Prague Day 9

Day Nine (Sept 26)
I fly out this evening for an overnight stay in London before heading back to the States.  I slept in sort of dreading the reality the day holds.  The sky is overcast and doesn’t bode well for a boat ride.  Hopefully, the sun will peek out for me.  If not, I plan to have a leisurely lunch at Ambiente Restaurant – the Italian place I adore.  Some wrap up thoughts.

* If you are planning to travel my rule of thumb is at least seven days plus one to unwind, unpack when you return home – if you are visiting one city.   
* If you are doing multiple stops in a short time frame – 3 countries in 2 weeks, plan at least four days in each city.  Use one day for a guided tour to familiarize yourself with the basics.  If walking isn’t your thing, then try bikes tours.  The young ladies from Alabama said they did bike tours in Munich, Vienna and Prague.  They recommend Mike’s Bike Tours (recommended by Rick Steve’s and Lonely Planet).  I highly recommend Lonely Planet.  It was on the money.  Also, try not to organize every day.  Leave at least one -two days where you become spontaneous.  Meeting the Americans on my walking tour and people in my hotel gave me options.
* Don’t overpack.  My rule is two-three jeans (capris, pants), one skirt (in case you need to dress up), plenty of tops for everyday (lightweight that can layer).  Wear your walking/everyday shoes on the plane and pack a separate pair.  All of this, plus your toiletry bag should fit in your carry-on if packed properly.  Other stuff that isn’t essential, pack in a larger suitcase that will be checked.  You will need this to house all the souvenirs you pick up. 
* Accommodations.  I was fortunate that my friend Jenny recommended a place in the historic center within five minutes walking from all the major sights.  Use Lonely Planet or Rick Steves.  Pensiones are quite popular and more affordable than hotels generally.  They are like bread and breakfast inns.
* Shopping in Prague.  Because I was here longer than three days, I begin to notice there are chain stores among the jewelers and crystal makers.
* Czech Garnets (granats).  There is one company that mines the granats, Granat Turnov.  They supply all the jewelers.  Most of the stores are supplied by the same jewelry designers.  Unless you go to an  upscale  boutique, designs are very similar. Garnets are reasonably priced when set in silver because silver is abundant.  However, if the garnet is large or contains more gold, you pay for that.  Although I loved the blood red garnet, it blended with my skin so I needed more gold to make the garnet pop – costs more.
* Silver jewelry.  Silver is abundant and very inexpensive.  I bought several silver earrings and bangles for $10 or less – quality superb.  It gets expensive when you get heavy pieces or those containing Swarovski crystal (make sure it’s crystal and not synthetic).
* Amber.  Amber is abundant and inexpensive unless it’s a huge piece, set in gold or alot of silver.  Amber comes in green, brown and the traditional yellow.  Otherwise, it can be found at reasonable rates.
* Coral.  I was surprised to see it.  It is beautiful and usually set in silver.  This is where you can tell the designer is the same.  Almost all the stores have the same pieces in coral.  Unless they use the more costly pink coral.  The coral comes from Croatia but mainly Australia.
* Crystal.  Bohemian crystal is the best crystal – known for its 24% lead content.  If it doesn’t say Bohemia Crystal it’s fake. The best crystal maker is Moser Glass.  Moser doesn’t use lead but their crystal is the stuff of aristocrats, popes and nobility.  One glass is about 2350 crowns ($130).  However, there are several chain stores with more budget friendly pricing.  They are Bohemia Crystal and Celetna Crystal.  Every souvenir store carries “Bohemia Crystal.”  The designs are traditional, colored and designs based on the famous Moser designs (at budget prices).  Most sets of six range from 1390-1990 crowns ($55-95 per set).
* Food.  You will enjoy a variety of cuisine – check the guide for the better quality in food service and consistency.  Reservations are generally necessary because people take 2-3 hours to enjoy a meal – no rushing for the crowd.

Thank you for allowing me to bend your ear.  I hope I have entertained you.

Ronda Lee
Founder, Editor-in-Chief
Ronda is an attorney, writer, and entrepreneur. She is a contributing writer for the Huffington Post. Originally from Chicago, she has lived in Los Angeles and New York. She loves to travel and is passionate about education equity, especially for first generation college students.