søndag, januar 22, 2006

Weekend in Europe, Part 3: Christmas in Prague

We have a tendency to travel at Christmas; more because we have time to get away then than out of any desire to escape Denmark. This time, our destination was Prague. Although Thor had been several times before, this was my first trip there, and I knew very little about it. I'd heard that it's one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, has the world's best beer, which almost makes up for the absolutely dreadful food, and that it is crawling with American expats.

We didn't take the time to check for crawling Americans; most of the native English accents were various flavors of British from what I heard, but it was quite cold, so perhaps all my fellow expats were hiding at home. And the beer quality was lost on me, though I was well on my way to a serious absinthe habit by the end of the first day. Sadly, though I pride myself on liking all cuisines, I found the food fairly disappointing...I won't say dreadful, just, well, not very inspiring. And I'm convinced that traditional bread dumplings actually are circular pieces cut out of slices of Wonder Bread. I kid you not. I should have taken pictures.

But the city is definitely one of the more beautiful I've seen, in Europe or elsewhere. If cities have colors, Prague is all sorts of pastels, faded facades along narrow twisty alleyways, or overlooking elegant squares. The main square is overlooked by the original Cinderella's castle, made all the more impressive by being just slightly dilapidated. The whole city is this way, an old woman wearing old-fashioned worn-out clothing which still, somehow, suits her perfectly.

Keep in mind that when I say we were in Prague for Christmas, I really mean we were in Prague for Christmases. In Denmark, the big day is actually Christmas Eve, leading to eternal arguments about which day is the 'real' Christmas. On Danish Christmas, we went to Prague Castle, which includes a cathedral, which was, against all reasonable expectations, closed. On American Christmas, we went to a series of synagogues and a Jewish cemetary. This is in keeping with another tradition of doing decidedly un-Christmassy things on the 25th...last year, we spent part of the day visiting Mao's mausoleum.

Otherwise, the point of the whole journey was to relax, and considering how much work I knew was waiting for me at home, it was actually surprisingly relaxing. We strolled, souvenir shopped, took pictures, hung out in bars, walked back and forth on the Charles Bridge, and survived the cold. It was, in short, an ideal winter holiday.

Any suggestions on where to go next Christmas?

15 kommentarer:

Chloe sagde ...

the pictures are dreamy. these are dollhouses. my sister has been to Prague and tells me it's like a fairytale.
Suggestions: Next Christmas go to Bruges (Belgium).

kimananda sagde ...

Yes, a fairytale. That's it exactly. And I'm glad to know I'm not the only one up at this hour. :-)

Simple American sagde ...

Loved the pictures. I would loved to go to Prague. Could not really do it when I was there before, because still the Cold War then. My duaghter had a ice skating teacher that came from there and she told us wonderful stories of the city.

The Whippy Curly Tails sagde ...

Beautiful blog you have...next year go to Switzerland..Lucerne!

Or Texas and become cowfolk!

Vanessa sagde ...

The pictures are beautiful.
Prague is one of the many destinations on my list of places I want to vist. I've heard how beautiful and welcoming of a city it is from others who've been there

al-Ferengi sagde ...

Thank you for nice food and this incredible tarot set, I am totally in trance with it. My alleged Venus in Virgo loves tiny stuff. Must persue my actual Venus in Leo to hop over there :)

The clock in Prague is so cool :D, I saw it with my own eyes approx. ten years ago :)
Besides the pastel colouration I remember many, MANY constyruction sites back then. Since it was shortly after the Berlin Wall fell :)

missy sagde ...

You have beautiful eyes :-)

Next Christmas: Go to Goa, India! or Peru!

Generik sagde ...

My wife and I spent a week in Prague last July, and it really is fairy-tale lovely. I'm sorry your food experience was so poor; we found a few good places to eat (and were surprised, because we had also heard bad things about the cuisine there). One was translated as "The Blue Duck," and the food there was on a par with anything we had in Paris or Rome.

Your pictures are quite lovely (but none of Prague Castle or the Charles Bridge?). I can't wait to visit that magical city again.

kimananda sagde ...

Hey, Mr. American, go to Prague. Just do it. It's amazing!

Lyn, thanks for visiting. I have been to Switzerland, but not to Lucerne, and to Texas but not for a LONG time. Good suggestions!

Vanessa, from your comments, I can see you have a whole European vacation just waiting to be planned. I look forward to seeing the photos and hearing your experiences when you realize that voyage.

Ms. Black Scorpio, selv tak! Good luck on the exam. I'll let you know after mine how it went.

Ms. Missy, nice suggestions. I've especially wanted to go to Goa because of the Portuguese connection there (lived in Portugal for 6 years). That's a great idea.

Generik, thanks for the visit, and for your concern over my food experience. Actually we did have a nice dinner on Christmas Eve, with the best onion soup I have ever had, and some reasonable quality lunches, so it wasn't all bad. As for the Castle and the bridge, I'm not sure why I didn't take pictures of them (well one of the bridge, but it didn't turn out very well). Like you, I found the city magical, and will definitely be going back.

Chibithulhu sagde ...

Next christmas you should visit the plateau of Leng, or perhaps the city beyond the Mountains of Madness in Antarctica.

Daphnewood sagde ...

There is something about visiting European cities that just blows my mind. Here in the US we see things like giant redwoods, beautiful coastal regions, the grand canyon and modern city wonders. But in Europe, everything looks so OLD and historical. The building itself is a museum. I am not saying it is better or worse just different than the things you see in the states. Our ancient wonders are non-civilized but over there people use these buildings daily in the towns you have shown us so far. Very cool, Kim. I gotta love your wanderlust!

Etchen sagde ...

I loev the pictures! I have friends from Prague who've sent me candy from there, which was quite delectable, but I've never tried the food. What did you try? What about visiting Rome?
Oh, they have sent me postcards of a bridge there that has all sorts of enormous statues lining it--I don't know what it is called, but did you perchance see it?

Generik sagde ...

Hey, if you're interested, I have some pictures of my July trip to Prague on my own blog that I posted last November. You can view them here if you'd like.

kimananda sagde ...

Chibithulhu - ah, Leng. How I long to visit Leng. But considering that it's not much below zero here (that's zero celcius, by the way), and I wouldn't want it to get much colder, I think that anything beyond the mountains of madness might just have to wait.

Daphnewood - Yeah, I know what you mean, though there are some nice architectural sites in the states (as a San Franciscan, victorian houses spring to mind), and some brilliant nature in Europe (such as the Portuguese/Galician coastline. As for my wanderlust, I find that quite funny as all of the places in Europe I've blogged about are only between one and one and a half hours away by plane!

Etchen - I am normally quite random in my picture taking, and as we weren't there to sight-see per se (as Thor had been so many times), the pictures were even more sporadic than usual. Take a look at generik's pictures, which are overall very good. He has one of the Charles Bridge there, which reminded me of why I didn't end up taking any of it...as I am quite short, I'm not always able to get a shot of things in crowded places...I always end up with a photo of some stranger's back! Rome is also amazing, but I was there long before having a laptop or a digital camera, and my photos of that trip are in a plastic box in a shed in the back of my Mom's house. Which is actually a good reason to go back. Good idea!

Generik - those are great pictures...I need to go back even more to see the inside of the cathedral.

Etchen sagde ...

I'm 5'3" so I take the same pictures of people's backs & heads that you do! ;-)