Saturday: moving day #2.
10:30 a.m. Made some of the Fauchon coffee I had purchased, which was a good way to start what was certain to be a long day. Walked over to the house with a couple of smaller bags with some linens and other random things, thinking we could start organizing before moving in the afternoon (Jack had agreed to purchase the K.'s furniture, as she was moving to the US and it wasn't worth storing or shipping, and most of our large items are being stored). Entered the house and...it was still full of junk everywhere. All we could do was stare. Was this garbage they had left for us to dispose of? Were these the items that they meant for us to keep? We sat for a while in somewhat stunned silence and then headed back to the apartment, leaving our 2 bags behind. Got caught in a downpour on the way, which my umbrella was unable to handle completely successfully. Back at the apartment, I called K.; she indicated that her parents would be back to retrieve the remaining items. I told her we were planning on moving at 2, and she was confident they'd be done by then. I was skeptical, given their prior progress. Drying out and naps ensued.
2:30 p.m. Between the intermittent rainstorms, we managed to cram all our remaining stuff in a tiny car and head over. The house was empty, much to my surprise. Not clean, but at least all the trash and remaining items were gone and we could start making the place our own. K.'s parents had left us: 5 tumblers, 1 tiny coffee spoon, a colander, and a badly scarred frying pan. We went to the grocery store to load up on cleaning supplies and then to the hardware store to see if they had any vacuums. They were out of the cheap one so we got a mop and bucket (came with free nail polish!) and a whisk brush and dust pan. I started cleaning the kitchen while Jack tried to access the internet using the cable modem.
4:00 p.m. It's been chilly here recently, with highs in the low 60s and wind and rain. The apartment was consistently above 80, the one window that opened providing little in the way of ventilation. Here, where the rooms are taller than they are wide, all the heat that we generate must be riding in a thin cloud around the (12 foot? higher?) ceiling. The thermostat says it's 70, but that seems somewhat optimistic. I tried to open the bedroom curtains using the pull cord to get some more light in and they fell out of the ceiling. Sigh. Managed to rig them up so they give us a little privacy from the apartment building on the other side of the block, the back of which faces the back of ours. Jack had the foresight to think that some of our tools would come in handy, so eventually we should be able to re-hang them. They are a strange fabric, kind of a midnight blue of the stuff you might use for the outer layer of a winter jacket. In fact, they remind me of the one I was issued at my last job.
7:30 p.m. Our ride to the party (coincidentally the same woman who helped us only hours ago) arrives. On the drive, our first time out of Brussels proper, we chat about various things and it comes to light that a laptop computer and a book, both mailed from other European countries, took significant amounts of time to arrive: 2 months and 6 weeks, respectively, for having to go through customs. Two months! That's almost unthinkable. I have already begun to think of the movers as some type of uber-professionals, as they will have to deal with the municipality to get the temporary no parking permits, and will probably have to deliver the large boxes through the 2nd storey windows rather than the narrow staircase. "They do this all the time; they know how to handle it," I find myself frequently muttering. Hopefully they can usher our items through customs quickly. Hopefully. Yes.
1:45 a.m. The Eurovision party was great, Jack's colleagues were nice (our hostess let me borrow 4 books!), and the Pizza Hut pizza with white wine really hit the spot. Although I had favored the Maltese to win prior to the start of the program, they really were quite terrible and ended up receiving only a single vote. I would like to think this is because they have no neighbors (other terrible entries got a lot of points), but Israel, inexplicable participants in the contest, received four if I recall correctly. The winners were the Finns. They were the only one who did a straight-up rock song (appropriately entitled "Hard Rock Hallelujah"), and they dressed in wacky GWAR-like outfits that also might have received some inspiration from satan and the Lord of the Rings' orcs. The Lithuanian entry, a catchy ditty with the primary lyrics of "We are the winners...of Eurovision" failed to sway even though they did pretty well. Back at home, I discovered that someone had miraculously thought to pack a blanket, just what was needed for these cool spring nights.
The Eurovision song contest is some kind of cultural phenomenon over here. Everyone seems to have grown up watching it. It's kind of like American Idol only much, much cheesier. The BBC announcer (its broadcast in every nation) appeared to be drunk and made sarcastic remarks about all of the groups. They were all pretty aweful. Then the voting started and it took as long as the singing as they went through each country's votes. I think we perhaps lucked into the first year where groups that didn't take it so seriously actually did well.
It was nice to see that European culture isn't all opera and symphonies.