Not long after I wrote the previous post in the Frankfurt Airport, waiting for my flight to Luxembourg, I received an email on my fancy blackberry (provided by The Company) that the car I had reserved to be picked up that afternoon when I landed in Lux was not going to be ready until the following morning :(. I sort of figured something like this would happen... everyone I talked to about getting an automatic transmission car in Europe either thought I was crazy to even ask, or had their own story about reserving an automatic and getting a manual. Thus I already had the back up plan in my head--take a taxi to my apartment, and then another taxi back to the airport the next day to get the car. I started the string of emails to everyone saying that I'd be in late on Friday because I won't have a car in time. I was annoyed for sure... but also a little relieved that I wasn't going to have to try to drive in a new country after a few days without sleep. When I got to the Luxembourg airport though, I decided to go to the
rental car desk just in case, and they had a car for me after all! It's an Audi a3 TDI (automatic!)... probably the nicest car I've ever driven, and it might even get better fuel mileage than my Hyundai. Its diesel engine is probably more efficient of course, but it also shuts off the engine after you've been stopped for more than a few seconds, and turns it back on when you take your foot off the break. The engine turns on and off a lot in the city, but I've always heard / read that idling for more than about 15 seconds negates whatever extra fuel is used in starting the engine... so hopefully it actually improves fuel economy a little (and doesn't wear out the engine too quickly...).
So anyway, I got the car, and managed to make it to the apartment that was reserved for me! It's a nice place, and the owner seems nice. It's fully furnished complete with a small kitchen, laundry service and internet (for a fee of course), and fold out bed :). I'll post a virtual tour soon!
Thursday night I pretty much passed out as soon as I got in and settled, and it was still hard to wake up Friday morning. When I finally got moving it took me about twice as long as I thought it would to get to work both because my route took me right through traffic in the city, and because I got lost, but I made it eventually and had a full day of meeting people, trying to understand French, etc. The people hosting me are great--they're all trying to make sure that I'm both able to contribute to the work they've brought me here too do, and able to have an excellent personal experience here traveling and learning about new places and cultures! I really am so lucky to have this opportunity!
I got home late Friday... about 7:45 :(. That shouldn't happen too often... just a long first day. Today (Saturday) was more exciting though! Here's the first official mel-cast about my day today!
Also, I forgot to mention that I found people on the street who had a big truck full of apples and some wooden barrels, and they were selling bottles of apple juice that they made right there on the street! Delicious!