One of the enchanting aspects of studying abroad during the fall semester is the opportunity to experience Christmas festivities in different countries. Witnessing the adorned streets, and bustling markets, and indulging in unique pastries creates a stunning holiday ambiance. The excitement escalates, and the shopping possibilities seem endless. During my final excursion abroad for Christmas, I chose to explore the magical city of Prague.
What made the Christmas season in Prague particularly special was the unexpected gift of a weekend blanketed in snow. Despite being unprepared for the cold weather, I couldn't help but feel exhilarated. Arriving on a Thursday night, we settled into a charming Airbnb in the Prague 2 area. Although slightly apprehensive about not being in close proximity to Prague 1, where the Old Town is located, our neighborhood offered its own delights.
In the days leading up to the opening of the renowned Christmas market on December 1st, we explored the local area and stumbled upon a smaller market where we discovered the most delicious cookies. These sweet treats, all handmade, turned out to be a heartfelt endeavor as they were being sold by a man raising funds to support his friend's sister battling cancer.
Keen to explore the Old Town, we opted for the efficient Prague metro and tram system. It seamlessly transported us to the heart of the city, where we witnessed the grand setup of the Christmas market. Our stroll took us to the Prague astronomical clock, the Charles Bridge, where we amusingly had doves placed on our heads for photos, and, in the direction of the castle, we paused for some much-needed hot chocolate to thaw our frozen hands and feet.
Embracing the snowy terrain, we embarked on the slippery hike to the castle. The uphill climb, coupled with the icy conditions, led to comical scenes of people grabbing onto each other to avoid slipping. Upon reaching the castle, the sight was breathtaking with snow-covered rooftops, Santa Claus, and Christmas music. The lit-up castle and a Christmas tree in the front added a touch of magic to the experience.
Heading back was an adventure in itself as the icy conditions made the descent more challenging. A supposed 15-minute hike turned into a 30-minute escapade of sliding and gripping icy railings. Exhausted yet satisfied, we treated ourselves to comforting dumplings and soup at a nearby restaurant, enjoying a good night's rest before the market exploration the next day.
Little did we know that the first day of the market would be a bustling affair, with crowds making navigation difficult in the snow-covered streets. Despite the challenges, we persevered, exploring charming shops filled with cute gifts and delectable treats. A highlight was waiting in line for over an hour in freezing temperatures for the infamous chimney cake, but witnessing the tree lighting up and captivating the crowd made it worthwhile. As night fell, the crowds intensified, making our exit challenging. However, we managed to escape and capped off the day with delicious burgers, benefitting from an incredible student discount. It was a successful day of exploration, but the promise of warmth in Rome beckoned us back, concluding our Christmas adventure in Prague on a high note.
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Hello! I'm Emilie, a junior at Villanova, passionate about beauty, fashion, adventures, and meeting new people. Fun fact: I studied abroad and lived in London for high school. Can't wait to explore Rome and indulge in the finest gelato!