Dresden: Christmas Charm

Dresden Christmas market pyramid

Wow, we were impressed with Dresden, its Christmas markets and its people.  Of course it doesn’t have the beauty and charm of Prague but we found the people exceptionally friendly and the markets were clean and very charmingly decorated and seemed to offer better products and food.

They all had a Christmas pyramid as well. These are a traditional toy or decoration only a few inches high and powered by candles.  Now they are huge and elaborate.

Dresden is a pleasant train ride from Prague Strěkov Castle, Labe River Czechalong the Labe River that becomes the Elbe in Germany.  Near the border is the Strěkov Castle privately owned by the Lobkowicz family whose palace at Prague Castle we especially enjoyed.

The Striezelmarkt in Dresden is one of Germany’s oldest Christmas markets; starting as a one-day event in 1434.    The word Striezelmarkt comes from Strüzel, the name of a type of cake sold at the market. Now famous as Stollen; it is a light airy fruitcake which is quite low in sugar and sold everywhere in town.  Of course we bought some.

Oldest market at nightQuote from Karin:  “Going to the Christmas Market at night is really special!  It takes on a completely different look!  The smells of the food cooking in the open air, the mulled wine, the lights, the stalls; it is all very exciting!”

Hot food at the night Christmas market



Here are a few shots of booths, pyramids and music. I especially enjoyed seeing the flame broiled salmon because I had wild Pacific salmon cooked that way as a young man and never tasted its equal since. (Click to enlarge or to play the video.)

flame broiled salmon on wood planks  wood carved Christmas decorations  figurines of village scenes decorations  toy soldier nutcrackers         

Since our time was limited, not to mention our energy level, we looked at a lot of the buildings in old town but did not go inside any museums.

Orangery Dresden  Crown gate orangery Zwinger Dresden  Public buildings along the Elbe River

Fine Arts Academy, Dresden

The gold statue on top of the glass dome is Fama (means ‘rumor’), a Roman goddess described as having multiple tongues, eyes, and ears. She is also said to have lived in a home with 1000 windows so she could hear all that was being said in the world.

Castle Square, Dresden with Cathedral

In front of the Cathedral is a stone with a large N commemorating where Napoleon reviewed his troops before a victorious battle.


Frauen Church, Dresden

The Frauen Church was our favourite because we went inside–and I bought Karin a charm for her bracelet that depicts this symbol of rebuilding Dresden.

interior of Frauen Church, Dresden

We took the tram into Aussere Neustadt (Outer new town) to see what a normal neighbourhood was like–much like Prague with graffiti and all–and to see the Old Market Hall and the Pfund Dairy Restaurant.  We didn’t get any good photos but this is where you go to see normal city life and find non-touristy restaurants.Augustas, Saxony ruler

Everywhere we went we saw references to Augustas, Dresden’s equivalent to Prague’s Charles IV. He was one of a long line of local Saxony rulers, all of which are depicted in The Fürstenzug (Procession of Princes), the world’s largest porcelain artwork made with tiles from nearby Miessen.  This photo shows a small part.detail of Miessen tile mural in Dresden

So I will close with a great photo.  It looks like a collage but is just good composing by my star photographer and researcher, Karin.

Frauen Church and Christmas market


Christmas Season: PF

Well, it is December and the Christmas season is well under way in Prague.  The Christmas Markets opened last weekend and the IWAP Christmas Bazaar, our favourite, is this Saturday.

While I was working on a new page for this site, Annual Events Calendar, I came across an explanation of an abbreviation that we saw everywhere and had us mightily confused our first years in Prague.

Czech Christmas Greeting PF

PF stands for pour féliciter, supposedly a French phrase but only used in the Czech language.  It translates to American as Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

P.S.  Check out the calendar although it is still a work in progress.

More Náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad

You may think that living in the middle of the city about three blocks from a tram stop and a Metro (underground) station that we get tired of the same urban scene.  You would be wrong because in many ways we see variations every time.

The major differences are as we walk through our local square, Jiriho z Podebrad.  We are frequently surprised by events that we had not heard about and sprang into existence while we slept.  Other times we enjoy watching the preparations days in advance of a major festival.

Below is a video (slide show) of a recent regional food fair; just a typical walk through our local square.

More about daily life around the square:  http://parosparadise.com/CzechMates/2013/05/19/a-day-in-the-life/ and


Pilsen: Second Time is a Charm

This post is mainly an update to the previous post on the city and brewery at Pilsen.  So you may want to go there first.

Two big differences between our visit in October 2011 and October 2015:

1) We were allowed unlimited photos on the brewery tour so I made this video:


2)  We went in to the Great Synagogue.  Here are a couple photos:

Great Synagogue, Pilsen, Czech       Synagoge Glass. Pilsen, Czech

Also they were holding an excellent exhibition of WW II photos including the real nitty-gritty of soldiers and citizens reactions to liberation.  As history (or movie) buffs know Pilsen was taken from the Germans by the Americans under Patton while Prague had to wait for the Russians to do the honors.

One element that was the same as previously was our lunch at the brewery pub; it was good authentic Czech food at good non-touristy prices–despite being billed as the highest capacity pub in Czech Republic.

Cheers to good beer being brewed by a giant multi-national corporation   :-)

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