Prague, Krakow, and Berlin over XMas and New Year's
A friend and I are heading to Prague, Krakow, and Berlin over XMas and New Year's. She's a pescatarian, but is easy going about finding anything at any restaurant. We are both foodies not scared of going very local. My biggest concern is that we'll be in Prague over XMas. Usually when I'm travelling overseas over XMas I find a Chinese restaurant, as they are usually always open. But I've heard that Prague has a Vietnamese community, so I figured that might be a better option than Chinese food. Any suggestions (not just for Vietnamese food, but for all the cities we're heading to)? Also if you have any suggestions regarding New Year's in Berlin. I imgaine Brandenburg Gate is the obvious answer, but if there are more local activities, that would probably be better. Thanks!
I think a good start would be to have a look at existing threads -- there is some very recent information on all these cities, and you may well find your answer there.
That said, unless you're a huge fan of massive, drunk crowds (as opposed to NYE @Times Square, you can actually *drink* while waiting for midnight to roll around), I'd stay far, far away from Brandenburg Gate, and take in a nice meal somewhere.
I lived in Prague for a couple of years. I recommend Rybí Trh (http://www.rybitrh.cz/index_en.html) near Old Town Square for Christmas Eve. They offer a traditional Czech Christmas Eve dinner, including fish soup and fried carp with potato salad. (They also have their regular menu, if carp doesn't appeal to you.) Since it's so convenient to Old Town Square, you can also take in the free open-air performance of Ryba's Czech Christmas Mass at 9:00 PM.
Despite the large Vietnamese population, there really aren't any Vietnamese restaurants of note in Prague. Nor did I ever find any reasonable Chinese restaurants. (Or at least,not as of three years ago. Maybe some have cropped up since I left.)
OTOH, there *are* some very nice Thai restaurants. I always liked Noi, http://www.noirestaurant.cz/en/noi. More recently, I've heard good things about Kiin Modern Thai Restaurant, http://www.kiin.cz/
In Prague I would not expect many of the Vietnamese places to be open on the official Christmas holiday days (here the state holidays are the 24th, 25th and 26th) and the quality is not outstanding in general.
In addition to the previously mentioned Rybí Trh, which is in a beautiful and well situated square, you can also find good fish options at:
Les Moules (Belgian) Pařížská 203/19 (Jewish Quarter) www.lesmoules.cz/en/
Fish & Chips (English style) 21 Dlouha St, about 100 metres down Dlouha from the venerable Lokal Pub.
But I recommend checking in advance if they are open over Christmas.
Luckily Czech's traditionally eat carp for Christmas so lots of pubs and local restaurants should have it on the menu. You'll also see the carps live in large tubs on street corners where people purchase their "at home" carp for Christmas dinner. Some people buy them live and take them home, some prefer pre-dispatched but whole, and others just want fillets.
I can't help much with Krakow and fish, but here is a long running thread that has a lot of info on Krakow eateries. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/534358
I also 2nd the recommendation to do a search on this board as there is lots of current info on Prague and Berlin, less on Krakow.
It's a great time to visit these cities with all the Christmas markets going, and the generally festive vibe. Make sure to try the mulled/hot wine everywhere you go as it changes by region. If in Prague you see any signs for Tradicni Moravsky Punc (Traditional Moravian Punch) you should give it a try, excellent blend of Moravian red (or white) wine, heated with spices, a little brandy and topped with fruits or dried fruit and nuts. Great stuff for chilly walks around the old town.
I don't take the trains much, but city transport (trams/buses) will be running on a reduced schedule, I would make an educated guess that the inter-city trains would be running as well.
Doing a quick search for service between Prague and Brno on Dec 26th shows several trains running (http://www.cd.cz/en/).
Regarding the Vietnamese restaurants, I doubt they'd be open on the holiday and they don't seem to be spread through the city. We made a day trip to the Vietnamese part of town (easy to get to by public transportation) called Sapa and had some great meals. But depending on how long you'll be there you might not want to spend time on that.
Here's a little more info on Sapa: http://tastytrix.blogspot.com/2011/05...
Brilliant, thank you very much for the link.
To my eternal shame, I did not know about Sapa even though I am from Prague. I can't wait to check out the food when i am in Prague for 3 weeks starting later this month.
I have travelled Vietnam extensively and absolutely love the food, but have not found much in Prague (the odd Vietnamese restaurant in places like Smichov, but they often do more Chinese food than Vietnamese as it seems to be easier to market to Praguers). I have not made a lot of effort to be fair as I always primarily focus on Czech food when in Prague (as I only manage to go home twice a year so want to have comfort food from my childhood), but will definitely check it out. My (Dutch) wife gets tired of all the meat within a few days so she will really appreciate Vietnamese as well.