Christmas in Praha is very jolly indeed. I’m going out on a limb here, as it is not even Christmas proper yet. But I have had my first fake Christmas already, with another one scheduled for this weekend.
December started with an abundance of snow and with our brilliant friends Pippa and Simon coming to Prague. It was very twinkly, pretty and winter wonderland-y – and even more so when combined with snow, markets, more snow, and the abundance of red wine that we all had. We had some fake-Christmas celebrations in which I tried out my proposed Christmas menu and my tres sophisticated and grown-up gold twig arrangement.
We enjoyed a funicular ride to the top of Petrin Hill (where one of the world’s fake Eiffel towers is situated – there is also one in Las Vegas, and a further one is planned for Dubai – niche knowledge?). That was followed with a bit of a slip-slide-stumble back down to the bottom, where we warmed up in one of my favourite places in Prague, “cukr, kava, limonada” (which, bizarrely, is the beginning of the children’s rhyme I mentioned in a recent post, only with all the words spelled correctly).
Husband and I had lunch at cukr, kava, limonada on one of our “do we want to live in Prague” viewing weekends. And it is the very place where I decided that yes, I did want to live here. This is not necessarily a strong endorsement of Czech cuisine. On the contrary, this restaurant could be just about anywhere in Western Europe (or specifically, London) and does not serve any of the following: baked cheesy potatoes, potato dumplings, bread dumplings or goulash. Whilst all of the above are fine (no, sod that, they’re actually really yummy, if not waist-line friendly), they are not food items I would eat every day, or even every week. When, back in August, I stumbled across CKL serving fresh elderflower cordial and spinach and cheese pancakes, I knew I had found “home”. Plus, it’s warm in the winter, serves nice wine and an amazing hot chocolate so rich that it should really be on the dessert menu and come with two spoons. I’ve only ever had the pancakes out of the main courses here, and so cannot really vouch for the rest of the menu, but it all looks lovely. So, if you are planning to come and visit me in Prague, you know where you’re going (and if you are one of the Prague-dwelling strangers-soon-to-be-friends, let’s go there too).
Prague, and Czechland in general, is a really active place and so it comes as no surprise that there is a good range of winter sports to try. Czechs are pretty keen in skiing (slightly odd for a country that is defined by a “gentle-rolling-hills” landscape, although I am told there are mountains close by) and ice-skating.
At some point I will have to make my peace with ice skating. I am sure that it beautifully completes the twinkly-winter experience. However, I am so s**t-scared of it that it takes all the fun out of it. There are a couple of reasons for this. One – I don’t want to fall over, crack my head open and lose my fingers, which I have heard happens frequently on ice. Two – ice-skating is central to one of my worst teenage nights ever. I was thirteen or fourteen and went to Ally Pally ice rink in North London with two boys and one girl from school, to make up the numbers for a double-date. Not only did it emerge upon arrival that I was “dating” the wrong person (it had gone unmentioned when my teenage heart-throb invited me along, that he already had a date and that I was invited just to hang out with his mate) but that his actual date was a superb ice-skater. And it really is such an elegant and beautiful thing to do – all the twirling and flowing hair and pointed toes and all that dancer stuff. Anyway, I can’t really do any of the dancer stuff and so instead spent a miserable night on the ice, holding onto the side, boots hurting, falling over, getting cold and generally hating it. Ever since, it really has not been the sport for me. Friends have tried to coax me back onto the ice but trust me, it’s better I meet you in the bar afterwards.
My parents are joining us this weekend for fake Christmas No. 2. I have gone into daughter overdrive and have enough food for a small army, more wine than we will drink over the whole of next year and insisted that the fake tree that was purchased for fake Christmas No. 1 is replaced with a real one. With white lights. I grew up in a household where Christmas comes with a colour scheme and therefore have a nature aversion to the “ironic” coloured lights that husband proudly arranged when our friends joined us a couple of weeks ago.
The gold twig arrangement will however be staying. I am my mother’s daughter and nothing says “Merry Christmas” like a gold twig.