This Isn't Heaven, This Sucks

So it’s been a while since Team McLennan last let the world know about their little adventure in Amsterdam. Well, I hope you’re comfortable, because this is going to be a long post. In fact, it’s going to be a few long posts. Today, we’ll start with a tour or the apartment the university assigned us.

The few days after we arrived in Belgium were pretty uneventful, aside from the luggage incident, so there’s nothing really to write about there, except that we had to scrap our trip to Paris that weekend waiting for my luggage. However, that wasn’t a big deal, as Paris will still be there, and because of Joe’s Friends & Family benefit with Marriott, we were able to cancel our rooms with no penalty. (Thanks again, Joe.)

The big move to Amsterdam came August 16. Staci & Christine (Jon’s wife) took the train to Amsterdam with my nephew Marcus and Jon & I drove the car with all the luggage. Jon & I arrived in Amsterdam before the girls, so we had to wait around ~1hr before they got to the housing office. (They lolly-gaged it from the train station to the rental office, then didn’t answer their mobile when we tried calling to find out where they were. But I’m not bitter.)

So anyways, they arrive and we get checked into the “2 bedroom apartment”.1 There are many things wrong with the space being called “2 bedroom” or “apartment”. Compartmentalized storage space is more like it. Let’s start the tour.

Bathroom (5’x8′)

Shower Toilet & Shower Drain Sink & Washer Hookup
Click images to enlarge

First up is our own private bathroom. (No sharing for these capitalist pig Americans!) The shower area and toilet were on one side of the room, a sink in the middle of the wall opposite the door, then an open area that looked like a washer and dryer could be placed. It had an all tile floor and a drain in the corner near the shower head area. A shower curtain surrounded the shower area, which ran right next to the toilet, so you couldn’t sit on the toilet with the shower curtain closed. A positive is you could shower on the toilet if it was a rough night and you’re just too hung-over to stand while showering, but I never got the opportunity to try that out, which I’m sure Staci’s thrilled about.

Kitchen (8’x8′)

Rusty Hotplate Crack
Sink & Counter-top Kitchen & Dining Area
Click images to enlarge

Next up we have the kitchen. There is a new, large dorm fridge that works very well. That is pretty much the only thing about the kitchen that is new or works. The electric 4-burner cook-top built into the counter top doesn’t work, but rather than fix it, the rental company brought in a 2-burner hot-plate, complete with rust, and set it on top of the non-working cook-top. The counter-top has large cracks in it character, and the sink drains at a rate of ~1 cup/hr. The unit was previously used as handicap accessible2 housing, which can only add to the value of this charming apartment. The cooking area and attached cabinets can be raised and lowered to accommodate a wide range of resident heights, from midgets to the freakishly tall and everyone in between! The floor in the kitchen area has a 5’x5′ tiled area to make clean up a snap, for example when the sink over-flows due to the water being left on for more then 10secs. No wet carpet for our discerning residents! A table with a nice floral patterned vinyl tablecloth (which brings the room together nicely) against the wall opposite the cooking area serves as the dining area. To make up for the lack of cabinet space, they placed a wardrobe in the corner next to the refrigerator. It goes well with the one in the bedroom.

Living Room

Water Stain Infinite Smallness
Mystery Stain The TV
Click images to enlarge

Next up on the tour we come to the living room. It contains a table (like the one in the dining room, but without the tablecloth) which serves as the studying area. Next to it is the ~14″ high TV cart (with wheels!) and the 13″ color TV. There were two chairs to sit on and relax while watching the TV, but no couch. Frankly, there wasn’t much room for a couch with anything else in the area. Maybe a love seat or small futon could have worked, but we didn’t spend the time trying to figure out the logistics.


Water Damage & Mold Wider View of Water Damage & Mold The 'Double' Bed
Romantic, yeah. Passionate. The View The Wardrobe That Holds 4 Items
Click images to enlarge

Last up on the tour we come to the bedroom. It has a built-in closet (a rarity in European apartments) and a movable wardrobe (just like in the kitchen.) Originally, our bedroom had a “double” bed3, but us being fat, lazy Americans, we needed more bed space, so we had them bring in a single, too. (We planned on making one big bed out of the two beds, but the single bed was ~4″ higher than the double bed, so some adjustments were made. We pushed them together, and I slept on the double and Staci slept on the single. Yeah, it’s as romantic as it sounds. Definitely try this setup the next time you and your special lady (or man) friend go on a romantic getaway. It’s easy. Just have the hotel bring in a roll away bed, push it next to the main bed and have the smaller person sleep on the roll away. Guaranteed the most romantic night of your life.)

And with that bit of relationship advice, our tour concludes. But before we go, let me tell you about a few of the afore-unmentioned bonus features:

  • Water-stained walls
  • Mold
  • Mystery stains on the carpet
  • Mailbox that needs no key because it’s an old drop-box with a 6″ opening
  • Conveniently located next to the main entrance on the ground floor

Needless to say we were in absolute shock when we walked into the apartment for the first time. We had prepared ourselves for the worst since we knew before hand how small it was going to be (46m2 or ~495 sq ft) but the condition of the place was just disgusting. The walls were dirty, there was water damage to the walls in a couple of areas (in the bedroom near the closet, which also had mold to go along with the water damage; and on the wall next to the “patio” door, the patio being an area outside in the main common area that had no barrier from the outside world.)

About the only positives this place had were 1) it was relatively cheap (€640/mth, ~$865/mth,) 2) cable was already setup, 3) internet access was easy just a quick walk over to the cable office to give them a MAC address so they could allow our computers on the network, and 4) a bar was ~50′ form our apartment in the courtyard. That’s it. Anything else I could say about the place is negative. I’m not sure the pictures can do this place justice, though they give you a pretty good idea. Needless to say, we only stayed there a few days.

1. In fairness to the rental company, they don’t list it as a 2 bedroom apartment, but the university does. They fight about it all the time but the university still just lumps it in with the 2 bedroom listings.
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2. The apartment wasn’t truly handicap accessible, as the bathroom has an 8″ step up, rendering it inaccessible for someone in a wheelchair to live on their own in this place.
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3. By “double”, they meant 1.25x bigger than a single, and by single, they meant child’s bed.
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  1. […] This is part 2 of Team McLennan and the Journey to a New Land. If you’re just joining us, check out Part 1: This Isn’t Heaven, This Sucks. […]

  2. OMG!! That would have been a hysterical read had it not been for the fact that it really happened to my own family members! What a nightmare! So sorry to hear you had to live in that for even a few days! Madness.

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