Time Flies When You’re in a Foreign Country

It’s hard to believe we’ll have been here three weeks on Tuesday, and while we’re talking about things that are hard to believe – Tuesday really can’t be Christmas, can it?

I’ve started writing this at least once every couple days, and each time I’ve abandoned what meager progress I’ve made. Maybe this time I’ll figure out how to summarize the couple weeks that have passed since my last update….

When last we left our heroes they were generally awash in a sea of French, and had managed to negotiate the purchase and delivery of a clothes washer and dryer.

Washing clothes, it turns out, makes a huge difference in our ability to feel settled in a place. Never mind that loads take two hours to wash. And another ninety minutes to dry. Or that the dryer is a condenser, so you have to empty two lint screens and a water collection vessel after every load. We have clean clothes, damnit.

Since buying the washer/dryer – we’ve purchased pretty much an entire apartments worth of furniture from Ikea, learned that for 40€ they’ll deliver up to 500kg to the curb outside our (4th floor) apartment, and learned that moving 500kg of flat pack furniture up to the fourth floor is serious freaking work.

Especially hoisting the 160cm mattress up five flights of stairs when we discoverd it wouldn’t fit into the lift.

Never mind getting a bunch of that 500kg up the spiral stairs in the apartment. Or putting it all together.

As of now, the bedroom (bed, including mattress and linens, our nightstands and reading lamps, our dressers, an Nise’s armoir), the dining room (table and six chairs), the lounge room (a couple sideboards, coffee table, and sofas that’ll be delivered on the 5th), our dishes, glassware, silverware, dish towels, and nearly everything else non-consumable is Ikea sourced.

And somewhat to my surprise, the place doesn’t feel particularly generic. Ikea has figured out how to provide enough variation in each category that you can mix and match, and feel like you’re putting “your” collection together.

And I have to say Ikea’s designers are nothing short of amazing. Not only coming up with finished pieces that can be assembled with a hex key, a phillips screwdriver, and a mallet, but optimally packaging, and producing nearly idiot-proof assembly instructions without a single word of any language. Seriously impressive.

We’ve seen a movie (Wreck it Ralph), bought a TV, ordered cheese in french from the cheese monger and got what we wanted and managed to sign up for the various hypermarche loyalty cards (ok, those are really Dawnise’s victories, but I’m sharing it vicariously).

We’re getting down to the last few major items we know we need – which is mostly rugs, ’cause every surface in the apartment is hard, and it’s a giant echo chamber.

And that’s good, ’cause were both totally sick of shopping.

Perhaps most impressively, we’ve managed to feed ourselves, which – if you know us – is no mean feat. We realized that we hadn’t seen prepared chicken stock in any of the shops we’d been at – and chicken stock is something of a staple of our diets. Dawnise makes great risotto, starting with chicken stock. And fantastic split-pea and lentil soups – starting with – you guessed it – chicken stock. Turns out the closest we could get was either bullion or fond – so we decided to do what any self-respecting cook would do.

Roast a chicken and make stock.

At which point we learned that the chickens we could find are quite small compared to what we’re used to, but were actually quite tasty as well. (And the roast chicken and veggie stock was a great base for the lardon and mushroom risotto, which we’re totally making again.)

We’ve enjoyed the baked goods, the cured meats, the cheeses, and I’ve quite enjoyed the wine.

And we’ve both managed to lose weight since arriving.

So that’s pretty nice.

We’re keeping our eyes out for a suitable quiche pan. I fear the weight loss won’t last.

Oh, and we’ve gone to Germany. Specifically, we spent our anniversary wandering around Tier and seeing their Christmas market.

Including Belgium (Ikea is just across the border) that’s three countries in as many weeks.

Four for me if you count the day business trip to Paris.

Now that’s what I’m taking about.

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