Monday, January 7, 2013

The new apartment!

So, we're all moved into the new apartment, and I think we'll be happy here. Unlike the old apartment on Dunajska, which had furniture so unrelentingly tacky that it felt like walking through the most depressing thrift store in the world, and tiles on the walls with a milky white color oddly reminiscent of sperm, this new place has been tastefully furnished and renovated. It feels warm, cozy, and inviting, but is quite spacious (and only a little smaller than the old apartment, which was bigger than what we really needed). It's so nice to live in an apartment where I can look around in all directions without cringing and becoming morbidly depressed. I get profoundly bummed out when my visual surroundings are ugly, especially in the place where I live, which is a little quirk of mine. This new place is also a wee bit closer to the pedestrianized historical center than the Dunajska apartment.

This apartment is extremely quiet, so no more loud, beeping Tesco delivery trucks and exhaust fumes at 4:30 in the morning; no more old drunk guys hanging out right behind the building wailing tunelessly and leaving behind piles of garbage that never get picked up; no more men urinating against the wall of the building; no more bright Tesco lights blasting right outside the window; no more disgruntled Tesco employees on the nightshift sending large crates of garbage crashing into the dumpster at odd hours of the night.

Terezia was upset with me for not making the pillows look nicer for this photo.

The stairwell is also infinitely nicer than the one in the last place. (I don't have a photo of the last one, but trust me, it was kind of a dismal puke green and looked like something from a college dorm).

And there are views of cool things from the stairwell windows.

Here are some other plusses:

The new place has recycling! Slovakia's waste management ranks pretty poorly among EU countries, and recycling is not a mandatory thing the way it is in much of California. In the Stare Mesto, public recycling bins can be fairly elusive, depending on where you live. Many residential buildings have them, but many others don't. It's up to the owner of each building to obtain recycling bins, but that of course increases the garbage bill, and if the owner or a majority of the building's tenants don't want them, then you're out of luck. At the Dunajska apartment, there were unfortunately no recycling bins, and it always pained me to see other tenants just throwing bottles and cardboard into the trash.

The nearest public recycling bins to our former apartment were about five blocks away, and as a result we tended to let it accumulate to the point where we'd have too much to shlep on foot. That meant we had to sweet talk Terezia's brother Tony into coming by in his car periodically to help us transport it. And even then, sometimes those particular bins were full to overflowing, in which case we'd have to find some others, which usually meant driving up into the hills. It's absolutely crazy that Bratislava is so appallingly backwards in this regard, especially in this day and age, but it's not at all surprising.

But since the new place has recycling bins on the premises, that particular hassle is a thing of the past.

No centralized heating! It's not uncommon for residential buildings in Slovakia (and elsewhere in Europe) to have centralized heating, whereby heating for all of the apartments is controlled from a central system. In such buildings, tenants have no control over the heat in their apartments, and are completely at the mercy of what I always imagine to be this grumpy, soot-encrusted troll who controls the thing from the dimly lit basement. This was the situation in our old apartment, and it was far from ideal. I envisioned the heating system control panel to consist only of one massive, black vintage dial with two settings: off and sweltering. It seemed liked there was no in-between. This meant that from November through March, the apartment was so stiflingly hot that we always had to crack open a few windows and that, even if it was 15 below outside, we were walking around the place in t-shirts and shorts like it was summertime. It also meant that when it started to get cold in October, we had to wait for the outdoor temperature to be cold enough (something like below 13 degrees celsius for three consecutive days) before the soot-encrusted troll in the basement would turn the heat back on. This situation was obviously absurd on many levels, and it always struck me as extremely wasteful.

At the new place, each apartment controls its own heat, so we have full control over the climate, which is much preferable. Of course now we have to make a point of remembering to adjust it and to turn it down if we go out of town. Gas is included with all other utilities in our rent, but if we go over a certain amount, we have to pay the difference at the end of the year.

There is a balcony! What can I say, balconies are nice to have.


Some of the windows have screens! For whatever reason, windows in most European dwellings lack screens, which is odd to me because that means if it's summer and if you live near water, and if it's so hot that you have to keep your windows open at night, you will be invaded by a swarm of mosquitos. This was an ongoing problem at the Dunajska apartment. Every night we were eaten alive by mosquitos, and we would kill them by the dozens each day. Given that we are now closer to the Danube, I imagine that the mosquitos will only be worse in the summer, so the screens are awesome.

The bed in this apartment is way more comfortable! Not only does the bed look much more acceptable, but the mattress is so much more comfortable. The bed in the Dunajska apartment was offensively hideous, resembling the backseat of a 1970s pimp's Cadillac (the only thing it lacked was a pair of retractable coke mirrors in the built-in side tables). And its mattress was so hard that it was scarcely different from sleeping on the floor. It may have even contributed to my back blow-out last May.

The interior walls are about two feet thick, which is just kind of neat.

Oh, and there's this bizarre sculpture in the entryway to the building. I'm curious to know the story behind it.

See, it's actually a machine.

So, yay! We dig the place. Click here to see the full set of photos.

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