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Let’s go shopping! Posted by on Jul 13, 2010 in Culture

Hello everyone! I recently spent 2 weeks in Poland and decided to share some stories about shopping – shopping for clothes, arts and everything else.

My husband – born and raised in US – loves Poland…and history. So, during our first trip to my native country together, I have found out that he knows a lot about Polska. Like most of the guys – he is not a fan of shopping for clothes, home decor or cosmetics. However, he loves books and unique souvenirs. So, hopefully all of you will find this blog interesting.

Polish folk dolls

Image by Fuchsia Rascal dorkyvegan/flickr.com

Shopping in Poland can be a fun and even exciting adventure where you can find an array of wonderful Polish shops and markets offering many items. The most popular Polish items include such things as hand-woven rugs, silverware, glass and enamelware, handmade amber and silver, woodcarvings, clay and metal sculptures, and of course, dolls (lalki) in traditional regional costumes (regionalne kostiumy).

Amber is a really big thing in Poland. The most popular place to get polish amber is Trojmiasto (Tricity – Gdynia, Gdansk and Sopot) – since those cities are situated on the Baltic Sea.

There is just so much to choose from – mostly jewelry and souvenirs made of amber – ships, little houses, figurines of people.Polish amber, also known as Gold of the North, is the most valuable type of amber. Its rich, honey-like structure makes this Baltic treasure a genuine piece of art.

Here you can read a very interesting article about the history of amber.

Polish shops (sklepy) and markets (bazary) hours (godziny) are normally Monday through Friday from 10:00 to 18:00 and on Saturday from 10:00 to 13:00. Occasionally, you will find a few Polish markets open until 20:00 through the week and 16:00 on Saturday. A few are even open 24 hours per day known as night shops. Supermarkets and larger department stores are normally open from 10:00 to 19:00.

For those of you who are confused about time: in Poland it is a 24 hour cycle. So, for example 1pm is 13:00 and 12am is 24:00.

Polish currency is the zloty. Denominations of the Polish Zloty are Zl200, 100, 50, 20 and 10 with new coins in the amount of Zl5, 2 and 1, and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 groszy, in which 100 groszy equals one Zloty.

You can find several foreign currency exchanges so you can have plenty of Polish currency to buy all the great items you find. The majority of exchanges are found at hotels, border crossings, and bureaus de exchange (polish name “kantor”). On the other hand, if you have Euros many of the larger hotels and stores accept this currency so you will not have to have your money exchanged.

Along with Euros and Polish currency, many of the Polish shops also accept American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa. If you prefer cash then you can receive cash from your Visa credit card at most of the banks.  Banks are open on Monday through Friday from 09:00 until 16:00 and on Saturday from 09:00 until 13:00. However, in smaller towns the hours may not be the same.

You can find many unique items at Polish markets besides fresh fruits and vegetables such as homemade items handcrafted by local residents. One thing you should know about bazary is that you can negotiate the price. So try to offer 1/2 of the asking price and see what happens …you will probably get the item!

A shopping trip in Poland can be the highlight of any vacation if you love finding all kinds of regional and handcrafted items to take home as souvenirs or gifts for family and friends. Large shopping centers located in bigger cities such as Warsaw are great places to shop. Personally I like to visit the smaller, quaint shops of locals. They can offer many items that can be a thrilling experience. One of the favorite places my husband and I go to when shopping for unique gifts is Kazimierz Dolny

In this little town right on the Wisla River you can find beautiful paintings, pottery, handmade baskets and many other items.

Finally – let’s talk about shopping for clothes. You can find beautiful boutiques in each city – but I have shopped mostly in Warsaw. As Poland’s capital, Warsaw has attracted all the big international names in shopping. As a business hub, Warsaw is also an oasis for travelers looking for smart clothes at reasonable prices. Still, the city continues to retain its old world charm, and there are plenty of smaller stores tucked on the back streets with treasures waiting to be discovered.

Remember one thing though – try everything on and make sure that you really want it – because you may be a little surprised trying to return or exchange the item. You will only be able to do it if the item is defective. And believe me – nobody cares that you have an original receipt!

At the end let’s learn a few sentences that will hopefully help in your shopping adventures in Poland:

(Refer to an English – Polish dictionary for correct pronunciation)

Shopping – zakupy

A wide variety – duża różnorodność

Huge shopping centers – ogromne centra handlowe

Department store – dom towarowy

How much is it? – ile to kosztuje?

I need some help – potrzebuję pomocy

Can I try it on? – czy mogę to przymierzyć?

I’m just looking – tylko się rozglądam

That’s too expensive! – to jest za drogie!

I think I will pass… – chyba zrezygnuję…

Can I get a different size? – czy mogę przymierzyć inny rozmiar?

I’ll take it – wezmę to

I hope this will be helpful and that one day you will enjoy a shopping trip in Poland!

Good luck with it!

Do następnego razu! (Till next time…)

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About the Author: Kasia

My name is Kasia Scontsas. I grew near Lublin, Poland and moved to Warsaw to study International Business. I have passion for languages: any languages! Currently I live in New Hampshire. I enjoy skiing, kayaking, biking and paddle boarding. My husband speaks a little Polish, but our daughters are fluent in it! I wanted to make sure that they can communicate with their Polish relatives in our native language. Teaching them Polish since they were born was the best thing I could have given them! I have been writing about learning Polish language and culture for Transparent Language’s Polish Blog since 2010.


Comments:

  1. Ren:

    What an informative post-
    My husband and I have been talking about taking a trip together to Poland- I am looking forward to buying some kitchen wear-Amber- and who knows- perhaps some clothing too!

    For some reason this system is not letting me post my site:
    http://www.ladyofthearts.blogspot.com

  2. PMK:

    Aren’t “markets” also po polsku: targi and rynki?

  3. Joseph Tomczyk:

    In that my Polish maternal grandfather was surnamed Kozioł, I wonder whether y’all know of Koziol kitchenware (German, no known kin) as via http://www.koziol.de/aw/Koziol/Unternehmen_Koziol/Presse/~fbo/videos/ (which opens slowly, while its main page is ‘under construction’) – ‘see more via http://jff-mw.com/kitchen.aspx

  4. Joseph Tomczyk:

    Droga Kasia, akin to your name, I wonder whether Chef Kacia per http://www.sourwoodinn.com/Dining.html might be a Polish name.

  5. Kasia:

    Yes – that is correct. You can use both targi and rynki for markets.

  6. PMK:

    Cool. My Polish isn’t the best, but I try.

  7. Kasia:

    Joseph – I don’t think that Kacia is a polish name – at least I have never heard that name in Poland…

  8. Jacques Imberg:

    If all writers could write this kind of quality information like you, readers would be more apt to understand more clearly the subject matter. This article is very well done.