As some of you know, I’ve left my forever/mostofthetimehome of Tbilisi and moved to Brussels, as my wife got posted over there. Now I’m in limbo, trying to juggle the boy, finding a nursery for him, and dreaming about returning to work and being productive once more. For now though, living in an Airbnb in a mess of boxes and plastic bottles and sitting in a broken office chair, it’s hard to get back in the productive mood.
The flight over was weirdly smooth. The biggest problems strangely were leaving Georgia. Our first issue was the decision to bring 13 bags to the airport. We knew it'd be expensive, but not that expensive. I had looked up the price the night before and rather than cheerfully enjoying some Georgian wine, I spent the entire night packing, unpacking and weighing bags--and even after that mess, coming to realize when I unpacked in Brussels many suitcases were still packed with frivolous things.
Lesson learnt: When moving abroad, always take that extra step of shipping your stuff in cargo. The main disadvantage though is that you expose your expensive items to customs, whereas carrying it with you means you're mostly immune from that (it's a personal, non-shipping item after all).
When the Georgian passport control lady (they are curiously all ladies) saw my last entry stamp (waaay over the legal limit of one year), she looked aghast, picked up the phone and made some calls. My wife and kid had already gone through, and I knew a long time had passed when my wife’s head came poking around the corner.
“No, no, they’re just having a chat,” I replied.
Erm, was something wrong? I realized the issue when she finally asked, “Do you have a residence here?”
“Yeah, here,” I gave her my card. Five more minutes passed. Finally she stamped my passport and waved me on through.
The baby in the air
I was mostly worried about my son Vato’s reaction to flying. I didn’t want to be the father of that baby. You know the one whose crying the entire trip, with projectile vomit and diahrrea, mixing in everybody’s bad time with shit and perfumed diaper smells. Lucky for us, the plane served as some kind of weird depressant. As soon as the air started pumping, he went right to sleep and missed the whole experience. We arrived in Istanbul and he started yawning awake.
The airport was manageable as well, except for the toy shop. I hate toy shops. And the prices of toys equally hate me. It was the only time we had to manage a screaming baby when we told him we could only buy one car, despite him holding six. I wanted to buy him no cars, but whatever. My original intent was to buy him the car, so bought one I did.
The next flight went with equal ease. Though he did wake up a bit to see what was going on and decided that sleeping was the better option. Fantastico. Though I agreed with him, I instead wasted my time watching some B-level film. It was such a good flick I forget what it was.
It’s a new airport. A bigger one than Attaturk. It was clear Attaturk was suffering traffic intake difficulties simply from the fact that our plane never got a gate. We always went down into a bus and rode for 30 minutes to the airport.
I was thinking Istanbul Airport would be bigger. We landed at a gate! So exciting! And then we descended some stairs down into a bus and rode around for 30 minutes. Given the reduced traffic from Covid, that did not bode well for the airport.
The interior is fairly nice. There’s certainly a lot more seating area and cafes than Attaturk, but it already felt near capacity. Maybe there was a hidden terminal they were keeping closed during Covidtimes, who knows. Whatever, good luck to them.
Arriving in Brussels
This is where things got weird. It was too easy. We stamped our ways through and they didn’t even ask for a vaccine proof or the PCR test results at the passport control. We did get a text message and an email later asking us to take two tests: one on the first day and one on the seventh day. We were to quarantine until the first positive result. There were several testing sites at the airport, but as we were in a hurry to get to the airbnb and put our exhausted baby to bed, we made the mistake of not doing the easy, line-less, super convenient test right there.
For those arriving in Brussels, do the test at the airport.
The next day, we got up and went to the nearest testing center. Apparently during a respiratory pandemic, jogging is super popular in Belgium. There was a kind of massive festival going on at the site of the pop-up clinic. People were everywhere celebrating, music playing, general ambient cheer. Such a gleefest evidently closed down the testing center. Ungh. I would have loved to join in the fun with a beer and waffle if not for the fact we should be laying low and getting a test.
That meant we had to jump on the metro and get to the next testing center. Another first for the kiddo! The boy loves trains, so this was an easy one. We got down the escalator and right at the incoming metro train he just starting saying, “Wow, choochoo train!” I think he just kind of shut down with his own exuberance when we stepped onto said choochoo train. He settled down and didn’t make any fuss. All this calmness a very strange thing for such a typically hyperactive young boy.