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What to buy in Prague, Vienna, or Budapest that we can't get in the US?

What to buy in Prague, Vienna, or Budapest that we can't get in the US?

Old Aug 31st, 2009, 07:31 AM
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What to buy in Prague, Vienna, or Budapest that we can't get in the US?

Hi, I will be going to Prague, Vienna, and Budapest for the first time next week and am curious what items I can purchase or use while over there that I can't find in the US.

Anything is open.

Thanks in advance.
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Old Aug 31st, 2009, 07:37 AM
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Excellent beer
Excellent paprika
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Old Aug 31st, 2009, 07:46 AM
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Absinthe from Prague, chocolates from Vienna. There is lots of local glass in Prague but we didn't find it very attractive.
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Old Aug 31st, 2009, 07:55 AM
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Ahh, very nice, thank you.

Can I buy cuban cigars while there? Can I get any of this back into the US?
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Old Aug 31st, 2009, 08:06 AM
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I purchased some very unique Christmas ornaments in Budapest that were guilded butterflies. I get so many compliments on them, they've become my favorite so far.

I also found a shop that sold hand painted eggs. They had windows full of them. I'm not sure if they are available in Vienna, they might be.

I agree, the paprika is unlike that orange stuff we have here! You might also pick up some flavored salts. They are flavored by their content, and quite unique.

Sounds like you will be having a great time!
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Old Aug 31st, 2009, 08:06 AM
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I wouldn't try to bring cigars back. My brother was a cigar smoker for years and bought and smoked Cubans when we were in Paris, but he didn't find them any better than good quality cigars he bought at home. He bought "good" cigars, if you would go by price, but even at a high price, some were better than others.

If you enjoy cigars, you should just buy Cubans there, if available, smoke them there, and not try smuggling them into the country. I don't think the consequences, if caught, would be worth it.
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Old Aug 31st, 2009, 08:14 AM
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You can buy Cuban cigars and Cuban hooch. I know a friend who routinely seeks out EXCELLENT Cuban rum in duty free shops at non-US airports. He swears by the Havana Club dark rum.

As for getting it back into the US, for the cigars, just buy them in a shop that sells tobacco and put them in your suitcase. Any dogs at a US airport will be looking for something far more sinister than tobacco and if they can tell Cuban from Dominican or Nicaraguan through the metal tubes that enclose your cigars, then Customs has some really talented pooches.

For the rum, if you buy it at a duty free, you can put it in your carry-on and not blow your tax free limit -- the customs officers have bigger worries. Announcing that you purchased high quality Cuban stuff while abroad is, however, a sure way to get your purchases confiscated.

There is much local glass in Prague but other places do it better (Ireland, Poland, Venice). Tarquin is right, the absinthe is the signature booze in Czech world. I'd get the Czech beer names and look for them in the US -- taking beer back to the US is a bit difficult because of weight (a six pack of 12 oz. beers weighs 4.5 pounds PLUS bottle weight; a liter of booze weighs just two pounds or so and the liter of booze should last longer). Top bars and specialty shops in the US that pride themselves on their beer offerings will have various Czech (and Belgian) beers. The easiest to find in the US is Pilsner Urquell, which is known as one of the top beers in the world and comes from Plzen (home of the pilsner style beer).

The Hungarian paprika is world renowned.
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Old Aug 31st, 2009, 08:45 AM
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The beer recommendation was in reply to OP's > question. ;-)

I completely agree that it would be too heavy to carry home... although I've read of people travelling with an empty suitcase to Belgium monestaries strictly to buy beer to bring home with them!
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Old Aug 31st, 2009, 09:11 AM
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I don't agree on trying to smuggle in Cuban cigars, not that I agree with the embargo. But those dogs smell out anything plant-like, to claim that they only care about drugs or whatever is completely wrong. I was at customs in the US when a guy got busted for trying to smuggle in some plant material, I think it was chile peppers or something like that. It had nothing to do with being "sinister", which I assume means drugs. They don't want people bring in any plants or certain food materials. Now in that case, they just didn't want him bring in plants, but Cuban cigars are illegal, so I wouldn't want to risk that.

There is nothing in particular that I saw in Prague that you really couldn't buy in the US, but garnet jewelry (and amber) was a lot cheaper, as was Czech crystal.
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Old Aug 31st, 2009, 09:27 AM
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Ditto on the hand painted eggs in Prague. They make beautiful and uniaque Christmas tree ornaments. A shop that specializes them is just off of Wenceslas Square. With your back to the sausage stand and the Old town square behind you, look toward your right and you will see an ally that should have a sign board pointing to the shop.

Also in Prague, you may like the marionettes. My favorite place for this is a small shop behind the left side of the Tyn Cathedral. When facing the cathedral, just go down the street on your left and the shop will be on your left.

Although Prague is famous for garnets, seek out moldavite. It is a green semi-precious gem stone that may be difficult to find in the US.

Vienna is the home of Lobemeyer crystal. IMO it is the finest anywhere and is hard to find in the US. The showroom has a markdown table where good deals are to be had. The showroom is worth a visit in any case. Do not miss the crystal museum on the second floor.

In Vienna we brough back a set of marionette theater opera DVDs. They feature the voices of some of the most famous former opera stars. The do not play directly on most US TVs but will play on your computer. You will not find these in the US.
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Old Aug 31st, 2009, 09:28 AM
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Please pardon the brain and finger slips above and lack of proofing.
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Old Aug 31st, 2009, 12:39 PM
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Cigars are not "plants" and the concerns that the Customs Service has about plants or fruits or veggies from foreign shores entering the US are completely different from tobacco products.

Remember, Americans are allowed to import 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars, or two kilograms (4.4 lbs.) of smoking tobacco per person [info from http://library.findlaw.com/1997/Sep/1/131242.html]. Although Cuban cigars are not allowed importation, they will be sealed in plastic or in a metal tube, or in a sealed box and should be easy to secret in your luggage.

The smell of tobacco alone is not and should not be a trigger for a Customs canine because the Treasury Department has long had rules providing exemptions for tobacco products purchased outside the US, in contrast to bringing in fresh meats, foreign plants and non-US fruit products. What that should mean is that the little fluffballs are not sniffing for tobacky, they're sniffing for cannabis, fruit products, fertilizer, saltpeter, etc. -- stuff that is for use in the drug trade, for bomb-making, or that threatens US agriculture.

I'm NOT advising you to import Cuban cigars and if you're re-entering the US at a particularly tightly checked point of entry due to the drug trade (*cough*MIAMI*cough*), then you'll see more of the little canines running around smelling your bags.

Ultimately, Cigar Aficionado and similar magazines or websites (Cigar.com) are all too happy to suggest Dominican offerings that are as good as Cuban cigars -- after all, major cigar manufacturers that started and thrived in Cuba have Dominican operations (H. Uppmann, Romeo y Julieta, Montecristo, various others) and use Cuban tobacco seed to produce the cigars in the DR so that they can develop products that they can sell in the US.
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Old Aug 31st, 2009, 02:30 PM
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I know nothing about cigars, but paprika is a popular (and usable) souvenir from Hungary. It's inexpensive, packable... Tokay (a dessert wine) is also popular, but then we're back into the "what are you allowed" discussion. I bought some traditional embroidery from Hungary, also. More highend choice would be Hungarian porcelain.
As for Vienna, chocolate is good -- chocolate is always good -- and I don't think you're allowed out of Austria unless you've got some of those Mozartkugeln (sp?) that are EVERYWHERE.
And I know nothing about Prague.
Enjoy your holiday.
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Old Aug 31st, 2009, 02:40 PM
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My relative deeply REGRETTED not bringing back a bottle or two of Tokaj from Budapest.

We bought paprika & foie gras from Budapest.
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Old Aug 31st, 2009, 04:56 PM
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Hi,
Prague is known for its Bohemian Crystal. Some of it is very ornate (not my taste) but we did purchase some simple but beautiful and elegant wine glasses for ourselves and our daughters.

Also, we love Becherovka, the Czech liqueur. It has a light cinnamon and clove flavor. It is difficult to find in the states. Our first night in Prague I had a mixed drink called "Story", which is delicious!!! We've been making them at home since we returned. It is made from Becherovka, grapefruit juice & tonic. Delicious and different from anything I've had in the States.

Garnets, amber and the marionnettes that other people suggested are everywhere in Prague as well.
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Old Aug 21st, 2014, 07:08 AM
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In Hungary, only buy paprika from the Szeged region (it's the best). And the fresher the better. The bags & tins in supermarkets are OK but check the dates.

As for smuggling cigars . . . Is it worth it? If you are caught, they will be confiscated & you will have a notation in your customs file that will get you searched every time you enter the US. Good luck with that.

Ian
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Old Aug 21st, 2014, 07:52 AM
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My husband takes the bands off the cigars. Mails them home and brings the cigars. We bring Cuban rum back also. Just one though. Not risking more.
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Old Aug 21st, 2014, 08:06 AM
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I was in Prague and Budapest last September and was very disappointed in the shopping in Prague. I love glass and crystal but wasn't impressed with the quality, other than the pieces I could not afford. Lots of garnet, which I don't really like, but did buy a pair of earrings. Also, I found the shopkeepers to be unbelievably rude and totally disinterested in customer service of any kind. This attitude was confirmed by my Czech cousin, who does all of his shopping in Germany, where he can get better quality goods at a lower cost.

As others have noted, buy paprika in Budapest. Go to the Great Market Hall (or Central Market Hall) where they have a huge variety at great prices.
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