Sunday, August 10, 2014

I'm alive, and when I'm not ranting, I'm having fun (and fish)

I've been very slack with posting, but I have actually been doing fun things - too many to fit in one post, so now that I've actually bothered going through my photos, hopefully I'll get back up to date. But first, a little rant. I got my deposit from my Metz apartment back (yay!), minus 100€ (boo!). The landlord had listed 5 reasons why he was withholding 100€. Some I didn't argue with - it's true that the walls did get quite dirty, although seriously, these walls stained if you coughed in their general direction - and I didn't bother contesting that he had to "clean around the wall sockets and the fuse box", although in my opinion if you don't notice these things at the time, you shouldn't really be able to decide that there was a problem several weeks later. And also something about the sink, which I didn't really understand, so I didn't say anything about it. My issue was that he charged me for some "degradation" of the wall heaters, which I have no clue about - I literally used all of them combined maybe ten times while I was living there, since it was a mild winter and I'm not one to turn the heating on full bore at the best of times, and even worse, he charged for fixing the flush on the toilet (one side of the dual flush didn't work), which I knew I had pointed out to him the first time we met. It's not so much the 100€ - if he had charged just that for the painting I probably wouldn't have argued, it's the principle that they're basically free to charge whatever they like for any and all damages, real or imaginary, and they know that you essentially have no recourse. What am I going to do - he knows I've left the country and I'm not likely to try to follow the matter up at a tribunal or whatever.

I wrote back and pointed out that whatever supposedly happened to the heaters, it wasn't my fault, and that it was kinda sorta unreasonable not to fix the loo the whole time I lived there and then to charge me for the privilege of fixing it for someone else, and received a rant back in return, saying did I think it was normal he had to clean up after me and paint the walls, and it was lucky that he did it himself because it would have cost a lot more if he had hired someone. Um no, that's why I didn't say anything about those parts, but logically if you value fixing 5 things at 100€, then fixing 3 things should cost less than that. I'm not the one who priced out the repairs, buddy. I didn't bother replying to that email, since it obviously wouldn't have done any good and would have just annoyed me further. Now that I've whined about it here I'll try to be all zen and let it go. Although, insult to injury, he sent me the deposit back in the form of a French cheque. French people and their cheques *rolls eyes*. He knew I was leaving the fricking country, what good is a French cheque to me? Okay, Jules is reading over my shoulder and laughing so I'll start zenning out now.

Anyway, on to fun times! Still settling in (no friends), but I've been exploring Brussels on the weekends with Jules (and my sister, but more on that another time). We've done a couple of little day trips, but for the moment, here's what we've seen around town -

Obligatory visit to the Grande Place - most of the time I stay away from the city centre, too many tourists!

While the World Cup was going on, Mannekin Pis was dressed up to support the team

Did you know that Mannekin Pis has a lady friend, Jennekin Pis? How egalitarian

I've visited the Musées Royaux de Beaux Arts before, but today Jules and I became friends, so we can pop in for "free" whenever we want

And see a little squirrel on a leash

As well as visiting the Musées Royaux de Beaux Arts, we also went to the Natural History Museum. This was largely at Jules's prompting, who really really wanted to go see the dinosaurs. I went along in a spirit of girlfriendly martyrdom, but I was actually surprised that it was really cool. The star attraction is definitely the collection of 30 iguanodon skeletons discovered in Belgium in the 19th century, the largest find of iguanodons to date. The skeletons are assembled upright, as was believed correct at the time. Scientists now think that they probably walked on all fours, however the fossils are too fragile to move, so they remain in their original positions. As well as the fossils, there was a lot of interesting dino information, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the visit. Much of the rest of the museum was being renovated, and the mammals section wasn't that interesting anyway, but it's worth a visit just for the dinosaurs.

Some of the iguanodons

Jules giving an iguanodon thumbs up (you can't really see, but they have big spikes on their thumbs)

A reconstruction showing a more accurate depiction

Dino chicken!

A tiny little prehistoric crocodile thingie

These snickering prehistoric sea creatures were quite amusing

Arrrgh! Jules is under attack from a T-Rex!

Me too!

Cow and chicken. I have no idea why they arranged them like this

I think I do a pretty good imitation of a demented koala
Today after visiting the Fine Arts Museum (and, thanks to our new membership, not staying so long that we were exhausted), we enjoyed a stroll down to the pretty Saint Catherine Place, the place to go for fish in Brussels. A trip to the legendary Nordzee/Mer du Nord fishmongers had been on the cards pretty much since I moved here, and although the rain started pouring down basically as soon as we arrived, it did not disappoint. It definitely lived up to its reputation for cheap, tasty street food (or semi street food, since as Mary Kay pointed out on Twitter, you do get proper crockery and cutlery, but there's no indoor seating, you just have to eat standing up at the counter or at a couple of tables). A bowl of fish soup, one portion of shrimp croquettes (i.e. two croquettes) and two glasses of champagne came to €22.50, which considering that it was all very fresh and tasty, I'd call great value for money. And it was nice huddling under the umbrellas with a hot portion of soup while the rain poured down around us. Definitely a good place for a snack if you're in Brussels, I'll be back!



  1. The first apartment I lived in in Valenciennes, they took so much out of my deposit. Some things were ridiculous. And they took out money because I didn't have something done with the water heater. When I moved in, they said that it had to be done once a year, and as I lived there like 4 months, of course I didn't have it done!

    We're thinking of possibly going somewhere in Belgium for a day over the long weekend. Don't know if you'll be around?? Nothing is planned or sure yet though.


    1. Ugh, yeah it's just the thing that you're basically at their mercy and have no come back that annoys me.

      Damn, I will be in Luxembourg for the long weekend :( We might be going to the Côte d'Opale for a weekend some time, it would definitely be good to meet up if possible!

  2. Glad to see a return of the "silly poses" photos (and I see it's rubbed off on Jules, ha ha).

    The landlord found so many faults that I think you're lucky he didn't charge more! (I am not saying he was justified, just that he could have charged *even* more, given that you couldn't have done anything about it. Mx

    1. Museums are always good for silly poses. The point is it's obviously completely arbitrary since it didn't matter whether it was for 5 things or 3 things or whatever.

  3. Bruce Koala here!
    If you think that looks like a demented koala my dear I'll spend the rest of my life up a gum tree.
    My bloody oath, you obviously haven't seen my koala sheila when I get back from the pub late on a Friday.
    Now that's demented mate!.

    1. An Australian who can write coherently? I don't believe it

  4. I didn't see his lady friend when my sister and I were there last year. Oh my.

    1. She's behind bars down an alley somewhere. I had heard of her before but it was the first time seeing her since we happened to be close by looking for something else.


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