Well, we have finally made it to Haarlem and are all settled in our lovely little apartment. We love it here, although the move was more difficult than we had anticipated. I have no idea how two people who came to the Netherlands from London with only a few suitcases managed to accumulate so much stuff in six months!
The Friday before last was the day of the big move. Willem and I had spent the entire day Thursday packing all of our stuff in Tilburg into boxes and cleaning the apartment from top to bottom. As I mentioned in my previous post on house hunting in Haarlem, many people in the Netherlands bring their entire floors and kitchens with them when they move, so outgoing tenants are usually required to strip the floors of any carpet or other flooring, as well as detach and remove all kitchen appliances and cabinets before they vacate the apartment. This provides a clean slate for the incoming tenant to customize the apartment with their own items. We were lucky enough to find new renters who were willing to keep the floors that were already installed, saving us the hassle of ripping up 50 square meters of flooring. However, the things we did have to do to ready the apartment for the final inspection before moving still kept us busy for the better part of two days.
On Friday, I woke up before the sun rose in order to take the train to Haarlem ahead of Willem in order to prepare our new apartment for the move-in. Willem and his cousin planned to load the van without me and drive it to Haarlem to meet me, where we would all move the stuff into the apartment. I got to the new place around 10am, and got started putting together what seemed like endless IKEA bookshelves and tables. Six hours later, my hands were scraped up and swollen, and my knees were killing me from kneeling on hard floors for hours, but the products of my work were all in place (and they look good, if I do say so myself!). If anyone ever needs an emergency furniture putter-together, I’m your girl. I could put together a Billy bookshelf in my sleep now!
About the time I was congratulating myself on my IKEA-building skills, I started to wonder where the boys were with all of our stuff. It turns out moving takes an inordinate amount of time when you have to carry each box down two long hallways, three flights of stairs and out to the street where the van is parked.
By the time Willem arrived with the van in Haarlem, it was 8pm. We immediately started to unload the big items of furniture. I wasn’t much help with the furniture, mostly because it was impossible for more than two people to move up the three tiny, winding staircases from the bookshop to our apartment. So the poor guys were left to suffer, trying to figure out how a couch wider than the stairwell was going to ever get upstairs. Oh, the joys of moving in Europe!
It was after midnight before Willem’s cousin had left and we had finished getting everything dumped into the living room of the apartment. I’m pretty sure I had walked up and down the three floors at least 100 times by that point. We decided to admit defeat for one day, and retired for our first night as residents of Haarlem. The next morning we got back to work, and spent the entire day unpacking and making the apartment our home. Instead of describing how the process went, I figured it would be more interesting to illustrate the transformation in pictures. Welcome to our new home in Haarlem!