unchallenging stuff day in and day out (and with days up to 9 1/2 hours long, not counting lunch, that drags). But at least it's something. And it pays well. And... I just heard yesterday that my and my counterpart's contracts are being renewed for the whole of next year. A little stability? That calls for champaaaaaaaagne...

The commute is still going okay, although it is getting colder (we've had the first snow of the year, more on that later). I'm a bit worried down the track since I've heard a few horror stories about the trains descending into chaos over winter. It can definitely be wearing, especially the weeks where I have to do 40 hours in 4 1/2 days. The other night it was 9.45 pm by the time I'd eaten dinner. I'd only been home for 1 1/4 hours and by that time, it was time to go to bed. That's the worst part really, just having literally no time to do anything at all. It took me about 5 days to watch the Downton Abbey season finale since I only managed about 20 minutes a time before I had to go to sleep to get up again at 6 am. And then any administrative or other tasks have to be plotted out pretty carefully since everything's shut by the time I get home, and even telephoning from Luxembourg can be tricky (my cellphone bill last night was 30€, not that much, but huge compared to the 2-4€ I used to pay in Tours).

In a way, it's lucky I'm not home that much, because I live in a dank pit. Everything is covered with mould - I pulled out a pair of gloves the other day, they had some sort of orange mould growing on them. I grabbed a packet of breadcrumbs, it was just a block of mould. Worst of all, I unwrapped a theoretically sealed packet of Munchies I'd brought back from the UK with me, and had to wipe drops of moisture off the sweets before eating them. When it starts messing with my chocolate, things get serious! Between that and the depredations of Bob, it's demotivating trying to keep the place looking halfway decent, particularly when I'm only home (awake) for about 2 1/2 hours each day.

Even so, I've managed to explore a little bit of the Lorraine/Luxembourg region...

Protestant church on an island in the Moselle in Metz

View of the Moselle in Metz

There was no fricking way I was going in this church

The Luxembourg Philharmonic on a rainy evening

I had a lovely trip out to Rodemack, voted one of France's prettiest villages, with some work colleagues. We turned up too late to visit the castle, but still had a nice walk around the old ramparts and played a fun board game in a local pub

Church in Rodemack

Rodemack town walls. The middle arch is a reconstruction, the original having been blown up to allow the American troops in during WWII

Herb garden and medieval wall in Rodemack
I also took a trip up to Vianden with the Brit. This was my first time out of Luxembourg City, and it was nice to see a little bit of the countryside. As with Rodemack, we managed to miss actually going into the castle, but it was still a lovely little town. We had lunch in a Portuguese place - Luxembourg has a surprisingly large and active Portuguese community. I had a bifana sandwich which was very tasty, even though the photo on the menu made it look remarkably like a pair of shoes.

Luxembourg is so small that this cross-country trip is actually only about a 50 minute drive

In front of Vianden Castle

View of Vianden

Vianden Castle - it was apparently in ruins by the start of the 20th century, so it seems that much of it is a reconstruction

Vianden from the river

And as I said, we've already had the first snowfall of the year. I was pretty excited, although that might not last! It didn't stick in Metz, but it was properly snowing in Luxembourg and stuck around for most of the day.

Snowy fields from the train

In Luxembourg City
So two months down, and possibly many more to come...


  1. Lovely post Gwan - hope all continues to go well for you. Raclette evening sounds yummy, and as for the Brit, well, I married one so -- cheering you on :)

    Take care and happy holidays. Congrats on the successful move.

    1. Thanks Carolyn! I've been around Brits my whole life, but first time dating one. Bit soon for marriage chat though ;)

  2. I'm glad you're liking Metz! And that your contract was extended! That's awesome! And the Brit?! Wait, how did I miss this?!


    1. We've only been on a handful of dates, as you can see below my mum missed it too! I like to play these things close to my chest...

  3. Ditto what Shannon said...

  4. Geez, talk about slipping things under the radar, no chance. No big deal! :)

  5. Congratulations on the contract extension! And I too would like to know more about the Brit (bonus points if he's a Scot, but I'm guessing you would have said so ;-) ).

    1. Thanks! Nope, plain old English.

  6. Ooh, The Brit! Two thumbs up from me!

    1. Thanks, let's not collectively get too excited though :)

  7. Another place that looks like a fairytale!
    Glad to hear you are settling into your new home :)

  8. What a jam-packed post! Glad to hear your work environment is pleasant and that you've made friends with your colleagues. Sorry to hear about your lack of free time and your apartment though. Your chocolate's well-being is very important indeed. Those first two pictures are beautiful. Wow. And the Philharmonic in the fog looks like a painting. Unreal.

    1. Thanks, the Philharmonic photo was with my phone too! Just a shame the shadow of my umbrella got in to the frame.

  9. This "Brit" had better not be a Man U supporter!

  10. Oh Gwan, this post makes me so happy. It sounds like things are moving in such a nice direction for you (except for the mold!). I feel your virtual exhale. Would love more deets on the Brit too but in due time, it's still so new and exciting! Enjoy it. xo.


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