Saturday, March 23, 2013

Hunting a flat

Day 1. 
Alarm at 4 a.m., metro at 5, bus at 6, flight from a snowy and windy Bratislava at 9, landing prior than scheduled in Charleroi, bus, lost in the railway station, metro, lunch, and then phoning and visiting flats until 8 p.m. It has been a long day. Three out of four are flats I'd never consider to live in. Let's hope in tomorrow! 

But the weather was amazing: sunny and warm the whole day. Even if not, the warm reception from my host was enough to warm my hearth for months! She's so sweet! She deserves a monument! In conclusion, I'd like to tell here a funny episode that occurred during the transfer by bus from Charleroi to Brussels. There was a car accident on the highway and only one lane was available. The bus driver tried to be "smart" (I'd say... "Italian"), overtaking by a parking area on the right but was stopped by an angry policeman. They had a strong argument, while the passengers were angry too for the delay. I commented what happened with the person sitting next to me, who asked information first and if I had understood the French speech of the policeman. It came out that this guy is a "Kiwi", he comes from New Zealand. Cool!

Day 2.
Another long and busy day. My search was even more disappointing than yesterday. I've been waiting for a tram that never came, I had to walk for km just to visit a flat with an external toilet. One hour by car with a speechless estate agent to see three large and old flats. The evening visit wasn't totally useless because the agent proposed other new solutions to be seen tomorrow.I want to make a decision by tomorrow, anyway.

The episode of the day. I was not recognized as Italian by an Italian to whom I spoke English at the beginning. Unless I've an austrian accent, this was a kind of compliment. For sure I have to improve, especially the writing style, but there is hope I can succeed one day. A tasty and fully Italian pizza has magnificently concluded the day. At Fratelli La Bufala's, highly recommended.

Day 3.
Although I was expecting a long day, visiting 4-5 flats, my choice took then just five minutes. The first appointment was in the early morning for a small flat, in down town. I arrived much in advance, so I visited a church nearby. Despite some disadvantages, the cuteness of the place caught me and I decided to take it. Let's thank God! We spent about one hour discussing some details, on Friday we should define the contract. I've spent the rest of the day canceling the other planned visits and planning the relocation. Thanks to a Belgian friend, the law about renting a flat is not anymore a mystery for me. She explained me also my rights about electricity, internet, health, etc. Well... it seems to have been back to Italy.

In the evening, my host and I visited the small weekly market in Chatelain. It's pretty cute. We bought there our dinner, with local vegetable and cheese cakes, chicken sausages, and a delicious crumble with leek and raspberry. That's time to celebrate!

Day 4.
Nothing remarkable.

Day 5.
Contract signed. The landlady is very precise, but a bit strict. It seems that her own interest, or better the safety of her propriety, is more important even than the law. I've never dealt with a private landlord, I guess this is the "average" attitude. Beside that, she is an artist, rich, noble (uh, never forget that Belgium is a kingdom), very active, and emancipated. We could understand each other.

The main room
Anyway, I've been in the flat to measure the windows and the floor for the furniture I want to buy. The kitchen is new and completely equipped. The bathroom is also comfortable but the washbowl has a shallow crack. The main room is luminous, this morning it was even reached by the sun, but the old wooden parts (floor, wardrobes, door) are full of scratches and dents. The walls were not freshly painted, so there are a few marks of the previous tenant.

Oh well, nothing is perfect. With my touch, the flat will be lovely and very... "bohémien"!

P.S. Belgians... The lady in the bank has explained me that "quatre-vingt-dix" is understandable but not used by Belgians, who instead use
"nonante". No comment!

Day 6.
Is it spring? Uh, it should be, but it's snowing here! If my flight tomorrow is cancelled, I have to buy a ticket to Italy, because there are no flight to Bratislava until Tuesday and I need to be in Vienna on Monday. I'm worried and angry also for another reason. As my flight is early in the morning, I reserved a room in a cheap hotel close to the airport. It is less than 500 m from the departure hall... but there are no sidewalks or a direct way. I had to take a taxi from the airport to the hotel and I must take another one tomorrow morning, €10 one way. The taxi driver didn't speak English. Seriously, at an international airport!?! Thanks to God I know numbers and a few words in French. Anything else? The landlady didn't reply my e-mail, as expected. The public transits do not respect the schedule. If this is Belgium, you cannot blame me because I LOVE GERMANY!

At least shopping this morning was entertaining. I've seen a couple of things I'd like to buy for my new flat. But the most important things are the furniture and internet. Hopefully they'll not take too long, after the order. The lunch in a "bio" restaurant wasn't bad. The bulgarian dinner yesterday was good as well. I can't wait that this period is over, but I'm afraid I can forget the relaxed feeling I had in Vienna. It is like having gone back to Italy.

Day 7.
Actually it's the return day. Return to civilization that means Vienna. I woke up much earlier than needed. Outside was completely white, the ground was covered by 20 cm snow. OMG, will our flight be deleted? The morning taxi driver was on time, again he spoke just French. My attempt to have breakfast at the airport failed because I poured my coffee on my jacket. The boarding was on time, walking through a snowstorm. The airplane has just been defrost when new ice was forming on the windows. We began to leave the gate but suddenly stopped. After 20 minutes the captain said that we were stuck in the middle of the taxiway because the airport truck failed to move the aircraft... the ground was too much slippery and the airplane too much heavy. We had to wait another truck and finally took off, 30 minutes late. The rest of the journey was boring and depressing. In the evening I realized how much I'll miss Vienna. I've never felt "at home" in Vienna, but everything was so comfortable and reliable. Goodbye Vienna!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Time to say goodbye, again

When the unexpected happens!

1. Elections in Italy. A catastrophe! The country is almost equally divided in 4 parts: a) non-voters, b) democratic left party (PD), c) middle-right party (PDL, that means Mr. B.) and d) Grillo's political movement (M5S). For who doesn't know Grillo, he is a former comedian who is against everyone and everything. It is almost impossible to form a new government, therefore in the meantime the country is the chaos, under the threat of the expulsion from the European Union.

2. Although Mr. B. didn't win, the number of votes he received and the current chaos in the government have convinced me to carry out what I promised: I will progressively loose my "italianity", beginning from the language of this blog. I'm NOT English native speaker, but I do prefer to practice a foreign language, even with many mistakes, than to use any longer the language of a country I don't feel anymore to belong to. My only 3-4 Italian readers can  use the "Translate" button on the top of the page, anyway.

3. The Pope has resigned. Ok, by now it is well known. I was shocked by this news. I liked so much Joseph Ratzinger as Pope and as fine theologist. I'm afraid that the Catholic Church is going to have a new schism: progressivism versus traditionalism, depending on the new Pope's orientation.

4. A good news in my life: I got the job in Brussels! I'm going to leave Vienna in a couple of weeks, surprisingly with a bit of "Sehnsucht". I must admit I feel nervous because the project requires skills I still have to acquire. The priority now is finding a flat. Then the move is the big deal. Only after that, I could begin to worry about the new job! But I do not have the time to say goodbay to Vienna in the proper way, after three debated years.

5. Before getting crazy with the stress of a relocation, I have spent almost two weeks vacation at home. I mean the real HOME that means... anywhere, but with my parents. Not mentioning the crazy cat Schwarzy. Actually I was in Italy, not strictly in my hometown, but rather enjoying the snow at 1000 m a.s.l. in a happy enclave between Italy and Austria. The last relaxing family days... who knows when I'll have again such an opportunity!

6. I'm sharing my flat with another Italian scientist. She is looking for a flat since months but the estate market in Vienna is fast and tricky. It's hard to get used to a new shared life rythm but it might be good to reduce the stress by relocation. Furthermore, I do not have the time to feel alone during this "interregnum".

In conclusion, I'll miss Vienna, not only the city and its (cultural) life, but also the people I met here. Friendship is different when you live abroad: in a  situation of needing, acquaintance quickly evolves into a close friendship! Probably I'll miss also the landscape: the snowy mountains, the quiet Danube, the woody hills, etc. Not forgetting the weather, with cold and icy winters and windy and sunny springs. I'll miss the respect for pedestrians and cyclists, the overall good behavior, on the road as well as at home. I'll miss the opportunity to attend so many concerts and operas for a little price and with very skilled friends. I'll miss the language, I mean German, for sure not the horrible Wienerisch...

However, I'm full of enthusiasm and hopes for the new life in Brussels. The crisis I encountered in Vienna the first year abroad seems far away and after three years I feel quite confident. I expect the same from the Belgian experience. Per ardua ad astra!


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