We are going to Prague and Budapest in October, and I am wondering what the best souvenirs are, we like to bring home nice mementoes from our trips. I hear garnets and crystal for Prague. What else? And what about Budapest?
Budapest-lots of linens were sold as well as bags of paprika. If you make it out to Szentendre (easy half day trip) there are many places to buy these things but I am not too sure if they are lower quality for tourists (don't know the difference between good/bad quality linens to be honest). Great Market Hall might be a good options as there was lots of souveniers for sale there as well.
I always like to buy small bottles of alcohol popular in the region or food items as souveniers and there are lots of options at the market hall.
Garnets in Prague are great, but do your research before you go. There are lots of fakes, especially in the tourist shops. Personally, I like to pick up small paintings from the artists along the river bank or on Charles Bridge. There are also nice sets of beer/pint glasses and the like. If you're into art, the Alphonse Mucha museum sells great prints and other Mucha souvenirs.
Budapest -- pretty tins of paprika!
All great ideas, thanks!
Vera, I bought some beautiful hand-etched eggs in different colors in the town square by the astronomical clock. There were some vendors there selling their wares. I also bought some watercolors and etchings of sites in Prague from artists on the Charles Bridge.
In Budapest we bought paprika which is superior to any that we can buy in the US. Both Prague and Budapest had lots of those painted nesting dolls which I did not find attractive--others may love them but I have some old nesting dolls from Russia which are nicer. Look for little perfume bottles in Prague--lots of shops just off the bridge. These are really pretty and inexpensive and wish I had bought more of them. A great shop for scented soaps, candles, oils, etc. is the Botanicus shop behind the Tyne Church which is on the old square opposite the clock.
The best place I found for souvenirs in Budapest was the upstairs of the Great Market Hall. Downstairs you can buy paprika. The market is very colorful and lots of fun to explore!
If you are a foodie, or if you know foodies, paprika is a must in Budapest. We bought packets in ordinary grocery stores for a fraction of the cost of paprika in shops catering to tourists.
We bought the hand etched eggs in Prague also. They will make beautiful Christmas tree ornaments. They are sold in stores called Manufaktura (www.manufaktura.biz. I was disappointed in not finding any really good food souvenirs--we did buy some CZ chocolate in a supermarket They have a million different mustards. The supermarkets in Prague are excellent.
The tour guides warn about garnets; you really do have to be careful not to get ripped off.
Are the hand-etched eggs real eggs, or wooden eggs? I take it they must have strings attached if you would use them as Christmas ornaments?
Brought back paprika and amber jewelry from Budapest!
Paprika bought at a grocery store. You can buy as many 50g packages as you can fit in your luggage. They cost about equivalent to $1 US. My hostess suggested I buy Kalocsai brand: Csemege Fuszerpaprika-Orlemeny.
BTW, Absinthe has become legal in the US lately.
Never had that drink but I would love to. I read so much about it.
We have absinthe in Canada but it doesn't have the hallucinogenic that is legal in Czech Republic. I brought home a bottle and drank it with 2 friends...didn't feel any different except a "normal" drunk :( It tasted awful but was a fun souvenier to try!
Yes, definitely buy your paprika in an ordinary grocery store. It may not be in the cute little tins, but it will be cheaper and fresher. Hungarian paprika can be sweet or slightly hot. I have forgotten the name in Hungarian for the sweet type but maybe someone else knows?
We bought paprika at the market in Budapest in little plastic bags and it was cheaper than the tins--transferred it to jars at home. No worries about whether it is hot or sweet as it is carefully labeled. The vendors will steer you to the right choice--we found them to be friendly and helpful.
Marionettes are a wonderful souvenir. They are available in many price ranges. The wooden hand-carved ones are wonderful. There are also many nice ones molded from (I believe) dental compound.
I got a beautiful piece of lace with flowers embroidered on it, from Hungary. Some day I'll frame it, but they also have beautiful linens, tablerunners etc, that are easy to pack. There's a nice little shop at the beginning of the bridge in Prague that had some cool stuff.
Prague seems to have more cheap souvenir stores per capita than any other major city in Europe. Absinthe can be a great conversation starter, but personally, I've never sampled another beverage that tasted so awful and made me feel so terrible the next day!
If you like classical music, there are plenty of Mozart, Dvorak and Smetena memementos available.
Here are the words to look for if you are buying your Hungarian paprika in a grocery store, as opposed to from a tourist souvenir shop:
Csipos and eros both are hot, with eros the hotter and less pungently flavorful of the two. Csemege and edesnemes are both sweet and mild, with edesnemes the higher quality of the two. Feledes is in between, and is half-sweet, half-spicy. Rozsa ia a bright red-orange, semi-pungent paprika, excellent for using large amounts of when you want intense color in your dishes. In my personal opinion, edesmenes has the most interesting flavor and is a lovely dark red color, but there's room in my spice cabinet for all of them.
If you buy packets of paprika at the grocery store, you'll pay about a tenth the price of what the souvenir stalls charge, and you can get a greater variety of types to sample. Incidentally, there is no smoked paprika in Hungary as there is in Spain.
In Budapest, we bought a lot of really pretty Hungarian pottery - small pieces to give as gifts and that would travel well. I believe most of it is made near Pecs although the coloring is similar to France - blues, yellows and some greens. Paprika in pretty tins are also the norm. I did also buy some wooden eggs that were painted and two ceramic ones that I will use as Christmas ornaments. I agree that the Market Hall is a good place to buy souvenirs and the pottery shops I liked best were all on Castle Hill. My favorite thing to do though is to visit an English language bookstore and buy local authors and histories, especially those with photos. They will remind you of your visit, plus you can enjoy the time and take less photos.
Prague - we bought a lot of handblown glass - paperweights, pendants on chains, and figurines. You can find that anywhere. For some reason cats are huge in Prague (made out of everything), as are Russian nesting dolls. We didn't buy any of that, but its everywhere. I bought some Kafka books and several frameable photos that I bought in a flower shop which also sold souvenirs, about 2 doors down from the Marriott in New Town. The other thing that seems to be common are hand carved chess sets. I saw many beautiful ones that I was very tempted to buy, but had run out of suitcase room.
One more thought about paprika--if you are thinking of a nice gift for a foodie, paprika varieties from a grocery store will be most appreciated, especially those not easily obtained here. If, on the other hand, your recipient is not a hard core foodie, they would probably be indifferent as to the precise attributes of the paprika and would prefer a pretty container for it that you get at a tourist stall. Just a thought...
Those handblow glass birds that dip into and glass and swing back and forth forever due to.....
I will not tell you the answer! Figure it out. Anyway they are great (I am looking at one now on my bookcase). I actually made it home with two of these fragile things. A shop near the effeiel type tower on a side street near a great hip pizza joints. The shop sells tram tickets, too.