After the 4 lovely days in London I had to fly back to Switzerland, because my brother was driving there from The Netherlands and we'd be teaming up for a short trip to Italy! We spent the night on the floor in the empty home, and the next morning we set off for Italy. We had a short break on Lake Como, just across the border.
And then we continued to Bergamo, a town north east of Milan. A couple of friends had advised that this would be a beautiful place to stay. And well, what can I say, they were as right as right can be. Bergamo is an amazing town with this beautiful fortified old-town filled with amazing churches, little streets, towers, architecture and basically a lot of history.
After Bergamo we also visited Milano, where we were greeted by a horde of Glasgow Celtics football supporters. Apparently their team was playing AC Milan that evening. Not exactly how we had imagined it.
But all in all, Milan is a nice city, but not nearly as picturesque as Bergamo. After the 3rd and last night we drove back to Winterthur, where I went to return the keys to the rental agent and spent my last night in Switzerland at now ex-colleague Rémy's place while my brother Thomas continued his journey northwards back to The Netherlands.
With the house completely empty, there was nothing left to do but to go someplace else.
First I travelled to London to see my wife, and say bye to a few friends. Activities included some good South Indian curry near Earl's Court, hot chocolate at Caffé Vergnano, Korean food followed by a lot of alcohol somewhere central, and Pizza Express pizzas on Commercial Road. Also we had a little touristy trip with the Emirates cable cart and Thames Clipper ferry.
An interesting visit was on the Sunday, to the Tower Hamlets cemetery. A beautiful overgrown place with thousands upon thousands of old tombstones. It's one of the big 7 old cemeteries in London, and got closed down for burials in the 60s. Now it's this great but slightly sinister park to wander through.
Come Monday early morning, the 16th of February, The Big Move had arrived. The removalists entered the flat and started packing and deconstructing what furniture could be taken apart. The house turned into a total chaos!
Come day 2... not much was left standing, except half of a sofa for me to sleep on, and my beautiful English partner desk...
And on day 3 things started quite innocent, with a small van arriving and some wooden crates being made for some of the loudspeakers and large mirrors. But come mid day the massive 40-foot high-cube container arrived and the loading up began. There was a short outage of the lift, but luckily the rental agent fixed that within 20 minutes. In the end, they turned out to have wrapped everything in so much packaging material, that the container only barely closed!
In the end it turned out to be so much work that 4 extra guys were summoned to help with the packing, and still the loading up lasted until approximately 6 pm. There were a total of 376 parcels all together, large and small! With all that done the container got sealed and started its journey. By truck to the train. By rail to Rotterdam. And from there by ship, the OOCL Singapore, to Singapore where it will be shifted to another vessel to take it to Melbourne.
Before the great journey to Down Under, I undertook a couple of activities to say goodbye to Europe. February Friday the 13th had turned out to be an unlucky day for my employer, since it was my final day. I handed in my laptop, my access badge, shared a few goodbye-farewells, and wandered out with a lovely book about Winterthur kindly donated by my colleagues.
The weekend that followed was filled with Skiing (me) & Snowboarding (Veronika), and Chocolate Fondue.
I had tried Snowboarding the winter before, but didn't really make anything of it. Skiing on the contrary this time came quite naturally to me. No real bad crashes, but lots of nice gliding down the mountain!
But after that short stint of happiness, Veronika had to get back to London and it was time for the real move to begin...
The move is scheduled to start on Monday. In other words: Stress levels are up. Tempers are lost. Nerves are being wrecked. Loose ends are being tied up. It doesn't help that the people in charge of organising the whole international move are messing me about much more than is needed. But yesterday the removals company visited me and I guess things will be fine. But we will see... I don't believe anything until it's done and dusted.
And it had snowed a bit, so the air was fresh and crisp. That also helped. Walking around I realised that I will miss this lovely little old town, with its quirky homes, living among its funky rooftops. It's been a privilege to be able to live in such a beautiful hundreds of years old wooden Swiss old town loft flat.
But now the physical work begins. Tomorrow morning I'm handing in my badge and laptop at work. I've started to pack the luggage I will take to Australia in person, and to dismantle the HIFI systems. There were still a lot of boxes from the previous move left over. They will not be reused for Ocean freight, which needs more professional packing. So that's all sent for recycling now as well.
Now time to get on with the 1001 little tasks that need doing and arranging. Next up: collecting a repaired suit from the seamstress.
With only 4 weeks to go till I move over to Australia, I spent this weekend in The Netherlands. It was the last time for a long time to come, because I have no idea when I will get the chance again to visit the place. So I took this opportunity to see my parents and say goodbye for an undetermined but long amount of time.
By about then the captain came on the intercom and announced that we had just passed some lightning, and that everything was fine. It took a while for my heart to stop racing though. I don't think I've ever been so close to a heart attack.
Apparently there was a big storm above the Amsterdam area, and everyone was trying to land as soon as possible, and no plane was allowed to take off. So even though we had landed safely, we were not able to get to a gate because the airport was packed with planes that could go nowhere. In the end we ended up sitting and waiting in the plane for 2 whole hours. Why they were not able to let a plane waiting for take-off move away from a gate and swap it with us is a mystery to me. But oh well. I made it to my parents place eventually.
Monday early morning it was time to get back to Switzerland again. Despite the plane having some delay, I made it back home and back to work for the final 2 weeks.
Goodbye, Netherlands! See you sometime in the undefined future again!
And now the end of the Swiss adventure, and the start of the Australian, is really getting close. With exactly 1 month to go till my departure, today I deregistered as a Swiss resident.
To do so you have to first go to the 'Residents Office', and report that you are leaving. Then you have to walk across the street to the 'Tax Office' and say that you are leaving. They will get you a bunch of papers for your final tax declaration, and want you to make a deposit just in case you don't pay your tax after you already left. I refused this, and they still let me go. Not that they have a choice. Why wouldn't I pay that ittybitty tax anyway. I'd like to be able to return here for holidays and such! And then you have to walk back across the street to the first mentioned office again to get deliver a document the Tax Office gave you, and to get a document (see picture) that confirms you deregistered. Why on earth they can't just put this stuff at the same desk with the same person...? That's Swiss bureaucracy for you.
Anyway, in the end the final document cost 30 Swiss Franks, and then I was allowed to go.
This was the first time I went to do a snowshoe walk, so I borrowed some gear from two of the friendly group members, and had a load of fun. Definitely something I'd like to do again. It's so amazingly peaceful to be in the quiet snowed under mountains. Much better than hurtling down on some kind of board actually.
There's some pictures to be found overhere.
While there's still a little time left to enjoy this part of the world I went out and about to visit the Bodensee area today. Armed with an iPhone 5s I did manage to make a few photos and a couple videos, because the visit went to the quite photogenic little island Mainau.
The photos can be found overhere, in the very first lookbook.
One prominent building on the island contains a butterfly home, as can be seen in this short video:
At some point it was time for a drink and bite. And funnily enough the birds thought the same, and were quite happy to come inside when nobody was guarding the entrance:
All in all, happy days! Lovely to be out there. And there was one Australian palm tree, so the trip counts as preparation for Australia too. Win!!! ;-)
I just got the UPS notification that my Airdroid Pocketdrone is finally on its way to me! JUST in time for the move to Australia! So I'll be able to take it with me and do some early Melbourne reconnaissance with it! Bloody awesome. So, time to catch up on the rules and regulations regarding flying drones. Luckily, for recreational (non-commercial) use they are not so bad at all. Merely common sense things really:
Stay at least 30 metres away from people with your drone.
Awesome. Can't wait!
Money's a bitch, isn't it?
I've been busy getting my affairs in order, and it's a long journey, but I'm getting somewhere. 2 Months ago my Dutch flat was sold. With a remaining debt, sadly. That's still in the process of being resolved.
Today I got rid of a remaining tax debt.
And I transfered the first funds to Australia, with Transferwise. So I had to update my budgeting Numbers spreadsheet to add the "Australian account" to the ever more complicated list. Netherlands, England, Switzerland, Australia, Wife. Life ain't easy!
But at least all flights have been booked. Last visit to The Netherlands. Last visit to England. Travel to Australia. First visit of wife. We'll be cranking up airmiles :-D