Living in and loving Prague, we must admit that men's shopping is a bit painful here. Therefore we have chosen few of our favorite shops and showrooms to be sure that not only girls will be happy with our secret tips.
Hello dear friends of the famous Taste of Prague and ahoj Jan and Zuzi!
We are really happy to be the very first ones to share our secret tips on Prague with you. Yes, we have made some wonderful selection dedicated to fashion and design shopping mostly. Each day starting from now, we will bring you a short list of places, shops and showrooms where you can find a local Czech products or a very nice design selections. So are you ready to discover the fashion and design side of Prague with us?
"Hey, Zuzi and Jan, what is the coolest thing we can buy here in Prague?”
We get that a lot during our Prague food tours. And we do have suggestions that we like: instead of the tacky tchotchkes they sell around the Charles Bridge, we like things that mean something to us as Prague locals and that would normally go unnoticed by foreign visitors.
Our most common suggestion? Easy: the Czech Botas 66 sneakers. Virtually the only brand of sneakers available when we grew up in the 80s (yes, it was so hard being cool at that time), the Botas have now been slowly becoming the local hipster favorite since about five years ago when two design students came up with the idea to brush up the 1966 model and turn it into a street style fashion statement. Today they are one of the most popular sneakers around here.
Now, we have a confession to make: Jan was suggesting them on almost every occasion but did not actually own a pair until about a month ago when he finally opted for the “track” model that is based on the 1980s running model. The model he chose (and which is pictured above) is called “Insane Track” (or “clown shoes”, as the baristas at EMA Espresso Bar dubbed them). They are still hand-made here in the Czech Republic and they allegedly retained all the original suppliers, so it’s still the “Eastern block” sneaker. They are fairly light and very comfortable.
OK, and now for the details:
How much are they?
The prices start at about EUR 50 and never go beyond EUR 75.
Where can I get them?
That’s a tricky one. Botas did close its central concept shop about a year ago and hasn’t found a replacement location since. JB Sport at Dlazdena 3 street in the centre has a small selection. If you want to see the full assortment, you’d have to travel a bit out of the centre to Artis-Botas Praha at Radlicka 11 street (tram 7 or 10 from Andel subway stop to Braunova stop). Finally, they do sell online within the EU (visit their online shop here). If you want to have them delivered to your hotel, why not? (Jan bought them online, too. Their fit is a bit tight so if you are in between regular sizes, he recommends you get the bigger one).
May 2014 update:
Botas 66 finally has a designated store! (And a really cool one at that.) You can find it at Krizkovskeho 18 street on the border of the Vinohrady and Zizkov districts very near the TV Tower. Visit their website for further details.
"Alcohol - when served in small doses - does not do harm in any quantity." - Hogo Fogo
If you are a regular visitor of our Prague blog, you may have noticed that we sometimes suggest an unorthodox souvenir from Prague. Something you may not have through of buying but something that says more about the Czechs than the Russian dolls and other tchotchke sold on the streets in the tourist centre. Something fun, something memorable. Today's suggestion is a classic Czech movie that most Czechs can quote line by line. That's also why it is included in the Czech DVD collection in our rental apartment. The movie is called "Lemonade Joe", and it's a Czech country and western comedy.
Yes, a Czech country and western movie. You see, the Czechs (just like the Germans, to some extent) have a strange, romantic fascination with the Wild Wild West. Starting from the Winnetou series by Karl May to modern-day Czech country and western music, the idea of riding a horse through the open range seems to be very, very appealing to many Czechs. Country Radio is one of the most popular radio stations in Prague and the Central Bohemian Region (which is a telling sign of the "high standards" Czech radio stations aspire to in general). And this is a fact that has not changed under the Communist Era, either, although clearly it was a bit suppressed. Still, the "tramping" movement was very popular, giving rise, in many respects, to the environmentalist "Brontosaurus" movement of the 1980s.
Today's pick from our rental apartment's Czech DVD collection would be, in our opinion, the perfect "weird" gift that would lighten up any theme party at home wherever you may come from: the 1964 Comedy from the genius Czech comedy director, Ondrej Lipsky, "Lemonade Joe", is a true gem. You see, Mr Lipsky was spoofing western movies before it was cool and before anyone has ever heard of the Blazing Saddles.
Shot is very stark sepia colors to add the feeling of an old movie, Lemonade Joe is essentially the story of good and evil: the teatotalling Joe, as the sharpest shooter in Stetson City, persuades the regulars at the Trigger Whiskey Bar that alcohol is not the way. However, the owner of of the bar, and his evil brother, the villain Hogo Fogo, plot revenge. Add romance, heartbreak, never-ending gags and action... and have we mentioned this film is a musical? Yes, the movie has everything. Without trying to give away any spoilers, let's just say the movie ends with a Wayne's World-type of mega-super-happy-ending that even the most cynical of Hollywood producers would find tacky. Yes, this movie makes fun of everything and just does not care.
However, it does include an all-star cast from the 1960s, including sultry actresses Olinka Schroberova (former Miss Czechoslovakia who later escaped the country and married John Calley, the producer of the Superman movies) as the wife-to-be of Lemonade Joe, or Kveta Fialova, one of the most famous Czech actresses of the second half of the 20th Century, as Tornado Lou, the fallen woman and the star of the Trigger Whiskey Bar who is looking for a "champion of her heart" who would "make her better".
What makes this movie a classic and why is it so loved by the Czechs? The film makes fun of everything: drunkards, dogmatic prohibition types, salesmen, villains, blondes, sharpshooters and femme fatales. Every cliche from your standard country and western movie is exaggerated to the point of parody. Money rules Stetson City. When Mrs Goodman realizes that Lemonade Joe is nothing but a salesperson for Kola Loka soda, she first expresses her never-ending love for Joe but then swiftly demands a cut from his proceeds (in a really cute way, though).
Then there are the songs: "Jo whiskey, to je moje gusto" (which roughly translates as "Whiskey, that's my cup of tea") is a staple song of any party of youngsters, including the high school prom (the legal age is eighteen here, you seniors can and do drink at their prom). The main villain, Hogo Fogo (which is the Czech equivalent of "Fancy Schmancy") is a great source of very funny and smart one-liners, too. But what wins every viewer's heart is the absurd but smart humor and a sense of funny carelessness. The Czechs adore this movie, and so will you. Trust us!
You can but the DVD ("Limonádovy Joe" in Czech) with English subtitles in any bigger music store. We would try Bontonland Megastore at the bottom of the Wenceslas Square or Musicland in the Palladium mall. Have fun!
Klára Krchová of Akari is not only my (Karolina reporting here) childhood friend, but also one of Prague's young fashion designers who makes the difference by persuading girls and women of all ages to wear skirts. "No trousers!" "Show some leg!" This is how she changes lives... for the better ;-).
Klára’s story is really A-class Hollywood material: it all started seven years ago with an innocent reaction to the bare fact that there were simply no cool skirts around. Cornered by the circumstances, Klára got to work with her grandma's sewing machine and a head full of ideas. Fast forward to today: she has her own atelier (Akarier) in the Letná district and hundreds of customers who color the streets up wearing her skirts. On top of managing, designing and modeling for Akari, Klára is also a brand new full-time mom. But guess what? It's a boy - so chances are Klára might actually make some trousers in the future, too (Naaaah... Not really! :-))
Where does such a cool person spend her free time and money in Prague and what are her insider tips? Well, that's what I found out for you in today's episode of our Meet a Local series.
What are the TOP Prague fashion events no one should miss?
Design Market at the National Theatre piazzetta, which is coming up soon. The great thing about this one is that you cannot really miss it. You just bump into it while cruising the town and there's a great choice of fashion to buy. Then there’s the Fashion Market in the Holešovice market where you can find a mix of fashion, accessories and all the nice stuff. This market takes place three or even more times a year as fashion markets are gaining popularity here in Prague.
Where do you shop for clothes yourself?
Hahaha... I'm probably a bit specific here: there are actually only a few people who do something similar for a living to what I do, and so we all know each other. To be very honest, I usually tell my friends I like something from their last collection… and that's how I shop. :-) I stocked up on legginges from Young Primitive recently, after giving birth (an absolute necessity!), and my latest discovery is Piskacie tricka: crazy hooting t-shirts from Slovakia. I don't know these guys personally yet, but I'm really looking forward to meeting them, haha! I also like Mayda or Pattern, which does great clothes for men.
Where do they have the best coffee in Prague?
When I'm at work, it's definitely Pausa 412, which is only two floors above my atelier (in the fantastic Elektricke podniky Orco building full of independent artists and designers) and it's a total hidden jewel! The guys make really excellent coffee there. When I'm off, I go to café Nový svět. It is a tiny family-owned place in the Castle District, but they have a great selection of coffee and the atmosphere is just amazing. They are open only on Fridays to Sundays from 3:00 pm, so it's a bit of a challenge to actually find it open, but when you do, it's absolutely worth it!
What are your favorite places for eating out in Prague?
My favorite place for lunch is Bistro 8 in the Veverkova street. I have also had a long and friendly relationship with the U Parlamentu pub, which is very nice and local despite its location right in the centre of Prague. Recently, we have started visiting Wine & Food Market on Strakonická street, because we just love their live piano evenings on Fridays, and it is also a very "stroller-friendly" place... Sorry if that is not hipster enough for you! :-)
What is your favorite place in Prague and why?
The Břevnov district! I'm originally from the Dejvice district, but I have recently blended into Břevnov: for me, it symbolizes the perfect combination of peace and great accessibility from anywhere. I have everything at hand in there. I come out of my house with a stroller and I get all I need in a half-mile radius, which is great.
Where you can get Akari skirts:
- Akarier atelier, Elektricke podniky Orco building, Bubenská 1, Prague 7 - currently not available for shopping with Klára on maternity leave
- Dara Bags, Lidická 35, Prague 5 - TUTU collection (tulle skirts)
- Kuráž, Benediktská 7, Prague 1
- Pour Pour, Vinohradská 74, Prague 3
- Julius Fashion Shop, Ostrovní 20, Prague 1
Tis the season to... talk about shopping, obviously. Don't get us wrong: we love Christmas and all the good things it brings: seeing family and friends, eating all the Christmas cookies (more on that later), watching fairy tales on TV, opening a bottle of wine and simply having some quality time. However, when it comes to shopping for gifts, many things can go wrong, especially when you shop abroad, and especially when you are walking along the beaten path.
So, in an attempt to steer you in the right direction, we bring you our annual tips for some of our favorite Christmas gift ideas. Now, what we did here is we imagined what we would have loved to get if we were your family members or friends. In some rare cases, we assumed you had an unlimited budget. But mostly we just wished for something cool and reasonably priced. However, we always picked something we thought really represents where the Czech Republic stands right now and where it comes from. Notable omissions include: Russian dolls of any kind, "My dad was in Prague and all he got me was this stupid t-shirt" shirts, overpriced glass and fake garnets. We have also set some imaginary categories of family members and friends for your convenience. Enjoy!
For kids with imagination: Fatra inflatable toys
After a long pause, Fatra, the original manufacturer, has recently resumed the production of the classic inflatable toy designs by the famed toy designer Libuse Niklova. We had so much fun with these when we were kids. No trip to a pool was complete without these inflatable animals. Oh, we can still smell that rubber. Now you can buy a piece of modern design history and bring it home to your little ones. Just like us, they are going to love it - guaranteed! If you wish to learn more about Libuse Niklova and her work, we recommend that you buy her work’s catalogue compiled by her son. Where to buy? In the Guma retro shop at Jecna 24 street or online at their website. If you wish to shop for children in a regular shop, we recommend that you visit the beautiful Ookidoo shop near the National Theatre or Space4kids, another cool shop for kids near the Hradcanska subway stop. Oh, how we wish these shop had existed when we were small!
We have already written about these a while ago but they still remain a great gift in our eyes. And with their factory store just a few steps off the Municipal House and the Powder Tower, there is now no excuse for not buying a set of these for an elementary school student. Just a quick tip that... ehm... "adds value": just screw the mechanics out of the metal casing, and you get a spit gun as a bonus (here’s an old school class recipe: just take the casing, punch one end through the peel of the orange you ate during recess, blow into the other end and - voila - you get an invitation to the principal’s office). In addition to the mechanical pencils, the store sells lots of leads, brushes, fantastic set of colored pencils and other accessories and tools for the aspiring artist. Where to buy? The Kooh-i-noor design shop at Na prikope 24 street.
For your hipster friend or relative: Botas 66 sneakers
From disappointment 30 years ago to hipster accessory today: when we were young, a pair of Botas shoes was a bitter wake up call from our dreams about wearing Adidas and Puma sneakers. However, with their new, retro “Botas 66” fashion line, Botas made a huge splash about five years ago, and a pair of the bright-colored sneakers is now a must-wear item for all Czech hipsters and the like. Still made mostly by hand in Skutec, Czech Republic, the Botas retain an old-school feel but add modern, colorful design, high quality materials and good craftsmanship. Where to buy? JB Sport at Dlazdena 3 street has a very small selection but boasts a great, central location. For a proper assortment, you’ll have to travel outside of the centre to Artis - Botas shop at Radlicka 11, Prague 5. If these are not your cup of tea, you can also check La Gallery Novesta selling Novesta shoes and some pieces by Leeda, or you can visit our favorite Kurator or Debut Gallery for the wonderful Cutulum shoes.
For dad or grandpa: Zufanek slivovitz
Hailing from Borsice in the Slovacko region of Moravia, just about two miles from Zuzi’s birth village, the slivovitz (plum brandy) made by the Zufanek distillery comes as close to the real thing as possible, and is the best slivovitz money can buy today. Yes, “the best stuff does not have a label”, as Mr Fric, a famous Czech chef, says to glorify Czech moonshine, but Zufanek comes very, very close. If you do not like Slivovitz, Mr Zufanek’s family also makes brandies from other fruits: pear, sour cherry, apricots, juniper, even walnuts. Where to buy? Sklizeno foodie market has a nice selection in different sizes, as does the Bartida shop and bar.
For the design lover with cash to spare: Dechem glassware
Following up on a tradition dating back to the 13th Century, Ms Tomiskova and Mr Jandourek, two young Czech designers, founded the Dechem studio in 2012 to “tell new stories in Bohemian glass". Their lamps and tabletop decorations immediately caught the attention of many design fans all over Europe. Be ready to splash some serious cash for their creations but their products are truly beautiful and forward-thinking. We would love this as a gift. Anyone? Where to buy? The Qubus design shop in the Dox Centre for Contemporary Arts, the Debut gallery, one of the great Artel shops and the Kubista shop.
For paper lovers: Modern Czech Stationery
Who does not love the smell of paper? We certainly do. When combined with clever design, we think a piece of modern stationery can be a great present. Our favorite Czech stationery designers include Papelote, which has been on the market for a few years and sells everything from envelopes to folders to diaries and notebooks and, importantly, wrapping paper, Paragraph, a young independent studio seated in the Zizkov district, and VOALA. Where to buy? Both Papelote and Paragraph have their own shops (see their websites linked in this paragraph). In addition, Paragraph stationery can be bought at Page Five, a recently opened independent publishing house with a shop that sells everything from books and magazines to stationery and posters, and in our favorite Kurator.
Do your loved ones love coffee and design? Why not combine the two? The Chemex coffeemaker, although not Czech, is a beautiful object by itself that will double as a decorative piece in any kitchen. Use it to make drip coffee from beans roasted by Doubleshot, the Prague-based coffee roasters who supply coffee to almost all the good cafés in Prague. You can buy a tasting set of three different coffees of your choice from their assortment. Where to buy?Muj salek kavy, one of the most popular cafes in Prague, is the flagship café owned by the Doubleshot roasters. In addition to delicious coffee and cakes, you can buy all the props to make great coffee at home.
For design lovers who have everything: Brokis lamps
The installation of lamps by Brokis, based near Jihlava, Czech Republic, was one of our favorites at this years Designblok, the annual design show in Prague. Combining the creativity of young designers and the beauty of high-quality Czech glass, the lamps offer some striking designs. So good they were features in a recent Yves Saint Laurent video! Our favorites include the Shadow and Muffin lamps by designers Lucie Koldova and Dan Yeffet, the Capsula lamps by Lucie Koldova, and the Balloon lamps by Boris Klimek. Where to buy? The easiest way is to inquire for Brokis products at their website. They have stockists all around the world and are sold by several online shops. Try to google them.
For just about any woman (or man): Modern Czech jewelry
What woman does not like shiny things? The Czech Republic has recently witnessed the rise of many talented designers, ranging from the more traditional (e.g. Belda) to the more daring. These might not be to everyone's taste but are surely going to get everyone's attention. Our favorites include Zorya with their Virus collection, Janja Prokic and her Le Grand Jeu collection, Antipearle pearl-based jewelry with an edgy look, and Blueberries 3D-printer based designs. Where to buy? Zorya can be bought in their Letna-based studio (by appointment only), in the Dox by Qubus store and the Simple Concept Store. Janja Prokic can be had in the Debut Gallery, Antipearle sells its products in its showroom at Janackovo nabrezi from 10am to 6pm from 18 to 23 December, and Bluberries pieces can be bought online at their website, in the Leeda shop and at Modernista.
For wine and glass lovers: A Czech red and glassware by Czech designers
Czech wines have been getting very good recently and although they are mostly known for whites, you can find some good reds here, too (although they will never have so much body as an Australian cabernet). And is there a better way to enjoy a good red than from a designer carafe and glasses? No, we didn't think so. Czech designers have always designed really nice glassware for wine and food alike. The glasswares by the Olgoj Chorchoj studio, Rony Plesl, Martin Zampach or the LLEV studio are among our favorites. Use them to devour a glass of some of our favorite Czech reds: the 2009 Shisar by Mr Zapletal, the 2009 Neronet by the Prague-based winery Salabka, or the 2009 Trkmanska by Stapleton Springer. Where to buy? The carafe at Hard-De-Core, and the wines at the Vinograf wine bar. Both can be found at the Senovazne namesti square in the centre of Prague.
For your friend who looooves cooking at home: Lugi kitchen accessories
Lugi, the Czech manufacturer of modern design furniture such as our "when we grow up, we'll buy this" table, has found an ingenious way of putting that excess material resulting from their manufacturing process to good use: create a line of kitchen accessories and tableware. Their wooden trays, cutting boards and salt and pepper grinders are really cool, beautifully made and sport nice minimalist designs. Where to buy? Pavilon. the furniture and design complex at the Vinohradska trance market.
For your chocolate-loving aunt: Passion chocolates and pralines
Made in the Kbely district of Prague, these designer chocolates and pralines are the joint creation of Melinda and Geert, a couple that relocated to Prague after the Hungarian-born Melinda quit her job, met Geert in Belgium and decided to make artisan chocolates as part of her creative urge. The pralines and chocolates are beautifully decorated and creative and are made from high-quality ingredients. Where to buy? Online at their website. For perhaps a more accessible alternative, have a look at Jordi's chocolates at the Sklizeno foodie market at Vodickova 33 street.
Well, this is just a short selection of things we really like. The list could be much longer of course, but for more ideas, we'll send you to our favorite shops instead. We are pretty sure you'll find your perfect gift there.
Harddecore - A wonderful gallery/shop with a great selection of Czech design with many things made specifically for this place.
Kurator - One of our favorite shops in Prague owned by lovely and friendly couple, Martina and Jan. They will do their best to help you find a beautiful gift (and probably feed you, too).
La Gallery Novesta - This beautiful concept store carries pieces by many great Czech fashion (and other) designers such as Zuzana Kubickova, Jakub Polanka, Katerina Geislerova, etc. Your better half will be very happy to see you've picked something for her there.
Futurista - This unique space has a great selection of the best of Czech design, art books, jewelry and architecture.
Ingredients - We bet this is the nicest smelling shop in Prague. You can spend hours in this wonderful perfume store, but anything you pick from perfumes, candles to cosmetics will definitely bring a smile on the face on the receiving end.
Panska Pasaz - Imagine 10 great shops under one roof, all carrying great gifts for men. From great watches, ties and shoes to quality whiskey and cigars. As a bonus, you'll find a popup store there until Friday, Dec 13, featuring the talented Leo Macenauer and beautiful bags by Playbag.
Well, this concludes our annual list of Christmas presents from Prague tips. If you are missing something or are looking for something specific, let us know!
And remember: sometimes it may be better just to spend it on yourself:
Jan's most priced 2012 Christmas gift? Prince's Purple Rain and Marvin Gaye's Best Of LPs that he got from Zuzi. Where did she buy them? In our favorite records store in Prague, a small shop in the Lucerna Palace just a few steps off the Wenceslas Square, called Happyfeet. Open in the afternoons from Monday to Friday, Happyfeet sells new and second-hand records, with special emphasis on the old Suprafon and Panton-branded Czechoslovak pressings. In addition to the vinyls, Happyfeet also carries old Czechoslovak Prim wristwatches, mostly from the 1970s but all refurbished and in mint condition. (BTW, did you know that Czechoslovakia (and Prim) was only the 7th country in the world to successfully master the manufacture of an automatic wristwatch?)
As you may know, we have a cool, newly refurbished rental apartment in the Letna district available for rent. However, the apartment goes beyond providing mere accommodation. We have conceived it as more than just a place to store your luggage and sleep in during the night. We want our guests to get immersed into the Czech local culture and society, to get an insight into how the locals live and how they think. In short, we want our guests to understand the Czechs.
That is why the apartment includes many audio CDs and films on DVD that will help them understand the "Czech experience" in the 20th Century and at the beginning of the new Millennium. In a series of posts, we will be introducing some of these films and albums because we think they would make for a cool souvenir that truly goes beyond mere tourism and we do not want to keep the movies that we love to ourselves and the guests that visit our apartment only.
The first movie we will write about may not seem like the first candidate (having won no Oscars and so on) but if you talk to any Czech, they will be able to pull out quotes from that movie on the spot and confess it's one of their favorite movies of all times.
Vrchní, prchni! (English title: Waiter, Scarper!)
We used to give this movie on DVD to our guests on the tour as a present, until we bought off all the cheap copies originally sold as an insert in a magazine. We do not know if any of the guests have actually watched it, but we still think that the movie is a great window into the ordinary lives of Czechs and Slovaks under Communism in the early 1980s.
The plot is very simple [spoiler alert!]: Mr Vrana, a book seller, is a victim of his own sexual fantasies. Even the title sequence, in which women in bathing suits swim in a pool, turn out to be the creations of his imagination. And Mr Vrana is not afraid to act on these fantasies. This has a sad effect for Mr Vrana: he has to pay a lot of alimony payments to various women around Prague. In a desperate attempt to get more money, he begins posing as a fake waiter cashing bills in restaurants and cafes in Prague, and later throughout Czechoslovakia.
Now, we have to set one thing straight right away: this is not drama - this is a laugh-out-loud comedy. We see the main character first getting mistaken, by a mere coincidence, for a waiter in a motorway restaurant, then seeing him embarrassed when comparing his life to all his successful classmates at a high school reunion, and finally the first, shy tryout "jobs" in a few restaurants. What follows is a transformation into what becomes known as the "Phantom of Restaurants and Cafeterias" (to explain: "Restaurants and Cafeterias" was the quite apt name of the only company in communist Czechoslovakia that owned and operated… you guessed it… all the restaurants and cafeterias). He has to hide his "side job" from everybody, including his friends and family, and, of course, the police. This leads to many funny situations, especially as he keeps bumping into his rather obnoxious and nosy neighbor. We won't spoil the ending for you, you'll have to watch it for yourself.
While being primarily a comedy, this film offers a serious glimpse into a much larger problem that has plagued the Czech and Czechoslovak society to this date: corruption and back-hand deals. After the Soviet occupation, it seems that the people turned to themselves and just focused on playing the system and the black market to their own advantage. The aim was to take and to take. A very popular saying at the time proclaimed that "who does not steal from the state, steals from his own family", and, unfortunately, many people have failed to abandon this policy after the old regime collapsed. There is a perfect scene in the movie where the main character twists a very popular fairytale (pigs in the rye) to his children: the pigs who disobeyed the orders and ate the rye were killed. But so were the other pigs, and the pigs who ate the rye could at least say they got a taste of the rye. Get rich or dye trying.
Consider the following scene (please fast forward to 8:20 in the video): at a high school reunion, an old classmate explains how he makes big money by striking backhand deals and bribing his suppliers. We are proud to be independent ourselves and are strictly against any bribery and backhand deals, but we are afraid half of the tourist industry here in Prague still works along the same lines.
Anyway, the movie is a real gem and we definitely recommend it (heck, that's why we chose it for our DVD collection in the rental apartment). If you decide not to stay in our apartment, you can still buy it on DVD with English subtitles (which range from inspired to just ok). We probably recommend the Bonton store at the bottom of the Wencesas Square. Enjoy!
Have you seen a Czech movie you liked? Let us know!
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.
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.
Vodičkova 41, Prague 1
(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)
Today on the tour, we had two nice guests, Khobe and David, and Khobe runs a great jewelry studio in California. As huge fans of Czech jewelry, we thought we could share some tips with Khobe, David and with you all. Just like Czech glass, Czech jewelry’s always been sought after. The tradition is really long and almost any traveller visiting Prague knows about garnets and amber. We admit garnet jewelry (please look for stores selling genuine pieces) is very elegant, but if your exploration of Czech jewelry stops there, you’ll be missing out.
The growth of modern Czech design is apparent, and young Czech jewelers creating unusual, award-wining designs, shine with special brightness. Let’s have a look at some of our favorites (clicking on the title takes you to designers' websites detailing where you can buy their jewelry in Prague).
The Zorya label, the result of fruitful cooperation between jewelry maker Zdeněk Vacek and designer Daniel Pošta, has already made its mark since its inception in 2011. The winners of the Designblok '11 Editors Award for the best collection of jewelry create high-quality, hand-made pieces that are unusual, yet elegant.
The popular designer transforms dreams, fantasies, and visions into the form of wearable jewelry. Věra Nováková uses traditional techniques and materials, but chooses less traditional procedures to produce comfortable, wearable pieces.
As the designer, Markéta Dlouhá-Marová admits, her pieces occupy the space somewhere between punk and luxury. The designer hand picks river pearls and combines them with precious metals to create visually startling creations.
You can see that the person behind the simple geometric creations is an architect. Jana Hamrová uses the minimalist approach to jewelry making. Her preferred material is silver, at times combined with less precious materials such as plastics.
This family run business collaborates with many young Czech designers to create an extensive portfolio of jewelry with prices ranging from very reasonable to… well, less reasonable. They use silver and gold, but also titanium, steel and plastics. We also like their little, cool showroom at Mikulandská Street near the National Theater.
Jewelry by this Serbian-born designer is extravagant and bold. Inspired by her wild dreams, the creations often borrow from the world of animals. Her last collection, Superpowers, earned her a nomination for the Czech Grand Design award in the jewelry category. Together with another great young designer Nastassia Aleinikava, they created the praised Lure collection.
Inspired by organic and inorganic structures, Markéta Richterová creates hi-tech jewelry from materials like corian, perpex or carbon. Although her creations have a precise, industrial feel, each piece is hand-made with lots of handcraft. Joining forces with fellow designer Zbyněk Krulich, she crated the Blueberries line of jewelry made entirely on a 3D printer. Both her collections were nominated for the Czech Grand Design award in the jewelry category.
One half of the Belka fashion label, Martina Malá also creates highly ornamented jewelry designs. Her pieces are very colorful and feminine.