The plan was to make a day of it ourselves, but when I suggested we could save on gas by inviting others, a new plan emerged. There's always a high demand for spots in a car going to Poland, and I quickly had a van-full of ladies ready for a shopping trip,. Garrett graciously......ok, eagerly.......bowed out and let us go on our own.
The whole town of Boleslawiec seems to be centered around pottery. There must be at least 10 major stores in the center, and maybe 20 if you count all the little ones and the stores slightly further off. There are huge ceramic tea cups and pitchers in all the roundabouts. And there must be a bunch of factories where many of the townspeople work.
It's an understatement to say you are overwhelmed when you enter the first shop. There are so many patterns, so many styles and shapes and sizes of pottery pieces. Almost anything you can imagine that could be made into pottery is. There is so much to look at. On top of this, the currency is different, so it takes a while to get a feel of what something actually costs. Plus, you know you've got a day ahead of you of different stores with more options!!
It's a lot of fun to see all the beautiful pottery and always exciting to find a good deals on reduced items. But the task of shopping for a particular list of items can be daunting. I would like to suggest a few points of strateg-ery (a favorite word of G's, coined by GWB) for those who may be planning a pottery trip to Poland.
- Write down the exchange rate between Polish zloty and the currency of your bank account before going. I found it most useful to write it various proportions, and with the zloty being the round number, rather than the USD. Usually exchange rates would tell you $1=xPLN, but since you'll be looking at price tags in PLN, it makes more sense to make an equation the other way around. I carried with me a little slip of paper that said 10 zloty=$x; 25 zloty=$x; 100... and so forth, so I could easily look at a price tag, refer to my paper, and know what something cost without too much calculation in my head. Being a math teacher, I should have been sufficient with just the 10 or 100....but pregnancy brain is a real thing. I'd rather not trust the grey matter, especially in the middle of summer.
- Bring a digital camera. I had a few photos of pottery on it that I already own, so I would have no doubt about matching it, should I be looking for a match. Then when in a store, I took photos of a series of bowls that I really liked, but wasn't sure if I wanted to buy. This way, if I found more in another shop, I could refer to my camera and decide between then. I also took a photo of my shopping basket of what I actually bought. It might sound ridiculous, but with so many stores, and so many purchasing decisions, it is easy to forget what was finally bought, and once the cashier wraps it up in paper and it's in the back of the van, it's a pain to get to.
Here are some bowls that I contemplating buying, and had the store clerk save for me. In the end, I bought different ones.
- Bring a tape measure. I didn't do this, and wish I had. I was trying to buy a set of bowls, and I wanted them to match size/shape, but not pattern. There were so many sizes and various curves of the bowls, that there was no way I could find matching shapes in different stores. If I had just brought a tape measure, I could have bought several bowls in one store, and then still looked for more of the same size in another store. If we go back to buy plates, I will definitely do this, so that all my plates are the same size, but can be patterns from different stores.
- This last piece of advice is credit to Sue. It's either what she did on her last trip to Poland, or what she learned she should have done on her last trip. Bring a permanent marker and label everyone's boxes and bags when you come out of each store. With a van-ful of women and bags of wrapped fragile items, it'd be a pain to figure out what's what once back in Prague at the end of the day. Especially when the day ended as ours did...
All in all, the day was a blast, with a highlight being a delicious meal of pierogis as a break in the middle of the day. Had a good time fellowshipping with women who were in town for the summer, but whom I don't usually spend a lot of time with. And we are thankful we made it back to Prague safely.....though sadly my sister's van broke down just as we reached the city limits.