Celebrating the New Year in Prague

3 min read

Prague at Night | The Girl Next Door is BlackPrague is known as the “Paris of the East” and though I hear several other cities also lay claim to this title, it’s easy to see why Prague (known locally as “Praha“) is a serious contender.

As we walked toward the historic Old Town Square our first night in the city – also New Year’s Eve – scenes straight from the illustrated pages of a fairy tale dazzled our senses. Our double-socked, insulated boots tread on cobblestone roads and sidewalks slick from evaporating snow. We strode past vibrantly-colored edifices, red tiled-roofs and magnificent Gothic cathedrals – a city oozing with charm.

As I experienced in Paris, I wondered if city officials flooded the air with happy molecules. You can’t help but feel more buoyant; shielded from life’s little worries for a moment as you absorb it all.

When we reached the picturesque square, we knew we’d made the right decision to skip out on the rest of our Berlin trip and take a detour to Prague. Within minutes of integrating ourselves into the large crowd of merry faces – young, old and in between – the last of the gloomy essence of Berlin fled from our psyches.

A massive, beautifully-trimmed Christmas tree dominated the square; an enthusiastic Czech rock band on a stage with “2015” brandished in roman numerals on a bright yellow awning, entertained the gathered, some of whom blared noisemakers, others who relied on their own vocal cords to make noise; while others drank from cans of Pilsner Urquell because drinking on the street in Prague? No worries there.

Christmas Tree in Prague Old Town Square | The Girl Next Door is Black

Prague knows how to throw a New Year’s Eve party! Minutes before midnight, we filed out the Irish pub we’d settled in earlier, and with the rest of the new year celebrants converged on the town square for the countdown to midnight. The magical fireworks show began the second the clock struck “12” and seemed to continue for hours, never wavering in its power to delight. The party really didn’t stop ’til (at least) “6 in the morning.”

 

Friends in Prague NYE | The Girl Next Door is Black

Photo courtesy of my friend Z

Prague’s French influence is also evident in its many brasseries, bistros and patisseries, a handful of which are Michelin-starred or Michelin-recommended. Just when we thought our Europe trip would be light on food memories. Z and I were brunch buddies when we both lived in Los Angeles, so it’s fitting that we welcomed 2015 with a late-morning meal at a darling French restaurant and patisserie, Au Gourmand, whose  window display of pastries beckon the sweet-toothers and the savory-seekers alike.

After a satisfying brunch we revisited the Old Town Square to take it in during the light of day.

Astronomical Clock Prague | The Girl Next Door is Black

The famous Astronomical Clock at the Old Town Hall Tower. People gather to watch a procession of the of the 12 (wooden-figured) Apostles of Christ, at the top of each hour. Each of the intricately detailed dials represent different astronomical events. The only thing I didn’t see on the clock tower was the actual current time!

For someone like me who hates being among huge crowds of people wandering aimlessly, visiting the Charles Bridge – probably one of Prague’s most spectacular and most visited sites – should have been a nightmare. Everyone in Prague seemed to have descended upon the bridge that day. Yet, as we slowly traversed the bridge with the throng of others, noticing an over-abundance of selfie-sticks rising above the mass, I was so taken by the wondrous view all around me, I felt temporarily insulated from annoyance. Is this place for real?

 The centuries old Charles Bridge connects Prague’s Old Town (or Stare Miasto) to Lesser Town (Malá Strana) across the Vltava River. Along the nearly 1/2 mile long bridge, in addition to stunning views of the city, you’ll find local artists and craftspeople selling their work as souvenirs, musicians entertaining for tips, striking religious imagery, as well as two imposing Gothic towers flanking each end of the pedestrian thoroughfare.

 

Deposition of Christ + Couple making out on Charles Bridge | The Girl Next Door is Black

An interesting choice for a makeout spot…

For the first dinner of 2015, we kept the French theme going and enjoyed a fantastic meal at Chez Marcel that had me happy dancing in my seat with each course.

Wanting a view of Prague from above, we returned to the Charles Bridge the next day and to our delight, found the number of people greatly reduced from the New Year’s Day horde and much easier to navigate. Ascending the narrow steps to the top of the Lessor Town Bridge Tower – one of the two towers that stand on each end of the Charles Bridge – led us to views so magnificent, I know why the term “breathtaking” became such a writing cliché.

On the other side of the tower exists the incongruously named Lessor Town, home of the grand and architecturally-striking Prague Castle, where the President of the Czech Republic resides.


The night landscape lit romantic views on the way back into Old Town.

Dinner that night, our last in the city, delivered another solid dining experience courtesy of GamberoRosso serving up Italian cuisine like the black risotto with prawns I ordered.

Prague charmed me to the core and ranks highly on my mental list of favorite world cities. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to ring in the New Year!

27 Comments
  • cherri h
    March 22, 2015

    It looks like you saw and did a lot of amazing things! Cool pictures. 🙂

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      March 22, 2015

      Thanks! It’s a wonderful city, and highly recommend it if you ever get the chance to go one day! (If you haven’t already).

  • Hanis Amanina
    January 27, 2015

    Hi 🙂 Prague is very beautiful and people said that it is kind of a romantic city 🙂 maybe because many tourists are couples!

    It is amazing through out the year, I managed to enjoy Prague in all seasons, but still I never get tired of it.

    p/s – one tip I can give if you want to enjoy Charles Bridge by your own – come early in the morning. 🙂

  • natalye
    January 25, 2015

    As someone who lives in Berlin, I can’t help but agree that you made the right choice to leave Berlin for NYE, as the city is just terrible then.

    Looks like you saw and did a lot of amazing things!

  • NaNa
    January 22, 2015

    OMG Prague is gorgeous! I am dead of jealousy! Happy New Year Keisha! Glad that I found yr blog through Travel Tuesday 🙂

  • Funky Wellies
    January 22, 2015

    Prague is a city I have not visited yet, it was interesting to read your take on it. Sounds like a fab New Year’s Eve party! 🙂 Very much enjoyed the photos too, they really show the atmosphere.
    Thank you for your comment on my blog and for connecting on Twitter. 🙂
    PS: I have been to San Francisco three times and love it.

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      February 1, 2015

      Isn’t San Francisco a cool city? Glad you liked the photos! Prague’s so pretty it was hard to choose which photos to post.

  • Sara @ Simply Sara Travel
    January 21, 2015

    What a great city to ring in the New Year! I went to Prague two years ago between Christmas and New Year’s, and it was just magical. I loved it so much I got to go back this past summer. It was still beautiful and charming, but I have to say that I missed that gorgeous Christmas tree in the Old Town Square! I can’t believe I missed that Cerny sculpture, In Utero! I had fun on my last trip going around and checking out the quirky statues of Prague. Looks like it is located near the Old Town Square?

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      January 22, 2015

      Wow, you got to visit Prague again? So lucky! I’d love to see what it looks like in the summer, but you’re right, it’s so beautiful during the holidays!

      Yep, the In Utero sculpture is just beyond the Old Town Square. I believe it’s on Dlouhá street.

      Thanks for your comment, Sara!

  • Sara Granados
    January 20, 2015

    I absolutely LOVE Prague! So jealous you got to spend New Years there! I’ve only been in the summer but would love to go back in the wintertime! Great photos! Glad I found your blog on Travel Tuesday 🙂

  • Megan
    January 20, 2015

    Oh how I love Prague! I visited in the spring, not over the holidays, but nonetheless, I definitely support your decision to cut Berlin short and go to Prague instead. 🙂 Looks like fun!

  • Noodle
    January 14, 2015

    Great photos!

    Noodle and crew

  • Jarret Ruminski
    January 12, 2015

    You’re an excellent writer overall but you have a particular knack for travel writing. You should turn this into a career!

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      January 13, 2015

      Thanks, Jarret! I really respect your writing, so this is an uber compliment!

      I am working on the career part. 🙂

  • locz4lyfe
    January 12, 2015

    Hi, you’ve been nominated for the Premio Dardos Award! Peace and blessings!

  • Sarah Day
    January 12, 2015

    Sounds like a great place to ring in the New Year – glad you were able to improve on your trip to Berlin.

  • Heidi
    January 11, 2015

    I’m glad you had a better time there than in Berlin. It’s also great to see that it doesn’t lose it’s charm in the winter (vs. summer).
    Happy 2015!!!!

  • edwinasepisodes
    January 11, 2015

    Wow what a stunningly beautiful place. Sounds like you had a wonderful New Year’s Eve, Yes, my nephew is indeed very lucky; He too spent his New Year there after being home for Christmas.

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      January 12, 2015

      How funny! I wonder if our paths crossed while I was in Prague. It’s a small world like that. Happy New Year, Edwina!

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