Tag Archives: Travel

Rockefeller Christmas treePlease excuse me while I gripe.

Brussels, with the above picture, I would hereby like to inform you of what Christmas should look like. The 25 meter high “electronic tree” you have decided to put up on the Grand Place this year just does not do. Really? Metal and wood? It looks like scaffolding has been put up in the middle of what is otherwise a simply gorgeous square. Sometimes it is just better to stick with the traditional. Take a note from Rockefeller Centre. That’s how Christmas is done.

If you need more tips, watch this adorable video of Bo Obama wandering admiring the White House Christmas decorations (quite possibly the cutest thing ever to come out of Washington.)

To forget about the metal monstrosity on the Grand Place, here is a longer-than-usual round up of links for your weekend!




Photo sourced here. 

When Jay from From Here to There mentioned she was planning a trip to Prague, I thought, OOoo, I love it there! I have recommendations! I must share! Then life got the better of me and I didn’t write the post until a week before she leaves… Hopefully she will forgive me for the delay and still find the below somewhat useful!

I’ve been lucky enough to visit Prague twice. Once for a snow-filled work training a week before Christmas and then again at the height of summer with my mom. Conclusion? Prague is a city that should be visited in all seasons. Highly walk-able  visually stunning, Prague is an incredibly romantic city and probably best appreciated if you surrender to its somewhat surprising quirky underbelly.

Here is a list of recommendations to take along with you for an upcoming trip.


The Alchymist – This place was so over the top that it actually worked. The story of our arrival in this hotel is hilarious and revolves around two facts: I  am sometimes thrifty to a fault and my mom is addicted to her iPhone. We knew we were going to have fun on this trip, so I thought, let’s take the bus from the airport into town. It is ridiculously cheap and that way we can spend our money on fun things rather than on transportation.

How wrong I was. Lesson number 1: taxis are very inexpensive in Prague. 

The bus was roasting, packed to the hilt and full of a rowdy group of Irishmen just kicking off a bachelor party. I thought my poor little mom might die during the trip. 45 minutes later, we were off the bus and what looked like only a few blocks away from our hotel. My mom whipped out her trusty iPhone and started to guide us and our luggage through the winding streets. For 5 minutes, we were enthusiastic. After 10, we started to feel like we were walking in circles, dragging our luggage behind us. And then we realized it was a maze of one-way streets and we were following the driving directions rather than the quick, direct route if you walked to the hotel. We arrived huffing and puffing and – I imagine –not looking very glamorous. This is where The Alchymist changed everything.

We were warmly welcomed into the lobby, our luggage was put off to the side and we were guided into an amazingly ornate, formal living room. Then they brought out fresh towels and glasses of peach champagne! At 11 am! Our arrival was forgotten in an instant, we fell in love with Prague immediately {as one does…making snap judgements} and knew this was going to be a fun trip.

I may have already mentioned that my mom is a total sleuth when it comes to finding amazing prices in fancy places. If you have a bit of a budget, aren’t scared of a total overdose of Baroque furniture, and want to feel like you are staying in the middle of a fairy tale, then this place is for you. They have a gorgeous spa in the basement (pictured above) and serve wine and cheese every night in the foyer. Tržiště 19, Prague 1 – 110 00 | +420 257 286 011


Staroměstská radnice & Orloj – (otherwise known as the Old Town Square & surrounding area)
Beautiful square and its surrounding streets are filled with endless little shops to explore. The Astronomical clock is worth waiting to see in action. Crowds gather below it at the top of each hour when it comes to life.

The Jewish cemetery – Sombering. History everyone should educate themselves on. We also enjoyed visiting the Spanish Synagogue.

Prazsk Hrad – the Castle. The castle snobbiness I’ve developed after 9 nine years in Europe left me a tiny bit disappointed in this castle but that’s probably because most of the furniture is gone in the interiors. It is definitely still worth a visit due to its sheer size, history and stunning views over the city. Be sure to see Vladislav Hall (below) in the Castle and Golden Lane, with its tiny little houses.

Strahov Monastery – this large complex perched above the city is definitely worth the hike it takes to get there. We walked there from the castle – having already been stunned by the views – but they were nothing compared to the full view of the city you get from this vantage point. The monastery itself looked beautiful and there is a restaurant up there if you get hungry. We didn’t have time to look inside as it was closing, but we would have loved to see more.


Hergetova Cihelna (above) is so worth getting dressed up and blowing a bit of your budget on. You cannot get a better location – right on the river below Charles Bridge – to stare over at the Old Town rooftops and watch the sun go down. The varied menu includes something for every taste. The place knows it is trendy with the perfect location, but it doesn’t detract from the experience and makes you feel a little bit special for eating there. Sometimes that is fun. Address: Chihelná 2b – Malá Strana 

We stumbled upon Cantinetta Fiorentina after touring the Jewish cemetery, as it is just a few blocks away. It was incredibly hot and a tad bit pricey for lunch, so we sat outside and ordered their cheese plate with two tiny side salads and two glasses of white wine. The plate was honestly so beautiful, it was a shame to eat it and the two Italian women next to us asked if they could take a picture of it! Address: Pařížská 98/17

We were so stupid to overdose on cheese because a few blocks away, we ran into The Bakeshop, a gorgeous bakery with the most amazing meringues I have ever seen. Save your sweet tooth and afternoon sugar rush for this place.  Address: KOZÍ 1

Another great lunch place was Cukrkávalimonáda Cafee Bufee, an adorable little café across the street from a little church in the Embassy quarter, Mala Strana, of the city. We had delicious salads here and, had we had room, we would have tried their desserts. The painted ceiling in there is beautiful. Address: Lázeňská 7, Malá Strana


More or less anything from Blue Praha. This chain of stores selling glassware is AMAZING and so well priced considering how beautiful everything is. The perfect place to get Christmas presents, I could have gone for some little bird figurines or fun cocktail glasses. In the end, I walked away with a lovely little investment {something I rarely feel grown up enough to do before I own a place, but my lovely mother indulged me} for my apartment – a gorgeous blue painted vase. I love it so much I refuse to even put flowers in it because I am too scared I’ll break it!

Garnets are the local gemstone in Prague. I came dangerously close to falling for a delicate little garnet ring. Worth taking a peek in some of the store windows.

And finally, there are stores scattered everywhere selling gorgeous painted wooden boxes and eggs. Some of the craftsmanship is absolutely stunning, but I would recommend bargaining on some of the higher prices.

Photo creditsAerial photo of the Old Town Square by Giovanni Simeone/SIME as found on National Geographic | Alchymist Hotel photos | Vladislav Hall in Prague Castle | Golden Lane photo by Mark Edward Smith/TIPS ImagesHergetova Cihelna | Blue Praha | Others, my own. 

What will I be up to this weekend? After I have finished stuffing my face with cranberry and stuffing on Saturday (more on that here), the goal is to start planning our trip to South Africa in April!

One place I will be aching to add to the itinerary is Babylonstoren, a beautifully preserved “werf” (farm yard) in the Cape Dutch tradition about a 45 minute drive north of Cape Town above Stellenbosch. I am OBSESSED with this place and its blog.

Whether it’s the history of its Cape Dutch architecture, its shaded walk “The Puff Adder” or the gorgeous Delft Blue China plate framing its trees in the garden, I can’t seem to stop staring at pictures of it. This would make sense seeing that it’s the brain child of the former Elle-Deco editor, Karen Roos.
So I imagine it will be a fairly inspirational weekend. What are you up to?

Below are some weekend links to get you started.

xx J




Photos via Babylonstoren.
%d bloggers like this: