Almost four years it’s been since that first trip to Prague that had me wondering affectionately whether it was a city I could see myself living in.
For a short while I was in two minds, I ended up in Helsinki and Stockholm before making the more definite decision that Prague was the place to be.
In hindsight I know I made the right choice. The city has eased me into it’s arms like a loving mother and now I’m as comfortable here as I am the other half my time that I spend in Newcastle.
If climate change really is already taking effect then I shouldn’t be surprised at the balmy summers here. During the winter time – as it is now – it’s easy to forget just how warm it gets during the middle of the year, but looking back a few months I recall almost every day would mean two or three changes of clothes. It didn’t help that my apartment was on the top floor of a central building that failed to install an elevator.
Fortunately I now have an even more central apartment, bang in the heart of the city just a stone’s throw from Wencelass Square. You’d never guess though, it’s as quiet as being sat in the middle of the ocean. I guess these old buildings have thick walls.
Since I’m lucky enough to not have to work in Prague my days are spent with friends, enjoying the sunshine and scenery of the fairytale city, reading, or phases of meditating – which I’m currently creating the habit for again. I seem to spend a lot of time riding about the city on bicycle’s. I use the bike sharing app Rekola, given that my own bike that I bought got stolen after I left it chained up by the river a couple of days. It wasn’t expensive, but it was disheartening to see it had vanished that day. I looked on in disbelief for a moment or two. You never REALLY think someone will thieve from you until it actually happens.
The pink bikes from Rekola clearly have far less street credibility, and since public transport passes are so inexpensive here it probably seems strange to be using them, but I enjoy the fun, and health factor. All that leg exercise keeps the testosterone high.
I’ll even admit to being mildly self amused by the faces on passers by as I swoop right by. Occasionally I’ll ring the bell right behind them to give them a fright, not in a barbarous way, just to make myself chuckle.
It surprises me that there are no cycle lanes in the city. The fact every other Czech person in Prague seems to have a cottage to go to at the weekend leads me to believe they enjoy an outdoor life. There are tons of places to roller blade and river jetty’s to kayak, or even swim from, but the idea of cycle lanes in the city – just as in Newcastle – seems beyond comprehension for these city planners.
I think today’s temperature is minus 6 degrees celsius, but the thermometer regularly drops further. It gets so cold in the winters that you can ice skate on the lakes here. I find that as disconcerting as I do endearing. Especially when you see potential patches of thin ice, but these are things that you simply don’t have the option for back home. Just like regular snowfall or roasted horse-chestnuts, the Uk lacks these guarantees.
The number one question I get asked here is, why did you choose Prague. This baffles me, especially if it’s from a non native resident, surely they would already know the reason I chose Prague for its most likely the very same reason that they chose Prague. The feeling of the nonchalant vibrancy in the city. The plethora of things to do and places to go in and around the city. The pleasant mild summer nights when you can still walk around in a t-shirt at 9pm without feeling a chill. The winter wonderland feel when everything gets covered in snowflakes at this time of year. The distinct lack of wind in the air that warrants each day to be a good hair day. Of course, the relative cost of living in comparison to the Uk is a great bonus too, and with return flights from as little as fifty euros it’s as easy to hop on a plane to Prague as it would be to take a three hour train ride.
I was lucky to have a ready made social circle before I even arrived, but there are so many sociable people and busy dive bars to chat with new people that I’ve never had a problem making new friends.
Occasionally family or friends from back home will take a trip over and come visit too, and just like clockwork you can always be sure that at the end of their visit they’ll turn and say the same thing, ‘What an amazing beautiful city, no wonder you spend so much time here.’