The move went smoothly - it's definitely a #firstworldproblem when your biggest issue is that you're awkwardly perched on a chair in the middle of the room eating a pain au chocolat while other people work around you, cringing that they'll be judging your shabby IKEA furniture. Actually, the worst part was when I was unpacking my clothes on the other end and I discovered a pair of the dirtiest, mouldiest jeans you've ever seen. I've complained at length, I'm sure, about how damp the old apartment was, and since I wear jeans super rarely, they'd evidently just been sitting in my bottom dresser drawer gathering mould for the last nine months. I was horrified at the thought that the movers not only SAW these mouldbominations, they FOLDED them and PACKED them, obviously thinking that I was the kind of person who must, at all cost, have this pair of living dead jeans brought with her to a new country. I know, I know, they see all sorts of things and they're not supposed to judge. They definitely do judge though - the proof being that one of them remarked twice on how my new apartment was bigger than the old one and had a real kitchen. I suppose that kind of remark is just about kosher as long as you're coming up in the world, not moving *into* a hole. In that case though, you almost certainly can't afford professional movers - thank goodness my new work was picking up the tab, because it ain't cheap, let me tell you.
My second moment of shame last week was also related to mouldy, old stuff. I came downstairs one day and realised that my old laptop bag, also shamefully covered with mould, was sitting on the pavement outside my apartment. Odd... On further investigation, an old pair of my pyjamas (not mouldy, but well-worn to the point of threadbareness) and a shoe, missing its mate, were also on the pavement. Very odd. If you can believe it, apparently the rubbish collectors opened my rubbish bag, removed the items they thought unfit for disposal, and left them on the pavement!!! Can you believe it? This was NOT a recycling bag, just a normal bag for household waste (and don't get me started on the elaborate fortnightly schedule for throwing out different kinds of rubbish). I was mortified that my old clothes and mouldy bag were sitting on the footpath for all to see. Thank god the jeans were in a different bag and escaped the beady eyes of the garbage men, I couldn't take it if the zombie jeans rose again. What you're supposed to do with old clothes which are unfit for human consumption, I have no idea. I scooped them into a opaque black sack, put that into the official clear rubbish bag, and covered the whole lot with used kitty litter. Rifle through that if you please!
Anyway, that's a lot about garments of shame. The rest of the week was mostly taken up with long, exhausting trip to the supermarket, IKEA, etc., trying to fix up the apartment and get some ideas for future bigger furniture purposes. With the addition of a throw here, a couple of cushions there, my furniture doesn't look as bad as it did when the movers first deposited it, but most of it could definitely do with a refresh. Plus, I have more space to fill! Not the worst problem ever. There was also various DIY-type things to deal with: there were no curtains, and it was a bit of a hassle getting them (turns out getting curtains made costs hundreds of euros: the IKEA ready-mades are too long, resulting in some cat-related mischief, but they'll have to do for now until I can have them hemmed). We also hung up a clothesline on the back balcony - yay for being able to dry clothes without it taking a whole week and having clothes horses permanently cluttering up the place, and fixed a hook on the wall to hold the shower up. I've heard the explanation for why the French (and, apparently, Belgians) don't have hooks for their showers is because they prefer to take them sitting down, but after a week of sitting down to shower, I have to say the theory doesn't hold much water (heh heh). Even sitting down, it's incredibly awkward having to hold the shower head the whole time, you get cold because unless you hold it right above your head, your back or your front won't be under the water, and it's impossible to wash your hair properly. Even after hanging the shower head up, I still had to sit down since not only are there no curtains, there's not even anywhere to hang curtains - crazy! Eagerly awaiting the arrival of stick-on window transfers from Germany so I can shower like a real person.
Minor issues aside though, the new place is great. It's such a luxury to sit in the sunshine on my own balcony, with a book and a glass of wine.
|Jules getting Bobby used to the balcony|
And it's so great having a real kitchen with cupboard and counter space (still getting used to gas burners though)! Oh and a bath, so relaxing!
There's still work to be done - mostly boxes that need unpacking and sorting still in the short-term, and then longer-term new furniture purchases. But I have this week before I start work to make the place more habitable, and then I think it will be great! Jules stayed the whole week with me, which was a massive help, and it was nice to start getting our bearings and exploring Brussels a little bit. I'm definitely pleased with my choice of neighbourhood - thanks to the World Cup and evenings without internet at home, we already have a 'local' pub and have eaten at a few of the neighbourhood restaurants. Seems like a nice area! And of course, being a capital city - and, if the crowds watching the World Cup are anything to go by, a multicultural, multilingual type of place - I'm sure there's heaps more I can discover in the next few months.