Christmas in Prague! 24.12.14 – 29.12.14

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/13d/75093516/files/2015/01/img_6214.jpgHappy Belated New Year to you all!  I hope you all had a lovely Christmas time and 2015 brings you lots of happiness and everything you are wishing for.  I hope you all indulged and had lots of fun (and got loads of lovely pressies!).  Apologies for the late post, I have no idea where January has gone, its been mega busy!

So here is my Prague blog!  This year we spent Christmas in the Czech Republic capital and we had an amazing time.  I would highly recommended visiting Prague especially at Christmas, it was incredibly festive and full of Christmas trees, lights, decorations – and above all the amazing Christmas markets!

We started our adventure on Christmas Eve and arrived in the capital about 7pm.  It was very quiet as in the Czech Republic, they celebrate Christmas on the 24th like a lot of European Countries. When we arrived at our hotel, we were so happy! We stayed at the Pentahotel Prague and it was fantastic.  So modern, trendy, well styled and the atmosphere and food were fab to boot.  The best thing about the hotel was that it had a great atmosphere in the evenings.  Most nights we were happy to go back to our hotel to relax, play pool, watch tv and snuggle on the the lovely big sofas.

This is an example of the tres modern decor!

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25th December 2014

Christmas Day arrived (yay!) and we spent the day exploring the city.  We walked from our hotel into the centre which took about 20 minutes.   We walked to Old Town Square where there was an amazing Christmas market.  There were stalls full of food, homemade gifts, clothing, bohemian glass & local tipples and the atmosphere was fantastic.

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From here we walked to the famous Charles Bridge which was built in the 14th century and is built across the Vltava river,  it has an amazing view of Prague and you can see Prague Castle in the distance.  This is a great spot for photos and you can really appreciate the city of spires from this spot.

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We head back to Namesti Republiky and head to Cafe Europej for a sample of the local beer, this is a trendy little bar which is enclosed by glass and overlooks the square.  You can sit and relax, drink and watch the world go by and snuggle under blankets which they provide.  We drink up and then headed back to our hotel for dinner and drinks (and more snuggling on the sofas!).

26th December 2014

We decide to have a day exploring by foot, tram and on the metro today and first head to Muszek, Museum and Ceremonial Hall.    We then walked to the Jewish Quarter and walked around the very poignant and moving Jewish Cementary and the synagogue.  This is something I read about in our travel book before we went and also a recommendation of the city sightseeing and it was a very interesting place and so historic.

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The cold weather started to come in when we visited Wenceslas Square and the sleet started to fall, but it didn’t set and it quickly stopped – boo!  We headed back to Old Town Square and tried some amazing sweet rolled bread.  Its amazing and I highly recommend trying it!  Its made in front of you in the Christmas market and they roll it and cook it over hot coals and coat it in sugar.

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After indulging our sweet treat, we hope on tram line number 8 and head to the end of the line.  It was really interesting to see the older parts of the city and it felt like we had gone back in time.  I actually think that as good as change is, sometimes its not always a good thing, it was amazing to get a feel for somewhere of how it used to be.  Of course, with change comes progress and a better economy for countries which is fantastic, but I think that its important for places to keep their identity and for tourists to understand their history and culture, and I feel like by going out of the centre, we did just that.

27th December 

We decide to start our bus tour today and walk to Old Town Square.  We head inside Grevin (which is Prague’s very own Madame Tussauds!) as this is where the city  sightseeing booking desk is (little tip for you there, as it took us ages to find it, alternatively look out for the people with red umbrellas and bus tours written on their tops, as these are the same company).

We got a 48 hour ticket along with a boat tour and a tour of the castle.  Make sure you haggle, we did and managed to get our boat tour for only 1oo Krona and its usually 300 Krona!  I love a bargain!

We are taken to the first stop by foot by a really knowledgeable tour guide who gives us a brief history of the city and local tips on where to get the cheapest beer, jewellers who will polish your jewellery for free, the boundaries of old and new town and recommendations on restaurants to eat in both for price and quality.

Our bus is waiting for us and we hop on and start taking in the wonder of Prague.  It’s a cold day today and with the wind chill it feels even colder!  Today I have 3 layers on, 2 pairs of gloves and 2 beanies!  Haha!  I think I was feeling it!

The city sightseeing bus route takes in Masarykovo Nadrazi,  Mala Strana, Prague Castle, Strahov Monastery, Strahov Stadium, Kampa Island and Hlavni Nadrazi.   The whole tour takes about an hour and in the winter, you can catch a bus every 45 minutes from each of the stops.  The buses all have commentary in English (and 6 other languages!) and depending on which one you catch there will either be live narration or plug and play narration.

Our first stop is Prague Castle.  We are greeted at the bus stop by another city sightseeing tour guide and we are the only ones who get off the bus and so we have our own private tour!  The guide is called Tomas (Thomas) and is incredibly knowledgeable,  I was so impressed (as always) with the level of English and the amount of history and facts he was able to share with us.  Our tour lasts about 40 minutes and he takes us around the Castle, to see the changing of the guard and into St Vitus Cathedral.  Even if you don’t go into the Castle itself, I highly recommended visiting the grounds as its incredibly grand and full of history (founded in 880!).  You can get some beautiful pictures here and the top has an amazing view of Prague.

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St Vitus Cathedral is equally as beautiful, it’s windows are the most colourful stained glass I have ever seen and its very decadent.  Its free to go in, however you have to pay and get tickets to go up to the front to see the tombs of the Bohemian Kings.  

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We head back to the bus stop and complete the city sightseeing tour of all the stops and take in more of Prague.  Back at the Old Town we head to Sushi time for some noodles and a warm up!  I have a beef pho bo and Mr C has a pad thai, so scrummy and just what we needed!

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We decide to brave the cold and catch the last bus at 4.20pm, we call this our night tour!  Its actually quite cool as we see Prague lit up in all its glory. We stay on the bus and do a full loop and end up back in the Old Town Square for drinks.  We pick a bar right in front of the Christmas market and soooo really festive, I was so happy sitting in this spot.

To our left we have the astronomical clock (another must see in Prague, this was installed in 1410 and is the 3rd oldest in the world – and it still works!) ahead of us is the Christmas market and to our right is the museum of Andy Warhol (a new favourite of mine) and of course, the amazing Christmas tree.  We sup hot mulled wine and relax under snuggle blankets.

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I love the cafe culture here, its in full swing despite it being winter and there is hustle and bustle about the place with people shopping, meeting friends and loved ones or just strolling through the city.

We finish off with dinner at our hotel (the food and atmosphere are so good here we keep being tempted back!) Mr C has a club sandwich and I sample the local Goulash which is stewed beef and homemade dumplings.  Rich but delicious – you must try it when you come to Prague!

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28th December 2014

We walk into the centre today and decide to take a different route along the river.  It’s really cool to see another perspective of the city.  It was minus 9 today and I am thanking myself for purchasing my thermals and Northface coat! First on our agenda today is to catch the 11am city sightseeing boat.  The Vltava River Cruise takes about 1 hour and takes in Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, Old Town, Little Quarter/Lesser Town, the Dancing House, Cechuv Bridge & Manes Bridge.  We try to do a river cruise in most places we visit as we think it always shows the place in a different way and you always notice and see things you wouldn’t either on foot or by another mode of transport.  Again, you get some really good photo opportunities from this spot.

You can either sit/stand outside (we braved the cold for most of it1!) or sit inside where you can have refreshments and food as you cruise along the river.  Once we are off the boat we head back to Masarykovo Nadrazi to catch the bus and we head to Strahov Stadium.  Its huge!  Its not active now and instead it’s used by AC Sparta Prague football team, however when it was, it had a capacity of 250,000 which was the largest capacity stadium in the world.  A host of artists have played here including The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Bon Jovi, Guns n Roses, Aerosmith, U2, George Michael and AC/DC.  You can’t enter the stadium but it is cool to see it and again as its up high, you have really good views of the city.

We finish the bus tour and head to sushi time (again) for snacks and then onto Charles Bridge.  We wanted to come back here to spend a bit more time taking photos of this iconic landmark.  Construction started on the bridge in 1357, however it only became known as Charles bridge in 1870.  This is a must see in Prague!  The bridge was originally used as the most important connection between    Prague Castle and the city’s Old Town.  At the time, it was the only means of crossing the Vltava river.  Its decorated with 30 statues and 16 arches.  Its very gothic and there are lots of street vendors selling jewellery, paintings and gifts and walking from the old town side you get a great view of the landscape.

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I pick up a little trinket which is a bottle with my initial on, and on the back it has Prague Castle.  I don’t normally get these types of things as they normally turn into dust collectors!  But this really caught my eye and I thought it would look fab on a dressing table.  We take a slow stroll back to the main area (having some hot cherry punch and mulled wine along the way!  Um, take note, cherry punch is uh-ma-zing!).

Now,  I couldn’t resist…there is a street in the centre which is full of designer shops…including a Tiffany!  Its kind of become a bit of a ‘thing’ of mine to visit Tiffany wherever we go in the world and to sometimes pick up a little trinket.  When we know we have booked a holiday, I save a few pennies to treat myself.  Tiffany is always a good idea, but Tiffany when you are on holiday just adds that little something extra!  The Tiffany shop in Prague is one of the most beautiful Tiffany’s I have visited!  Its on 3 floors, each as beautiful as the next.

I have to say the service we received was first class.  No pressure, made so welcome and we were even treated to a glass of champagne!  I chose a gorgeous heart necklace with the signature Tiffany narrative on it, and just behind it sits a blue Tiffany heart.  I love it!

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After my splurge, we head to Cafe Europej again for more mulled wine!   We then we head to a restaurant called ‘Gate’, which is on the way back to our hotel.  The menu is very varied and I have salmon tartare followed by chicken pesto pasta and Mr C has brushetta followed by prawn pasta.  The only slight negative was that the main meals came out before I had even finished my starter and Mr C said his main was bland.  But I really enjoy mine so give it a go – plus I had a cosmopolitan cocktail for only £3.50, so if anything, go there for the drinks!

29th December 

Our final day in Prague (for now!) and its snowing!  Yessssss!  I am like a big kid and can’t wait to get out in it! We have breakfast, bundle up and head outside to enjoy the white stuff.  Snow is one of my favourite things! (apart from in the UK as it seems to just cause chaos, but everywhere else it’s cool as they know how to deal with it!).  We take loads of photos!  Throwing the snow about, walking in it, making snow balls!  We can’t get enough!

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We head to the metro and onto Namesti Republiky as we visit the shopping centre today.  Again, a must do in Prague for fashionistas as there are reams of shops and big names too – plus the sales were on!  I got some bargains in Mango and treated myself to a gorgeous rose gold and silver bracelet for £4, a grey wool cardigan for £18 and a really smart black dress with piping detail on the shoulders also for £18 (which I wore on New Years Eve).  Mr C treated himself to a bright orange wool Quicksilver hat, which I really like and really suits him. We go back out into the snow and have a little stroll and then to the river, and it looks just beautiful with the crisp white snow settling around it.  We spend about 15 minutes here just taking it in and also find a fantastic little spot to take snow ‘action shot’ photos!

We head back to our hotel around 2.30, check out and chill in the lounge until its time for pick up.  In the meantime we play pool, watch tv, read and indulge in an amazing cheese Penta-burger (highly recommended!)  I can’t remember the last time I ordered a burger in a restaurant and I wasn’t disappointed as its not something I am normally fussed about!  But we saw people having them throughout our stay and they just looked so good!  It tasted like it was fresh from a BBQ and was a touch pink in the middle – just how I like it!

As our driver takes us to the airport and we whizz through the Prague streets, I catch myself reminiscing over the past 5 days and realise that I recognise quite a few places we drive past – we crammed a lot in!

One things for sure – put it on the list – we’ll be going back!

Lots of Love

Debs xoxo

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