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Pragueby esrussell79Prague....what can I say about Prague. It is magical. It is liking stepping into a fairy tale. It is a city I would visit over, and over, and over if given the opportunity. I want to see it in every season. It has taken the top spot as my favorite city.
It was surprisingly emotional for me to visit there. I kept thinking of my ancestors that left the region then called Bohemia a few short generations ago. They left, from what I understand, because of political instability for a better life in America. I kept wondering what they would think of The Czech Republic now, and all the changes it has under gone. I wondered if I was passing by relatives that I would never know of personally. Prague is one of the only old European cities that didn't get bombed in WWII so everything is intact the way it has always been. I wondered about my ancestors that walked these same streets, seeing the same buildings that have been there for centuries. I would have to imagine they missed it once they got to that flat prairie of Oklahoma before it was even a state. Coming from this old world to a brand new one all those years ago, to literally start from scratch. Prague was a strange, surreal, beautiful, and sometimes poignant place for me to be.
Prague has always been at the top of my list of European cities to visit. When we decided to go spend Christmas in Zurich with my cousins, we also decided that we should spend New Years in Prague. I am so very glad we did. The Christmas Markets in Prague run into January. So when we arrived on the 27th of December everything was in full swing. We booked our hotel ridiculously early and were able to get a room right off the Old Town Square, where the main Christmas market was. Prague is a seriously compact walkable city. This was the perfect location for both the Markets and seeing the rest of the city.
If you are going to travel there, I highly recommend Hotel Rott. The rooms were small, but clean and comfortable. The service was good. It's an old historical hotel, at a reasonable price point, which is what I was looking for. We really enjoyed it. https://www.hotelrott.cz/
Hotel Rott - With Christmas Market right outside door
The main Christmas market is right in the middle of Old Town Square. This is where you will find the Astronomical Clock and the beautifully Gothic church, Our Lady of Tyn.
Astronomical Clock - Stick around for the top of the hour. It is a fun show!
Christmas Tree and Our Lady of Tyn
The Christmas Tree lights were synced to music. The lights would do the routine about once an hour. It was seriously fun. Here is a video of it, there is some cute B dancing about half way through.
Typical booth selling Christmas ornaments and such
Some of the food stalls
There are literally markets all over the city this time of year. We happened upon several on our exploration. The Old Town Market is the biggest and also right outside the door of our hotel. We ate dinner at the market almost every night we were there. Traveling with an almost 3 year old can be challenging at times, totally worth it but challenging nonetheless. Usually this can mean nice dinner in a restaurant's can be difficult. You are all tired and hungry from big days of sightseeing. That doesn't always mix well with nice restaurants. We did eat at a really good Italian restaurant one evening (Prague has really good italian food and pizza), but other than that we stuck to the markets for dinner. There is something for everyone. B loves the crepes, and potato chips. The sausages were so flipping good. There is also a great selection of mulled wine and hot ciders. I became incredibly fond of the Hot Amaretto Cider. Also there are the Trdelnik. OH. MY. YUM. One can eat and shop for Christmas ornaments and such at the same time.
Trdelnik - Amazing pastries usually served with Nutella smeared on the inside.
Fresh Potato Chips!
This lovely was a piece of cheese that was grilled then served on rye bread. So good.
The markets are open all day into the night. It was lovely to stroll through on our way back to the hotel after sightseeing.
Market in the day time
We really enjoyed ourselves exploring the city. Our first full day was kind of rainy so we checked out one of the local malls, then did a cruise down the Vltava River which runs right through the middle of the city. It was a really nice cozy way to check out the city.
The view from our river cruise
That was the only day we had bad weather. It was cold but we actually came prepared with layers and really enjoyed it. It was such nice change from the hot humid climate of Malaysia. B enjoyed it more than I thought he would. He really liked snuggling in his stroller for naps and snuggling back at the hotel.
We really enjoyed exploring the city on foot. We walked and saw a lot. We took so many pictures it is really hard to narrow it down to these few. As I look through them I know I can't even begin to include everything we saw and did.
Beautiful building in the Jewish Quarter
This was a butcher shop that also had a lunch counter. We ordered a couple of sandwiches, Pastrami on Rye to be exact. Hands down the best Pastrami Sandwich I have ever had. If you are Prage go here. They also have burgers that looked really good.
Prague Castle is definitely worth checking out. It is still the official Residence of the President of the Czech Republic, as well as the historic home of the Kings of Bohemia, most famously Charles IV. There is so much to explore there, it really does take the most of one day. Some of the buildings date back to the 9th century. It is a building complex that has seen a lot of history. If you get across the bridge, to the bottom of the castle there are trams and buses that will take you up the hill.
Prague Castle from the bottom of the hill
B with St. Vitus Cathedral behind him before we entered the castle complex
Fountain in the courtyard
One of the most impressive buildings at the castle complex is St. Vitus Cathedral. The church here was founded in 903 with construction on it's current building beginning in 1344. It has the tombs of several Bohemian Kings and several Holy Roman Emperors. Mass is still held here every day.
Front of St. Vitus
Looking toward the alter
Back side of the church with its flying buttresses
You can tour the 14th century, Medieval Castle residence of King Charles IV.
Better view of the flying buttresses
There are several more buildings to tour in the complex, including an area called Golden Lane which is where many of the laborers lived when the castle was being built. When you are done wandering around, you are filtered out to an over look which is amazing. It is a view of the whole city.
View of Prague form the Castle
We rang in the New Year in Prague, well sort of. Sharing a hotel room with a 2 year old, means that you are asleep by 10 on New Year's Eve. The hotel left us a bottle of champagne in our room, which was awesome! We flew out on New Year's Day. This was the last picture I took the afternoon before we left. Pretty appropriate. I did not want to leave.