Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

2019 Christmas in Europe (Austria, Czech Republic, Germany)

2019 Christmas in Europe (Austria, Czech Republic, Germany)

Old Jan 22nd, 2020, 02:52 PM
  #41  
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 9,404
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
People complain about the crowds in Prague, but it really is a stunning city, and it's fairly easy to get away from the hordes.

I'm so enjoying your report and photos.
Leely2 is offline  
Old Jan 23rd, 2020, 07:49 AM
  #42  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 261
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Leely2 Thank you! Yes, Prague is popular and crowded, but there's good reason for it. It's definitely one of my very favorite cities.
memejs is offline  
Old Jan 23rd, 2020, 07:59 AM
  #43  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 261
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Prague (continued)

Christmas Day! Finally a day to sleep in! We hadn't been getting up super early, but we're both of the opinion that we don't travel to sleep the day away, so we had been getting up and out the door between 8 and 9am. Our plan for Christmas day was to have a lazy morning inside, Facetime with our families, and then go out to the Christmas market for food.

I, unfortunately, had to spend the morning grading final assignments, since the university I work for moved up the grade submission deadline to the day I would be flying home (grrr). Oh well, I can't complain too much since I spent the last weeks of the semester gallivanting around Europe!

I had also gathered a little collection of the various brands of Mozart ball candies (mozartkugel), which I was saving to do a Christmas morning taste test. You know how there's often that one souvenir you buy because you just got caught up in the moment? This is what these candies were for me. They are - in my opinion - overpriced and I didn't even like them that much. For the record though, the Mirabell mozartkugel was my favorite.

About 1pm we headed out to the spot on the river bank where the swans gather. The light was especially golden and beautiful, and I took dozens of pictures. We then walked back along the river in the other direction, which the intention of walking to Dancing House. We kept commenting on the beauty of Prague; there's not just one pretty neighborhood, everything is beautiful!

M wanted to go to an art exhibition space she'd read about, and I decided to see if I could get tickets for a tour of the Baroque Library at the Clementinum. Tickets for the day had been sold out, so I bought a ticket for the following afternoon and then wandered the streets of Old Town to do a little more shopping. I found a trio of cornstalk kings to go with the nativity set I'd bought a couple days earlier.

Once again I was surprised at how crowded everything was. I just assumed everything except the Christmas market would be closed and most people would be home with their families. It didn't occur to me that thousands of other people would be doing exactly what I was doing - playing the Christmas market tourist.

At the market I got a Czech version of spatzle which had cabbage and ham mixed in. It was good for a few bites but much too sour to eat all of the large portion they gave me. M got a portion of ham roasted on a spit. And then of course we had to have trdelnik for dessert! I had read so many comments about trdelnik not being a "real" Czech food, and that may be so, but what none of them mentioned is how good it is! We stood in line to get fresh, hot trdelnik with nutella, and it was so doughy and warm and chocolately and delicious! We never did get the trdelnik with ice cream inside because 1) it was already chilly and we didn't want to make ourselves colder, and 2) the warm doughy trdelnik is so delicious we didn't want cold ice cream inside to freeze it. That being said, at some point I've got to get back to Prague during a warmer season and then I'll be sure to try the trdelnik ice cream combo.

I mentioned previously that the Old Town Market was my favorite Christmas market of the trip, and it was the perfect place to be on Christmas Day (night). I loved the giant tree all lit up, the delicious smells, and the festive atmosphere.






Dancing House




Christmas tree in the Old Town Square Christmas market


Corn stalk nativity
memejs is offline  
Old Jan 23rd, 2020, 09:36 AM
  #44  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,475
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
memejs, I'm enjoying your report. I've been waiting for the Prague section, as I'm going there in September! 😀
SusanP is offline  
Old Jan 23rd, 2020, 11:24 AM
  #45  
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 2,246
Received 19 Likes on 4 Posts
I think I’d go to Prague based on that swan photo alone...



(by the way, how do you tag someone? Good feature, but can’t work out how it’s done)
Adelaidean is online now  
Old Jan 23rd, 2020, 04:29 PM
  #46  
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 73
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
memejs, I am enjoying your report so much. Your pictures really captured the Christmas spirit and the joy it brings! Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences.
We also did a mozartkugel taste test a few years ago when we were in Salzburg. We enjoyed them all as we like marzipan and chocolate but we liked the Paul Furst brand (in silver and blue foil) the best.
milaedg is offline  
Old Jan 24th, 2020, 08:46 AM
  #47  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 261
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
SusanP September should be the perfect time of year for Prague!

Adelaidean To tag someone, you just type the @ sign and then start typing their username, a list will show up below.

milaedg Thank you! By the time I decided I was going to collect mozartkugel to do a taste test I couldn't find the Paul Furst brand. I'm sorry to have missed it.

Last edited by memejs; Jan 24th, 2020 at 08:55 AM.
memejs is offline  
Old Jan 24th, 2020, 08:55 AM
  #48  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 261
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Prague (continued)

Our final full day in Prague. We got up fairly early so that we could get pictures on the Charles Bridge without hoards of people. While we certainly weren't the only ones there, it was much more peaceful than it had been in the middle of previous days and the light was beautiful.

The previous day we had tried to get tickets to go up the tower at the Old Town Hall, but it was so crowded that they were no longer selling tickets or allowing anyone to go up. We'd been told a couple of different things about when the ticket office would open, so we went hoping that 9am would be the correct time, and it was. We bought our tickets, hoping that when we came back later in the day they wouldn't be turning people away due to the crowds.

Next up was the Jewish Museum, which is a collection of synagogues and sites related to Prague's Jewish history and community. By far the most impressive and powerful was the Pinkas Synagogue, where the names of over 80,000 Czech Jews killed in the Holocaust are written on the walls. I've read dozens of books about WWII and the Holocaust, and nothing has really driven home to me just how many lives were taken like the Pinkas Synagogue did. It was all I could do not to break down sobbing.

We were disappointed that the Spanish Synagogue was closed for renovations because the photos online show that it is beautiful, but the Jerusalem Synagogue more than made up for it. The Jerusalem Synagogue is a little distance from the other sites and isn't included in the Jewish Museum ticket (although it's just a couple of euros if you've purchased a ticket to the Old-New Synagogue). It's both gaudy and beautiful at the same time...and there was practically no one there!

By now it was time for lunch, so we made our was to the Wenceslas Square market for some of that delicious-looking savory food we'd seen earlier in the week. I got potatoes with cheese and ham, and they definitely lived up to expectations. Next we took about a 45 minute rest in the Starbucks right across from the Astronomical Clock. This Starbucks has multiple levels, and from the upper levels there is a great view of the clock and the square (and all of the crowds).

At 3pm it was time for my Clementinum tour. The Baroque library there is gorgeous, although pictures are strictly prohibited, so I'll have to do a Google image search when I want to better remember what I saw. The tour also took us up into the observation tower, which provides a great view of the spires of Tyn Church and, at a distance, St. Vitus Cathedral.

After the tour I met up with M, who was standing in line to ascend the Old Town Hall tower. We saw multiple groups of people confidently march up to the front with their tickets in hand, only to be told that this long line snaking down the staircase was the line for people who had tickets. I got some good night photos looking down on the Christmas market, but boy was it packed up there! At one point I told people that I was willing to move so that someone could have my spot, but I literally wasn't able to move. Talk about a fire hazard!

After the tower is was time for one last experience with our favorite Christmas market. I got cinnamon sugar nuts and a hot chocolate that was melted chocolate and cream and basically to die for, while M got one last trdelnik.




Pinkas Synagogue


Names of Jews killed in the Holocaust written on the wall of the Pinkas Synagogue


Jerusalem Synagogue


View from Starbucks


Tyn Church from the Clementinum observation tower


Old Town Square from the Old Town Hall tower
memejs is offline  
Old Jan 24th, 2020, 10:12 AM
  #49  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 2,843
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Great report, Memejs, and fabulous pictures. You make me want to revisit it all.
Trophywife007 is online now  
Old Jan 25th, 2020, 03:06 PM
  #50  
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 4,465
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
Thanks for the photo explanation. they are great photos. You have me wanting Vienna now. I had heard everything shut down Christmas eve day but we found a lot opened in Germany but Austria really stays active.
Macross is offline  
Old Jan 25th, 2020, 04:56 PM
  #51  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 212
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Loved your report, memejs! Thank you for including the pictures as well. Appreciated your attention to details.
Janeyre is offline  
Old Jan 26th, 2020, 05:14 PM
  #52  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 261
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I forgot to post pictures of the interior of the Jerusalem Synagogue in my last post, and it's unique enough that it deserves some love!





memejs is offline  
Old Jan 26th, 2020, 05:18 PM
  #53  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 261
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
One final story, because this just needs to be shared!

My flight was scheduled to leave about 7am, which meant I needed to leave the apartment about 4:15am to take the tram and arrive at the airport plenty early, as I always do. M's flight left later in the day, so of course she opted to wake up at a more palatable hour and travel to the airport separately.

I went out the apartment door, leaving my key inside, walked through the courtyard and into the vestibule that separated the courtyard from the street. The door to the street was locked; I couldn't get out! We'd never needed a key to leave the building before, but then again we'd never tried to leave at 4am. What was I going to do?! I went back up to the apartment and rang the doorbell and sent a text to M, but she was fast asleep in the back bedroom and it was unlikely that I could wake her. Should I pound on the door of another apartment - at 4am speaking a foreign language...no. I was starting to panic when I noticed the window in the vestibule that faced out onto the street. I cleared the plants and Christmas decorations off the window sill and prayed that it was a working window that actually opened. Luckily it was! There was an interior window and an exterior window that both slid up. I tossed my suitcase out the window and onto the sidewalk below, and then did the same thing with myself and my tote bag, once again praying that no one would see me and question me about my suspicious behavior. I closed the windows the best I could and rushed to catch my tram (and this is where my obsession with being early came in handy). Once safely at the airport I sent another text to M warning her about the door situation and asking her to go down and properly close the windows and return the plants and decorations to the sill so that no one would think there had been a break-in.

So that James Bond moment was the final adventure of a fabulous European Christmas Market vacation!
memejs is offline  
Old Jan 26th, 2020, 05:25 PM
  #54  
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 2,246
Received 19 Likes on 4 Posts
Memejs, that sounded like a stressful finale!
Adelaidean is online now  
Old Jan 26th, 2020, 05:39 PM
  #55  
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 9,404
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Memejs, that's the kind of thing I thought only happens to me. Glad (?) to know I'm not alone in weird mishaps.
Leely2 is offline  
Old Jan 26th, 2020, 06:53 PM
  #56  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,475
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
memejs, wow, what an end to the trip! Sounds like something you would read in a novel! 😁

Can you tell me where you were standing in Prague when you took the picture of the swans? Not only are the swans beautiful, but also the bridge and buildings behind them.
SusanP is offline  
Old Jan 27th, 2020, 10:13 AM
  #57  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 261
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
SusanP If you're headed from Old Town Square, across the bridge toward Mala Strana/Prague Castle, take a right as soon as you exit the bridge. Follow that street until you get to an opening where you should see the swans congregated. I think it was pretty staight forward, without any or many twists and turns, but as long as you try to keep close to the river, you'll find it. You can also see the swans congregated on the bank of the river from the bridge. Others may know better than I if the swans are at that spot all year or if they tend to move with the seasons.
memejs is offline  
Old Jan 27th, 2020, 11:00 AM
  #58  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,475
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks!
SusanP is offline  
Old Jan 27th, 2020, 12:23 PM
  #59  
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 73
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
What an awesome trip! Your report will definitely help us plan our future trip to Prague. Looks like there’s a lot to see and do in Prague for 3-4 days. We were toying with the idea of taking a day trip to Dresden and/or Bastei while in Prague.
Thanks again for sharing your adventures. So fun to read!
milaedg is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
trommom
Europe
11
Nov 14th, 2014 05:18 PM
Inge_On_The_Go
Europe
7
Oct 5th, 2008 08:23 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 07:40 PM.