Can we go home now? First days in Prague...
|Prague, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, was voted the top 2015 holiday destination by readers of USA Today.|
"Can we go home now?" I implored when Stéphane and I stopped in yet another café to escape the freezing wind that was numbing our noses and feet. "Prague is a really beautiful city and I'm sure we could be happy here, but I just want to go home."
Home, in my mind, is Paris. It's our sunny apartment with views of the Seine from the living room and the Eiffel Tower from the balcony. Home is where I have friends. It's where I understand the language, even if I always seem to find new ways to mangle it. Home is where I know how to get from point A to point B. It's the city where I spent the majority of the last five years building a life.
Stéphane and I arrived in Prague on New Year's Eve. It seemed an auspicious date to start the next chapter of our lives. Thanks to a friend's recommendation, we counted down the last minutes of 2015 from inside the 15th century Jindřišská Tower, the highest freestanding bell tower in Prague that houses the two-story Zvonice Restaurant, a museum, a gallery and a set of ten cast bronze bells in the tower attic. Colorful fireworks exploded outside the gothic windows as fluffy snowflakes began to fall. Smiling confidently at each other, Stéphane and I clinked our glasses of Piper-Heidsieck champagne to 2016, a year of new beginnings.
|Happy New Year from snowy Prague!|
Three days later, I wanted to hop on the first Paris bound flight and retreat back into my familiar life, the one that fit like a comfortable old shoe.
Our apartment search, which is the main reason we arrived three days before the start of Stéphane's new job, isn't going quite as well as I hoped. After perusing the shortlist of flats sent by the real estate agent, Stéphane and I did some sleuthing on the internet to determine the apartments' exact locations. Armed with maps and tram tickets, we set out on a covert reconnaissance mission before my official visit with the real estate agent on Tuesday.
Even though my friend Joseph the Butler had warned me that there are LOTS of tourists in the medieval center of Prague, we couldn't envisage the hordes of people that swarmed past the entrance of the first apartment we visited. Trying not to lose sight of Stéphane's hat as a group of tourists blindly followed their guide's upraised umbrella, I tried to imagine carrying bags of groceries home during the peak tourist season in the summer. Impossible!
Another apartment, a duplex with a terrace overlooking the Vltava River, was easy to locate after Google Earth revealed it was near a sex gadget shop. While Stéphane and I joked that the store would be a memorable landmark, the apartment's location was a little bit too far from the busy center.
We sadly crossed a beautiful triplex apartment off the list when our sleuthing revealed that it's in the same building as a hostel and next to the John Lennon pub. While Stéphane, who had fallen in love with photos of the flat, wasn't discouraged by the thought of drunken tourists returning to the hostel in the wee hours of the morning, I reminded him that we would probably be happier living in a place where we could sleep with the windows open. Prague's cheap beer is notorious for attracting boisterous stag parties.
The good news is that one of the apartments that I had originally rejected proved to be an interesting possibility during Stephane's and my reconnaissance mission. It's in a central location yet far enough off the beaten path that we won't have to dodge tourists to get in the front door. Fingers crossed that it feels like home inside. I'll find out when I visit with the real estate agent tomorrow.
|Will this Art Nouveau building be "home" for the next couple of years?|
|Coincidentally, one of the possible apartments is located near Jindřišská Tower, the place where Stéphane and I celebrated New Year's Eve.|