February 28, 2014

Asian Dragon Market, Czech

This week, some of the ladies and I took a random road trip to Cheb, in the Czech Republic. This may sound like a ridiculously long road trip, but in reality, the border is only about 90 minutes away. I was so surprised to arrive in Germany and find that countries are really the size of a US state. Lucky for us, we're very centrally located, so it's easy to visit many countries whilst here.

Our Cheb trip was all about shopping, with a bit of sightseeing thrown in. We specifically wanted to tour the Asian Dragon Bazar, have a little lunch, wander town, and then be home before dinner.

Have I mentioned that I LOVE living in Europe??

Of course, I was a little nervous driving into a new country. Who wouldn't be? But it turned out to be simple. Driving from Hohenfels, our car didn't even require a vignette. Plus, the market was so close, we got there and back again with less than ½ tank of gas.

The ladies, with their purchases, at the Asian Dragon Bazar

For those of you who wish to visit, this is the GPS address for the market: 

Svatý Kříž
350 02 Cheb
Czech Republic

After crossing the border (the sign is quite small, we almost didn't see it!), the market is just a short distance down on your right hand side, perhaps a mile or less. 

We arrived early in the day, around 10:30 a.m., and many of the vendors were just setting up. Upon parking, we noticed the vehicle next to ours could use, ahem, a little work.

As my pal, Jen the Baker, quickly pointed out… we shouldn't park next to that vehicle. Seriously. We moved several spots over, and then… we were ready to shop!

Some of the vendors at the Asian Dragon Bazar

Fair warning: If you're the type of person who's used to sparkling shopping malls, perfect displays, and polite sales clerks (not that there's anything wrong with that!), then this is not the place for you.

As our group wandered down the first aisle, I instantly felt at home. Come on, we all know my favorite place in the world is NYC! This collection of stalls was simply Manhattan's Chinatown in Czech. Shopkeepers whisper to you, "Louis Vuitton? Prada? Gucci?" as you walk past. (Take careful note, however. Knockoffs are strictly illegal, so I don't suggest attempting to purchase these). Bargaining is fully expected when you buy anything here. In fact, if you don't bargain, you're a fool. 

For example… several members of our group walked away with woven picnic baskets. The initial asking price was around 24 euros. By the time they finished, they had two baskets for the price of one! Don't be afraid. Bargain.

I'm even going to give you a good tip: Before you even ask what the price of your item is, decide what you're willing to pay for it. If the vendor won't lower to that price, then walk away. You must be capable of walking away, peeps. I swear, these shopkeepers can smell a sucker a mile away.

Next topic! Receiving an honorable mention on our market tour was the restrooms (pictured above). This was definitely the most interesting bathroom I've used in Europe so far (that's the nicest thing I can say). Like many restrooms here, there was a charge for use. What wasn't expected, however, was the few stingy squares of paper you are handed as you walk in and provide payment.

I'm not even kidding here. And I wish I was.

So, I don't suggest using these if you've really gotta go, if you catch my drift. Another note, most of the doors didn't lock or even shut properly. Engage the buddy system people! I wouldn't want to be in those bathrooms alone. It's better safe than sorry.

Despite the bathroom adventure, our shopping was a blast! We bargained well, and everyone found a good deal. Some of the items for sale at the stalls included: wooden bird houses, Christmas decorations, scarves (hundreds of scarves!), jeans, sweatshirts, shoes, purses, wallets, luggage, linens, china, crystal, rugs, picnic baskets, hats, gloves, children's' toys… the list could go on and on!

The best thing for sale, however, was this: Dirty garden gnomes! I definitely regret not purchasing a few of those. Next time, I'm getting several. There were mooners and flashers (of both sexes, haha), and a variety of other hilarious (and totally inappropriate) positions. I can't believe I resisted purchasing. I want a gnome!

From the market, we made our way to the town center of Cheb. 

Cute, isn't it? This town was great, we loved wandering the city streets. I'll be back later this weekend with all the pictures and deets about the rest of our day.

Until then, happy traveling, my friends!

Thanks for reading, everyone!
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