My Wanderlust Utopia

My Wanderlust Utopia…all my travel blogs on one page!  Enjoy Xo

Christmas in Gothenburg!  December 2015

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Oh Gothenburg!  What a delight you were!

So, on Boxing Day 2015, we took a little trip to Sweden’s wonderful second city, Gothenburg.  And what a fantastic time we had!

As I’ve probably mentioned before, going away for Christmas has become somewhat of a tradition for my husband and I for the about the past 5 years.  It all started with a trip to one of my favourite cities, Paris, at Christmas in 2010 of which after a very large hint, my husband booked it!  And since then we’ve been addicted and always gone away!

It just seems like the perfect time to explore.  We are lucky enough to get some time off, we live on Europe’s doorstep and lets face it, its wonderful, and we realised that we never know quite what to buy each other!  So rather than wasting money on random crap (though I do admit that handbags, shoes and jewellery would never be considered random crap!) we would buy each other a holiday.

So back to Gothenburg!

It is home to approx 550,000 people, its modern with traditional values, super friendly and is worth visiting simply for the cinnamon rolls alone!

Our journey started at 1am on boxing day (I know right!?) and we travelled to Bristol Airport from home.  We flew with KLM and got a connecting flight from Amsterdam.  It was the first time we have flown with KLM and they were faultless.  All flights on time, super friendly crew,  our bags connected perfectly, plenty of leg room and we got snacks thrown in with our flights (note cheese sarnies and marble cake were delish!).

This was a holiday of firsts, as we booked the hotel and fights through Expedia whom we’ve also not used before and they were brilliant.  It couldn’t have been easier and we booked the whole holiday all at once.  We were able to search for our hotel based on price (a bit like when you’re on a clothing website and you search low to high!)  Yep, you can pick your holiday like this too!

We jetted out of Bristol airport at 6.15am and we were on our way to Sweden!

Before we knew it, we landed in Gothenburg at 10.30am local time.   Although we had been awake at this point for about 28 hours, we were so happy to be in Sweden and to begin our adventure.

I get so so excited about travel (ask my husband, I am like Tigger!) and it felt even more of an adventure because we had to fly to Amsterdam first and then onto Gothenburg.

For our digs, we stayed at the Gothia Towers, which was an AMAZING hotel.  It was a couldn’t-have-been-easier 20 minute shuttle bus ride from the airport and was right opposite Liseberg, which is Gothenburg’s theme park.

I know people often say that their hotels were amazing but this really was!  It has 3 towers, a 20th floor spa complete with open air heated pool which hangs on the side of the building, state of the art gym, restaurants for all budgets and a super cool bar on the 23rd floor called Heaven 23.

If you are lucky enough to visit this beautiful city, you have to stay at this hotel!  I mean, just check out this view from our room!  You may have seen this on my IG feed, and most nights we didn’t even bother watching the TV, we just stared at this breathtaking view!

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View from our room at Gothia Towers

Saturday 26th December – Boxing Day

WOWSERS!  We didn’t want to waste any time, so we put our baggage in storage at our hotel and decided on a walk into the city centre and to get to know our surroundings.

It was quite quiet on this day,  I guess like anywhere, the city was still very much in it’s Christmas period with people having time off etc,  though by the time we got to the city centre we knew why – everyone was in the shops buying up the sales!  Clever people!

Being that H&M was founded in Sweden, I have never known it so cheap!  I bought up (without hesitation, unlike me!) 2 jumpers @ £4 each – yes £4!  And a gorgeous grey snood as seen in my piccies which was also £4!   If I had an empty suitcase I would’ve bought up a lot more just to stock up, trust me!

Straight away I notice that Gothenburg is a very vibrant, cosmopolitan and young city.  There are also a lot of young families which gives me the impression that its a great place to raise little ones.   I can see why.  There is a lot to do, it’s very pretty, its really friendly and uber cool.  BUT its also not too busy for a city which means it also has a laid back vibe which is really fab.

We stroll around town and stay out as long as we can without feeling like we are going to nod off (though, we did stop off for a coffee and I had a head roll back moment!).  We head back to our fantastic hotel and check in.  We ended up with the most amazing upgrade which was how we got the view above!

The hotel were very good to us I have to say and this was because the first room they gave us with the wrong one (small, no view, no bath, you know the deal!)

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Beautiful Lobby at Gothia Towers

Before we knew it, it was dinner time.  Come on guys, yes my body clock was out of sync and yes we had been up for 36 hours but I was never going to miss a meal!  🙂

We ended up at this really cheap (but tasty!)  pizza house called Pappa Johns!  People told me that Sweden would be mega expensive but to honest, you can find cheap eateries if you want to, you just have to seek them out.  I have good ole classic Margarita and Mr C has tuna and olive feast.  Stomachs full, we back back to our cosy room and hit the sack about 8pm, we’ve been up for about 48 hours so we are ready for some z’s, in our Queen, yes QUEEN bed!

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I think he had pizza envy…

Sunday 27th December 2015

Magically, and much to my absolute delight, we wake up to snow today!

EEK!  I am so freakin bloody excited!  If you’ve read my Prague blog, you’ll know that Christmas, Christmas Trees and SNOW are some of my favourite things in life.  They bring me absolute joy and so the start to our first full day couldn’t have been more perfect.

The snow was draped perfectly over everything at Liseberg and it just looked like something out of a fairytale.  If you want to experience somewhere Christmassy, come here, because you’ll have the most Christmassy time, most of which at Liseberg.

Before I move on to the details of the day, I will just tell you about breakfast (of course!) . Breakfast was being served on the second floor due to renovations in the usual area and it was HUGE!  It had 2 sides and each side mirrored the other in order to accommodate all guests.

Meatballs, bacon, egg 2 ways, hot veg, cold meats, pickled herring, salad, cheese, breads, fruit, hot drinks, cold drinks, cakes, pastries, crackers, chutneys, pickles, gluten free section, have I missed anything!?  Probably!  Now, I’m not normally fussed about bacon (in the english fry up sense!) – however, I cannot get enough if its thin strips and crispy!

I treated myself to a good portion of this everyday!

So with breakfast done, we head out.  I am bundled up to the nines because I feel the cold terribly, I am pretty sure I was born in the wrong country and am secretly from the Med, but thats another story…I credit my keep warm gear to a North Face coat, Rab ‘head skin’ which is a weather proof layer that you can wear under beanies, Ayacucho gloves with touchscreen technology so I don’t have to get my little pinkies out in the cold to take pictures and a thermal jumper and leggings underneath my clothes.  See…I told you I feel the cold!  4 layers later and I am good to go!

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Happy Happy Face!

We wanted to explore today and get to know Gothenburg, so we just walked, walked and walked some more.   We ended up in the Vasaparken area which include the amazing University and Church.

We also got some amazing photos in the snow, and Mr C and I love our snow action shots!  He says I am like an excited pooch running around in the snow!! HAHA!  I assume he means cute rather than I look like a dog – RUDE!

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We take in all the sights and the prettiness of Gothenburg.  There is always somewhere to eat too!  And there is a definite greek influence as there are lots of kebab houses and grills.

There are also loads of 7 elevens, which I have to say are really good.  They are like spar shops but with added va va voom!  You can eat in them as they have tables and chairs so they are great if you want a snack and a warm up, and they have hot food, fruit, plenty of hot and cold drinks and hot dogs on tap!  Oh and plenty of cakes and sweet treats!

We stop for an Aloe Vera Mango water (obsessed!), something we can only find in Sweden as I don’t think its exported – or I am yet to find it!  And I try a dark chocolate marzipan cake (mmmmm!) and Mr C has a fruity flapjack.   Pitstop done, we head out for more walking and exploring.

Everywhere we travel we have always noticed that the spoken English is amazing!

Scandinavia is exceptional and Sweden is no different.  I would say about 98% of where we went, everyone spoke English and incredibly well too, it’s so impressive.

Wherever we go, I always make a point of trying to at least learn a few words even it it’s just hello, goodbye, please and thank you.  I like to communicate if I can because I feel quite ignorant if I don’t, plus I think its respectful too and it means something to the person you are communicating with.  Here are a few Swedish words for you:

Hej – Hello
Adjo – Goodbye
Vanligen – Please
Tack – Thank you

We also notice that not only does nearly everyone speak English, they want to continue the conversation to try out their English even more!  It just left us in awe!  For example, a couple of times we asked girls or dudes in shops a question,  not only would they answer the question but they would go on to tell us about other places in the city, shops, or general chit chat about where we were from etc.

I’d love to be fluent in other language and people who are impress me so much.  I think learning another language is next on my to do list!

We head to a place called Condecco which is their version of say a Starbucks.  Very trendy, great artwork on the walls and we get the impression it’s somewhere the cool gang goes to meet (well of course, because we are there!).

We try out a local beer called Erikesberg, very nice!  Its huge!  And gets me rather tipsy!  We also try local biscuits called Pepparkaka which are like gingerbread but with cinnamon in them, very tasty and a must try if you are in the area.

For dinner, we head to a local grill near our hotel.  We both had chicken wraps with salad and rice – very healthy and tasty too!  Though I was craving some chips…haha!

Monday 28th December 2015

An exciting day today – a day for really testing our local knowledge and trying out the public transport! Ha!

We walk to central station which is about 25 minutes from our hotel.  It reminds me a lot of Copenhagen central station and looks very vintage.  However, its incredibly modern inside!  Thats what a love about Scandinavian design – they are so amazing at mixing the two!

Next to the station is another incredible hotel, called Hotel Post (so thinking maybe it’s an old post office!  I’m clever like that!) and it has a massive red bow wrapped around it as their Christmas decoration – how impressive is that!

We buy 2 all day tickets for 80 SKR (which is about £6) and this covers us for all trams, buses and even the ferry!  Queue Mr C’s genius idea to travelling out to the Islands!  We fit so well because we both have a sense of adventure which holds no bounds.  We just hop on a bus/train/tram (any of the above) and just explore!

We catch the number 11 tram to Salthomen which is at the end of the line.  Here you can catch ferries to the islands.  It’s very cool and we are super impressed with how efficient, modern and impressive they are!

The ferries run until about 1am in the morning!  It’s crazy to think our local buses stop running at 11pm and yet these ferries run until the early hours servicing all these local people, its fantastic!

Any-ho!  We catch our first ferry to Vrango.  It’s a lovely island, so peaceful and really beautiful.  We walk around the whole island, taking pictures and breathing in the gorgeous sea air.

There are few inhabitants, lovely big houses, a church and a restaurant.  It’s so interesting to see another way of life, a simple way.    People who commute to the main land and live here must feel very lucky indeed.

On the way back, we stop of at the beautiful island of Donso.  This island is much busier but still as pretty.  It has lots of houses,  a supermarket, lots of boats, a bowling alley and lots more inhabitants.  We wanted to stay longer, but we grab a little souvenir (a Christmas bowl with ‘God Jul’ on it which means Merry Christmas’).

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Timetable complete with chocolate snack – a chocolate covered marshmallow with sprinkles!  Does it get any better!?

We then head back to the mainland, but we enjoyed so much being near the water, it reminds us of home.   If you get the chance to head to the Islands, make sure you do!  We want to explore them in the Summer too as there was a restaurant on Vrango or you could take a picnic and just relax for the day near the water.

So back on the mainland, we head to the famous Haga street.  The only way I can describe how beautiful this street is, is that it looks like a film set, unreal but perfectly real and picturesque.

It’s boutique shops and restaurants are amazingly lined with christmas lights.  It’s here we discovered a cafe called ‘Hebbe Lelle’, I read about this place and it’s cinnamon rolls – they did not disappoint!  There were literally the size of a dinner plate!  And so tasty too!

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We stroll around the city some more, taking in the sights and before we know it, it’s dinnertime.

We start walking back to our hotel but take a slight detour and stumble across the most un-assuming little Italian.   Its tiny and only seats 3 people at a time!  Its called II Gambro and the chef is the most nicest guy!    He spends ages telling us all about the menu and translating everything into English for us, and the food…omg the freshest pizza ever!

I have an amazing pizza with fresh bresaola, mozzarella and fresh truffle and Mr C has fresh anchovies and tuna and olives.  We also have a side order of mozzarella, balsamic and basil.  So tasty, so fresh and the nicest chef to cook it all for us, you have to visit!

Tuesday 29th December 2015

Today was all about food! (Well it is me, what else!?)  So to build up a bit of an appetite, we take a stroll and head towards the viking ships and walk along the dockyard.

It’s a very sunny but cold day and it’s really nice to be near the water.  There isn’t much activity this time of year but in the summer they have paddle boats along the canal which take in the city sights – another reason to come back in the Summer!

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We have our usual pit stop in 7 eleven and grab some drinks and sweet treats and then we stroll around the city, looking in the lovely boutique shops and just generally exploring.

We take a peek in Saluhallen, which is located right in the city centre.  It’s an amazing place and has deli’s filled with amazing food from all over the world.

Fresh bread, meats, fish,  antipasti, cakes, turkish delight, coffee – anything and everything!  I imagine if you live in this lovely city, this would be your go-to place for your weekly treats.  Not only that, you can have a pit stop here for breakfast, lunch or dinner and there is a food place which makes traditional Swedish meals.

We are so seduced by the yummy-ness that we decide to come back here for dinner!

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Next up, we head to Feskekorva.  This place has been on our list from day 1 as I read about it in our Gothenburg travel book.  If you follow my Instagram feed regularly, it won’t surprise you that this place is a fish market!

It used to be an old church and has been converted into a daily fresh fish market, they have still stayed true to the style and architecture of the church, however the inside has been transformed and you can grab fresh fish everyday.

The counters are filled with everything from smoked salmon, crab, lobster, anchovies, herring, cod, platters of fish for dinner parties, roulades and whole fish.  There is also a cafe upstairs and a restaurant downstairs serving amazing fish platters with the catch of the day.

The platters range from about £75-£150.  You can also grab a light bite or main meal and the food looks amazing!  If we had more time, we would have stayed for lunch, however we had a date at Saluhallen!

However, we do treat ourselves to some smoked salmon with cream cheese, dill and rye bread snacks – so fresh!

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We continue on our walk around the city and do a little shopping before heading back to Saluhallen for our 5pm dinner date!

If you visit Gothenburg, you have to visit this place and have food here!  We really wanted to try some traditional Swedish food and this was amazing.  I have a salmon burger with dill sauce and new potatoes, my Mr C has herring fillet with loganberry sauce and new potatoes.  We also have rye bread and butter on the side – oh and a dessert of apple cake with vanilla custard!  So so good!   You always know when I am enjoying my food when I have no hesitation about having 3 courses…!

The atmosphere is so vibrant and full of energy, it reminds us of somewhere Michael Palin would visit on one of his round the world trips, trying the local delicacies!

To finish the day perfectly, we head back to our hotel for a drink on the 23rd floor at a bar called Heaven 23.  It has amazing views of the city and Liseberg, beautiful at night!

Wednesday 30th December 2015

Another day for exploring!

We head to central station and take a tram to Bergson on the number 11, it takes us into the suburbs and it’s really interesting to see outside of the main city.

We go to the end of the line, have a walk about and then catch the number 7 tram to the other end of the city and again into the suburbs.  These areas remind me very much of Prague and there are lots of high rise flats and lots of houses with small shops and cafes in between.

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On the way back into the city centre, we stop off at a shopping centre called Frolunda Torg.  Its huge!  And also a hidden gem in amongst the suburbs of the city.   This is another great place to come if you fancy a shopping trip and its crammed full of clothes shops and some lovely home shops too.  If we had a bigger suitcase I would’ve filled up on lovely home furnishings!  (Along with the H&M haul!)

Ok, and so onto the highlight of the day – LISEBERG!!

We catch the number 8 tram about 2.30pm and we are so excited to be going to this winter wonderland!    Even the walk up to the entrance is so Christmassy!

We head inside and the whole park is filled with massive christmas trees, snowmen (and snow ladies!) and pretty lights everywhere.  I think this is one of the most Christmassy places we have ever visited.

If you want somewhere that feels totally Christmassy and like you are in Winter Wonderland, you have to visit here!  As you walk in, you are met with the most wonderful Christmas Trees (one of my most favourite things ever) and the whole walk way leading you into the park is lined with trees and fake snow (it was unusual that we didn’t have real snow!).

As you get into the main park you have various rides to have fun on, including the Liseberg Wheel shown in my picture above – amazing!  There are so many food stalls and also really fun game stalls where you can try and win chocolate!  We have a go on one with a number wheel and you bet on a set of numbers.  Ours came in and we one a packet of ‘Plop’ chocolates!  Funny how words are completely different in another language #theidiotinme

We wander around the park for hours despite the cold and we have mulled wine and stand over the hot coals to warm us up.  There are 2 rollercoasters, a crazy ride which spins you around and upside down, teacups, dragon boats, waltzers and loads more!  If you have little ones, there is also a kiddie section in the park which has rides for small ones.   Oh and how can I forget the ice rink – amazing!  You pay a small fee for your boots and you get to glide along the Liseberg ice!  If you do this, I think as nighttime is approaching is best, it makes it feel even more Christmassy!

If you are hungry, there are plenty of restaurants and food stalls, oh and sweet treats to keep your hunger at bay.  We had so much fun walking around and stayed from day to night to see the whole park lit up in pretty lights.

It really is a truly magical place at Christmas and it feels like you are part of a movie.  We reluctantly head back to our hotel as the cold finally gets to us!  And devour a humungous burger in the West Coat restaurant at our hotel.

Highly recommended if you want a good nosh and a menu which is tasty and has something for everyone.  I had been craving a burger all week – so I caved!

Thursday 31st December 2015 – NEW YEARS EVE!

Aw our last day here in Gothenburg – for this trip anyway!  🙂

I always feel sad on the last day of holiday,  I look forward to going home to my sanctuary but I just love travelling (as you know if you follow me on IG).  The new places, the new foods, lovely people, amazing sights and the adventure and experience of somewhere new.  And above all, seeing the world!

Our first flight isn’t until 5pm and we need to leave at 3pm, so we decide to do what I do best – SHOP!  We have some Euros left, so in true tourist style we spend it in the local shops.  We head into Gothenburg central and seriously this place is such a good place to come for shopping.

To be honest, I would come back here again purely for a shopping trip, streets upon streets of shops and all my favs; Zara, Mango, H&M to name but a few.

However, I am on a different shopping mission this time, and its for a Michael Kors bag!  Well, I thought I would treat myself!   Its funny isn’t it, if we say this sentence once we must say it a thousand times!  It’s almost like its to justify the debit card bashing!

I have done my research ahead of time to where I can find the MK bags and I head to the department store ‘Ahlens’.  They have a fantastic selection and also have a lot of other designers too such as Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs,  Gucci etc, designer heaven!

I spot a 3 compartment black MK cross body bag.  The reason for this choice was because I wanted something I knew I would use all the time – more easily justifiable that way isn’t it!  I um and ah’d and actually left the shop and walked about to have a ‘think’!  I have to say, I even give myself a pat on the back these days, since I have bought my new house I think much more carefully about what I am buying and also I want to buy better – more classics and less just one season wash badly toot!  (though I still love the toot!).

I head to H&M where I buy a gorgeous mustard colour jumper – again £4!!  It’s unbelievable!  And I also head to the department store Nordiska Kompaniet to get my Niece some Dash make up, Auntie Brownie points for that one I reckon!

And after a good wander, I decide that I do indeed deserve that MK bag, so I whip back to Ahlens and buy my new bag.  The bag was on offer too, at least I thought it was!
The shop assistant told me that the offer was only for locals who had an Ahlens card, however the lovely lovely lady let me have it at the promotional price – see amazing people!  Perhaps she felt sorry for me as I was staring lustfully at MK bags!
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So MK bag in hand and very happy with my new purchase, I meet my Mr C who has also been shopping and we head back to our hotel.  All checked out and ready to go, we catch the 3pm bus to the airport, and my sentimental side as always, kicks in.
The view of Liseberg, the beauty of the coast, the city and the shops and the whole experience makes me feel so very happy that we picked Gothenburg as our Christmas 2015 destination.
2 quick flights from Gothenburg to Amsterdam and then onto Bristol, and we are back in the UK in no time.  There was one slight hitch, being New Years Eve, there is nowhere open and we are starving!
We laugh because we have cola and crisps on the plane and that was our NYE dinner!
Aw well, dinner or no dinner it was worth it and we had the most amazing time.
More forever memories created and another city on our tick list.
Oh and I do use that MK bag all the time by the way….
Debs Xo

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Just one more…


 

Christmas In Prague – December 2014

/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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