Christmas Eve in Prague

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December 24th 2013
Published: December 25th 2013
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This morning we set out walking along the Vltava River to explore Nové Mēsto, the New Town neighbourhood of Prague. It was quite a mild morning and the sun was almost shining so it was perfect for a walk along the river. We walked along Charles Street to the bridge and then turned left. There were seagulls filling the sky above the weir on the river. There were so many Bernie had to Photoshop a few out of our pictures so that the view could be seen and not just the tip ducks!!

We passed the National Theatre which is currently wrapped up undergoing an extensive rebuilding program. We continued walking along the river until we reached the Dancing Building a controversial modern building that consists of a square tower together with a more sinuous twisted glass tower. The building is also known affectionately as the Fred and Ginger dancing building.

Bernie was slightly obsessed with finding an elevated position from which all the bridges could be photographed. He had seen such a picture and was keen to see if there was a natural vantage point from which it was taken or if it had been taken from a cherry picker or a helicopter.

So, we kept on walking along the river until we reached the bluff on which sits the Basilica of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. Then we just had to work out how to get up onto the bluff from the river. Bernie managed to take us through some side streets and up onto the bluff. After the crush of the Old Town this really was the tourist path less travelled as there were very few people about which made a nice change. Being Christmas Eve could also have had something to do with fewer people being out and about?

The Basilica of St Peter and St Paul is a neo-Gothic church in the Vyšehrad fortress. It was originally founded in 1070-1080 by the Czech King Vratislav II as a Romanesque basilica. Following a fire in 1249 it was rebuilt in the Gothic style and later again in the neo-Gothic style. The basilica features an impressive stone mosaic above its entry and its twin 58 metre towers are a feature of the Prague skyline as they are visible from central Prague. On two sides of the church is the Vyšehrad cemetery, the final resting place of many famous Czechs. On the other two sides of the church is a large park from which there is a view towards Prague Castle that features many of the bridges that cross the Vltava River. And ... on a clear day ... it would be possible to replicate the sort of photograph that Bernie was keen to emulate. Ah well, we took the best shots we could manage in the hazy conditions.

Having climbed up to the fortress we had to find our way down again and then we started heading away from the river to find the less touristy Christmas market in the district of Vinohrady. To reach the district of Vinohrady we had to head uphill again. On the map it looked like there were roads we could take between Vyšehrad and Vinohrady which we thought would mean a gradual increase in elevation. Unfortunately that was not to be! We turned down a street which dead-ended at a flight of stairs that we had to climb. All 156 of them!

Eventually we found our way to the Christmas market in Peace Square in front of the Church of Saint Ludmila. This is a local Christmas market visited mostly by the residents of the surrounding district of Vinohrady. It was after 2.00pm by the time we walked all the way to Vinohrady so most stalls had already closed so that the stall holders could make their preparations to celebrate Christmas Eve with their families. All we could find for lunch was hot dogs. Ugh, not the finest street food that we have sampled. We had to have tdrelniks to get the taste of hot dog and mustard out of our mouths. Any excuse!

We walked back to the Old Town via the National Museum and Wenceslas Square. When we were at the supermarket yesterday afternoon we had spotted a Thai Massage place opposite. Since we were coming back past the supermarket we popped our heads in to see if they could massage two footsore tourists. Yay, there were two girls just sitting around waiting for customers so we each had a one hour foot and shoulder, neck and head massage. I had forgotten how brutal a Thai massage can be but, even so, it was wonderfully refreshing after our big walk.

We chilled out at the apartment for a while before showering and changing and heading over to the other side of the river for our extravagant Christmas Eve dinner at U Zlaté Studné. We had a table with a spectacular view overlooking the Vltana River and the Old Town area of Prague. We thoroughly enjoyed the Christmas Dégustation Menu which consisted of seven courses with each course paired with the restaurant's wine selection. Going to the toilet was a challenge though as I had to walk down a narrow, spiral staircase at about the five courses, five glasses of alcohol stage! Phew, I made it back to the table to enjoy the selection of French cheese and the Parfait atop caramelised Pears with chocolate brownie and hot chocolate 'Valrhona Dulcey' (sauce) ... and two more glasses of alcohol, one of which was a particularly potent pear liqueur from Switzerland.

It sounds barely possible, but we managed to walk back to our apartment in Old Town after our Christmas Eve dinner without falling over! We were back 'home' by about 11.30pm. At midnight the church bells in the Old Town Square rang for about 15-20 minutes to ring in Christmas Day. Absolutely magical. Stuff like that doesn't happen in suburban Hallam!

27,471 steps / 18.71 km

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25th December 2013

Hi there, I'm really enjoying your travels. Christmas Eve dinner was quite an extravaganza! Hope you have a lovely Christmas Day. It is my Relax Day here (others know it as Boxing Day).
25th December 2013

Merry christmas
Sounds like an idyllic place for Christmas. You certainly earned your dinner! The photo of the bridges is great so your efforts paid off. Prague is one place I would love to visit, along with a return to Budapest. Enjoy the last days of your memorable adventure. So many boxes ticked this time.

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