Christmas Markets, to me, are a distinctly European thing. For the last few years, I’ve begun my Christmas festivities with a trip to a Christmas market. Last year I was fortunate enough to visit Prague for their markets. What an amazing city!
I stayed in a hotel near the Astronomical clock. The Prague clock dates to the early 1400’s and is one of the oldest in the world. Every hour as it chimes there is a show of figures of the apostles and other figures including death move in rotation. The clock is beautiful and sits on a square with a wonderful market. The street food was excellent with kabobs of chicken and peppers, cinamon and sugar spirals of dough, and these wonderful sticks of spiral sliced potatoes like chips freshly fried for your delight. It was easy to make a meal while wandering around. The castle grounds also held their own market. I discovered the most beautiful blown glass at one of the booths there along with fun toys and more excellent food.
I’d not see the live animals at a Christmas market before. I loved the stables with sheep, donkey, and cows for petting. What a wonderful nod to the Christmas Story plus the animals were fun to pet.
On the dessert side of things, I must mention the gingerbread and hot chocolate. The ginger cookies were to die for but the hot chocolate was simply out of this world. Imagine walking around the city for a couple of hours in 30 degree weather and deciding you need to warm up with a cup of something hot. I spied Amorino’s which presented as a coffee, dessert, chocolate shop. My hot chocolate was delicious. It was thick to the point that a spoon could stand up by itself. I “cut” the dense chocolate with a side serving of vanilla macaroons, also fabulous. My cup was on the small side which was perfect as the chocolate was rich, thick, and oh so chocolatey. Whipped creme would have been an excellent addition. By the time I left, I was warm and full.
I wondered the streets for hours checking out local crafts and artisans. I discovered delightful bells in the shape of Santa and beautiful glass. From the church of St. Nicholas, to the Castle, to the Charles Bridge, to the Old Town, the city is easily walkable with something different to see on every street.
If you are in to high fashion, all the designer shops are there as well from Cartier, to Hermes, to Dior. My favorite souvenirs were the glass balls I purchased from a vendor at the Castle market made by using a medieval process and the wooden flying plane from the Old Town market. A few Santa bells also came home with me for friends and family.
All in all it was the perfect start to the season. Lights, trees, concerts, and crafts. What’s not to like? I had such fun that I’m off to Christmas markets again, this time not in Prague but what will I find in my new markets?