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Prague and New Plans

October 14-17
written October 16 and later

Dear Friends and Families,

The last diary, just a few days ago, described plans to finish the year with trips to Italy and the States and re-start our German life in early 2014.  It ended with: "That takes us to February, 2014.  Well planned."  Well-planned, but not true. 

On Tuesday morning, we cleaned up and loaded the car for a two-day trip to Prague.  We would visit the old city for a bit and meet up with Ron and Nancy, family from Oregon who have been on a two-week European boat cruise.  We had not seen Ron in years and had never met Nancy, so we were looking forward to picking them up and bringing them back to show off our Franconia neighborhood.  Now that the house sale was off, we could concentrate on being hosts and tourists.

d131015_01_Trip_Over.jpg Just as we were walking out the door, Frank, our realtor, called and gave us an offer from the family from Hong Kong who had visited the house on Friday.  The offer was low, but not so low that we could afford to refuse.  Marianne and I discussed matters on the three-hour drive to the Czech capital and,  after a few detail clarifications, told Frank: "OK".  We go to the Notar on Friday to sign a binding contract.  For various tax reasons, closing will only be in 2014, as early in the new year as possible.

In the clarification process, we contacted our Fresno Realtor and re-established the purchase offer for "the Cambridge house".  That seller reportedly was delighted.  Consequently, we are back to Plan A: sell stuff, pack, say our good-byes, fly to America, close the sale and the purchase, wait for furniture, move in, and establish a new life.  I am exhausted just thinking about it.

d131015_05_wander.jpg And Prague, how is Prague?  We managed to run across Ron and Nancy as we were checking in, so that part has gone well.  I will add more stories as we go.  Tuesday afternoon and evening, we took the Metro in to the old town and wandered among the throngs of tourists.  The place was surprisingly crowded for a mid-October Tuesday and crowds of tourists are not my favorite environment.  Nonetheless, I have to admit that the buildings of old Prague really are special, remnants of the wealth of central Europe before World War I. 

Pictures were disappointing, not because I didn't find subjects, but because I was not paying attention and did not notice that none of my shots were registering on the chip.  I'll try to better on Wednesday.


Wednesday started with our normal-while-traveling schedule: up early and a very long breakfast.  The slow start was particularly useful since Marianne and I had a lot to talk about.  It was slowly dawning on us that we were ending our decade-and-a-half European adventure and we definitely have mixed feelings.  More on that in the diaries as we go along.

For now, we had a city to tour.  Ron and Nancy went off with their Grand Tour boat bunch to visit the Theresienstadt concentration camp.  The gray skies were appropriate.  Meanwhile, Marianne and I took another Metro ride down to the old part of town and started with an art fix at the Rudolfinum Gallery.  It was ... interesting. On display were works by Jake and Dinos Chapman, titled "The Blind Leading the Blind".  For the most part, it was a series of dark and disturbing etchings, sculptures and installations.  We worried that the images would stay with us well beyond the walls of the gallery.  I think Ron and Nancy's concentration camp would have been more positive.

d131016_01_Track.jpgAfter that, we wandered around the old city, mostly in the old Jewish Quarter.  I was not up to joining the crowds on any of the organized tours, so we stuck with just walking the streets, admiring the Prague architecture.  Prague has a wonderful assortment of Art Nouveau and Art Deco city buildings, most well-restored by now.  We appreciated the chance to just look around, although my camera stayed in the bag for the most part.  Sometimes it is enough to just look and remember.

Thursday, after a slow breakfast, we will drive home with Ron and Nancy and show them our neighborhood.  They will probably be the last of our visitors, something else we will need to get used to.
For dinner, we joined the Grand Tour group at the Prague Castle.  Nice view.

John and Marianne
d131016_04_office.jpgd131016_02_roomView.jpgpost-script:  We stayed at the Dorint Hotel Don Giovanni and they deserve a mention.  It is a large hotel, filled at the time with tour groups, but friendly nonetheless.  From the garage attendant, who made sure we found the best available spot, to the desk personnel, to the restaurant staff, it was a friendly bunch.  Our  room had been upgraded to an 11th floor suite, with living room, office, bedroom, and a city-spanning view, so we felt we were staying well above our normal style.


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