Visiting local markets is one of my favorite things to do when I'm travelling. If you've visited this blog before than you might have stumbled across some of my posts on markets in Barcelona, Venice, and London. I visited not one, but two farmer's markets, or farmářské trhy, during my trip to Prague. The first, and my favorite, was the market in the lovely Vinohrady neighborhood.
Náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad, or Jiřák, is the one. The market was bustling when I visited on Halloween Eve last fall. Full of moms with toddlers, housewives shopping for their evening meal, and backpackers looking for a cheap, good lunch. And bonus - lots and lots of puppies! Though the market site is compact, the stalls are comprehensive. Beautiful bread and produce and meat and pickles! Plus plenty of ready to eat options.
The market had a distinct family friendly vibe. Early in the day there was a booth where kids could create Halloween themed crafts like bags for trick or treating. When I swung back in the late afternoon most of the market stalls were gone but there was live music and tons of people strolling around after work.
It seemed like everyone at the market was eating a cup of vibrantly orange pumpkin soup. I figured they must be in the know and joined the longest queue for some of my own. It was good stuff. Smooth with enough body to fill you up, topped with a spoonful of crunchy seeds for texture. I bought a cup of hot pear cider to drink and now consider it the most perfect fall beverage in existence. Why don't we drink this in the US? Or do we, just not around my Midwest home base? For dessert, a slice of poppyseed cheesecake so dense with seeds that it was more crunch than cream. The dark, nutty taste of the poppyseed was fantastically unique but a bit intense. I saved half for an after dinner treat.
The market is super simple to find in Prague 3. It's walkable, but you can easily take the metro or tram. I took the tram over then, after a trip up the Žižkov Television Tower, walked leisurely back to my hotel in the city center. Overall, I found Prague's public transportation very simple to navigate (just remember to validate your ticket when you enter.) Vinohrady is a really beautiful area with tons to see, nice architecture, shopping, and restaurants to explore. If you have more than a few days in Prague I would highly recommend venturing out from Old Town Square and spending some time in the neighborhood. The market is open on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 8:00 a.m through mid afternoon.
It rains and it's okay. That's my new travel mantra. Inclement weather can be such a bother when you're exploring a new place. I always hope for blue skies and moderate temperatures when I set out on a trip and, for the most part, I've been extraordinarily lucky weather-wise. My luck caught up to me last fall in Amsterdam where I had several chilly, rainy, generally miserable to be outside kinda days. Ultimately the rain slowed me down some, but it also gave me the opportunity to put my Amsterdam Museumkaart to good use. In just one day I visited three small museums that I probably would have missed otherwise.
My first stop was the seriously lovely Museum Van Loon. This well preserved Canal House was built in 1672 by William Van Loon, one of the founders of the Dutch East-India Company. It's a gorgeous home full of period furniture and lots of tall windows that fill each room with light, even on a gray day. Conveniently, the Van Loon house sits on the Keizersgracht, or the Emperor’s Canal. It's one of the widest canals in Amsterdam and houses several Museumkart eligible museums.
After Museum Van Loon I stopped into another historical Canal House, Museum Geelvinck Hinlopen Huis. It's not quite as charming as the airy Van Loon complex, but still a nice way to spend an hour. The home has a beautiful little library and very nice gardens. There was a couple taking wedding photos inside, which made touring a few of the rooms a bit awkward.
My last museum stop of the morning was FOAM, Photography Museum Amsterdam. I almost didn't visit -- I was starting to get a little hungry. But I'm so glad I decided to stop and tour the collection. I was thrilled to learn that FOAM had just opened the traveling exhibit, Vivian Maier: Street Photographer. If you're not familiar with Maier's work and story I encourage you to check her out.
In a nutshell, Vivian Maier worked as a nanny for most of her life while producing an astonishing output (100,000 to 150,000 negatives!) of street photography in her free time. She was extremely secretive about her work which was only recently discovered by a third party. In 2007 John Maloof won a haul of negatives in a storage unit auction and has worked since then to develop, curate, and promote Maier's photographs. After enjoying the exhibit I was delighted to discover Maloof's documentary Finding Vivian Maier was available on demand to watch on my flight home.
After museum hopping all morning, plus a stop at the Spui Book Market, I needed a pick-me-up. Pint size cafe Lanskroon was just the place. I had a to wait a few minutes for a seat, and my treats, before I settling in to warm up. The cozy shop offers a wide variety of sweets, including pies and cakes, but I chose a traditional Dutch treat, the stroopwaffel. Roughly translated to syrup waffle, a stroopwaffel is two thin, wafer-y cookies that sandwich a layer of syrup or some other sweet gooey substance. I ordered the coffee caramel stroopwaffel (they also have a honey-filled option) which was oh so nice paired with an espresso. If I did it all over again (and I would, happily) I might get a latte and do like the Dutch, setting my cookie on top of the coffee to warm up the filling.