I was exhausted. I had landed in Frankfurt a week ago and had been unmercifully abusing my rail pass. My week had been a blur of trains and stations and transfers, cutting a zigzag path across Europe from Frankfurt to Berlin to Vienna. It had began to feel like my life was just a series of hotel rooms and airbnb’s, waking up not knowing where I was, and what language they spoke outside.

Here though, I knew where I was. Perhaps my favorite city in Europe. I was in Prague.

The capital of the Czech Republic, Prague is maybe the most charming city I’ve ever been in. It is both modern and medieval at the same time, a marriage of cobblestone streets, spires, and Mercedes Benzes.

It was late in December, and I found that the good people of Prague loved their Christmas markets almost as much as the Germans did. Old Town Square was gorgeously festive, lit up by what seemed like thousands of lights and a general sense of goodwill towards men.

Of course, they had the required mulled wine and roasted ham, but the real star of the show was the trdelnik. Imagine spit-roasted dough sprinkled with cinnamon, sugar, and crushed nuts, with the hollow cylindrical inside smeared with melted chocolate. I’m not a big fan of pastries, but this was like pastry crack. It literally had me smacking my lips and licking my fingers.

The walk across Charles Bridge was a pleasant one despite the massive horde of tourists. Almost 700 meters long and 10 meters wide, the pedestrian bridge was the only way across the Vltava river. It was a picturesque crossing, populated with merchants selling magnets and paintings interspersed with religious figures selling salvation. Some things never change.

Prague is a gem. One of the rare places with real personality – warm, inviting, and certain of who it is. A refreshing change from the subdued, monochrome McDonald’s the world is turning into.