Sunday, February 17, 2008

Week 1...

Warning: what you are about to read is most centainly and unapologetically biased. It is based on impressions of less than 7 full days, on a limited sample of people and events. The writer discards all liability. Continue at your own wish and risk of getting bored.

OK everyone, now that we have the formalities taken care of, let's seriously bother you? Ok? Lovely, then...

Day 1 (11.02): How the hell did I get to 60kg of checked in luggage, 3 suitases and... better not to mention the amount of overweight charge that I paid... (and fortunately they have not checked the hand lugagge, for sure way above any weight limit). Moving in the winter is crap, winter clothes just weight too much :-P Almost no personal objects in this lot (and I have to survive without them until Easter, that's 6 weeks). OK, more crappy is to have myself moving countries but keeping my stuff in the departure zone for so long...
The sun shines in Zurich, the flight is supposed to be short, the mobiles are almost without battery but that shouldn't be a problem, surely I can be not reachable for a couple of hours?
Oops... we are sort of delayed... by 1h30 already... (longer than the flight should take). Ok, here we go... it's one of those Fokker planes again (grrrr). What is the captain saying? Fog in London, the flight delayed until after lunch and let's get back to the terminal to get some food. OK; better let bosses present and past know that I won't get to the office today. Quick lunch and here we go again, this time we depart - only 4h delay, all in all. London City is a tiny airport, we actually walk on the ground from the plane to the terminal. Gorgeous day, though, that part can be taken in as good omen. Still no battery, and no taxi either, got lost with all delays. Another 40 min waiting for it to arrive, while the phone is charging in the information desk and I get to play silent oberver... The most absolutely gay young man talking to the ladies at the desk... but really, there was no stereotype that he missed :-P Only here - or for sure not in conservative Switzerland.
While boss is reassured that we will submit the blessed forecast on Wednesday even if I am not in the office today, we reach what will be home for the coming weeks. 100m from Saint Paul's Cathedral (for better and for worse, till bells draw us apart), carino l'appartamento. A small lighting issue that would prevent Inês from sleeping: a street light just by my window (1st floor apartment...) - well, and me as well, even with all my Dutch practice - and a small sound issue as well (coming from Zen Agnesstrasse, where one can sleep even with the demolition, the narrow street is suddendly lively at 4 am, be it due to the youth hostel nearby or to some traffic).

Day 2: Welcome to 100 Victoria Embankment! We start with issuing the card (dreadful picture, as always happens) and with an induction. Remember: if there's fire, go to Carmelite (but isn't this a protestant country???). Jogging at lunchtime (you must be joking, right?)? There are changing rooms in the ground floor. The building is completely renewed, view is fantastic (especially as the Sun stays for a few more days :-) ), time to setlle down. No sign of the new computer yet, but at least the new mobile is around, so I can play a bit with it ;-)
In the streets, everyone is just so busy and fast. People everywhere! And I'm still amazed with the well dressed ladies walking in sneakers. A few of them also in desperately high heels... No way avoiding feeling under-dressed when walking in the street... (and girls, yes, I know that the answer is shopping but see following days on why that has to wait a bit).

Day 3: Thank God for Marks & Spencer Simply Foods that has been feeding me for the last few days... There's no normal supermarket in sight, which led me to walk a bit longer today until I could find a small supermarket where I could buy some dishwasher... This is an apartment for 1, so there's 4 of everything: cups, plates, glasses... Quickly running out of clean dishes! Also no microwave? Bah... I need to find an online store for basic supplies (don't feel like going up and down tube stations with heavy shopping bags) but the laptop stayed at work today for data migration... I feel empty without the computer... and what shall I do at work?

Day 4 (14.02): Oh dear, I've landed in Bridget Jones' land!!! Happy Valentine's??????? One of the secretaries is very much in the mood for the day, and since she is one of the few people around (and probably the one speaking the most), you cannot avoid hearing it! Boh!!!!
My Valentine gift is getting my laptop back and then getting the new one at the end of the day - past boss was shocked when I said that this was my Valentine gift... He should know about my "real" Valentine's experiences to understand why I prefer the laptop bit.
Next experience: the bank. The account has been opened but now I need to get to a branch to get my cards and stuff (apparently, they don't send it to a work address... Complicated guys!). Here is where it gets strange: I have a bank account and no money on it, a debit card active but with no pin and a credit card of which I have the pin but not the card.... Ah, and a cheque book (never had one in NL or CH). Shopping? Limited to first needs, as it means withdrawing cash from CH's account or buying in pounds in credit cards either in Euro or CHF.

Day 5: It's good to be happy with simple things... Like spending one day back and forth with a system, taking forever to do something simple but learning how it works... and how I can replace automatically that annoying "NULL" with 0 :-P and finding out by myself how to retrieve my missing .pab.
Oh, remember the non existing microwave? It exists... it's combined with the oven :-P Lol!!!

Day 6: Saturday... let's be a turist. Still not today that I go inside Saint Paul's (still find it a robbery, especially when compared to Saint Peter's in Rome) but let's get some Oyster Cards (advice from other expats: get more than one... your visitors will use it, if no one else), and head to Oxford Street. People everywhere, no one still. That's the feeling: there's a lot of movement, every time, everywhere... "Bulício que não acaba mais". A bit of window shopping and get a lunch to eat in Hyde Park. It's sunny but cold, so, with the afternoon reaching half, I head back "home", with a small stop for supply management - finding another small supermarket. Matilde (my headache) came for another visit, so some tea and pain killer are the best way to garantee a smoot evening, in the company of the second of the 3 books that I brought... I'll be in trouble soon, with nothing to read - how am I going to escape working on my delayed stuff? :-P

Day 7: It seems that Im not only in the City, I'm also in the middle of a bell contest! Dio!!!! Small outing for getting some sun and exploring some stores, just a couple of hours. Then back because, though the apartment is serviced (meaning someone will clean it once a week, what a luxury!) I still need to do the laundry and, most annoying of all, the ironing. My quest for the milk pan was not successful, nor the one for a decently-sized mug - hey, I like my warm milk with my coffee and before I leave the house - not that there is any lack of Starbuck's around!

And what else?
Two national obsessions: eating well and "property". I've seen at least 4 different TV shows about people who want to buy and sell houses and apartments. Plus, the real estate agency that will help me find my next home tells me on Friday that they cannot let me know on what we are supposed to see on Tuesday, because the market is so volatile. The food issue is equally maniac: how many of your "5-a-day", Cooking shows (not only Jamie, though I have to say that he is tiresome, just cooks too fast! and is obsessed with olive oil!), chef shows, eat well, dieting is sad (from Pret) but it is easy to diet with Marks & Spencer...

Enough of my first week? Yes, think so... But bottom line is :-)



cat /dev/urandom said...

Wow! I got tired of all the running around just from reading it!

It seems you adapted quite well. At least this time you will not have to worry with understanding the natives. Or is the accent that bad? ;)

Good luck on the second week!


PAT said...

You seem to be getting along with the brits ;) it shoulg be nice to walk in the streets and understand everything said and written (.... almost everything at least)

Say Hi to prince William for me ;) please

A. said...

A Portuguese Wolf in London! :-D All the best! and keep us posted! :)*****