Friday, April 18, 2014

Top 8 Christmas Holiday Activities to Do in Prague

2. Experience a traditional Christmas Eve dinner -- Since most Czechs celebrate the main holiday meal on the evening of Christmas Eve, a reservation at La Republica, just 2 blocks off Republicky Namesti, is a must. Groats and mushrooms being the 5 course feast. Groats are a barley based grain that have a distinctive mushy taste when eaten - definitely an acquired taste! The second course, a fish soup offering, reveals a buttery, slightly salty taste of broth in which cooked vegetables and crispy brown croutons swim. The main course is a flavorful fried carp served with a mouthwateringly tasty potato salad. As usual, with carp, there are many small bones to crunch so do be forewarned. The fourth course (as if you weren't stuffed enough already), as announced by the English version of the menu, consists of pear dumplings with gingerbread and cottage cheese. As unlikely a pairing (no pun intended) of foods as this sounds, the blending of savory, sweet and tangy flavors is absolute gastronomic delight! (Yes, it is THAT good...) The grand finale of this festive feast are the elaborate Christmas butter cookies for which the Czechs are famously proud,served with coffee or tea. Candied fruits, sprinkled sugars and/or flavored icings crowned the homemade shortbread or sugar cookies as per the culinary whims of the baker. All are equally delicious.

3. Attend a Christmas concert -- One thing that Prague is known for -- MUSIC!! There are almost as many venues presenting concerts during the winter holiday as there are types of music to play. Catch a classical concert near the Prague Castle complex at lunchtime if time permits. Energize with jazz in the evening at one of Prague's many jazz clubs. Feel the Latin rhythms pulsating at a late night salsa dance club! Whatever type of music you enjoy, Prague is sure to please.

Adult admission for a regular castle tour ticket costs 250 Kc (Czech crowns) which at the time of this posting is approximately $13 USDl.

6. Shopping at the Open Air Christmas Markets -- The two largest open air holiday markets in Prague,located on Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, are an easy 10 minute walk from each other. Both markets have cabin-like booths featuring everything from delicate handmade Christmas ornaments to amber jewelry to miniature medieval metal masks and everything in between. Food offerings at the holiday markets range from chocolates, a variety of wursts, roasted pig on a spit, roasted chestnuts and, my personal favorite, fried camembert cheese with lingonberry jam. Remember to wash the food down with a good Czech beer or very warm medovina (honey wine). HINT: Try to time your Old Town holiday market visit with a viewing of the top-of-the-hour activities of the famous Astronomical Clock at the Old Town Hall tower.

9. New Year's Eve along the Vltava -- The Czechs REALLY love their NYE celebrations! There are spur of the moment firework displays on many street corners the week between Christmas and New Years. Official fireworks are presented at 6 pm on New Year's Eve and at the same time on New Year's Day with the largest fireworks display presented on a small island on the Vltava River late in the evening on December 31st. This massive display is a sensory overload of sound and color for a good 30 minutes and it's also accompanied by live music! A fantastic way to ring in the New Year, Czech-style!

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