The past couple days have been up and down. I have put a lot of time into trying to find an apartment, but have nothing to show for it. One agent showed us three places on Monday. The first had no windows that opened (though was otherwise quite cute). The second and third were in the same building: a massive university building renovated—incompletely—into strangely laid-out apartments. The hallways had musty old carpets and wax-coated candelabras that put me in mind of Disney’s Haunted Mansion and Tim in mind of The Shining. On top of the creepy factor, the apartments themselves had only partial kitchens (microwaves and hot plates but not ovens or stoves). The agent didn’t seem to mind that we weren’t interested; in fact he seemed a little scornful of the building’s haphazard state, too, but said he didn’t have anything else to show us presently.
The most important part of our conversation, however, was unexpected. When we visited here in February, our first question was: do people ever parallel park into the canals? To us—seasoned parallelers from Cambridge—it seemed inevitable: tiny spaces, no curb whatsoever. We commenced to ask everyone we met if they’d ever seen a car parked into the canal, and everyone said no. It never happens. People are just that good.
Not so! Our real estate agent, without even being prompted, told us as we walked down a street called Lange Geer that over the winter he had seen a car slip near that very spot. (He had no idea how excited this made us.) The driver perhaps slid on the icy street and wound up with one tire over the edge. The canal was frozen solid and the ice plus the grip of the other three tires enabled him to get fully back on the road. Needless to say, we will have our eyes peeled come winter.
The next morning I went online and spent hours—literally—scouring other agencies’ rental sites, using Google to translate listings into English, and compiling a list I had very positive feelings about. There was one place in particular that I had high hopes might be perfect for us. Around lunchtime I went down to the agency’s office, met a representative, and showed her my list, starting with the listing I most wanted to see.
She dismissed the entire list in about five seconds. Three of my five properties were already rented, and the other two were not available for the date I wanted. I thanked her and left without asking why their website is so misleading, then went home and laid on the couch staring at the ceiling for a while. Tears may have been involved.
On the up side, I think I was later mistaken for a local (or at least a more knowledgeable person than I actually am) yesterday! This occurred at the bus stop outside IKEA. After significant motivational issues following the apartment agent smackdown, I decided to walk to IKEA and maybe buy cheap Tupperware and a flowerpot. This would have been over a mile walking each way, but I made it significantly longer by getting immensely lost.
Wandering the IKEA was therapeutic in the way IKEA usually is (for me, anyway), but I decided not to buy any of the things I went there seeking. I then browsed that strange part of IKEA that sells frozen meatballs and canned fish and sighted the large chocolate bars for .39. I have had a chocolate craving for about three days and decided that the chocolate bars were cheap enough and my walk had been victory enough that I could buy two bars. I left with four. (They were buy three, get one free! The grand total was E1.17.)
A girl was already waiting at the bus stop outside, and she asked me as I approached if the bus went to the main square. I said that I thought so. Deciding I couldn’t reasonably pretend to know anything else, I asked her if she knew how much the bus cost. She said she wasn’t certain, but thought maybe E2.40 or 2.50. Appalled, I excused myself and decided to walk home.
After all… that’s eight chocolate bars!
Today I have regained my confidence that our apartment hunt will, in the end, probably turn out fine. It’s fun to envision life in different spaces, even if you reject the first fifteen or so versions.
And now, off to the shops before they close at 17:00! I feel like cooking this evening….