Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Moving is a serious pain. You would think that moving once every 5 years would be enough. You might even think that moving once in the last six months would prevent any plans for moving any time in the near future.

Apparently the pain of cramming all of our family in that tiny apartment in Bern was too much to handle for my wife and kids. There was no place for the kids to retreat. Any time they walked down the hall any louder than a tip-toe, and I would yell at them to walk more quietly. I am sure that the neighbor below appreciated this. Eventually, everybody realized they were miserable, my wife included. She even was toying around with taking the kids back to the US without me, until my contract to stay here finished out. What a revoltin' development!

My wife set out to find some place new. She found several places, all of which made my daily commute even worse than we already had. There was one in Oberscherli, which wasn't that far from our apartment in Bern. After a review of the public transportation, I found out that I would have to get a Post bus that comes twice an hour, and then take another bus to the Bern Bahnhof train station. Total projected commute time, one way: one hour 56 minutes. Up from one hour, 10 minutes. Amazing, considering that this place was only a few km away from the first apartment.

Oberdiessbach, even further away. The house was awesome, the view stunning, the commute beyond dreadful. Apparently Stacy was taking this this "One man's quiet suffering" idea to the morbid extreme.

Finally she found this cute little cottage two tram stops from the International School of Berne, within a short walk of Joey's baby sitter. A short tram ride from the Gümlingen train station, which takes me straight to Fribourg. The same rent as the apartment in Bern, more space, a yard to play in, a parking space, and a most spectacular view of the Alps from the dining room table.

Faced with the very uncomfortable prospect of paying double-rent for another 8 months, Stacy set out to find some renters for the apartment in Bern, so that we could break the lease with, as the Swiss call it "ein Nachmieter" (an after-renter). We set up an ad in the local newspapers, and on-line to find a renter right away. During the whole month of December, we had two visitors. (This is really not the best time of year to rent out an apartment). Things were looking pretty desperate, and we had no prospects to assume the rental of the apartment when we finally moved in January.

With so few prospects, this was an increasingly more revoltin' development!

Anybody who expressed a vague interest in the apartment was met with great enthusiasm on our part. We met everybody who wanted to see the apartment. There were a few guys who got out of medical school and were looking to find a place after their landlord decided he wanted his apartment back since he was coming back from an extended relocation to Ireland. They were desperate to find a place to live, they need it now! And I have just the place!

We showed them the place in the first few weeks of January, and they indicated their interest, eventually signing the lease two weeks ago, to take residence in the middle of February. Stacy had the protocol inspection with the tenants, a real estate agent, and a representative for the cleaning crew just yesterday, and as of last evening, we are finally free of that apartment! I should have a drink to celebrate.

We've been here for 6 weeks as of today, and have been settled in quite well. The kids seem happy -- something we certainly haven't seen in them during the crowded months at Somazzistrasse. We have met the two neighbors who share the house, a very nice lady above us, who was originally from Muri, lived in Berlin for 20-some years, and has recently moved back to Switzerland. The other neighbors have lived in this shared dwelling for a very long time. He first moved into this dwelling in 1945, when he was 8 years old. Retired, and terribly nice.

We have also gotten the "yellin' at" from the locals too. Not by the neighbors mentioned in the above paragraph, but by the neighbor who got angry at us for some cardboard we left out on the sidewalk, that wasn't picked up by the local trash company. As many of you Americans may think that the trash company is at fault for not picking up the trash, please understand that in this case, "the customer is not always right." Here, the trash company is usually right. We didn't follow the protocol for the recycling of cardboard and newspaper -- all cardboard has to be neatly tied up. We just chucked the cardboard -- neatly stacked -- into a big cardboard box and hoped for the best. We got away with this sort of behavior in Bern, but not here in the Worb Gemeinde.

Not good enough. They didn't pick it up, I didn't notice. A day went by. It rained. The angry neighbor shuffled through the papers, and found our address and left an anger-o-gram on the outside of the box. We didn't notice the cardboard or the anger-o-gram. Another day goes by. The neighbor visits Stacy during the day and gives Stacy a good yellin'-at -- in Bärndutsch. Well, in Switzerland, I guess it's not home until you get yelled at by a local about some critical trash or noise violation. The Swiss are sensitive to trash, and especially sensitive to noise.

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