A week in Prague for Christmas

Back in Prague. Sometimes it feels like I never left and other times it feels like it’s been a long time. It has been great seeing it again along with my friends I left here. I arrived on the 22nd, giving me several days to experience the wonderful Christmas markets here in Prague. They were beautiful!

As much as I liked Zagreb, and that it was awarded most beautiful markets in 2015, Prague’s is beautiful. There were also more artisanal stalls in Prague, which was a nice change to the numerous sausage stands in Croatia.

The Old Town market was amazing. The tree was beautiful all lit up at night. I heard the market by the castle was really nice. It was nice, but nothing too impressive. There were markets all over the city. Trdelnik is the big dessert here and normally it is 100 korunas, but in the markets it was 50- so cheap! Mulled wine was still everywhere, but Prague offered more drinks.

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One of my bigger questions in Croatia was hot drinks for the children or for people who didn’t want alcohol because it seemed wine or beer were the options. In Prague, I found non-alcoholic beverages like hot chocolate or hot punch/juice. There were also other alcoholic beverages besides wine and beer, which was nice.

K and I tried amaretto punsch, which was delicious. I also tried langose- fried dough with ketchup, garlic, and cheese. It doesn’t sound appealing, but it actually is quite delicious. The hot chocolate here is so good. It isn’t watered down- it’s basically pure melted chocolate.

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The Czech people do the big celebrations of Christmas on the 24th. K and I went to a potluck type thing at another expat’s apartment. It was nice having an “American” meal: Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, etc. Especially since I didn’t get a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

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K and I didn’t exactly plan Christmas very well because things were closed that weekend and so we ended up eating out a lot more. My first night, she took me to Raclette, a melted cheese place. It was a bit expensive, but it was delicious. On the 25th we stopped at a Chinese restaurant for dinner.

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The weather was a little bad over the weekend, which was fine since I did a lot of the sightseeing previously. I was also quite thankful that the bad weather held off for me until I was at a place that I knew. I had such nice weather in Croatia, it would have been sucky if it rained while I was touring those coastal towns.

We did walk around a park and had a great view of the city and then we went to the observatory of the TV tower. First, the TV tower has those creepy baby statues on it. There’s another park on the other side of the river near the castle that also have baby statues- it’s the same artist. The view also is ok. We got there around sunset and waited for nightfall to see the city lit up. It was beautiful, but I enjoyed the view from the park more, especially since that was free and this was 140 korunas for students, 200 for adults.

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View from castle in Prague

We took a day trip to Terezin. Terezin was the site of a Jewish ghetto and police prison during World War II and the Nazis. It was very quiet that and the wind and barren trees, it had an eerie feel. For 165 korunas (student) you can see the ghetto museum, the small fortress (the police prison) and some other small sites.

I’ve been to Dachau concentration camp, and though they killed people with gas chambers at Terezin, Terezin’s information was based more on the ghetto, which Dachau didn’t have. The Nazis forced everyone from the town to move and then moved Jews to the town. They also made some propaganda with this town to show that the Jews were happy and wanted to be there to gain international favor. Some Jewish workers made sure to save some footage so the future generations could see the ridiculousness of the situation. The Red Cross also came to inspect the ghetto and the Nazis “beautified” it for them. It’s crazy that they were able to pass.

The museums also gave more focus to the children in the ghetto and the camp. Most didn’t live to see adulthood/the end of the war. It’s really sad.

On this trip, K and I met a young woman from the States. She was traveling with a friend for a few days over her winter break from university, but now was traveling alone. It was great to see a young woman of 18 years traveling alone. It shows that anyone can do it if you put your mind to it. Don’t be afraid to travel!

The next day, K and I walked around a mall and discovered it was full of people- the after Christmas sales. We returned home to make homemade mac and cheese. They don’t have box mac and cheese here and we were craving it. K has made it before, but it was my first time. It was delicious! K and I love cheese and later in my stay we tried being fancy by having wine, crackers, and cheese.

One evening, we met with two Czech friends- M and P- and two French friends- A and R for beers and wings. M’s grandmother owned the pub (Morava) and she claimed they were the best wings in Prague, maybe Europe. They were really good and we were quite stuffed after.

The next day, my final full day in Prague, M, K, and I went to Karlstejn castle. It’s a little less than an hour train ride from Prague then a 2 km walk from the train station. It was very pretty. It was quite foggy, but it added to the medieval ambiance. You have to take a tour. Our tour was actually a bit busy for being down season. I can’t imagine what during the summer would be like, but maybe there would be more English tour guides for that time instead of one.

“Apparently, they used kittens to wipe after the bathroom.” M said. She had taken this tour before and that’s what a previous tour guide said. Our tour guide didn’t say anything about kittens when he mentioned the medieval bathroom. M was quite disappointed so I asked the tour guide.

“I know who said that and they are wrong.” M felt better about the situation.

There are other tours of the castle, but due to down season, they were closed. The castle was originally built as a fortress more than a castle, but King Charles the 4th or Karla in Czech did reside here for a little bit. A lot of what is seen was restored in the 19th century.

Trains leave pretty regularly to and from Prague.

That night we went out for drinks for my last night in Prague for a while. It was a fun night and I will miss everyone, but I look forward to continue on my travels!

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