This is our third Christmas season in Prague. There are Christmas markets that spring up all over Prague in December, and the most beautiful one of all is in Old Town Square. When I first came here, I was used to the US Midwest hibernation…when the temperature plummets, people stay indoors. I was used to going from the house to the garage to the car to my destination. It isn’t uncommon for people to circle a parking lot several times to find a spot closer to the mall entrance, or wherever it is we need to go.
During my first winter here in Prague, I was surprised to see how many people walk all over the city, particularly the center and shopping areas. They go not just to accomplish shopping errands, but also to walk, talk with friends, and enjoy the atmosphere. The cold temperatures don’t seem to deter the crowds; people just bundle up, and walk !!
It’s a whole new way of life here in Prague, and I really enjoy it. In the US, we had two cars and drove everywhere. A car is a necessity in the vast majority of US cities, suburbs and small towns (although I’ve never lived in New York or other cities with good public transport). Here in Prague we don’t own a car. We go to school, work, the grocery store, errands…everything…by public transport. And we love it! The public transport system is excellent: prompt, easy to figure out and navigate. I often feel like I’m a Disneyland tram, riding through the beautiful streets of Prague!
I’ll admit, there are days where it is really cold, and I miss the warmth and convenience of having a car. But we have no desire, nor need, to buy a car. If needed, taxis (from a reliable company) are quick and inexpensive: 150-300 crowns for a ride across town ( $7-$15).
Old Town Square is always bustling with life throughout the year; it has an especially festive atmosphere when the Christmas markets go up.
For the past three years we always head to the US to spend Christmas with family, so I’ve never experienced what Prague is like right at Christmas. I’ve heard that there are buckets of fresh carp that appear all over the city as it is part of the Czech traditional Christmas meal.
Early December is always filled with lots of events at my son’s school, Christmas parties, and last minute gift buying. I guess that’s the same regardless of the country! Some day I’d like to go to a Christmas concerts in one of the lovely churches. I’ve also heard that the New Year’s Eve celebrations are wonderful. We often see fireworks out our window throughout the year (we live on a hill); I can imagine that there must be many spectacular displays of fireworks on New Year’s Eve!
Tomorrow we are off to the US to spend time with family. We are looking forward to it! Good-bye, lovely Prague. See you next year!