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.

Comments

  1. Hey Mary,

    Wishing you good luck in your new settlement and a great 2016 !
    - would you happen to know of any american blogger leaving in Paris that would be interested in contributing to a new startup project?
    My company Walk My Steps provides (private tours to discover the best of cultural Paris), and we are looking for great writers/bloggers to help us enhance our content for international travellers.

    Let me know

    In the meantime, "bon courage" with your settling down !

    Cheers
    Dom

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    1. Hi Dom,

      Thanks for the "bon courage"! Sorry for the late reply but things have been a bit busy with the move.

      I'd suggest contacting Lisa Czarina of Ella Coquine . She's a great writer.

      Best wishes for Walk My Steps.

      Mary Kay

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  2. oh Mary Kay - I hope that you will find the right place!! Good luck to you as you seek out everything in your new home city. It's a tough time of year to make a move. I know you'll find much to love and embrace in Prague -- but you're right, it would be much easier to be "home"! Thinking of you all.

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    1. Kim,

      Thanks for your comment! Things are looking much better now than they were when I wrote this post.

      I'm sad that we never did get together for that glass of wine before I moved. Hopefully we'll be able to get together the next time I'm in Paris ... or if you come to Prague!

      In the meantime, let's stay in touch on social media.

      Thanks again!

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  3. Hang in there. Paris hardly felt like home when you first got there, right?

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    1. Anne, I wish you knew how many times I've had the thought, "If only there was a blogger like Anne in Prague". Your posts are what kept me going my first days, weeks and months in Paris when I felt all alone in a strange city. Thank you!

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  4. Moving to a new place is tough. I'm surprised by some of the little things that have been amazing (heated underground parking) but other little things that have been terrible (the water is undrinkable, and killed my water filter in less than two weeks). But---the thrill of the newness and the adventure of it all is great! :)

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    1. Bridget, The water in MN is undrinkable?! But it's the Land of a Thousand Lakes". What is the world coming to? On the other hand, the heated underground parking has to be really nice. I'm happy that you're thriving in the newness and adventure of it all! I know how hard it was for you to leave your life in Boston.

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    2. I mean: it's not unsafe to drink. But it tastes awful. And I'm not really sure why. St. Paul water is so good, but Plymouth is horrible. I've figured out that a bit of acid (vinegar or lemon) helps, but it's tough to only drink "flavored" water or tea all the time. Sometimes a girl just wants plain old water! I've been going to my parent's place and filling up jugs, though, so at least I have some tasty water when I'm craving it. I just wish it came out of the tap!

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  5. Hang in there! Im sure arriving at such a dark and cold time of year also makes it more difficult. I can't wait to see where you end up living!

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    1. Thanks for the words of encouragement, Kristen! Now that the days are getting longer, life already looks much better. Seeing all of the American students in Prague has me thinking that this must have been a great place for you to have studied abroad. I hope that you'll feel like visiting it again while we're here!

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  6. I think everything is near a sex shop in Prague. Definitely find somewhere you can dodge the drunken tourists (just think, if this is it in winter, what will summer be?) but I'm sure you'll find somewhere great! You're making me nostalgic for my brief time there :)

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    1. Ha! There certainly are a lot of sex shops in Prague. Oddly enough, I have yet to see anyone going in or coming out of one. Do you suppose that they're actually fronts for something more mundane, like an accounting firm, perhaps?! ;) I hope that my posts will make you so nostalgic that you'll come for a visit. It would be great to see you again!

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  7. Bonjour! Can't wait to see your new nest! I will be in Paris for a week beginning tomorrow and am so looking forward to it!

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    1. I hope you had a wonderful time while you were in Paris, Kate! We found a new nest and will be moving in on Monday. Woohoo!

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  8. Prague is a beautiful city. We really enjoyed our visit there as well as other parts of the Czech Republic. Living there is another story. I wish you the best. Of course, Paris ... one can never get tired of Paris.

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