Czechin' Out Prague: Notes and Observations

Trip Start Sep 02, 2007
Trip End Jun 30, 2008

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Monday, December 17, 2007

So more about the city of Prague.  As you might recall from my last entry, my first impression of Prague was that it was rather dumpy.  Fortunately, it did get better and the inner city was charming-in fact, Prague was one of the few cities not destroyed during WWII because (as I learned during my tour of Jewish Prague) of the large Jewish Quarter in Prague.  Hitler wanted to make Prague a museum of an "extinct race", so he left Prague well alone during WWII.  There were lots of tourists, along with the charm and I really cannot imagine going to Prague during the high tourist season. 

Some of the more touristy things included the changing of the guard at the Prague Castle. This ceremony isn't quite as stoic as the ceremony at Buckingham Palace-one of the guards in the back of the row had the biggest smile on his face!  There were also more people involved in the ceremony in Prague, a brass ensemble included.  Also, the Christmas markets were mostly for tourists and I've noticed that all markets seem to have the same stuff-Glühwein stands, Christmas decorations, some kinds of sweets/fruit covered in chocolate on a stick, etc.  I was advised to go to the market in Nam Miru for an authentic Czech Christmas market.  I was certainly not disappointed-there must have been two other tourists besides myself and the market itself was very small.  I learned that Christmas here is much less commercialized; gifts are mostly small and homemade, i.e. a pillow filled with lavender for girls, a wooden puzzle that forms a dinosaur for boys. 

On trips like these, I truly realize my parents are right (yes, indeed, you've read correctly-I'm admitting on the world wide web that my parents are correct) when they say we tend to eat  our way through cities.  The Czech Republic is a meat n' potatoes country and here are some of the tidbits I sampled during my stay.  At the Christmas markets, I tried hot dogs, lagas and trdlos (Ahhh, Czech-four consonants in a row and not a vowel in sight).  True, I can easily get hot dogs back in the States, but these hot dogs were less greasy and stuffed inside a roll along with the catsup and mustard.  Lagas is really simple-fried dough topped with garlic spread, catsup and cheese.  Finally, trdlo is the Czech version of a cinnamon roll.  Dough is rolled out and wrapped around a cylinder, then cooked and topped with vanilla, sugar, toffee and nuts.  As for dinner, I went to a restaurant near one of the squares and had roasted pork, with dumplings, bread, white and red cabbage.  Delicious and for a good price too!  The meal may have also included a sampling of Pilsner, which was first brewed in the Czech Republic...

One final note, at one of the Christmas market stands, I chatted with the worker there and he asked if I was from Prague because I used the limited Czech I learned in conversation!  The gent, named Jacob, was from Poland and recently started working in Prague, so he himself sometimes has trouble understanding Czech.  So now I can add another country to where I come from-the Czech Republic.  Have a wonderful Advent. 
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