A Pictorial Tour of My Apartment

There is not much to say about work this week. The scientist at the ESO are using the LINUX operating system on their computers, and most of them use the Emacs editor for writing files, starting programs, etc. But it has been five or six years since I was around a UNIX operating system, and I have never had the opportunity to learn the rather arcane (but popular among computer gurus) Emacs editor. So my computing day is nearly as frustrating as my speaking day. I just want to open a simple file and merge it with another one, and this 20 second job takes me nearly an hour to figure out. Emacs is famous for having a bezillion key combinations for doing something simple. Once you learn the secret incantations, you are a member of the club. But learning them is nearly as painful as placing my order in the cafeteria at lunch. I know what I want, I just have no way to communicate it effectively. Oh, well, it does us all good to learn something new once in awhile, is what I tell my wife.

So, instead of telling you more about work, I thought I would just give you a quick tour of my apartment. I am now located on a quiet street about a block from the Rathaus, or village government building, usually the center of a village like Garching. There are a number of shops and restaurants located in the same plaza area, and a decent sized bookstore, which I haven’t been in yet. Pizza Hut is here (making deliveries in the neighborhood), but no McDonalds yet, thank goodness. No doubt there will be the demographic for it as soon as the U-Bahn is completed from Hochbrück, about 1.5 km west of here to the Technical University of Munich about 1.5 km northeast of here. Either end of Garching is torn up with the makings of the new line, but the worst is yet to come, when they attack right though the heart of the village. I can’t imagine what that will be like. The Post Office is around the corner, with my favorite döner stand perched in front of it.

I’m on the third floor of a six unit apartment building, two apartments on each floor. There are no elevators in the building. As you come in the apartment there is a small alcove with a coat rack and wooden wardrobe on the right, and the bathroom on the left. The bathrooms in Germany (at least the ones I’ve seen) come with great massive bathtubs and some little hand-held guizmo you hold over your head with one hand for a shower. I don’t know why anyone would take a shower though, the bathtubs are so comfortable. You fill it up with hot water and a bit of dish soap (I’m sure there must be bubble bath in Germany, but I haven’t located it yet), grab a glass of wine and a book and you just relax. The only thing that’s missing is a cigar, and I haven’t found that yet either. (Cigarettes are a dime a dozen, however, and can be purchased from any of a dozen outside vending machines on the walk across the Rathaus plaza. The only reason I can imagine Germans aren’t dying in record numbers is that the beer and bread convey upon them a special dispensation from the Pope.)

The couch against the far wall. View From the Entry Way This is the view after stepping into the apartment and walking by the door to the bathroom. The kitchen and balcony are off in the far left-hand corner, and I am standing just at the end of my bed, which pushes off into a little alcove immediately to my left. The corner of the dining table is on the right of the picture. The window over the couch opens out on the back yard, or garden, as they are called in Europe. Mine is full of apple trees which block the view of anyone wanting to look in my windows and see me modeling my new thong bikini swimsuit.

The bed in the opposite direction. View Looking Toward the Entry Way This is the view from the opposite direction of the last picture, looking now toward my bed. I’ve closed the entry alcove door in this picture, but just through it and to the right is the bathroom. Nice bookshelves and cabinets line the wall to the right, and you can see the stairs to the loft in the picture. The bed has a rather soft mattress, and I noticed there was another mattress in the loft. I may sleep in the loft tonight to see if I prefer the harder surface there.

The dining room table. The Dining Room Table The dining room table occupies the corner of the room opposite the kitchen. Unfortunately, there is only one telephone jack in the apartment and it is located in the worst possible location, directly behind the nearly built-in benches for the table. This means I have to climb over my guests to answer the phone, and I have to bring my computer down from the loft if I want to hook up to the Internet. If you call me, let the phone ring a long time. If I’m upstairs I will not be running down in a hurry. (See below.)

The kitchen. View of the Kitchen In the corner of the room opposite the dining table, there is a little room containing the kitchen. It is reasonably furnished with pots and pans, dishes, utensils, etc. The only thing it really doesn’t have that it needs dearly are food storage containers. If I cook, I have nowhere to store the leftovers and I must either eat them or throw them away. (The way I cook I don’t have to give any great thought to this decision, but still, it would be nice to have an alternative.) Unlike my last apartment, this one is furnished with several good sized mugs, so the tea kettle is getting more of a workout. The balcony is just behind my back, and you look out onto it from a window in the kitchen.

The stairs to the loft. Stairs to the Loft The stairs to the loft are, uh, steep. Very steep. If you are in the loft looking down, you understand immediately that the builder had a fire-pole like effect in mind and had to come to some sort of a compromise with the Planning Commission, which required him to put small footpads every eight inches down the pole. The ironing board and clothes drying rack (another staple in German apartments) are in the loft, so clearly you are meant to carry a basket of laundry up and down those steps, which would be, in my humble opinion, suicide. I have been down these stairs several times, and not once yet without a death grip on the bannister. Notice that the stairs have been cut out for each foot. This is so the structure would meet the building requirements for “stairs” and not “ladder.” If you don’t hear from me for a few days, you can look for me at the bottom of these stairs, in a heap.

The balcony. The Balcony I have a little balcony off the kitchen and a small door leading to it from the living room. I’ve taken this picture through the kitchen window, but it is raining hard outside, so I haven’t taken a picture from the balcony itself. Large trees grow all around and make this a nice, private area to sit when the weather is more agreeable.

The loft. The Loft Here is my desk in the loft where I work and write my journal entries. There is a couch just behind me, and just as it is at home, it is full of laundry waiting to be ironed and put away. (I am building my courage to take it down the stairs.) There are two skylights overhead, which--I notice now--show definite signs of leakage, but make the loft sunny and pleasant during the day. If the phone on the wall were a real phone, this apartment would be perfect, but alas that is a door phone, which I would use to let guests in downstairs if I were to get any. Track lighting makes this an excellent place to read and work on my language lessons in the evening. There is even enough light to make out the words in my pocket German dictionary. (I was thinking on my walk to work this morning that one way to tell you are completely out of your routine is to measure how many hours a day you spend looking for your glasses. I absolutely cannot remember where I have put them. My greatest fear is having to go down that ladder without them!)

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