Saturday, October 31, 2009

In Limbo

Actually, we're in Nuremberg, at the Sheraton....and it's only slightly after four p.m.
And don't believe the time of the post....I wrote this on Friday.
Saturday's post is on it's way....

I'd spell the name of the place the German way, but I'm doing this as a text file which I'll upload at a later time. The wireless here is pay as you go, and I'm not sure I want to pay or not.

Now by limbo, let me explain.

You recall no doubt about the kitchen situation in the new digs, and I've gotten over that, and the plan was for the relocation lady to do the “walk through” this morning at some point. We were still in the Netherlands having breakfast with our neighbours at that point, so that's why she was going to handle that detail. Like I've said before, she's pretty much the only one in this bag of nuts that has been doing a proper job up to this point.
Some where along the way there was some talk about providing us with a small fridge so we could muddle along in the apartment without having to stay in a hotel for two weeks, and I was willing to arrange for one to be delivered or whatever, but the point was, I really wasn't about to pay for the thing. Supposed to have a fridge after all, so why we would want to pay for a second one is a bit of a puzzle.
Well, the very smart relocation people in Irving, Texas thought they'd get involved and figured they'd put some pressure on the landlord to pony up the dough, which would be all fine and dandy, if the very smart relocation company in Irving, Texas had managed to pay the deposit on time.

Therefore, no “walk through”, and no need to worry our pretty little heads about just how to pick up the keys on the weekend, since as of this minute, we have no place to go.

Maybe traferring to Iraq would have been easier?

I think that ship has sailed.

The latest is, the transport driver who is driving our stuff to Austria will be contacted and told to cool his heels for a few hours, with the hope that the transfer goes through some time on Monday, so that the “walk through” can be done that morning, and we can start moving our crap in around noon time.

Could turn out to be long day.

I had this idea that it would be a challenge to get Gabe out to work in Strebersdorf and then get back into the city in time for a delivery time of eight a.m.

I suppose I now don't have to worry about that.

See? There's a positive side!

Hope everyone has a Happy Halloween.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Coming along.

There was some concern from my travelling companion as to whether these guys would be done by noon,  but I seem to think they're plugging right along.  Apparently these guys only do the packing,  and another truck will be by later to fetch everything.

Don't you love these little updates?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

One more sleep.

And I think I'll be ready for it.

Feels like I've been going right out straight today,  but thought I'd put up a short blurb for the peeps.
I hope the movers aren't going to be freaked out when they see the stuff I've accumulated in the garage.  It's all very orderly,  even though it might not look that way.

In spite of some of the minor issues we've had with the very smart lawyers in Belgium,  most everything else seems to be going along OK.
Well,  let's not forget the whole kitchen issue,  but I digress.

 Got a call from the moving company to firm up tomorrow.  Once again,  confidence is high that they'll show up here at 8:00.   The lady even asked if I could keep the phone hooked up so she could call back mid-morning and check up on them.
Now that I think of it,  that wouldn't have worked in Puerto Rico,  since the nitwits at the phone company there shut off the phone within seconds of Gabe telling them that we were planning on leaving.  Silly buggers.  I'm pretty sure I'll have both internet and phone here right up to the minute I unhook.   The modem gets sent back to KPN and I've kept the box for just such an eventuality.

Oh,  and it's prepaid!

We get so used to paying for everything,  that this kind of thing comes as a bit of a shocker.   

We also sent a letter to the relocation lady in Vienna so she has authorisation to give the apartment the once over in our absence on Friday. 
She's once again willing to meet with us on the weekend to give us our keys.  I think the Dutch relocation company needs to wake up on that one.

"We don't work weekends".

Well,  truth be told,  they don't do enough to break the Sabbath during the week either,  but don't get me started.
I'd best leave that alone until I'm safely out of the country.

Meanwhile,  after packing up the BBQ,  I stopped at the place where I had bought each of the propane tanks to ask about what to do with them,  and went back there later in the morning to drop them off.  Same deal as in Canada,  one doesn't simply "dispose" of them.  I told the guy there was some gas left in the one,  and he was welcome to take it home or whatever.
I know I had said something about taking a tank with me to Austria,  but transporting a tank of propane all that way doesn't sit well with me in the fist place and secondly,  it doesn't even have that much left to make it worth while. 
I'll find a supplier when I get there.  Done it before,  I'll do it again.

I made sure I stopped by the landlord's place in Delden under the pretence of dropping off some mail (mostly junk mail)  just to do the polite thing and thank them for the house and all that.
The Dutch comes considerably easier a year later.

Since I have the car I'll be heading out shortly to fetch my travelling companion.  We're already booked in to Het Witte Paard for tomorrow night.  I called them just now to make sure we had a table for dinner,  but Natalie (one of the owners)  had already looked after that when I booked the room last week.

Another nice surprise. 

Friday night we're booked in to the Sheraton Carlton in Nürnberg,  and I'm not entirely sure I'll be able to get online.  Gabe wanted to start building up her Starwood points once again so we can maybe treat ourselves to a nice room some time in the future.

That's it for now.

Keep yer sticks on the ice.

Monday, October 26, 2009

I can't make this stuff up.


You probably figure that I have to dig deep into the barrel once in a while to come up with things to write about since well,  sometimes the subject matter can be a tad fluffy or mundane, but I swear to you,  I do not make any of this stuff up.
Really.  I'm simply not that creative.

Now,  having said that,  I want you to study the following document and see if there's anything there that might cause you to furrow your brow.
This is a document that the very smart lawyers in Belgium were about to submit to the municipality on our behalf so we can get our letters of "good behaviour".

Oh,  and I'm not making that part up either.  We need to have these letters of "good behaviour",  but that's another story.

I've covered up some bits to protect the stupid.  (well,  and to protect us from being associated with the stupid)....and,  there is maybe one blatant hint in there somewhere....
I therefore submit for your perusal:
(you don't need to speak Dutch....and once again,  I'm not making this up)

I'll admit that I might not know all the names of all the countries in all the languages that are spoken in the EU,  but I do know there's a huge difference between "Oostenrijk" and "Australië".
Now maybe it's because in Belgium they speak both Dutch and French?  Not sure.
Where does an idea like this even start?

So first somebody wanted to "re-patriate" us,  then send us to Iraq,  and now it's flippin' Australia!

It's a good thing we actually have to sign something and send it back to these chimps,  since it would be a disaster for them to be doing anything much unsupervised.

Don't get me wrong,  I realise that Australia is pretty nice,  but unfortunately we already have that apartment in Vienna.

So sorry.

Love to go.


Maybe next time.

Actually no,  there was an opportunity to go to Australia a few years back and we gave it a pass.  See, one of the joys of living in a foreign country is having visitors from time to time,  and Australia is just too danged far,  and nobody really wants to sit on a plane for 24 hours.  That's just extreme.

So,  do you think this would have helped?
I was just so tempted to send this....

Did I somehow jinx things by even bringing up the subject?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Airline tactics.

It's turning into a beautiful day.

This is why I was somewhat perplexed when Gabe called to say she had had some difficulty getting a seat on her flight for later today.  She got to the airport quite early,  and figured she might as well check in,  and the lady at the KLM desk said,  "Oh,  so you're going to Charles de Gaulle?"


See,  not only is Charles de Gaulle in Paris,  but reports from fellow business travellers have not been glowing.  The lady at the desk then tried to convince Gabe that the weather in Amsterdam was "bad" and they were sending some passengers  to Charles de Gaulle.

Didn't I previously make reference to the folks in those parts possibly smoking some really good  whacky tabacky?

Just wondering.

We just figure they over booked,  and were looking for few suckers. That wasn't gonna fly. There was some offer of a credit in there too,  but Gabe will be definitely coming in to Schiphol later today.

This is why,  when I answered the phone,  the first question was,  "What's the weather like there?". 

"Um....pretty nice. Why?"

I even went to the web and checked Amsterdam.  Sunny,  15°
Possibility of rain tomorrow....

Meanwhile,  as a result of the previously mentioned nice weather,  I thought I'd head over to the driving range for perhaps the last time.  I have a card that has a credit for a few more buckets of balls left on it,  and I really don't have a clue how many are left.
I don't want to see it go to waste,  so I might try and get over there at least once more before we go.  If I put the card in the machine and get nothing,  then at least I'll know I've used up my 10 buckets.

Only thing was,  aren't they supposed to wash the balls that come off the range? 
Talk about cruddy.  Geez.  I had the thought I'd take a picture,  but I didn't want it to be too obvious that I was somewhat unimpressed.  The place was actually quite busy.
Seems like,  in the summertime when you'd expect it to be busier,  everyone is "op vacantie"  (on vacation)  but now they're back on the golf courses....

I guess there are some things I'll never figure out.

I only take one club with me and not the whole set since,  even though the car is sitting here in the driveway,  there's really not much point in driving,  as the parking area is way over on the other side of the driving range.  If I take the bike I just go in the back way.  Besides,  how many clubs do you really need to simply practise your swing?  I know it's called a "driving range"  but really,  all I take is say,  a five iron,  and then work on actually hitting  the ball....and then maybe trying for some sort of accuracy.

One club can be just as frustrating as the whole set,  so there's no need for the additional baggage.  At least I'm at the point where I do actually hit the ball every single time,  but that accuracy thing is a whole different situation.

I'm sure you care.

Off to the airport.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Took them long enough.

Or I guess I could be humming

"one of these things is not like the other" since,  if you care to look at these waste bins below,  you'll notice the one on the right doesn't have a white sticker on the top,  nor does it even have a proper house number.

Now,  I noticed way back in June of 08 that there was something up with one of the bins,  but I've been putting the two of them out every other week for just about 15 months now,  and they've both been getting emptied.  

That is,  until today.

Seems the green garbage police finally caught to me. 


Well,  there's not really any "garbage police",  I'm being just a tad sarcastic,  but it looks like a proper sticker will need to be attached at some point.
Hm....wonder who's gonna do that?  Ain't gonna be me,  that's for sure.

Oh,  and this was the rain soaked tag the driver put on the bin.  "Let Op!"


Meanwhile,  I must have spent the last couple hours writing a letter to the one and only sibling of mine who DOES NOT HAVE INTERNET.
I know!   Unbelievable!

So, harrumph!  I have to actually write a letter....print the thing out,  and put it in an envelope fer Heaven's sake!
OK,  so maybe I happen to have a couple stamps I need to use up that won't be any good in Austria, but still!

He happens to be living is some backwater in Nova Scotia,  and I've written to him before,  but I'm never sure if he ever gets anything I send,  'cause I never ever hear a peep from the guy. 
We do have our theories about the lady* he's living with,  but I don't want to speculate too much.  Like maybe there's a chance she intercepts his mail?

Oh what the hell,  she's a whack job.  There,  I've said it.

*her self description was,  "I'm fat, I'm flat,  and I got no teeth".

And I've met her, she wasn't kidding. 

So this time I figured that,  since it's snail mail anyway,  I might as well send it to the other  brother in Nova Scotia whom I'm actually in contact with,  and he can hand deliver it when the two of them meet up.   Not sure when that will be,  could be Christmas.  Don't know.  Don't really care.

Like I said,  it's snail mail.

I was really tempted to use some sort of fancy script and make the thing almost impossible to read,  since I've received some rather cryptic offering from this less than lucid individual in years gone by (not for a long time,  thankfully)  but apparently I'm not as mean as I had hoped to be at my age.
Besides,  I was getting way too annoyed just trying to figure all that stuff out anyway,  so that was a non starter.
 I felt it prudent to actually include some sort of map or other, so there wouldn't be any misunderstanding as to our upcoming move.  This goes back to when we were living in Puerto Rico and,  since this fellow was by that point just about as deaf as a post,  he somehow thought it was Costa Rica. 

Should I put that song back in?

Of course,  it's not as easy as simply including a link to google maps or some such thing.  This is snail mail after all,  so I had to rummage through the maps,  scan something and then print it off....oy. 

I nearly broke a sweat.

So OK,  maybe including the map is a tad mean,  since he can read after all,  and the misunderstanding was due to an auditory issue. 

But some things are beyond my control.

Do you think that was a bit juvenile?  Maybe that's why I don't ever hear from the guy.

Oh well.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Everyone needs a "Magda".

Well,  I've been mulling this over pretty much all day,  and even after mucking around in the garden for an hour or so,  a brief trip to Ikea, where once again the place was mobbed (seriously,  we need to open a franchise!...)  and then a trip into town on the bike,  (need that bit of exercise) I simply have to pipe up about this.

See,  when my wife was a little girl,  she thought every family unit consisted of a "Mom,  Dad and a Magda",  and was quite surprised to hear that none of her school mates had such an arrangement.  "What do you mean,  you don't have a Magda?"
Madga you see,  is one of my sisters-in-law,  and when Gabe was just at that impressionable age,  Madga was just that much older that she had a job.  With the job came the things that kids love to have,  such as colouring books and treats.  These were not items in the family budget at the time.  So having a "Magda"  was pretty darned nice.

To this day, even though our kids are really no longer kids,  we know that if it comes right down to it,  they can always count on heading to Magda's if there were ever to be any kind of issue that would require assistance.   Anything.
After all,  their parents are a half a world away.

So here's where I'm going with this.

Yesterday there were many many Birthday greetings from far and wide,  and I'm sure I thanked each and every person.
Later in the day,  at the time when I could likely expect a call from Gabe in Vienna,  the phone rang,  but it wasn't Gabe at all,  but Magda.  Just calling from Canada to wish me a Happy Birthday and asking if I'm OK?

Now I ask you? 

Who does that?

Only Magda.

 I'm sure glad we have our Magda.


Now for some fun.

You recall no doubt that I had made mention of a mysterious piece of paper we received in the mail last week some time?  Well,  I just can't let this go,  and I'll try and not go on and on....but really,  I can't help it.
See,  the envelope had no return address,  and the part that got the thing to our mail box was hand written.  I could only tell by the post mark that it had come from somewhere in Delden....

So I just want to show you this thing,  just so you know I'm not making any of this up.
You'll see the piece of paper below.
Now,  I'd call it an "invoice",  except how can that be?  There's no hint as to who gets the money,   or where it's from.

Well,  you can see for yourself:

Now,  I'm not really the sharpest knife in the drawer,  but I know that once upon a time when I used to do a little job now and again,  I made sure that it was well understood just who was supposed to get the money.
It's kind of important.  Otherwise,  what are ya doing??

 And yes,  I realise it's all in Dutch but really,  would it make a difference if it were in English?

I think all that business at the bottom is because the person responsible was moving some items around in a Word document and screwed it all up,  but decided it was fine the way it was,  (or panicked) and printed it off.  Wow.

The long and the short of it is,   I took this bit of info to OUR bank,   with the post-it note of the account into which the money was supposed to go,  and the lady at the bank was able to do something on line or whatever.   All I know is,  she figured it out and I have a signed receipt.  We're reasonably certain they got their €12.40 but frankly,  if they didn't,  I really doubt Interpol is really going to care.....and I could care less.

So now let's think about this.   The "Mrs Doctor",  whoever she is,  has decided to do the billing for the practise.   What would make her think she's remotely qualified?   If you marry a doctor does that mean you can suddenly do things about which you have no clue?


And really,  there are books you can buy,  and if you're an "el cheapo"  like me,  just look it up on the internet!  There are hosts of people out there who are all too happy to share their knowledge,  even if it's only enough knowledge to tell you to put a return address on an envelope! 


(and just for that link)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Just another Monday

I think what I need to get into the habit of doing, is to compose entries in text format and then put that into blogger in one fell swoop.
Or at least I need to practise once in a while.
Now, the trouble with that is, I wouldn't be able to do any HTML editing or put in links, but for those times that I have limited connectivity, which I foresee as being a problem in Vienna,  it will be the way to go...
I tried to do this very activity last year some time in Bonn, but discovered that the text didn't work in Blogger. Turns out all I needed to do was dump all my goofy Microsoft products and download Open Office. I highly recommend it. I'm not able to open the wonderful slide shows that get sent to me from time to time in Powerpoint, but I don't care, since I can simply open the individual slides one at a time anyway....and sometimes skip to the end if it looks a tad boring. I've never taken the time to figure out Powerpoint probably because I've never had to use it.

(on edit,  I've also noticed that I have some type size issues that I'll have to sort out at some point....)

So I spent about half the morning answering birthday greetings. Thanks everyone. Nice that there are those who remember.
I have no huge desire to pig out on cake or anything, since most every day it's more a matter of restraint than anything else, since the scales do tend to be a bit malicious from time to time.
I'm afraid to say, it's the beer. Gotta take it easy, and I have gone days without cracking a cold one, just in order to approach some semblence of restraint.

If it wasn't for the method of getting around being the bike, I'm sure I'd be in some serious trouble. Even with the car sitting in the driveway, which it has been for a few days now, I still take the bike into Delden. I mean, getting through that place by car is a serious challenge and I sometimes wonder at the folks who decide to attempt it on market day.
It's just madness.

So even though I really didn't need to go out for much this morning, since I don't seem to ever need too much when by myself, I did hit the baker and the butcher, and then went over to the Dr's office with a mysterious letter that we received last week....
It looked to me as though we owed someone12.40. But for the life of me I could not figure out whom. There was no return address, only a hand written address on the front, but it had that look about it (where Gabe's maiden name was also used) that led me to think it had somehow come from the Doctor's office.

Gave it the receptionist Amelie, and she had to study it for about a minute there, before she concluded that it had come from the Mrs. (doctor's wife) who had taken over the billing.
Pretty good detective work on my part I must say.

Seems she's still in training.

Aparently the outfit that had been doing the billing was no more, or something to that effect.  Whatever,  just put yer flippin' name on stuff.  That goes back to elementary school!

Now, I've been pretty patient up to now with the Dutch way of doing things, but I'm starting to come to the end.....
Amelie took a photo copy, and wrote down a bank account number on a post-it note for the Rabo-bank, which is just up the street. Now, this isn't “our” bank, which I know for a fact doesn't open until 1:00 most days, so I figured I'd give them a try.

Well no, they were closed, even though the doors were open and someone came out to speak to me. I guess they have to have the doors open for their bank machines. Not sure. We'll see how this goes, since the nice lady was pretty sure they couldn't take cash, and there's no such thing as cheques in the Netherlands.

Judging by the current time,  I think I'll head in to our bank, and see if they can figure this out.  I might just take €12.40 over to Amelie with a preprinted receipt,  hand over the cash,  have her sign it,  and be done with it.   

Now, if I could only figure out what that text was that I just used, I'd go with it.......(getting slightly frustrated here...)

Stay tuned.

Friday, October 16, 2009

All Quiet.

I actually had a slightly different title in mind,  having to do with some lonely guy in a lonely town,  but I just thought that was going to be too maudlin.
So,  here we are,  half way around the world from our friends and family,  and we're not even in the same country.
I thoroughly blame the company that cannot be named by the way,  since there was all that knuckle dragging back in the summer,  which meant that nobody got the "go ahead" to do any thing.

Like,  start the process.

20 months.

That's what we keep telling ourselves.

I had this boneheaded idea that I'd just get in the car and drive to Vienna,  but that would only mean I'd have to turn around and drive back again.  As I mentioned earlier,  it's over 1000 km,  and while I do recall stories of guys from "down east" leaving work on a Friday afternoon from Colour Your World,  (just off Brown's line in Etobicoke) and driving to Pictou county in Nova Scotia for the weekend,  they were all in their twenties,  and took turns at the wheel.   That kind of thing wouldn't have thrilled me all that much 30 years ago,  so it's definitely out of the question at this point in time.

Meanwhile,  in the realm of things over which I do have some control,  the punch list is getting shorter.  We now have snow tires on the Audi and both bikes have been serviced.  I can't think of any other furniture we might need,  with the possible exception of a couple night stands,  but I also may just go out and buy a full tank of propane,  since I haven't a clue where to get such a thing around Vienna,  and I know I'll be using the BBQ a lot after we move in.
I've also heard back from the worker bee that the company that cannot be named may very well have to pony up the dough for a small fridge,  since I can muddle along quite nicely with a source of heat and some place to keep things cool.  Not going to rely on the great big outdoor fridge just yet,  even though it was around plus one in Vienna earlier today.  Yikes.

And yes,  I'll make sure it doesn't get tipped over in the car.  I know all about propylene.

And no,  we're not going to go off in all directions here talking about the different types of "propane" and whether the stuff over here has butane in it or whatever.   It's confusing,  and all I care about is that it lights up when I open the valve to the BBQ.

Meanwhile,  there's enough action on the World Cup front to help keep me occupied.  Gabe hasn't the slightest interest in "football" as it is, and I'm sure my barber back home in Burlington was happy to see Argentina qualify by the skin of their teeth.  I wouldn't hold out much hope for them down the road however,  but that's just my opinion.
No team from Canada.   Gee,  wonder why that is?

Oh wait,  what did it say?  "Status"  "Did not qualify".

Seems they were doing fine until they came up against a couple real soccer teams.

Well,  there you have the extent of the boredom.

Don't worry,  I won't start acting like this guy....

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Now I get it.

Now I'm beginning to understand why the take over of Austria in 1938 was such a goll-durned easy thing for The Third Reich.
It was easy-peasy,  'cause the Austrians  didn't know what to do.

Now,  maybe I'm being a little hard on the entire population here,  but you know what they say about first impressions.....

If you read the abridged version of an email I just moments ago received,  you may begin to put it together.
This is from the relocation company in Germany who have a representative in Austria. (Both of which have been doing a fabulous job,  by the way)
I'm sure that the opinion that I have of the Austrians at this point in time is one that is shared by everyone in that (German) office.....since well,  most Germans do think that the Austrians are a bunch of lederhosen wearing,  yodelling boobs...

Here ya go....


We had been informed by the landlord agency that when you signed the Mietanbot (Rental offer not the lease) mid September the kitchen would be ordered. We found out this week that the kitchen was unfortunately not ordered immediately after the Mietanbot was signed, but a couple of weeks later. (editors note:  so basically you're just saying they're a bunch of retards. right?)

The agency also informed us this week that there is a delay in the delivery time and so the kitchen will be delivered and installed on 15 or 17 November, but unfortunately not earlier. (what the hell,  why not just wait 'til Christmas?) This is a most disappointing situation. (do ya think?)

The lease commences 01 November, so we are trying to negotiate that the payment of the rental fee only starts on 15 November, as the kitchen will not be ready before that date.

I have sent C...(the relocation company in Irving, Texas) the signed lease so that the security deposit and tax fee can be transferred by C...(the relocation company in Irving, Texas) in the next few days, so that you can still receive the keys to the property beginning of November.  (Austrian relocation lady)  will get an appointment for 30 October and provide you with the keys on 31.10. or on 01.11. so that your goods can still be delivered on 02.11.09 as planned, however, there will initially not be a kitchen in the apartment. (you said that,  don't rub it in)

We are in touch with the estate agent and as soon as we hear about the November rental amount, we will let you know.

Please let us know should you have any questions.

Kind regards,

(some person in Germany) 

It's kind of too bad that I gave up smoking that whacky tabacky years and years ago,  since they must be growing some pretty good stuff down there.   Somebody's been smokin' some seriously good sh*t.

And what do they mean,  "let us know if you have any questions"?   

First question.  How do I become an Austrian property manager?  Since aparently one doesn't need any skill whatsoever.
Second question:  What is exactly the point of this "Mietanbot",  if it means you're going to do sweet "F" all for two weeks?

And frankly,  I don't really give a rat's tiny behind when or if the rent gets paid,   because we're not paying it anyway.  Why should we care?   All I want to know is,  which hotel are you putting me up in?
Or better yet,  which one of you boneheads will be offering the use of your kitchen?

I think I maybe need to go soak my head now or something.....

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Plodding along.

Slowly starting to get our relocation ducks in a row.  Finding that the relocation lady in Austria is well,  how shall I put this?  Leaps and bounds better than the knobs,  er....people that we're dealing with here.

I'm just saying.

I realise it's perhaps a challenge to get us all sorted out and everything,  but when we heard back that we were somehow supposed to stick around until the Monday,  I just knew there were a couple knives missing from the drawer....

I'll let you read what we received a while back.....


Household goods will be removed on October 29th; so cleaning could be done on October 30th in the morning and move out in the afternoon. But it is more likely that cleaning will take longer than just a few hours in the morning; so then check out will need to take place after the weekend; say November 2nd. "the relocation company here in the Netherlands"  (I removed the name to protect the stupid)   and real estate agents do not work in the weekend. (sic)

Now I realise that I mentioned this just two entries ago,  and I don't mean to be repetitive here,  but the part about real estate agents not working weekends?  Huh?  How you gonna sell anything?
Didn't have any problems in Austria.  We met with our relocation lady and the real estate agent on Saturday morning.  Signed the lease,  took a look around,  some measurements were made,  notes were taken.   It was all good.

Aparently,  the Dutch don't do that.

And just who are they hiring to do the cleaning?   We're not really pigs y'know?  Shouldn't take a day and a half to wipe down a few shelves in the kitchen,  do the wash rooms and give the place a once over with a vacuum cleaner. 

On the plus side,  they have been somewhat responsive to the schedule that I've more or less shoved down their throats up to this point,  and have offered to help out with sending back the modem and TV receivers to KPN.   This is good.  I'm not too clued in as to where these things should go.  I'm going to be sorting through the papers to see what I can find,  but it's a tad confusing.

The updated planned departure is more likely to be some time Friday afternoon.

Here's why:

The car that we've ordered for Austria is gonna take a while.  Second verse,  just like the first.  You order a car and wait.  Probably won't get it until around Christmas.

OK then.

It's going to look pretty much like this one.  Couldn't find a decent image out there on the net,  but you get the idea....

If you click that link (not the pic,  the pic is pretty small),  it's a review of the car,  and the reviewer does seem to be quite enthusiastic.  I hadn't seen that one up to this point.  I just might have to read it.

So what that means is,  we'd have to rent something for all of November and December?  Doesn't seem to be too cost effective.  Not only that,  but that means muggins here will be doing all the driving since,  getting an automatic up to this point in the rental department has been pretty much a no-go situation in Austria.

I do find this a bit odd,  since we did get an automatic when we first came over to The Netherlands.

Probably some sort of bait and switch.....

So here's the cunning plan:

 We're driving down.

Gabe must have already spoken to somebody and got the green light to take the car there for a couple months,  and we'll either take a "business trip" back up to Bonn (they do have an office there...huge too)  or simply have the darned thing shipped back to Hengelo.  I mean,  it was shipped from Belgium or wherever it was made,  so it shouldn't be that much of a challenge.

I plugged Vienna into the GPS earlier today when I was out to pick out our patio furniture and it's just a little more than 1000 km.   It was telling me that I'd get there tonight just after 8:30 if I continued on.  It was around 11:00 a.m. at the time.
We'll stop over in say,  Munich or where ever.

Did that before on the way to Slovenia.

Here's a slightly better image of the car.........

It won't have the sun roof though,  since when you order a car in Yurp,  you have to order everything,  which is a bit of a drag,  since having an automatic eats up a couple thousand Euros, and there was a budget....
Seems that the company that cannot be named had imposed a new "car policy" on all the divisions,  and the response from one of the marketing dudes was,  "we're going to lose some people over that one".  Seems company cars are a real status symbol over here.  Like that's a news flash.

So the other little nit picky thing that I figured I'd better get sorted out was,  having the bikes serviced.
Last chance,  so to speak,  and if I didn't do it here,  it wasn't happening.  As it was I missed the first service interval after a month,  but with the dough we laid out for the things, I figure it's worth the time and effort to do it right.
Mine is presently in the shop and I'll ride the Ma'am's there tomorrow morning and do a switcheroo.    Then I'll go back with the car and pick up that one after five tomorrow.

Almost forgot to mention......driving down to Austria in a little over a week means having to deal with one more thing.  I've already made an appointment for Friday morning to have the snow tires put on the car.  Apparently it's already snowed a fair amount in parts of Austria..


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Blogging from Vienna....

....was pretty much impossible.   So that was that.
The "pay as you go" wireless at the hotel   was absolutely pitiful, and the only places where I would have been able to do much of anything was in one of the wireless hot spots in and around Vienna. You can take a look at the host of locations here, and using one of these places would have been fine,  except the opportunity simply didn't present itself. 
Anyway,  we managed to open a bank account right around the corner from our front door at Bank Austria on the friday.   This was something I had to sort out after we realised that we simply were not going to make it to our Thursday a.m. appointment.  The traffic was just way too unco-operative,  and we would have never made it back out to Strebersdorf to get Gabe to work.  Not only that,  but we were going to pick up one of her associates on the way....

So that meant that I had to reschedule an appointment with the relocation lady and the bank dude for the Friday,  and take the papers for Gabe to sign.  Didn't seem to be a big deal.

Even on the Sunday,  Mariahilferstrasse seemed to be quite busy,  even though all the stores are closed.  We were trying to visualise where we would be riding our bikes,  and the situation didn't look too inviting.  There are bike paths,  and dedicated bike lanes,  but not right there.
That whole traffic situation might turn out to be a bit of a drag,  but we'll figure it out.

Now,  I have to point out at this time that I've failed to mention yet one more annoying thing about air travel.  We've talked about farting men,  crying babies,  but on the way down to Vienna,  we were privy to one of the loudest snoring men I think I've ever heard in my life.
First of all,  this guy was passed out before we even left the jet way,  and continued to snore as we climbed through 30 thousand feet.   Everyone within 10 rows both fore and aft we looking around wondering who brought aboard the jack hammer.
Got so bad the flight attendant had to go and wake the guy and tell him he was causing a disturbance.
I'm not making this up!
And you know fully well just how loud it is in an airplane.  He drowned out everything.

Of course,  on the way back to Schiphol,  I had these two Spanish chicks who yakked the whole way,  and I just so desperately wanted to turn around and tell them to just shut the f--- up!   Before leaving the jet way, one of these chicks thought she wanted to get something out of her bag that had already been put in the hold,  and thought she'd give the flight attendant a hard time over it.  That didn't happen, since she was told in no uncertain terms just how big her carry on could be,  and that they could put it in the hold if it didn't fit in the overhead,  which it clearly didn't.

Stupid little snot.

 OK so, I'll update here a little later in the day if I feel like it.  For those of you on Facebook,  I did put up some pics, and I'll selectively put a couple on here later on.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Heading out to Vienna.

Haven't had a whole lot to say over the last couple of days,  since "getting ready for the move",  consists of mostly just waiting.
We've made all the arrangements we can,  and finally heard back from the local relocation company regarding the events to take place on the last day or so here in the Netherlands.
With the movers coming here for an eight a.m. start,  we could see no reason why the house couldn't be given a going over by the end of the day,  and then go to Goor to de register on the Friday.  Just had to get that point across to the person from "name removed to protect the stupid",  since she somehow thought that would take place on the Monday.

Ain't gonna be here lady.

I've already booked accommodations for that weekend in Vienna,  at a hotel that's within walking distance of the new place.  Not entirely sure when the movers plan to be there on the Monday morning,  but I'll find out in due time.

I had naively hoped to get the grass cut out front,  but the weather hasn't really been co-operating all that much,  so I'm afraid it will be a bit of a mess when I return. 

We've been getting caught up in the daily rain department it seems.

Meanwhile,  we have a flight out of Shiphol booked for this evening at six or thereabouts,  and I'll be leaving the car in long term parking for the few days that I'll be away.  I'm coming back on Monday,   with the plan to do whatever extra furniture shopping next week.  Gabe won't be back here until the 23rd.

I'll just be a lonely guy in a lonely town...

I briefly went out this morning to check out some deals on outdoor furniture,  since it might make sense to have those items here for the movers to cart off.  I did take some pics,  and the two of us will have a look at them over the next couple days when we get the chance.
I'll also be checking out any possibilities when in Vienna,  just for comparison purposes.

According to the guy in the outdoor furniture store,  they "don't have much" in Austria.
Seems he's aware of this from the trade shows they go to in Cologne?

Well,  we'll see.

Monday, October 5, 2009

We're Booked!

Probably shouldn't make that big a deal of it, but going home at Christmas is now the next thing. Heading back on the 18th of December, to return on New Year's Day. Kinda sucks about the return part, but getting a non-stop flight was a bit of a challenge, otherwise we might have tried for say the 2nd or 3rd.


Meanwhile, we had been invited to a late lunch on Saturday afternoon at the home of one of Gabe's associates from the company that cannot be named.
Had a sampling of East Indian food. Pretty good stuff actually, even though I realise that the Mrs. had toned it done somewhat in the spice department. (these guys like it hot!)
What's the deal with folks from the hot climates liking hot food? I did have a couple moments there where the sweat did jump out on my scalp.


Before getting there though, we had to stop in to a children's clothing store in Hengelo for a couple things for a new niece that we had the pleasure of seeing when we were home in September.

 That's Clara Bea,  who was born on September 2nd.

She's a keeper.

 I couldn't seem to find a website for the clothing place,  but you get the idea if you go to the link... Lief!

Any gentlemen out there reading along will agree with me when I say that,  buying children's clothes is one of those things that a lot of women really,  really ....really like to do.   I'm sure we could do a study on the release of endorphins in the female human brain right at that moment when they pick up some tiny little plush garment and gasp,  "Isn't that just the dearest?" which one dutifully replies,  "yes,  dear."

Now,  out of consideration for my tolerance,  my travelling companion was at least a little more matter of fact,  but just observe when two women folk are shopping'll see what I mean.

I'm just saying.

Anyway, the folks that we were visiting have a couple boys, and the story is that the younger guy is pretty active, so Dad very wisely went out and bought him a little train set to keep him occupied during our stay. Pretty good strategy actually. He was pretty determined to run the wheels off that thing...


When it came to the food,  it was a mix of pretty danged hot,  with a few things thrown in to "bring down the heat",  as our host explained.  The stuff in the bowl there was a chicken dish which reminded me of babi-pangang,  which is an Indonesian dish,  but this was chicken and not pork.

 Hey,  what do I know?

All in all the afternoon was an enjoyable experience,  with the exception that,  we once again discovered,  as we did in Puerto Rico,  that we've befriended some very nice people,  and are about to leave the country.

We did at least invite them to Vienna,  with the idea being that they could use the apartment when we are in Canada.  We could possibly have an overlap there for a brief visit. 

Friday, October 2, 2009

The "or not" part of Stressfree travel.

Now that Gabe is safely back here in Kikkerland,  I figured I'd add a few little snippets on the other side of the story.
See,  she had to head to the airport on Monday morning,  and while the original plan was for me to simply drive her there,  we had this notion that it would be way better for her to take the train.  There's a non-stop to Schiphol at 7:07 I think it is.

All was going to plan,  except for the minor annoyance of not having a ticket ahead of time,  which had always been the practise for business travel up to this point.  So that meant trying to extract a ticket from one of the ticket machines at the station,  since the office for ticket sales hadn't yet opened when we got there at around 6:50. 
If you do happen to go to that website,  I'd just like to say that I don't totally agree with the first statement,  since the machine doesn't accept any other credit card other than some sort of "maestro master card"  and a bank card from a Dutch bank....
That's it.   No Visa,  no other master card,  and certainly not American Express.   Can't say I'd blame them on that last one,  since dealing with Amex can get pricey.
Needless to say,  I've never ever had a great deal of success getting tickets out of the darned things.
Turns out,  last Monday morning was no exception.

Just so happens I had left the house without a set of glasses,  and since I'm the only one of the two of us who has the slightest clue what's going on in Dutch, we made a fine pair.
After a couple attempts,  we managed to get what looked like a ticket to come out of the thing,  but by then it was time to head for the tracks.  There was then the question of which train was the right one,  so in spite of being parked in a not so very good location (they've moved the "kiss and ride"  way over on the side!)  we raced together for the tracks,  one flight up.
Fine,  that was easy,  it's clearly marked,  so I decide to go.
My "job" for the day,  was to get some funds into our Dutch bank account,  since it was dangerously low.  It did seem a little odd that there was even enough money in there to purchase a first class train ticket,  but  no matter,  we did get a "ticket"  to come out of the machine.
Well,  not really.
It was just a little slip of paper (looked exactly like a train ticket!)  saying we didn't have enough money in the account.
It's a wonder the conductor didn't kick her off,  but I guess the genuine look of surprise on Gabe's face when she handed over her "ticket" was met with a certain amount of compassion.  Besides,  there was no ticket checking until she was almost at her destination,  so she was told she could go and pay for her ride once she got to the airport.

Ah, ya.  We'll get right on that.

As far as I know,  the rest of the day went fine.  I mean,  I did my banking,  Gabe caught her train to Vienna, and I didn't hear from her until much later in the evening.
Turns out there was some sort of convention or other in Vienna,  and hotel rooms were
 hard to come by.  If there's an Austrian equivalent of the Day's Inn,  my guess is that it would be this place. The MÜLLNER Landgasthof
First of all,  there's a difference between a "hotel"  and a "Gasthof".  It can be sometimes a slight one,  but sometimes it's a big difference.  A Gasthof is usually family run,  and most usually frequented by locals.  In any case,  it should be clean enough so that you don't feel you need to keep your socks on all night.....

No matter how hard I looked,  on Tripadvisor or,  I couldn't find one single person who had stayed there.  The only reviews I did find,  were on one site called "trivago",  which I had never seen in my life, and the one and only reviewer on that site spoke of having to brush the ants off her legs when using the WC in the morning.  I think you get the idea.
Oh,  and it's a good thing she grabbed those two bananas on the way out the door in the morning,  since there was nothing on offer at the "hof".
They didn't even have anyone at the desk after eight p.m.,  and when Gabe had packed up and was going to leave in the morning (she was supposed to stay there all week)  there wasn't even anyone there then either!  Her leaving was most likely precipitated by the fact that there was no place to eat,  and then there was a mysterious knocking on her door late in the evening.
In the grand scheme of things,  all of this could have been nicely avoided if there hadn't been quite so much foot dragging (might have been knuckle dragging,  now that I think on it)  on the part of the various entities that were supposed to get us to Austria in a timely fashion.  We should have moved already!
Honestly!  The new job started in July.   It's now October.

And don't get me started about the Day's Inn either.

It just so happens that she has another office up in Shrems,  and one of the marketting guys was headed there for a couple days,  so she decided to tag along.  Turns out there are a couple nice little hotels in Shrems,  and they also offer something to eat when you get there at the end of the day.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

The things you bring.

First of all, I have to say that there will be far more interesting posts once we get established in Vienna.
This is just one of those things that I'm sure nobody really thinks about, but it's kind of along the lines of the deodorant entry I did way back when.
Just over a year ago, to be exact.

Not long after moving in, I came to realise that I'd need to kill off the odd fly now and again. There's not a lot of flying bugs here, but there are also no screens on the windows....

So off I go, in search of a vliegenmepper, and managed to find such a critter at a sort of a dollar store type of place at the far end of town. Mind you, some things were considerably more than just a couple Euros, and I'm pretty sure I paid two or three for the pitiful thing I ended up bringing home.

What an abomination.

Who thought they should reinvent the flyswatter? How much cheaper can you get than a metal stick with some rubber on the end?
The pitiful thing on the left is what they use around here. It has a plastic handle. Just doesn't develop enough "moment" to really whack the crap out of a fly.

So....... I brought a proper one over in my suitcase. It's the one on the right. See? Wire handle.

(I would so dearly love for customs or whoever to go through my stuff, so I could tell them in no uncertain terms just why I have to bring my own contraptions.....)

This wasn't something I "planned" or wrote down on a list, it's just one of those things that, when I spotted the thing hanging by the back door where it's been for many years, it was going in the suitcase.

Hey, if the kids let any flies in the house, they're on their own. Sorry.

Now I know you're shaking your head and thinking, "Crap, this guy is getting desperate", but it sometimes can be the little things that can make the difference. By that I mean, the difference between relative sanity and becoming a complete nut case.
I do recall the deodorant entry struck a nerve with a fellow Ex-pat. You just have to be here.

The other thing that "went in the suitcase", was a particular dust collecting sweeping device that I'm pretty sure we have two or three of, so buying another one over here was out of the question.
Not only that, but my daughter is now selling these nifty little covers that are reuasable, since the problem with these "dust collecting sweeping devices" is, the dust covers are normally disposable.
I've never been keen on the "disposable" part, which is why I would tend to use them until the bitter end. (nasty)

Here's new and improved:

I'm not about to mention any trade names, but you can gather what I'm talking about if you click on the link and have a close look.
I wouldn't be advocating these covers if I thought they didn't work, and at first I was slightly sceptical, but there's something about the fabric that makes them real dust magnets, and when they get dirty, can be removed, washed and reused. Not only environmentally sound, but perfect for an old el cheapo like me. (hate buying those swif....oops, almost said it, "throw-away dust covers"!)

What follows is a shameless plug: You too can have your very own environmentally sound dust magnet sweeper cover thingies by going over to her site on Etsy and making a purchase.
Just click the link and follow the instructions. I think she's even still shipping for free in Canada, but you'd better check on that.

Now, in case you figure that's too hard to manage, I'll even put in a link to the page that the items are
Does that work for you?

OK, so the little flowers are some sort of "chick" thing, and I could probably do with out them, but really, you're sweeping the floor with it. Who cares?

Besides, it's a one handed operation, so if you feel you need assert your masculinity, you can always sweep with some sort of libation in the other hand.....