B. A. Baracus Says “Ich Bedauere den Dummkopf!”

I must have looked like a zombie today dropping the kids off for their second day at first grade because a woman I had met yesterday smiled sweetly at me and told me it takes one day to get over each hour of the time difference. Which means I should be my normal irritable self by Saturday.

While the jet lag has been a bitch — even the usually indefatigable Jessica has been dragging and the boys are wired at midnight — everything else has been (knock on wienerschnitzel) great. Our first two nights at the Swissotel were fun: The kids had an adjoining room and became enthralled with an hour of the classic 1980’s “The A-Team” dubbed in German. We breakfasted on cold meats and fishes and mueslix, and Jack and Adam loved visiting the gym. We showed them how to use the bike, threw an exercise ball around and took turns on the rowing machine, with me screaming “Row! Row!” as Adam and then Jack showed Head of the Charles potential. We were a tornado of family excitement in the empty gym until I saw a half-naked man lying on a chaise lounge behind a divider, basking under the warmth of a tanning light. His eyes were closed but I had a hard time believing he was relaxing, especially as Adam gleefully claimed responsibility for perfuming the mountain-laurel and cucumber spa air with his flatulence (recall his breakfast). The Americans are here!

We moved into our apartment the next day. It’s the top two floors in a hundred-plus year-old building across the street from an amazing park (a cafe in the center for daddy’s needs, and plenty of playground equipment and green grass for the kids). The apartment is wonderful: Big and clean with high ceilings. The boys have claimed the single huge room on the top floor  — a child fantasy come true. It has cathedral ceilings rising to twenty feet, a huge skylight, endless space and it’s all theirs. Downstairs we have two bathrooms, a modern stainless steel kitchen, our bedroom, a small guest room, small office and living room. There is a view of the spire of a classic church out the office window, and trees and five-story stone residences from the other windows. The water in the shower is hot and we have a washer and dryer. Paradise.

Well, almost.

The church bells ring every 15 minutes.

One load of laundry (wash and then dry) takes four hours to cycle through.

The freezer is tiny, holding about four Ben & Jerry’s containers (at $9.95, this won’t be a problem).

And… there’s a woman right below us who looks to be in her 80s. We have waved to her from the street and had a conversation in an extremely broken German/French/English mix up three stories, but have yet to swing by and say hello formally (we are thinking Saturday morning). She watches lots of German TV. And I can hear it. Which naturally drives me crazy.

On the first night, I could hear coughing and what sounded like death moans emanating from below.

The sounds are not loud, and can only be heard from our kitchen and bedroom. Jessica assures me they can really only be heard by me. But it is something for a neurotic obsessive like myself to focus on. Still, these should all be worst things about the apartment.

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