Christmas 2015 – Vienna & Prague

Our holiday started in Vienna. A German speaking taxi driver took us to the apartment. The next morning we headed to the bakery and after a good European pastry breakfast we headed to St. Stephen’s Cathedral. I went in, crossed myself with Holy Water and knelt to pray. The cathedral was beautiful, but did not have an impact as dramatic as some of the others I had seen in Rome. We went up North Tower and had a lovely view of the city. The floor was made of see through substance and my minor fear of heights was accelerated as I saw just how high I truly was.

On our way through the “Innere stadt” (inner city) we passed two Christmas markets. I love just browsing and looking at all the different stuff that’s available.

That night the others went to the Opera while I stayed home and read my book (My Life as a Fake by Peter Carey). I had not found an open shop and so went to sit in the almost empty hotel restaurant next door. The waiter and the food took their sweet time to arrive. Lamb was good.

The following morning we went to the palace where the Vienna boys choir where to sing. The mass service was in German and the choir sang only at the beginning and end of the service. The palace was beautiful.

Mum was leaving for Graz city and me, my aunt and uncle where to drive to Prague the next day and meet her there again.

I spent my afternoon wondering around every Christmas market I could find. Sunset was around 16h and I suddenly realised I was lost. I tried to find the church towers as that would give me some idea of direction. I found the trains and got home.

Our driver, Mike, picked us up the next morning and drove us through the Czech wine route (who knew this existed?). It was a lovely route, but since it was winter it didn’t look like my idea of vineyards.

The next day was Prague. We got off at Staromestska and split up. I went to find some shops and walked over Charles Bridge. My attention was divided, I wanted to find stores, because the next day was the 23rd and many places would be closed. I ended up asking a girl in a souvenir shop “I was at a place 2 years ago, there was a really big statue, a Christmas market and a Marks and Spencer store. Where was I?” I giggled thinking she would find the question odd. She answered with a blank face and I headed to the metro station.

I found marks & spencer, got what I needed and went to have lunch at the restaurant where I had every meal 2years ago. I changed trains and saw the conductor who fined me two years ago still standing on the same platform. I arrived at the restaurant and was seated by the same waitress. I almost couldn’t believe that all these people where still exactly where I had left the two years ago.

I walked up to Prague castle that afternoon and had my first ever real hot chocolate, made from melted chocolate, not powder. It’s a 10-15min uphill walk to the castle, but the view is worth it and so is the hot chocolate.

It was still early, probably around 17h when I decided to head home. Found the train station and then realized I had absolutely no idea what the address was. I was all alone in a quiet, dark street in a strange city and I just knew that I needed to turn left when I went out the station. I walked down the street and saw one of the street lights go out in front of me. The darkness seemed to intensify.

I walked up a few wrong turns always returning to the main road. I checked my watch and decided to walk for 7 more minutes, if I didn’t find anything by then I would go back to the station and somehow figure it out from there. To my great relief I found the house within those 7minutes and the next morning took two pictures of the address.

The next morning mum and I went to explore Josefov, the Jewish part of Prague. I had not had breakfast so we went into the first decent looking café and ordered omelettes. The coffee was undrinkable strong. It was nice just wondering around looking at the old buildings.

We headed to Charles Bridge a few hours later and had coffee. After which we split up and I went to climb Petrin Tower. I had not realized that the tower was at the top of a hill and so I was surprized to find myself hiking uphill towards the tower. The long line at the ticket desk was welcome as it gave me a chance to regain my breath. I climbed up the hundreds to of stairs and was rewarded with the most magnificent view of Prague at end. The tiny little bridges crossing over the shimmering river and the big green dome of the church at the end of Charles bridge. The red roofs and the cold wind. It was exhilarating.

I found Lennon wall that afternoon and wrote the lyrics to Blackbird on the white paint of the American flag somebody else had painted. It was Christmas Eve and most places where closed which meant that the tourist areas where over crowded as all the people gathered around the only open cafés and shops that there where.

I had misread my map the next day and thought that the St. Vitus Cathedral was not the cathedral next to the castle. I found St. Nicolas church while wondering and climbed their green domed tower. I had the same view as before, but from a different angle.

To find St. Vitus I was to head north. “Where’s north?” I asked an uninterested shop attendant “No idea” “where did the sun come up?” He pointed behind him while his other hand continued to text. I looked north and saw the castle “thanks” I said as I left his phone beeped again.

I walked through the cathedral. It had the most colourful stain glass windows I’ve ever seen or perhaps ever noticed.

I had read about Golden Lane and though I’ve never even seen anything written by Kafka I thought it could be “cool” to see his home. Kafka has selected this tiny secluded street to finish one of his books. It was not a frequented street, which means that there’s no space for the 1000 tourist who, like me, think it’s a cute street to walk through! I fought my way through the crowds and at the bottom found a guy lying on his back in the grass playing the star wars theme song on his trumpet while his dog sleeps next to him.

I wondered around, had some goulash soup served in a bread and finally ended up taking a rather fancy taxi to the church where I was to meet the others for a violin concert that night. I had tried to walk, but my phone wasn’t working and I couldn’t access the directions. The taxi dropped me at 17h and I went for coffee just wanting a warm and not deserted place to pass the time.

On our last day we went to Vysehrad Park. Had a lovely view of the river and saw some beautiful statues. I waited in the church while the others went to look around the graveyard – not really my thing.

My head hurt and I decided to head home after having lunch with mum in the town centre. It felt almost wrong going home, not doing something spectacular on the last afternoon, but I went to bed and after that watched Sherlock. I guess this was the best plan, just relaxing a bit instead of heading out to yet another spectacular site.

I love climbing towers, it gives you such a beautiful view of the city. Those where my favourite parts, climbing the hill, the tower, the walk up to the castle. When your breath is almost ripping your lungs apart and you look down at the ground. Nothing beats that.