Archive for January, 2003

Reality Strikes

Ahoj Everyone

I think that most everyone knows that I am now in Prague and have been here for a week or so – with a view to staying here more or less forever.

First of all, Prague is totally living up to expectations.  It is:

  • Very very very beautiful.  Apparently there is some sort of international debate going on about which city is more beautiful, Prague or Paris.  Having seen both in the last month I can tell you that there's no real contest, Prague wins hands down.  Almost every time you walk around a corner, you have to stop and pinch yourself.  A beautiful mix of medieval Classical, Baroque, Art Nouveau, Cubist, and even a bit of (tastefully done) modern architecture.
  • It has a fantastic vibe.  This is the “capital city” of what I assume George Bush means when he talks about “new” Europe.  It's the place where East meets West, and there is a palpable feel of excitement in the air.  Things are HAPPENING here.
  • It is bitterly cold and I have not seen any blue sky at all since I arrived.  However unlike most other places I have been recently (with the possible exception of Spain), people are laughing, positive and smiling. 
  • It's extremely cheap to live here.  I can lead a comfortable life including rent, food, eating out and generally having a very nice time for USD 200 per month.
  • (Disclaimer – This benefit is for boys only. All others please skip this point) The majority of women are absolutely gorgeous and despite the sub zero temperatures, persist in wandering around in micro minis.

I spent a week in Budapest before Xmas thinking that it might be the place, but it doesn't quite cut it.  Prague does.

So I'm obviously ecstatic right?  Well oddly enough, not totally. 

After four months of relatively aimless R&R, to suddenly have a real purpose in life is a bit of a novelty, and I have been running around taking this new phase of my existence far too seriously!  Its almost as if I thought I would arrive here, get myself set up and into action immediately.  With this mental attitude, barging head on into bureaucracy has caused a bit of stress.  For example finding out that it will take 120 days to get the permits I need (and that I can't do anything until I have them) is requiring something of an “attitude adjustment”. That, and I managed to get a nasty cold. So for a few days I was wandering around steaming, wondering why I wasn't enjoying the nice sunshine in Auckland, and wanting ACTION NOW!

Since then I have managed to come to terms with this new reality, and I now back in the “go with the flow” groove.

In the next few days I have a few meetings by the end of which I hope I will either have found something useful to do with myself for 120 days (Italy? Croatia?) or will have facilitated things so that they are moving a little faster.

If I'm successful then you will get another email soon where I'll start to show unaccustomed signs of maturity and stability by providing you with my new (admittedly pre-paid) mobile phone number. 

Watch this space

Ciao (Which is Italian for goodbye, and also interestingly enough, Czech for goodbye as well)

PS:  Property is very cheap here and you can get yields on residential rentals of about 10%.  Just watch out for those riverside food and beverage opportunities.  Everything may not be totally what it seems (see attached)


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Versailles in the Snow

Beautiful isn't it


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Brrr. . onjour from Paris

Hello All

I had a lovely Christmas and New Year with my Sisters and their families.  There is nothing like spending Christmas with young children – who constantly remind you of the REAL reason for the season (getting presents).

I was hoping for a white Christmas (this one was my first in the northern hemisphere), but unfortunately it just wasn't cold enough on the day.  However the weather gods have more than made up for this oversight in the last week with ample quantities of snow (which I have enjoyed) and extremes of temperature which have created some new challenges for me.

Yesterday for example was interesting.  A beautiful clear evening last night, so I thought it would be a great time to do the Eiffel Tower. 

Those of you who are basking in a Southern hemisphere summer will no doubt be thrilled to learn that the daytime maximum high at about 1.30 in the afternoon in Paris yesterday was MINUS 8 degrees (yes, you read correctly, MINUS 8).

I have no idea what the temperature was at 8 PM at 276 meters on top of the Eiffel Tower in a very strong wind, but I have never been so cold in my entire life.  I guess this trip was always going to be about new experiences!

I took quite a few photos from the top.  The view is truly spectacular.  For some reason though (shaking hands?) they are all blurry!

I have since been shopping in the Paris post-Xmas sales which are lots of fun!  If I wasn't on a budget and limited to a backpack I would have gone crazy!.  Hundreds of immaculately dressed Parisian women fighting each other over items of clothing.  Very nice stuff for very good prices – most shops seem to be offering 50% – 60% discounts.

This was also the first time in my life I have ever received a free gift of male cosmetics with my purchase.  I've tried my sample package of after-shave moisturiser and quite like it.  Lots of after-shave to try yet.  Anyway I am now the proud owner of wooly hats, scarves gloves etc. which are making a big difference. 

Day three in Paris tomorrow, and I'm still flat out doing all the tourist things, but from what I have seen so far, it is definitely worth the trip.  Yes there are a lot of tourists wandering around, and things are relatively expensive but it is a very beautiful city.

Next week I head back to England (I came over on the Eurostar – very civilised), and from there on to Prague.

I'm starting to get a bit better organised, and now have a new laptop which can communicate with my camera.  As well as significantly improving the spelling of these emails, this means that I can send you pictures. 

Still alive, still having a groovy time and no, I'm not bored yet.

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