Since I was ten years old, I’ve wanted to travel to the Czech Republic. My father’s family is originally from the town of Pilsen. They were a Jewish family who owned a brewery, an automotive repair garage, and several other small businesses in the area. When the Nazis invaded in 1939, my grandfather, his sister, and my great grandmother were able to flee. My great grandfather and several other relatives were rounded up and later killed in concentration camps. My father had never been to the Czech Republic and we have been talking about making the trip for years. This Christmas, we did!
It was truly a once in a lifetime trip that I will not soon forget. Here are a few highlights.
We booked an Airbnb in the center of the city that was beautiful. It was a quaint little apartment with vintage touches that had a 16th century alchemists shop turned museum on the first floor.
After dropping off our bags, we headed to the main square in the city. As we rounded the corner and saw thousands of locals, tourists, and rows of Christmas markets, the church bells started to chime and the Christmas lights came on — a truly magical way to kick off Christmas Eve in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe!
The clock tower in the main square.
Christmas morning, we made the trek across the river and up a massive hill to go to mass at St. Vitus Cathedral. We walked in just as the opening hymn was beginning and were practically knocked to our knees, it was so overwhelmingly beautiful. The choir singing was breathtaking and the mass was perfect. It was quite cold during mass though — we could see our breath! A lovely and chilly Christmas morning.
My adorable parents heading back down the hill after mass.
Dang, this town has charm, y’all! I particularly loved the gas lamps and tiny doorways.
Prague has several marionette theatres and shops. Matt was very excited! We went to a marionette opera performance of Don Giovanni in the attic of a tiny shop in the center of the city. You guys, it was the most unique and adorable show I’ve ever been to! A must see if you find yourself in Prague.
A walk across the Charles Bridge was particularly memorable. It was packed with tourists (us included!). Religious statues lined the bridge along with vendors of all kinds. On the other side of the bridge, we stopped off for a delicious snack of trdelnik — a local favorite that is basically a cylindrical baked donut. You could get them with just cinnamon and sugar on the outside or filled with Nutella or whipped cream. My favorite was with just cinnamon and sugar. While I love Nutella, it made the eating experience quite tricky! I don’t have the proper equipment to make trdelnik (yet!), but I am determined to find a way to get my hands on these in the states.
A typical street in this magical city.
I took so many pictures on this trip that I have to break them up into several posts! More on Prague and Budapest coming this week and next!