Friday, 3 December 2010

Weekend Shopping

Do not go shopping on Saturday afternoon in the Czech Republic - you will find the shops closed. Never mind Sunday opening, Czech shops as a rule close at 12.00 or at best 1pm on Saturdays. The exception to this is often the modern shopping malls, but your regular town centre shops are closed. Even a city like Ceske Budejovice turns into a ghost town at noon on Saturdays, the streets empty and even many cafes and restaurants are closed. Walking across its huge central square on a Saturday afternoon can be disconcerting - it's almost as if you've walked in to a wild west movie just before the outlaws ride into town.

Cesky Krumlov at first sight bucks this trend - most shops are open. But look closer and you will see that only the tourist and vietnamese shops are open, the in-town supermarkets, chemists, shoeshops, etc are all closed. Even the little supermarket opposite the Castle is closed. And yet the weekend is when Cesky Krumlov receives most of its visitors. You can sit on the bench by the castle gate and watch as bemused Japanese tourists try the door. No matter that the supermarket is missing out on all that trade, the Czechs have always stopped work on Saturdays at lunchtime and disappeared off to their families, cottages and gardens and so that is what they will continue to do. Or they might be engaging in the latest pastime of going in their hordes to the new out-of-town shopping centres.

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