Craft markets in the New Town: Excellent quality local crafts
There are a couple of street markets in the New Town which offer an excellent and affordable range of crafts (and an encouragingly small proportion of mass produced rubbish).
What to buy: I particularly like the wooden items, particularly the children's puzzles and toys: I bought an entire wooden train set when I visited there during my first pregnancy which I lugged around in my backpack for the rest of the trip, but then had to wait nearly four years for a son to do it justice, as my elder child turned out to be a girl!
Another item that I love are the beautiful hand painted Easter eggs which are decorated in many styles from the traditional to the geometric and even the modernistic. Being a multicultural family with a particular weakness for German festival traditions, we celebrate Easter with an Easter branch, on which we display the various eggs that we've collected on our travels through Eastern and Central Europe. It might sound like madness to travel with eggs, but we have found them surprisingly robust - packed in a conventional eggbox - and (here's tempting fate!), have yet to suffer a breakage in transit!
Indulge your newfound classical tendencies
Prague has an uncanny ability to nurture 'culture vulture' tendencies in even the most uncultured of tourists. It is endearing to note that many visitors who would never dream of darkening the door of a concert hall in their home country will flock to one of the large number of classical concerts that are held on a daily basis in Prague, lured by a combination of the beautiful historical venues, affordable ticket prices and programmes of popular classics.
One of the staples of the concert circuit is the moving 'Ma Vlast' ('My Homeland'), by the 'Father of Czech Music', and Prague's adopted son, Bedrich Smetana. Smetana was a giant of the Czech cultural scene in the second half of the nineteenth century, and his immense legacy is celebrated in the Bedrich Smetana Museum, now part of the Czech Museum of Music. This is housed (somewhat prosaically) in the former waterworks by the banks of the Vltava - appropriate given that Ma Vlast takes Czech rivers as its theme, but hardly a romantic choice of location!
Ma Vlast is a series of six symphonic poems, one of which is dedicated to the Vltava River. So, particularly if you have attended a concert in Prague, what better memento to bring back with you than a CD of this beautiful work?
Tourist shops: Matrioshka dolls of Russian leaders
Ever since my parents bought me one when they visited the then Soviet Union at the height of the Afghan crisis in 1980, I have harboured a childlike (or was that childish?) passion for matrioshka dolls. So I was in my element when I first visited Prague because it's absolutely full of them!
The one that caught my eye was a marvellous set of dolls in the image of successive Soviet/Russian leaders. The outermost doll is a superb depiction of Boris Yeltsin looking dyspeptic, followed (in size order) by Gorbachev, Brezhnev, Kruschev, Stalin, Lenin and finally poor little Czar Nicholas who got gobbled up by the wicked Communists! Clearly Andropov and Chernenko didn't make the cut, but honestly, could you have really picked either of them out of a lineup anyway?
The set is an absolute work of art, and the caricatures are astonishingly vivid. It is one of my more treasured possessions and has added virtue as asking people to correctly identify them also makes a superb after dinner game (particularly when you have some smart aleck guests in attendance)!
Have I ever been able to find a similar set on my subsequent visits - well, of course not! Which is a terrible pity, since the beady-eyed, weasel-faced action man Putin has to be a caricaturist's dream ...
Street vendors: Paintings
Carlos Bridge is a wide and permanent art gallery. I've been there in winter, and even the negative temperatures didn't dismiss the painters exposing their works.
Several techniques several styles several prices.
I didn't buy, but a friend of mine brought a reasonable collection.
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
You will have no shortage of places to buy a souvenir of your visit to Prague. For some reason, it seemed that Russians were running a lot of the stores, i don't know. Around Wenceslas Square you can probably find most of what you need in the way of tshirts and that sort of thing, prices are fairly similar from store to store.
I found the store that Charles University bookstore is very good. I bought some great calendars of Prague there.
note- DVD's that I got in Prague worked perfectly here in the States!
Swarovski Boutique: The finer things in life
As we were walking through Old Town, we happened to run across the Swarovski Boutique. We stopped in to see what they had (we had done he same when in Salzburg a few years ago). LJ found a beautiful ring, so we ended up purchasing the item. The product in Swarovski is always nice and they even had a small section for men (watches, cufflinks, etc.) All in all, a great place and customer service was top notch.
What to buy: Jewelry, watches, gifts, etc.
What to pay: Depends on what you buy
- Luxury Travel
Fan Shop AC Sparta Praha fotbal: AC Sparta Praha fotbal
The local futbol (soccer) team is AC Sparta and the store where you can purchase authentic gear is located at the stadium. Lots of clothes for all, souvenirs and memorabilia to browse
What to buy: We purchased a Sparta Jacket (red & black 1893), an Adult Home Football Jersey and a Retro Black Polo shirt.
What to pay: Sparta Jacket ($43.85 USD)
Adult Home Football Jersey ($48.77 USD)
Retro Black Polo shirt ($24.14 USD)
TO ČI TO: Household accessories from top European brands
This is a shop with household accessories and gifts by top European designers and brands such as Bosign, Normann Copenhagen, Reiko Kaneko, Thelermont Humpton. It is he only place where to get such names in Czech Republic. They also have an e-shop at www.tocito.cz but it`s much more fun to come personaly and see and touch the beautiful designs and smart household solutions.
What to buy: The best pick is Woofy dog designed to hide electric cabels and wires by Normann Copenhagen, or fine China baubles by Reiko Kaneko.
What to pay: 1000 - 3000 CZK
- Arts and Culture
- Business Travel
- Luxury Travel
Tree brothers production: Medieval armour
The armor museum, up a steep stairway and in one of the old buildings, is lined with swords and suits of armor, some of which are only for display, while others are for sale.
Helmets; Bunting flags; Staff weapons; Shields; Armour plates; Argorn knives etc.
What to buy: you can buy anything in on-line store
What to pay: about 100 USD - a halmet;
about 80 USD - a knive
- Arts and Culture
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel
Supermarkets: No frills bottled water - tell it like it is!
Some brand names just don't end up being quite as exciting as the originators think they will be. Such is the case with the brand of bottled water on sale in the Czech Republic, catchily dubbed 'Good Water' (see photo for documentary proof).
I have to concede that it is, well, perfectly good water. However, whilst I applaud the honest, no frills marketing strategy, it is just a tad disappointing that the bottlers couldn't come up with something a trifle more imaginative ...
All big chains and small Vietnamese run supermarke: Cigarettes in CZ
Cigarettes are a bit more than 2 euro, at least were so at the time I left the city. You can buy it from anywhere, either big supermarkets or from smaller ones, which are run usually by Vietnamese and are all over the town. I know for sure there is a supermarket Albert at Mustek, which is one metro stop after the Central Railway Station (Hlavni Nadrazi) on the green line. You can go there, buy whatever you want and come back to the metro. Your ticket can still be used, because it is usually for 70 minutes. Plus the green line goes to Dejvicka and then you change to the bus to the airport, number 119 I guess.
Nový Smíchov: Nový Smíchov shopping Mall
Nový Smíchov is a stylish, modern shopping mall and entertainment center that spreads across three floors. It is located near the Andìl metro station (line B). There's a large Tesco supermarket and Datart electronics store on the ground floor, 150 different shops, as well as a food court and Palace Cinema multiplex on the third floor.
Address: Plzeòská 8, Prague 5
Getting there: Metro B or tram 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14 or 20 to Andìl
Hours: Shops 9.00 - 21.00, Tesco 7.00 - 24.00
What to buy: every thing
Havelská Market: Tourist market in Old Town
For those not wanting to stray too far from Old Town, there's a small tourist market right in the center of Old Town, clothes, mugs, refrigerator magnets, crafts, fruits and vegetables and any other kind of tourist crap you can think of can be found here.
Open: Monday to Sunday 10:00 - 18:00
Palladium: Shopping in former army barracks
Palladium calls itself "shopping without limits". It is big shopping gallery in the centre of Prague with various kinds of shops. What is quite unusual is the fact that the gallery is situated in the houses of former army barracks - architecturally very interesting!
170 shops, 30 restaurants.
Monday - Saturday 09:00-22:00
SUnday 09:00 - 21:00
Andel Novy Smichov: Largest Mall in Prague, Easy to Reach, Very Nice
This mall is the largest in Prague and very easy and quick to reach, just around the corner from the Andel metro station on the yellow line, not far from the tourist centre of the city (trams were outside too). It has all the usual stores you'll find on Wenceslas Square (minus the touristy stuff), as well as a fantastic cinema (saw the new Bond film - it was in English with Czech subtitles - I think that is normal in the Czech Republic) and a big Tesco. Restauraunts too. All of the shop assistants I spoke to, spoke English. I was impressed with the place. I also didn't see any tourists, but it was in November. They were in the process of setting up Christmas booths by the Andel station and those may be interesting. A very nice place to shop and get out of the cold.
What to pay: Normal prices and our coffees at a cafe were much cheaper (normally priced) than the touristic areas of the city. Got some bargains on nice clothes.
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