Christmas Market Breakdown: Prague

Prague is such a beautiful city and the same goes for its Christmas Markets. In case you missed my post all about our weekend in Prague, you can find that HERE. Today I am going to be talking about the various Christmas Markets we went to within the city, the tips that I have for going to the markets, and the things you should buy at Christmas Markets. I’m still finding my way in writing these posts, so bear with me as I figure out how I want to structure them and such.

To Start With…The Basics

IMG_2078Christmas Markets are a great way to get in the Christmas Spirit, to try new foods/pastries, drinks, and other fun items. It’s a good option when shopping for Christmas Gifts and fun little keepsakes of your time in Europe. Each city has its own market and the bigger cities often have several different markets.

Prague holds several Christmas Markets throughout its town, but the two big ones are Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square. There are several other notable markets, Republic Square, Havel’s Market, and Prague Castle, most of which you will either walk through our past if you are just attending Old Town Square and Wenceslas.

The Christmas Markets officially open right around the end of November and most will continue through the beginning of January. I’ll touch on the specific 2019 dates when I talk about each market that we attended. They are open all day and into the night, with all the lights really coming on at dusk (around 5pm or so).

Prague Specifics

I am going to touch on just general tips real quick, for parking you’ll want to either use Mr. Parkit (all over Czech Republic) or the Palladium Parking Garage (the big mall). This will give you access to the Republic Square Market and from there you can walk the entire line. You can also purchase a day transport ticket (24 hours) that will cover your bus, street car, and metro trips. It’s reasonably priced and a great option if you are not able to walk the trip.

I have listed out the markets below in the order that we visited them. I will include a final summary at the end of the post of the order I think you should go in (the one that fits best in my opinion). I’ll also include a bit on what we ate, what I bought, as well as what is worth spending money on (again, in my opinion).

Prague Castle Market:

This is a smaller market located within the walls of Prague Castle, this was the only market this year that actually had the nicer mugs. This is a smaller market, with more craftsman makings, but still just as lovely as some of the cities bigger offerings. This year the Prague Castle Market opened up November 23, 2019 and runs until January 6, 2020 and it opens around 9AM everyday (closing at 7PM). I highly recommend just including this as part of your Prague Castle trip as it is a beautiful smaller market. It was one of our top favorite markets from Prague this year.

Republic Square Market:

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This is the first market we went to on our walking Prague/Christmas Market day. This is a smaller, but still just as good, market right outside the Palladium Mall Area. It’s a nice little start and introduction to the Prageu Christmas Markets. It’s a good start as it’s not big or overwhelming. There are plenty of stands to have a browse in before heading to the other markets. This particular market differs in dates as it is only open 11/25/2019-12/24/2019, it also opens at 10AM, but closes early at 7PM.

The Old Town Square Market:

One of the most popular markets within Prague, this is also one of the busiest markets. Nestled right in the heart of Old Town Square, the tree at the center (with the church as a backdrop) this definitely is a beautiful market. I would even go as far to say that this market is the heart of the Prague Christmas Markets. This is the main event and we got to not only check out the market early in the day (therefore beating the bulk of the crowds), but we also go to watch the Official Opening and Lighting of the Christmas Tree. I’ll be honest- it was magical. The Old Town Square Market runs from 11/30/2019-1/6/2020 and opens at 10AM. This is another market that we loved, although I would recommend visiting it earlier in the day as it will get crowded.

Havel’s Market:

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This was probably one of my favorite markets as it is a market set up all year round, with Christmas time leading to more of the Christmas Stalls. It is just a row of shops in the street (that is a walking street), which makes for easy set up and browsing for shoppers. This one has the most artwork and crafts stalls that I saw (with Prague Castle being a close second to that) and we found some really good bits at this market.

 

 

 

 

 

Wenceslas Square:

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This was the final Christmas Market we went to in Prague and it was probably my least favorite of the bunch. I don’t know what it has been like in past years, but this year it was heavily focused on food shops, which was good for us as it was lunchtime, BUT it’s not what I would have wanted at any other time. The booths here that did not offer food or drink were almost nonexistent, shoved to the very end of the row. So, good for a little food break, but definitely missable in the grand scheme. This market is again, open 11/30/2019-1/6/2020 and open at 10AM.

So, my overall thoughts are that Prague at Christmas is magical. Christmas Markets have an air of magic and with the backdrop of Prague it’s amplified. In my opinion, if you are just taking a day to wander the markets, I would start at Prague Castle. This is a market that won’t take you long to walk through and you’ll get to wander the castle. It really sets the magical mood. From there I would hop a bus or street car over to Republic Square. From there you can walk through the Prasna Brana down to Old Town Square and Havel’s Market. You can choose whether or not you would like to go to Wenceslas Square, but I personally wouldn’t.

These markets are definitely doable in one day, especially with a dinner at the end of it if needed.

At the markets we ate Trdelniks, which is the most delicious pastry, a Chocolate Waffle on a Stick, also delicious, but messy so bear that in mind, and chicken shishkibobs. I didn’t end up getting any drinks beyond some tea, but I would always recommend trying out either the glühwein or hot chocolate with rum. Each market has it’s own twist on what they will taste like, so don’t entirely judge the drinks off of just one try. There are also different flavorings for glühwein and the like!

In terms of what we bought this time around, I just picked up a little resin village house for my Christmas Village collection (I am going to collect these as we go along in time here). I also did pick up a mug, but not one from the Christmas Market. It is my plan to collect Christmas Market mugs, but I missed out on getting the mug that I wanted. Lesson learned for future Market trips!

And that is my Christmas Market Breakdown for Prague. I hope that you enjoyed, got some tips, or just followed the Christmas Magic through our eyes. Please let me know if you like this formatting or if there are more things you want to/would rather hear more about.

 

 

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Well…Thanksgiving is officially over and we are just going to pretend like this is the first time I’m talking about the holidays and that I haven’t been prepping for this month since November 1. It’s finally a “socially acceptable” time to talk about it. You know what I’m referencing…Christmas!! It’s the most wonderful time of the year 🙂

I’m one of those people- who puts their decorations out right after Thanksgiving although this year I started a little bit earlier. Germany doesn’t do Thanksgiving really, and we were traveling anyways so it really didn’t play a role in the whole timeline of decorating. While I’m not quite sure where/what we are doing for Christmas I am planning on doing a lot. This is our first Christmas in Germany- a country that goes ALL OUT. The country seems to come alive again several times through the year, Christmas being one of the biggest.

I’ve already been planning and ordering gifts due to the length of shipping time and I think everyone will be pleased with what they get. I always look forward to the giddy excitement and joy on the boys face as they realize that they have presents and a full day of eating and watching movies and hanging out with Mom and Dad. But this doesn’t even come close to what I am looking forward to.

I think December is one of those months that no matter what gets thrown at you, you still manage to find a little cheer. It’s full of excitement for the holidays, for the new year, for the relief of another year ending, and a fresh start for a new year. This is especially heightened this year as we are heading into a new decade. We are about to go to the 2020’s and that just brings a whole new level. Christmas and New Years is very big here in Europe. Celebrations are taken to a whole new level EVERYWHERE, from the big cities to the small farm towns, it seems like everybody wants to celebrate and have a good time. If there is anything Europe does right (and there actually is a lot), celebrations/markets/festivals is what it does the best.

So, where does that put us for the most wonderful time of the year?

To start with, christmas markets!! I mean is there anything better than strolling through an outdoor market with a hot mug of some drink looking at all the craftsman stalls? I mean, it’s quintessentially Christmas and I have very high (Hallmark Movie esque high) expectations for what this will be like. This year I am planning on attending a total of 4 (this is counted by city, a lot of the cities have multiple markets that we may visit) and I think that that is probably a good number to stick with every year. I’ve got quite a list of how many I would actually like to visit, but I’m trying not to overwhelm us…or spend to much money haha. Honestly though, who knows what the month will bring us, I’ve already got the list out and am comparing schedules and dates to see what can be done and when (yes I am being that serious about it).

I’m also looking forward to our next long trip. I’m not totally sure (as of writing this post) as to where we are going to go, but I am looking forward to getting away and really getting the chance to stretch our legs and truly explore somewhere new. I wouldn’t say that we’ve played it safe entirely, but we have stuck with some “safe” options. This trip we will be venturing somewhere completely new to us that we’ve never really learned about or experienced. I’m incredibly excited about it!

I’m also just looking forward to the general cheer that comes with December. December tends to be a cold and dark (and here – damp) month, so it’s nice to see the cheer that everyone brings out with the season.

Round the Kettle Ep, 21 – A Bit of Wanderlust

Happy Sunday…is it Sunday?…It is Sunday. The days of this past week have kind of blurred together. Combine that with my husband having an extra two days off (Monday and Friday) it’s all kind of become a mess in my head.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, Happy Sunday! How has it been? I haven’t actually sat down to write a blog post in what feels like ages (although in reality it’s only been a couple of weeks). It feels good to be using my brain again in a way that doesn’t involve my little boys. To be fair, I use my brain a fair amount in conversations with friends, but this is a little different.

Anyways, I’m really over here waffling about today about nothing, aren’t I?

I’m going to be completely honest; I think we’ve gotten a whole travel, home, travel, home routine down now. It’s funny because we will spend a fair amount of a month to a month and a half away, between day trips and long weekends, and then we will have a month to a month and a half at home. It’s become a bit of a thing over the past bit of time that I’ve noticed. It’s interesting because right when I start to want to just be home for a bit, or starting getting that travel bug, we will go into a stretch of that time.

We’ve been home for about a month and a half (at this moment), since our last Castle-ing Weekend (HERE, HERE, HERE), and I’m starting to get that travel itch. I’m starting to long to explore new places, find new adventures, and learn about different places around us. LUCKILY, our travel times line up well with this, otherwise I’d be looking for last minute options just to do it. We have two trips planned in November, A LOT of Christmas Market trips in December, and a Winter Holiday after Christmas. I would guess that by the time we will finish our Winter Holiday, I’ll be ready to be home for a while again.

 

I’m not sure of any other way to do it. It’s funny because I always figured we would approach traveling as maybe do one to two bits a month, with the longer vacations whenever they factor in. That hasn’t really worked for us though. Between Robert’s schedule for work, and just how the cookie has been crumbling we’ve found these stretches of time that we can do a lot during before everything buckles down. It’s like an on again off again schedule and it really ends up working out better for us.

 

Truth be told, I don’t know if I’d like to travel any other way than for what seems like weeks on end (it’s not really weeks on end, but more back to back day/long weekend style trips).

 

Tell me, how would you like to travel? Would you like to go, go for a chunk of time and then be home for a chunk of time OR just take a long weekend every couple weeks, with the bigger trips factoring in the same two times a year? I’m curious as I feel like everyone is different in this aspect.

 

I would also be curious to know whether you would start off your travel with close to “home” short trips OR if you would go as far as you could? We are all such different travelers that this is something fun to chat about and share experiences.

 

Beyond that, I’ve been spending the past couple of days looking forward. I’ve been looking at December’s blog posts (all travel and/or Christmas related) as well as starting to look at some of the intentions and goals that I have for 2020. It’s crazy to think that the year (and decade as everyone keeps reminding us all) is coming to an end. It’s been a wild one for us and I’m excited to look back at it, as well as look forward into the new year.

 

What else to share? There’s not really anything else. It really hasn’t been too exciting over here. But it’s coming. The excitement is coming.

 

How are you? How have things been? I’d love to hear!

Round The Kettle Ep 7 : All The Things to Share

Lord help me, I have so much to say! I have a lot I want to cover, but I don’t want to overwhelm ya’ll and say too much. It’s a balancing act…maybe. First off, as I’m typing this up I’ve got a cup of one of my favorite tea blends steeping. It’s a wonderful raspberry and rose blend that is just so velvety smooth going down your throat…incredible. When I am done with this I am going to take my cup, curl up in my comfy seat and try and finish up my current read, Labryinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

What about you? Tell me what you are doing.

Let’s start with Christmas? Or should we back it up to the week before? Ok, backing up a little further. Quick rundown of our pre Christmas adventures (as they did happen)…

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We had family visiting from out of town, so first we headed for one last trip to our favorite little antique store. They have such an eclectic selection of items and the owners kindly had sugar cookies baked for the kids. I’m going to miss visiting this place, but I know that I will find a new little antique haunt (or several) in Germany JSecond we headed to the…White House! This was our second trip up, but the only one that we got to see all the Christmas Decorations and what a sight they were! Both boys loved to see all the different trees and we definitely felt the magic of Christmas. Somehow we also ended up at the bookstore (quite the shocker there…) for a few hours and the boys got to do story time and play around in the kids section while we relaxed. The week wrapped up with a “Mom’s Day Out” at the movies seeing Bohemian Rhapsody. If you like Queen, hell if you like music, then this movie is a must see! So so good!

We also did a big move thing and shipped the car off! My car is currently on its way over to our final destination in Germany. This was the first of the big things that are happening for our move (aside from all the paperwork and appointments) and it almost hit me that we are really going.

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Christmas was a big hit (as always) in our home, even with our lack of decorations and such. The boys loved our little Christmas Eve Boxes, and they loved tearing into the couple presents they did get this year, as well as all of the sugar from cookies, cinnamon rolls, and candy! We had a lovely Christmas Dinner and I loved that it was all so easy and laid back this year (although we will be going big next year). It was nice to re focus on what the season is really about.IMG_7975.jpg

 

Finally, to round out all the excitement, I have officially ended my job!!!!!! What?!?!?!?! I am going to be able to solely focus on my family, my blog, and our travels!!! What is this??? When we got orders and everything was in process for our move out of the country, my husband and I had several long conversations about what that meant for us, what it meant for the kids, for my working, and what his job was going to entail. At the end of the day, we decided that it would be best that I didn’t continue to work and take a little time to focus on educating our children, being able to fully experience another culture, and with the added bonus of us being able to take advantage of random four day weekends that he gets with his job and travel. I am not going to lie and say that I am not excited about this, as I am incredibly excited to be able to not only have the time back with my children, but also to be able to take advantage of everything that another culture and country will offer without anything holding us back. I know that we are incredibly fortunate and blessed to be able to do this and I want to do it all “right”.

2019 is going to be THE year. I can feel it. So much good is coming our way (that goes for everyone, not just me and mine).

I hope I didn’t go on to long with the updates and blabbering! How are you? How have you been? Did you do it up for Christmas or just be laid back? Has anything excited happened lately? Tell me all the things!!

Christmas Eve Boxes

I’m really open about the fact that we don’t do a lot presents wide for Christmas (neither for ourselves or for our children). My husband and I “exchange” gifts every other year and we do around 4 gifts for the children. I talked about this last year (you can find my post HERE). I have always been someone who prefers to focus more on the traditions aspects. Things that we do/enjoy that we can continue to do as the years go on and we all grow older.

One of those things we have done for the past couple years (since having kids) is Christmas Eve Boxes. This isn’t a novel concept or anything really extraordinary, but it’s something light and fun that we have come to love year after year (or rather the now 3 years we’ve done it lol). The boxes are filled with just a couple items- items that they would have been receiving regardless, but now given with a small yearly tradition.

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The boxes are gift boxes (different every year) that they come out from nap (or quiet) time in the afternoon on Christmas Eve. The boxes contain a similar items every year:

Christmas Pajamas: They get a new set every year (I try to match them for all of us), and while these ones aren’t Santa centered I still felt like they were cute.

A Book: I think this might be my favorite part of the box. I really love the concept they have in Iceland of exchanging a book on Christmas Eve. The idea of staying up all night reading a book by candle and Christmas Tree/Decoration Light in Christmas pajamas just makes me sing with joy. My boys love and obsess over the books they get every year.

A Sweet Treat: (Not Pictured) This is typically chocolate or cookies and it’s a nice little treat to have. We don’t do too much candy or junk food in the house, so it makes the evening feel even more special that they get to have something fun.

One Last Thing: This year they’re getting a special little addition in their boxes that they don’t (or won’t in the future) typically get. Since we are moving and keeping Christmas small and these little guys were introduced this year, I figured it would be a fun little thing to add in. Those items are little baby Nifflers! If you don’t know this about me, I am a die hard Harry Potter fan, which extends to just about anything in the HP World/Universe. When Fantastic Beasts came out, I fell in love with the Niffler. He is hands down one of my favorites and now we’ve got little baby Nifflers with the second installment. Barnes & Nobles had these, so I figured I would scoop them up for the boys (and one for me as well since I’m secretly a kid at heart).

Outside the Box: The last thing isn’t really in their boxes, but is placed just above them and that is the movie that we will watch that evening. We watch How The Grinch Stole Christmas every year on Christmas Eve, but sometimes there may be a short film or TV Short Film (think Trolls Christmas from last year type thing) that we will watch in between as well. If there is that, it will be included with the box.

The boxes are fun for the boys as a little precursor to the fun that is in store and it’s also just everything that we need to have a cosy night at home. As they grow older I hope that we can continue this tradition on. I have also included the “adult” version of this…aka my own Christmas Jams and the book that I plan on reading Christmas Eve into Christmas Day.

Do you have any fun Christmas Eve traditions? Do you do the Christmas Eve Boxes?

Real Talk: Holiday Stress

Oh the Holidays. The most wonderful time of year. Maybe.

I like to think that there are three categories of people around this time of year.

Category A) The Grinch. The one’s who enjoy making a mockery or being in a sullen mood this time of year. This DOES NOT include folks that are actually depressed this time of year or who take the holidays especially hard due to family loss or personal loss. I could not even begin to empathize with that and if you are someone who has a tough time with holidays, I am so incredibly sorry. This are those people who are just grinches in good form. My husband is a member of this category (although he is getting better now that we have children).

Category B) The jolly go with the flow-er (think Cindy Lou Who’s dad). This category is for those who just go with what the holiday season brings. They want everything to be perfect, but know that it will be perfect because that is just what it is. They don’t stress over decorations, over baking, over making everything perfect and just enjoy the holiday season for what it is.

Category C) The Mayor of Who-Ville. This is the category that I think a fair amount of people fall into. The one’s who stress about having everything just so, who want to be able to have all the cookies, who want to buy everyone the perfect gifts, who want to capture all the smiles on camera. Those who want Christmas dinner to taste beyond amazing.

I think most of us fall somewhere in between Category B and Category C (with maybe a few more in the Stressful Category C). The holidays can be stressful and they coincide with the end of the year, which depending on what you do can be stressful in itself. The idea of getting all of the gifts, everything wrapped and hidden from prying eyes, making sure that everyone gets their Christmas cards, that everything is planned for Christmas eating and THEN to go back and plan a whole bunch more for New Years can set anyone’s head spinning.

I am here today to tell you to STOP.

This whole trap of making everything perfect during the Holidays is a dangerous one that can leave us forgetting the whole point of the Holidays. Setting aside any religious aspects, the whole point of the Holidays (at least for me) is being with family. Seeing and being with family trumps anything else that can happen. The whole idea of being present in the moments when my children see the Christmas tree light up for the first time that year. Or seeing their faces Christmas morning when they come out to sugary treats (usually Cinnamon Rolls, Pancakes, or Waffles) and the excitement of a present or two for them to open.

If we spend our time stressing about gifts, wrapping, cooking, etc, we lose sight of the important moments. Honestly, your children will not care if the tree is absolutely perfect, they will not care if you do not make every type of cookie that you wanted. What they will remember and care is that Mommy or Daddy were not there. They weren’t smiling and laughing with them. If you are working yourself into stress, or panic over getting everything accomplished, let something go. It will not ruin your overall Holiday.

So, if you are heading into the next couple of months stressing, let it go. Let whatever is going on go and remember what the Holidays are really about.

 

Mum Musings: Gifts and The Holiday Season

Good afternoon everyone! How has it been? I know, long time no chat, but I am back and hope to make it up to you!

Today I wanted to quickly touch on a subject that seems to come up more and more during the Holidays…gifts for the kids. This may be a touchy post, but these are my thoughts and feelings. I want to preface by saying in our extended family we have quite the differences in gifts and I have nothing agains people who handle the holidays differently than we do. I will not bash or look down on anyone who goes all out. To each their own 🙂

My little boy is 11 months old (where has the time gone?!) and this will be his first Christmas! It is such an exciting time for him and for our family and I have been loving it! Long before our sweet boy was born, my husband and I had a conversation about how we were going to handle gifts and what we each thought was appropriate for our child (and any future children we have). We settled on something that we think will work for us.

Our son will be getting 2-3 gifts this Christmas, one being a “large” gift and the others being smaller gifts that either go with the large gift or are something small that he likes (relating to a TV show or a separate toy he already likes). He doesn’t need much at all. He already has several toys that he enjoys (although realistically only plays with a couple regularly) and we are stocked up well on clothes for now. I never felt like my child wanted for anything and I don’t feel the need to shower a whole bunch of presents (and money) on a almost 1 year old who a) probably wouldn’t play with most of the toys and b) doesn’t need much in his day to day beyond what he already has. Besides, in all honesty, he is probably going to enjoy ripping the wrapping paper a lot more than any of the toys inside (at least for this year).

I don’t want to end up having a whole bunch of toys and things that will collect dust and remain untouched as the years go by. He grows and changes so much in his week to week, what intrigues and occupies him at this moment, may not be the same thing in a couple weeks. I know this is the nature of the beast of having a child, but I don’t think that Colton is in need of a lot at this time.

I will say, the one thing that I am doing and have wanted to do, is a Christmas Eve box. I have watched Sister-In-Laws do these boxes, and even though Colton might be too young, I love the tradition. He will get a movie and some special Christmas PJ’s in a box that he can open the night before Christmas. He can get in the pajamas and we can watch the movie together as a family. This is the “splurge” that I will do every year, because I love the “home-iness” feeling it gives.

This continues on for his birthday as well, which is shortly after Christmas. He will get a few things that work with where he is at and will grow into with his development (I am actually very excited to see what he makes of the Mega Blocks :)), but we will not be going all out or getting a whole lot more than that. Of course there will be cake, but we aren’t holding a party (a lot of logistics of it just not working out other than the desire to not have one). Colton likely won’t remember his first or second birthdays as it is, so we don’t feel the need to do much more outside of our little family.

All that aside, I have no problem with people who do splurge and go all out for Christmas and Birthdays. I love watching the kids get excited and open all of their presents! It is such an exciting time for both the kids and the parents. I think that in this case, each family must make their own decisions on how they want to handle the situations where gifts are involved.

How do you do gifts and is there a reason behind it? Do you get kids a whole bunch of gifts or stick with something simple? I’d love to hear from you!