Thursday, August 25, 2011

Relocation, relocation, relocation...

I know... it's been awhile since I have posted, but this last week has been insane as we have spent it moving into our permanent residence here in Lux and have been without Internet access. I can honestly say, I am thrilled to be back in a house.  Rhe apartment was nice, but I am finally free from the washer/dryer from hell, and the dog and kids seem to dig their new space.  Our movers arrived last Tuesday with our container - about 7 guys, of which two spoke "some" English.  Thankfully, between their "some" English and our "un peu" French, we managed to get through two days of unloading and unpacking with a fair amount of success.  Okay, to be honest, out of the five moves Joe and I have made, this was actually the most seamless one with the least amount of damage.

This move-in experience was a bit different than our previous ones, as we expected it would be.  We had our walk through with our Luxembourish homeowners last Monday evening.  Customary to renting homes here, we walked through each room of the house while the owners pointed out everything notated on their inventory list.  Being a 1930's home, the list was basically a laundry list of skeleton keys, shelves, bathroom accessories (towel rack or knobs), and a few light fixtures.  They would point out any prior damage as well, but overall, the exchange was pleasant, though more formal than I anticipated.  The owner's wife was very well dressed and proper compared to my sloppy gym clothes that I had spent the day in.  I had been dealing with packing the apartment and cleaning things up for the next corporate employee, and had not had time to change.  After signing yet a few more papers, Joe and I had the unexpected surprise of receiving our keys.  Our lease wasn't starting until the next day, so given insurance red tape, we hadn't anticipated receiving them that evening.

As part of our walk through and contract terms, our owners explained the remaining contract work that would be worked on for the next few days.  The owners were in the process of painting the basement (code in Luxembourg) and replacing our antiquated garage door with one that comes with an opener.  Having a garage will be lovely as I am already tired of dealing with parking on the street, something I am learning to get used to being that this is the first time I have ever really lived "in the city".  We are one of the few single detached homes on our street with most of the buildings containing 3-6 flats. So, folks living in the flats tend to park right in front of our house.  Also, we have some sort of crab apple type tree growing in front of our house that has been dropping fruit like crazy, attracting the swarms of bees that seem to be hovering around these parts.  Worse than flies in Texas or mosquitoes in Virginia, you meet these pesky insects any day you venture to an outdoor cafe.  However, in our case, we seem to have a hive of them hovering over the fruit dropping into the street - not fun when you are trying to get out of your car.  So, the ability to park in a garage will be a terrific luxury after two months of racing through the rain and dodging the bees.

Tuesday came with deliveries from Ikea and Conforama (an electronics/furniture store here in Lux).  Apparently, when we set up the delivery order with Ikea, Joe assured them that we were on the first (or zero) floor, thinking that they were asking if we were in a flat.  So, when I told them that the wardrobe pieces (all 5 flatbed carts full) were going to the second floor, the mover kindly pointed to the paperwork that designated 0 floor and began loading all of our large wardrobe boxes into our entry way.  Thankfully, Conforama didn't have the same delivery policy.  When I told them that our large appliances were to go to the second floor, they sighed, but complied with my request.  It was bad enough moving all of the boxes from Ikea (the movers were arriving the next day with our container), but there was no way Joe and I were hefting large appliances up the stairs.

Wednesday began early as the movers arrived with our container, fresh from customs.  We arrived at the house to see a large truck towing our container, a smaller truck (presumably for supplies) and what appeared to be a ladder truck with an extension ladder and conveyor belt right behind the container.  We soon learned that all of our house contents would be conveyed up the ladder into the window of our master bedroom.  Only items going into the basement or first floor would be carried through the front door.  Also, our rugs were the first items unpacked from the truck, so they laid them in place so that they would protect the hardwoods (as opposed to the cardboard boxes or runners used in the US).  None of the guys wore belts or used upright dollies to lug the boxes in, just brute force and the occasional use of a platform on wheels to move the bigger furniture items.  Pretty impressive given most European men are smaller in stature than their American colleagues.  Of the seven or eight guys there, one was the driver who spent the whole day "watching" the others and smoking his way through a few packs of cigarettes.  One of the other older men appeared to have the cushier job of telling everyone else what to do.  He was obviously the crew leader since the others followed his orders, but his primary task was check marking off our items on the inventory list and loading small boxes on the conveyor belt while the others did the heavy lifting. It was one of the warmest days we have had since moving here, so the back of the truck had to be hitting the upper 90's given the direct sun.  The other guys would rattle off some occasional snarky remarks in French to the guy, mostly because they had little to do until the platform was full and ready to be transported upstairs.  Good thing we were told that no flammable items, etc. would be packed on the US end since we easily had a few hundred cigarette  butts we swept up after they left.  It was quite amazing watching the whole thing. Joe and I would take turns being either downstairs identifying the boxes and telling them which floor to transport it to, or in the master bedroom directing the boxes to the appropriate room.  The following day, a few of the same guys arrived to unpack our boxes and haul away the mass of cardboard and paper.  They didn't make their way through all of the boxes, but at least they managed to get most of the glass unpacked and planted on a flat surface somewhere in the house.

Now, a week later, we finally have comfy beds to sleep in, a fully functioning kitchen and a laundry room :)  Joe and I have spent the last few days working on our Ikea wardrobes (yes, days; these suckers take quite a bit of time to assemble!), but I can finally start unpacking the clothes boxes tomorrow.  I still have at least 3 other Ikea products to build, but overall, we are working our way through the chaos.  The find of the day?  The wine bottle opener :)

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