souvenirs

Czech sweets you should buy and try

Czech sweets you should buy and try

A beautiful crystal chandelier? A larger-than-life painting of the Prague Castle? A 4-feet Moser vase? No. None of these are great gifts when you want to bring a cheap, fun souvenir from Prague to your colleagues, classmates or friends in your chess team. But some classic Czech sweets, candies and chocolate bars? That’s an entirely different story: they are cheap, fun and also unique to the Czech environment. Not something you’d give your loved one for Valentine’s Days, sure, but they are lots of fun for the right person.

Now, of course, you can go very, very wrong with choosing the right kind. Not all of classic Czech sweets taste great or - more importantly - have a story behind them. Because let’s be honest: story sells. Even gifts. You want a sweet or a bar that has a rich history, something that has a track record behind it, something that was the primary cause behind our first cavities, drilled without anesthesia when the whole school went to the dentist like we used to do in the last years of Communism (but that’s an entirely different story). You want some sweets we grew up with. You want sweets like those listed in this post.


Prague souvenirs: Terry Posters

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This is another episode of our ongoing series about the souvenirs we would recommend you buy in Prague. We have a different take on Prague souvenirs, though: instead of something that would shout "Prague", we recommend things that are not directly souvenirs per se; they are, rather, things we grew up with, things that really are a reflection on the country and on the times we live in or used to live in not that long ago. Today, we will suggest a souvenir for those who love movies. The filmmaking business in the Communist era did, to some extent, flourish, although it was heavily regulated. Instead of a competition between producers and production team, there were basically a few production centres in the Czech Republic producing movies subject to approval of regime censors. Some of the movies were genuinely good, especially the movies of the "new wave" of Czech cinema in the 1960s, while other movies were not that great, just like in any other country.

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What was unique was the way filmmaking was funded in Communist Czechoslovakia. In addition to government funding, the Czech moviemaking business had another, perhaps surprising, source of income: sales of US and Western movies. You see, people craved Western things, including movies, and the Czech films importer, as a government-owned monopoly, could make good use of that. With no legal competition to speak of, the monopoly distributor could really dictate the terms on which the rights to the movies were bought to be shown in Czechoslovakia. And they were tough. The Czech importer would always offer a low, fixed sum, e.g. USD 20,000 for a movie, take it or leave it. And many Western producers decided to take it, simply because it was better than nothing. Therefore, the monopoly importer made incredible amounts of money from the ticket sales, having just paid a ridiculous amount for the rights. And this money was later used to fund production of new Czechoslovak movies.

However, there was one caveat: the movies did not come with their original posters. The Czech distributors thus had to make their own posters, very different from the originals displayed elsewhere, with some of them true pieces of modern art and graphic design. And that's our souvenir tip today: Terry Posters, a shop run by Union Film Ltd and the people behind the Aero and Svetozor, two art cinemas based in Prague, that sells these old, Communist posters. Mind you, these are not copies or reprints: these are the very originals, often with visible folds. That is why some of the posters shown in the online shop (yes, they do have an online shop, too) are not for sale: they only have one poster of that kind in their collection.

Therefore, we recommend that you visit the Svetozor art cinema (which is where the Terry Posters shop is located at), see a movie and buy a poster for a movie you love, but a poster with a clear twist.

Terry Posters

Cinema Světozor

Vodičkova 41, Prague 1

Opening times 

(as of June 2013): Mon to Fri 10-20, Sat 12-5 

(The poster shown above: Twelve Angry Men, source)

Source of the featured picture (Critters) 


Prague Take-Homes: Designer Souvenirs

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In Prague, there are plenty of shabby shops selling cheap souvenirs to tourists (Russian dolls, anyone?). As an alternative to getting an unmemorable present, you can pop into one of the unique design shops and choose an interesting gift you or your loved-ones back home will appreciate as an original piece of Prague. Wandering through the streets of Prague, you can stumble across design shops that feature rare and alluring designs just waiting for you to take home.Here are a few of our favorite stores with unique souvenirs:

Belda Factory

They offer original and unique jewelry, porcelain and glass, all from Czech producers and designers that will accommodate any budget.

Studio Pirsc Porcelain

Studio Pirsc Porcelain has become one of the leading studios in porcelain design and production. They offer high quality and limited decorations, along with useful household items. You can purchase them online or at various Prague stores (e.g. Belda, Qubus, Futurista, Modernista).

Papelote

This original Czech stationary gives paper a brand new, creative dimension. In Papelote you can find exercise books, notebooks, postcards and many other things that a good stationery shop should carry. You will be surprised by the original design that develops ordinary paper goods to unique pieces of art.

66 Gallery

The 66 Gallery is a wonderful mixture of a sales gallery and the Botas Concept Store. This traditional Czech sport shoes brand has become extremely popular, as illustrated by the fact that the Czech word "botasky" is the universal word for any sneakers.

Qubus

Here you will find unique treats for anyone exceptional in your life, things like a weird porcelain candleholder looking as baby head, a porcelain vase in the shape of a wellington boot or plenty of other cool design items to show your friends back home.

Futurista

Over 100 m2 of unique space where you can browse a broad collection of art, design books and magazines, pick an original gift for your loved ones or just meet up for a cup of coffee.

Modernista

This design shop offers broad and diverse selection of furniture, ceramics, glass, lighting, jewelry and toys from the Art Deco, Bauhaus, and Czech Cubism movements.

Kubista

Presenting the best of decorative art and design from the most important stylistic periods of the 20th century, particularly cubism and art deco, Kubista offers rare originals of applied arts.

Popout

Design lifestyle store full of original ideas, cool accessories and unique gifts such as a beautiful porcelain “babovka” form.

TEG (Timoure et Group)

This boutique is run by one of Prague’s most respected fashion designers; their quarterly collections feature sophisticated yet wearable clothes.