But as I intimated in my previous post, it is a necessary evil if you really want to feel liberated and unfettered by suitcases and hotel checking out times. So it was with a mixed feeling of excitement and trepidation that I left the relative security of the Máchova Hotel on Sunday morning to take custodianship of the keys to the apartment on Francouská.
I trundled up the cobbled street with two thirds of my luggage and got the flat at the same time as the agent. A good start. The omens were looking good. Security certainly wasn't going to be an issue - a red key to get through the street facing door. A yellow key to get into the courtyard, and a green key to get into the actual apartment block. Then there's the key to the actual apartment. Deterrent to any casual cat burglars, but I wonder how easy it's going to be to get into Fort Knox after a night on the town.
To be fair to the agents, the place looked just like the photos - they weren't trying to pull the wool over anyone's eyes. It's a good size, 48 square metres, or twice the size of the Pent-Flat in Zurich (and 8 times the size of the Pent-Room), but this has separate living and bedrooms. Almost everything was as described - with the notable exception of the electric oven. There is a microwave as expected, but it isn't a combination cooker or even a grill. There are four hobs - one of those fancy flat induction units which is a doodle to clean. There's a big fridge with an ice box, a kettle and that's it. I guess the kitchen(ette) is designed with the Czech diet in mind - fried meat and potatoes! It is an infinite improvement on the original Zurich Pent-Room, but the Pent-Flat was superior in that arena.
The bedroom is uncluttered but comfortable, and the living room is fine to sprawl out in and fall asleep in front of the TV - an 'old' square Grundig - no HD, but there is a cable box which gives me access to 19 channels which I can understand. That should be enough to keep me company and stop me from talking to myself for too long at a time. But a shame I can't rig up the Apple TV.
I've got the laptop set up on one side of the dining table where it works well. There's a pretty good WiFi connection but I wouldn't want to download many HD movies through it! It's easy to forget how lucky I am at home with 157 TV channels and 152Mbps internet connection.
But - of course there are some 'buts' - the kitchen has clearly never been used to cook anything more than hot water. The knives are blunt, there isn't a saucepan lid in the house, nor any microwave proof cooking vessels, not even a potato peeler. No strainer, no wooden spoon, no measuring jug.
And the biggest 'but' of all - the boiler keeps conking out on me. I first noticed when I went for a shower on Monday morning (luckily I wasn't needed at work until lunchtime). Instead of the piping hot shower I was expecting, the water seemed to have come straight from the Vlatava. It was clean but freezing. It took a moment or two to dawn that there was a red light flashing on the boiler. Anyhow, I pushed the RESET button and lo and behold a hot shower. With paranoid tendencies. What happens if the boiler fails again and I've got a head full of shampoo and suds?
And so it has been for the last 24 hours - red light flashes, reset boiler, boiler works, worry about boiling failing, boiler fails, reset boiler...
And I fixed the other 'but' at lunchtime yesterday when I found the Czech equivalent of Habitat down the road from the office. I still can't make toast, but my fried meat and potatoes is going to be a heck of a lot easier to prepare and cook from now on!