So it only seems right that we go off on another jolly; this time to Prague!
Of course, this time of year many European Capital Cities hold Christmas markets, and Prague has a particularly good one. Boo asked me several months ago if I would be interested in going with her, well I am hardly one to turn down an opportunity!
We decided to fly from Gatwick to Prague and left late on Thursday 08th December, for 3 days before returning late on Sunday night. Flying with Easyjet was both cheap and easy; the flight was only two hours and it passed quickly.
We had booked a lovely 4 star hotel located in Prague 2, a district close to Wenceslas Square and the National Museum. Other sights such as The Old Town Square were within walking distance, so it seemed a perfect place to stay.
The hotel was called the Alqush Hotel and we had been given a lovely room on the first floor. Well, I say room; it was actually a double room and a single room with a good sized bathroom to share. We freshened up and decided to go for a walk, even though it was after 11 o’clock at night.
Leaving the hotel, we ventured down to Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí), which was around a 15 minute walk. There was a beautiful tree there, and lots of Christmas Market stalls (which were closed given the lateness of the night)
We were starving so popped into the Mcdonalds there. I have to say, their burger choices were far superior to ours; a Cheese King was a large burger with a breaded fried cheese slice on the bottom, and I have to admit pretty damn good! They even serve beer in there too.
We had a bit of a wander around, looking at the Christmas lights and trees before heading back to the hotel as there was so much to see on Friday that we needed to be up and at ’em early. Getting to bed at nearly two in the morning made it a bit difficult.
We got up at 9 o’clock and got ready to go out for the day. We started off by walking from the hotel down towards the Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí) which is where one of the larger parts of the Christmas Markets are situated. This also gave us a chance to see some of the sights there such as the Astronomical Clock and it’s tower, St Nicholas’ Church and the huge Christmas tree in the square itself.
We sat down in a local restaurant situated on the square and had our first proper meal; fried cheese, fries and mayonnaise. The cheese was golden brown and so gooey it was divine. I paired this up with a Pilsner Urquell, a Czech beer. The strange thing is that it was actually more expensive to buy a soft drink or sparkling water than it was the beer!
After we ate, we braved the markets and looked at all the hand crafted goods and amazing food stalls; baubles, embroidery, chocolate and even ironmongery was available, with the blacksmith making items right before our eyes.
The food was plentiful. Langos, Prague Ham, Klobásy (grilled sausage) and fried cheese. For dessert there were many stalls selling Trdelnik, which is a type of funnel cake with the most popular flavours being cinnamon, almond and nutella. Others offered it filled with cream or ice cream and they all looked so tasty.
Boo and I wandered in and out of the stalls and of course had our required selfie in front of the massive Christmas tree.
We had made a friend on Twitter, Veronika who kindly offered us a tour of Prague and a chance to try some local food out. We had arranged to meet her and her partner, Matouš at the Choco Cafe to have a drink and a snack before starting our City tour.
Matouš ordered for us, and recommended Horice Rolls, a very thin crispy pastry filled with fresh cream, it is served with a small glass of thick hot chocolate that you dips the rolls into – delicious! We teamed this up with a Czech cola style drink called Kofola which tasted like Coke mixed with Dr Pepper and was really good.
Leaving the Choco Cafe we headed for Prague Castle (Pražský hrad). Situated on a large hill above the City, it was founded over 1200 years ago. It reminded Boo and I of Hogwarts, and was so very pretty.
We got some amazing photographs and Matouš was a mine of information, telling us of the facts and history of both the Castle and Prague itself. He really was a fabulous tour guide, leading us down the winding lanes of the Castle, including Golden Lane (Zlatá ulička) which is also known as Alchemists Alley. There were beautiful brightly coloured houses with the smallest doors ever.
We watched the Changing of the Guard before heading down from the Castle complex to our next stop, Cafe Savoy where we were to try another Czech speciality.
Boo ordered two small mini pastries; a Savoy cake which was chocolate and covered in marzipan and a caramel crown which was choux pastry filled with fresh cream and caramel cream.
I was still full from the Horice rolls so declined more food and instead had a raspberry and rosemary soda which was delicious (and a taste of Boo’s caramel crown)
The cafe was stunning with beautiful ornate painted ceilings. It was a very luxurious Cafe and what was even better was a glass wall that looked out over the bakery where you could see the bread and pastries being made by hand. It was fantastic.
Once we finished our snack we set off again for the Vltava River, which runs through Prague. Our destination was the Charles Bridge (Karlův most) one of the most beautiful sights within Prague. The Bridge goes across the River and has 30 Saint’s statues across it. As we walked across it, again Matouš told us many stories of interest, both about the Bridge and the surrounding area.
Time was ticking on and we had a Dinner reservation at a local Italian restaurant at 9pm. Arriving at Pizza Nuova Now I was still full from the earlier snacks, so couldn’t manage a massive pizza and instead went with a lovely pasta dish with tomatoes and strips of steak. It was absolutely perfect and was just the right size portion. Pannacotta with raspberries was to follow and we had a great couple of hours talking about everything from Politics to Pigs.
Finally it was time to say goodnight, and we left on separate trams. It was so lovely of Veronika and Matouš to have spent their afternoon and evening showing us around, and we really appreciated it.
We finally got back to our hotel around 1am and hit the sack ready for the next day.
Saturday saw us leaving the hotel around 11am and heading for the National Museum to take a look at the Retro Exhibition, featuring some amazing dresses and vehicles. Unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances, the Museum was closed!
We headed for a spot of breakfast; croissants and cake, before working on a plan B.
This involved heading to the Museum of Communism instead. This exhibition is full of information and items from the times of Communism in Czechoslovakia from 1948 to 1989. It really was a fascinating exhibition, with clothes, posters, machinery and even videos to watch., We spent a couple of hours there before moving on to the River where we were to join a Prague Cruise Boat.
Arriving at the Riverside in time to join the 4 o’clock boat, the sky was starting to darken and we were able to get some amazing views of the scenery and buildings. The Castle looked amazing with the sun going down and I snapped hundreds of pictures.
When the cruise was over, we hopped on a tram to a restaurant that was highly recommended online; The Tavern. Unfortunately it is a very small Inn, and they were not able to accommodate us. However their sister restaurant U Kurelů had spaces and we walked along to it.
Now, I love a good burger as much as the next person and have eaten quite a few in my time. I ordered their Tavern Classic Double bacon and cheese burger as did Boo. We opted to share a portion of Disco fries (potato wedges covered in smoked turkey gravy, smoked and cheddar cheese)
I have to say the burger was easily the best burger I have ever eaten in my life! It was juicy and very meaty. The toppings were perfect – English cheddar and crispy bacon, along with mayo, ketchup, mustard, lettuce, pickles and red onion. The Disco fries were also very tasty but I was so full from the burger I couldn’t eat as many as I would have liked!
Long Island Ice Tea was the drink of choice and again it was extra-ordinary! Perfectly made with the quantities of alcohol in it, just right. Of course I had to have two, just to make sure it wasn’t a one off.
We retired back to the Hotel afterwards, full and very happy. The evening was spent watching videos on YouTube and using Sephora pampering products, including a foot masque for tired feet. It was extremely weird, but so good.
Sunday saw us returning to the Museum to see the Retro Exhibition. I fell in love with so many of the dresses, even the reproduction ones that were made in the past few years in imitation of some the classics of yesteryear.
We spent around an hour in the exhibition, drooling over the wonderful fashions and furniture that accompanied the display. I fell in love with a armchair and wondered if I could get it home in my suitcase!
After the museum it was time to go to another restaurant we had been recommended, the Lokál Dlouhááá which had traditional Czech food and drink.
We arrived and were shown into a very long thin room with lots of tables all in a row, almost in a communal kind of dining room. We ordered our food and drinks, and they came within around 5 or 6 minutes. I had the Beef Cheek Goulash with Mash potato and steamed cabbage. Boo had the fried cheese, mash potato and potato dumplings.
It was quite a strange experience, I have to admit. I couldn’t quite work out if it felt very “hip and cool” or still quite “communist”. We finished our meal and headed back to the City Centre to finish off the last few hours we had in Prague.
We headed back to the Clock Tower and decided to go to the top and look at the views from the “balcony” all the way around it. We queued up with lots of other tourists and found out that it actually had a lift right to the top! Well, how could we refuse such luxury.
Within seconds we were walking out at the top of the tower. The views were beautiful. And I was petrified. It was around this time that Boo noticed I was clinging to the brickwork as I rounded the corner. I had neglected to mention I was frightened of heights.
When she asked me why I was up there, my answer was simple; I wasn’t going to get another chance and what was the worst that could happen.
I hastily took some photo’s and was more than happy when I had been round the whole tower and I could go back indoors. But I did it!
Leaving the tower we visited a local church; St Nicholas which has the most beautiful painting on the ceiling and a huge crystal chandelier that was donated by the Russian Tsar Nicholas II. It really was most stunning.
After the Church we sat in a local restaurant for a glass of festive Hot mulled wine or two. It was lovely looking out over the Christmas Market and watching people go by as we decided what to do next.
Surprisingly we decided to visit the Sex Machine Museum, which is three full floors dedicated to human sexuality and the equipment that has been invented for it.
I have to admit I was fascinated (and horrified) by some of the exhibits in there, but it was quite educational and also showed the diversity in human sexuality, especially in different cultures. I was fascinated by the medieval metal corsets, and couldn’t even begin to imagine how uncomfortable they must have been!
By the time we finished there, it sadly was time to head back to collect our cases from the hotel and await our driver to take us back to the airport.
I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the Christmas Markets of Prague, and the building and architecture is just stunning. I loved meeting up with Veronika and Matouš and hope we can repay the favour when they come to the UK next.
All we need to do now is plan the next Boo and T holiday adventure! Krakow anyone??