Czech crystal is beautiful and has a history here. Moser glass www.moser-glass.com, (Na Prikope 12 or Staromestske namesti 15) based in Karlovy Vary, is one of the best-known manufacturers. Reasons why Moser pieces are so famous are that they are made of a lead-free hard crystal and are all hand-polished. The company dates back to 1857 and their products were a favorite gift of royalty. Erpet Bohemian crystal (Staroměstské náměstí 27, www.erpet.cz) carries Moser glass as well as Bohemian cut glass. Artěl www.artelglass.com/stores/
Is worth a stop for its variety and sense of fun. Besides offering the company‘s own handmade crystal products, you may discover other original goodies like jewelry, textiles and ceramics. You can also check out Modernista (www.modernista.cz) for its retro reproductions and promotion of local Czech artisans.
Another item with a long tradition here is porcelain. The typical local look will be the so-called “onion” motif, which is a blue on white design inspired by East Asian motifs. For a lovely selection, visit ceský porcelán (Perlová 1, www.cesky.porcelan.cz).
The garnet is the official gem of the Czech Republic. Hundreds of stores sell this jewel, but be sure to get a certificate of authenticity before laying out the cash. True Bohemian garnets hail from the city of Turnov, which is where Granát is located. The production facility churns out 3500 different designs.
An extremely popular item here are these stringed figurines. They also have a long history in the country, so if it‘s a marionette you are after, best visit Marionety Truhlář (U lužického semináře 5, www.marionety.com). The Havelský Market (on Havelská Street) has decent, well-priced puppets, as does loutky (Nerudova 51, www.loutky.cz).
Eaiting & drinking
Spa wafers (lázeňské oplatky) are a special type of giant wafer cookies. The most famous ones are produced in the city of Karlovy Vary – where the famous thermal spas are. The Kolonada brand, by Opavia, is the original and can be found at any grocery store. As for drinks first is beer - the Czech national drink (popular brands are: Gambrinus, Pilsner Urquell, Staropramen, Svijany, Velkopopovicky kozel, Radegast, Budweiser Budvar, Krusovice). Then there is Becherovka, an herbal liquor made in Karlovy Vary, a lovely spirit to share, or try the more bitter, Fernet. Another stronger one is the plum brandy, slivovice. Also highly recommended are white vines from the Moravian region. Czechs are known for their handicraft skills, so a Czech made wood, glass or other craft item will most likely be a work of fine Czech art.