Brno

Czech it out: 2 eats in Brno's Christmas Market that will Tease your tastebuds by Those Fancy Gems

Oh christmas markets - probably the best things while travelling in Europe in winter. Christmas markets are aplenty. As long as there some sort of a square, there will be a christmas market. What makes a good christmas market to me? Other than food choices, its also about the little trinkets, decorations, and not forgetting the cherrie on top of the pie, the christmas tree that sets the whole ambience in place!

Let's take a moment to enjoy this beauty of all carbohydrates.........

........... lovingly made by this chef guy here on an open charcoal stove. 

This is our favourite christmas market snack - Trdelník! I know, once again it one of those hard words to pronounce as an english speaker. Pronounced as Treh-del-nik, this bread/ bun/ pastry fusion-esque snack is one of the best things we've had in all christmas markets that we'll NEVER forget!

Why is so awesome?

It tastes good, smells good, it warms your face on a cold winter's day, and acts as both a main and dessert and keeps you full and comes with a small price tag. That fluffy, crunchy, sweet taste is irresistible, interestingly looking like a chimney, it is roasted over an open fire and is intringing to look at how its made. 

Traditionally a Slovak cake pastry, Trdelník's true origins was from a Hungarian speaking area in Transylvania, Romania. It's production is quite common amongst neighbouring countries like Poland, Hungary, Austria, Romania, Slovakia and more, fashioning different names (chimney cake, hungarian twister, Prügelkrapfen, Baumkuchen, Sękacz, Kürtőskalács,  Cozonac secuiesc, Šakotis, Spettekaka, Skalický trdelník, Makara) and slight variations in which they are made. One thing kept in common however, is the way the dough is wrapped around a cylindrical rod, roasted over fire. What a complicated history it had. 

The Slovak version, Skalický trdelník, is registered under the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) by the European Union. This scheme is like the food version of UNESCO World heritage, and helps to protect and promote the names of quality agricultural products and foodstuffs. I hope the traditional way of making this cake pastry lives on for a long time. 

Another must-eat we recommend is actually of Spanish origins - Churros! Churros had definitely infiltrated many dessert shops, selling this deep friend sticks of dough with chocolate dip.

What makes this version sold at the Christmas Market in Brno so special is that there are sweet and savoury options. The savoury one caught our eyes because churros are usually coated with cinnamon sugar or served with a chocolate dip. The savoury one, however, is coated with what seemed like garlic salt and tasted just like chips. It was a refreshing twist to the usual flavour and was also made to order. Extremely freshly made and piping hot when served, hence crispy and flavourful. Pair it with a cup of your favourite mulled wine and it would be perfecto... We could not get enough!

What other snacks would you recommend us to try when visiting a Christmas Market? 

Czech it out: Brno - Czech's 2nd largest city by Those Fancy Gems

Where on earth is Brno?!

I remember thinking like that when I first saw this city's name. Also, another thought that crossed my mind was, how do I pronounce it? 

Ber-no, that is exactly how you do it. 

Brno on a whole seemed like a very quaint city. The crowd seems just right - not too crowded nor too empty like a ghost town. I like how this city contrasted with our previous stop, Vienna. Small towns and cities seem to be more cozy and more of my thang. I can’t think of a better way to describe the feeling I get from Brno in English, but in Mandarin I'd say ‘有人情味’ (you ren qing wei), meaning there is more flavour from the people. 

Despite being the 2nd largest city in Czech, it is still relatively unvisited and undiscovered by travellers. Hence, it is a good chance to check out Brno as things are not over priced nor overpopulated. One way to tell if places are touristy is to watch out if there are any souvenier shops. We could not spot a single one! 

Most of the population are students from University and Brno is like a University town. These students go home during the holiday season, which is the reason why there weren’t that many people while we were there. Another reason to go to Brno is to enjoy the Czech Korunas as things get much cheaper (in contrast with Vienna). Brno is also just a few hours ride away from Vienna, so this could be a good place for a day trip! 

People in Brno are quite friendly (as long as you don't mention Czechoslovakia - Czech had separated from their mate Slovakia a long time ago!) and it made going around much easier. This city has a special place in my heart, even though we were there for just 1 day, because I remember it was the sunniest day we had since we started our trip. 

We took a slow walk up Hrad Špilberk for a view of the city. It had a nice park linking up to the castle and there was no crowd at all - think tourist-free photographs. The cathedral of St. Peter and Paul sets the scene in place, making the landscape pop with a tinge of gothic-ness which stands out from all the other surrounding buildings.

Other than the usual monuments and churches, we basically wandered around and explored the city wherever our feet brought us. Having only one day, we did not want to overdo things to tire ourselves too much. I think sometimes while travelling for a long time, it is important to listen to our own gut feeling and attend to what the body desires. When feeling weary, it is time to loosen the schedules and take things easy. Just enjoy the company from the locals and the sights and sounds present. 

The tramlines change the look of the sky when you look up in city. The criss-cross pattern is not a usual sight at home in Singapore, but I do like how it looks as it adds another dimension to this endearing city. 

 Kofi-Kofi truck!

Kofi-Kofi truck!

 braving the cold to pour some coffee

braving the cold to pour some coffee

Architecture styles varies across the city. Both the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul and the old town hall gate is of gothic architecture which I have grown to love. The interesting part of the gate of the old town hall is not because of its architectural style but because the center piece is crooked. Rumour says that the mason who constructed it did it on purpose as the city council was unable to pay him. Well, that seems like a legit reason!


VISIT

Hrad Špilberk - Offers a panoramic view of the city. Good for sightseeing! | Špilberk 210/1, 662 24 Brno | Opens daily

Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul | Petrov 9, 602 00 Brno 2, Czech Republic | Opens Mon - Sat 0815 - 1830, Sun 0700 - 1830

Phallic Clock -  The history of the clock shaped like a phallus is an interesting one. Located in Freedom Square, it is built to look like a bullet. It represents the 1645 battle of Brno against the Swiss. To commemorate this, a glass ball drops at 11am everyday, and people can be seen sticking their arms into the holes to catch it. The deadline for capturing the city was at 12 noon, but this bell that rang at 11am saved the city. Despite being a clock, it is actually, quite hard to tell the time from it! | Freedom Square, 602 00 Brno-střed, Czech Republic | Bell rings at 11AM daily

Old Town Hall | Radnická 8, 602 00 Brno-střed, Czech Republic | Daily, view at anytime from outside

Christmas Market (in winter) | Freedom Square, 602 00 Brno-střed, Czech Republic | Starts usually 2nd week of November through till Christmas

Mahenovo Divadlo - An elegant Neo-renaissance theatre | Malinovského nám. 571, 602 00 Brno-střed, Czech Republic

EAT & DRINK

Podpěrovo Pekařství - For those on a budget; an old school style bakery with delicious and freshly baked bread | Solniční, 602 00 Brno, Czech Republic | Mon to Fri 0645 - 1830, Sat 0645 - 1100, Sun closed | Costs from 2-100Kč

Cafe Mitte - For honest specialty coffee and cakes | Panská 11, 602 00 Brno, Czech Republic | Mon to Sat 0800 - 2300, Sun 0900 - 2000 | Costs from 38Kč

Kofi Kofi - For coffee on the go, we spotted them at their truck KofiČeská truck! | Roh Česká - Joštova, 602 00 Brno-střed, Czech Republic | Mon to Fri 0630 - 2030, Sat & Sun 0830 - 1900 

STAY

Hostel Jacob | Jakubské náměstí 7, Brno, 602 00 | info@jacobbrno.cz

GETTING AROUND

From Vienna to Brno, catch a bus from Student Agency
Around the city, by foot or by train. 

TIP

Don’t forget to pick up a Use-it map at your hostel or tourist information centre. We love use-it maps because it tells you some super cool information about the city. What’s better than having a map made by locals, inclusive of tips and tricks and little history quirks? 

Brno Use-It Map | brno@use-it.travel | Download map

Follow Min and Kiat to Brno by Those Fancy Gems