Over Thanksgiving week, my mom and I traveled to Europe, first visiting Munich and then taking the bus over to Prague for another few days of exploring and getting in the holiday spirit with all of the Christmas Market preparations. It's hard to say which city I enjoyed more, each had their special moments, but overall it made for a great vacation!
If you are American, and happen to be in Prague for Thanksgiving - making a dinner reservation at Jama Steakhouse is a perfect idea. It was an amazing Thanksgiving feast! Corn Chowder, followed by a plate of turkey, ham, stuffing, green beans, mash potatoes and cranberry sauce. We finally finished off the meal with a slice of the most amazing ginger pumpkin pie!
Mom and I eating dinner at Jama Steakhouse
Prague - Astronomical Clock
Do I even have to mention it...go look at the Astronomical Clock in Old Town Square! Go early, get a good spot - and then be ready for photos and/or video just before the hour strikes...it goes quick! Before you know its over and you kind of wonder "is that what I was waiting for?". Never-the-less - a neat experience.
Old Town Square Carriage Ride
We really enjoyed spending the afternoon walking through the Jewish Quarter. Find the small info building to buy your museum pass - and then follow along the map to the 6 destinations in the area. What I thought was neat was how they “created” their museum – utilizing the old synagogues to house the museum artifacts and history. Here are the 6 places we visited:
Pinkas Synagogue. This one was pretty overwhelming with the names of the 77,000 Jews who perished in the Holocaust covering the walls.
Old Jewish Cemetery. Again just unreal – founded in the 15th century and contains around 20,000 gravestones in a very small area.
Spanish Synagogue. This was my hands down favorite. Absolutely stunning inside! It also had some great history on the war times and the ghetto.
Prague Vltava River - Manesuv most bridge
Walk along the Vltava River to view the Charles Bridge. Even on a cold day it was a beautiful and very peaceful walk.
Mom and I in front of Charles Bridge
Spend hours walking through the beautiful Prague Castle.
Don't try to walk up...definitely take the 20 min tram! Trust me, you'll say thanks once you see the hill.
We arrived right in time to watch the changing of the guards and then bought our ticket for a self-guided tour of the massive grounds.
Our first stop was St. Vitus Cathedral - wow...jaw dropping...amazing...not much more to say!
St. Vitus Cathedral
St. George's Basilica
Next we walked through the Old Royal Palace, and then St. George's Basilica.
From there we walked down the Golden Lane and up the Daliborka Tower.
After we walked through all the sites, another favorite of the day was the long and steep walk down from the Castle back to lower street level.
We even stopped to have a treat along the way to try Trdelník, a heavenly rolled dough sweet pastry topped with sugar.
When walking back down towards the river, do yourself a favor and stand a while to admire the amazing views of the city, river and Charles Bridge.
View from Prague Castle - Charles Bridge
If in Prague at Christmas time, visit the Christmas markets. We were there when they were getting set up, and on our last day they officially opened the market in Old Town Square. The street performers on opening day were so fun to watch!
V Kotcich Christmas Market
We visited 3 markets: V Kotcich, Wenceslas Square, as well as the one in Old Town Square. Each were great with lots of good places to souvenir shop and eat your heart out. Keep eating those Trdelník pastries - you won't get tired of them!
Street Artist in Old Town Square
Note - if you do want to see the tree lighting, be prepared for insane crowds! We locked arms so we wouldn't lose each other in the craziness and funneled our way down the narrow streets into the square. We were able to see the tree lit up - beautiful - but that's about as far as we got. The crowds were so jam packed, we just turned around and headed back to our quiet neighborhood of Prague
Prague Christmas Market at night - the crowds were insane!
Slideshow of more Prague photos - use right/left control arrows or scroll and click to view
We stayed in Prague at the Sheraton Prague Charles SquareHotel for 3 nights. It was a nice location - not directly in the heart of everything, but a close enough walk (~.6 mile) right into Old Town Square. It was very cold when we were there, but the walk to/from each day was still nice - stopping at a coffee shop along the way to warm up and relax. For that time of year, 3 days seemed perfect to explore the nearby attractions.
Jama Steakhouse - a great American Thanksgiving meal - see above, the food was amazing.
Mistral Café- I found this listed in the Lonely Planet guidebook and it was very close to the Jewish Quarter tour, so it made for a perfect mid-point stop. Beautiful little cafe and a very nice meal.
Narodni Kavarna - grabbed a cute little table by the window and enjoyed some hot drinks, free wifi, and people watching along the street. This spot was positioned between the Old Town Square and our hotel, so needless to stay we stopped here a lot.
Caffe Italia - Located just behind Old Town Square - we saw a sign outside for an Italian lunch and decided to stop in. Had the best Greek Salad ever in a beautiful underground spot.
Pivovarsky Dum - Great food and great beer. If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Old Town Square, this was in New Town. Very close to our hotel and we had a nice casual meal. They have some fun beers to try as well - Banana Beer?!
Cafe Svateho Vaclava in Wenceslas Square was again a good place to go if you want to do something outside of Old Town Square. It was still a very touristy place, but Wenceslas Square has a great vibe to it and it made for a nice change of pace. Food was cheap and tasty, as most places were in Prague.