All Natural

November 15th, 2012 | Posted by Karolinad in Household | Karolina | Lifestyle | Shopping - (Comments Off)

It feels as though I have hibernated for most of my adult life and until recently been awaked to discover a whole new world.  It was not until after my firstborn came into this world, that I really started to think about being and staying healthy.  These days it’s more difficult getting your hands on healthy food and products, when there are too many choices on the shelves and the packaging / advertising is often misleading rather than informative.  Although the bio / organic movement has been around for a while, the Czech Republic had to go through its initial bouts of consumerism before people began to question the quality of the products that flooded the stores. 

Initially I thought that being healthy would only require exercising and eating healthy (little junk food -  OK, ok..I do occasionally slip-up on the sweets and junk), which is what I have been doing for the past 15 yrs. However, it didn’t really hit me until recently that the quality of the food I eat and the products I use make a big difference.  Focusing on the products, rather than food for the moment -I started researching cosmetic products trying to figure out what makes some products safer than others, when I came across a few handy websites that highlight the fact that many products contain preservatives and other chemicals that disturb our bodies one way or another (from being carcinogenic to disrupting our natural hormone levels).   

As I continued my research, I learned that there are many companies that produce and offer good quality natural cosmetics which omit the use of harmful chemicals – mainly omitting preservatives (parabens), petroleum products (PEGS), allergens, dyes, etc.  These companies offer products ranging from face/body/hair care to toothpaste, lip balms, deodorants, makeup and so on. 

In the Czech Republic you can purchase natural cosmetics via many different channels, one being the drogerie DM – where you will always find a natural cosmetics section that will offer brands like Weleda, Lavera, Alverde to name a few.  At DM you can also purchase natural/safer cleaning products which tend to be cheaper than your regular brands and better for your health.

Another great way is to check out a store called BIOOO.CZ, which is an online as well as a physical store that is located in the Kotva shopping center.  The benefit of going to the store is the fact that their sales staff is well trained and can help when you are not sure what to choose.  Here you can find a wide range of products from an array of brands that are represented here (even food for your pets!).   

Another good local option for body care is a Czech company Manufaktura that has excellent bath products for adults and children – and they make wonderful presents.

I know that avoiding chemicals in today’s world is simply impossible, but it feels good to make educated choices when purchasing products that we consume or apply onto our bodies.  With natural products it takes a few tries to find what works for you, and some time getting used to a different feel, consistency and smell than what you are used to, but I think it’s worth a try ;)

Happy shopping!

Food for Thought

October 15th, 2012 | Posted by Karolinad in Food and Restaurants | Karolina | What's Happening Prague - (Comments Off)
If you are a food lover, want to know where to get the best produce in Prague and get your hands on great recipes, check out The Prague Basket.  This clever blog is written by three food enthusiasts who seek the best quality produce and intend to inform you about it through their own experiences.

Perfect Brunch with Kids!

October 7th, 2012 | Posted by Karolinad in Entertainment | Food and Restaurants | Karolina | Lifestyle - (Comments Off)

For those who have small kids, going out to eat starts to be an adventure the day your little one gets on a wave of resistance with his newly found attitude and confidence. This of course can be very entertaining, but it can also be a disaster when you are out in public.  For us, this began when my son entered into his terrible 2’s and it continues to this day, well past his third birthday.   My husband and I had to abandon our tradition of going to Sunday brunch at Café Savoy, because it just got to be too embarrassing.   

We did not want to stop going out all together, but in order to do that, we had to find a place in Prague that had a top notch kid’s corner.  Until I had a child, I didn’t realize this would be so difficult.  However, one day we were walking around Slovansky Ostrov, and saw that the Zofin Garden Restaurant has a nice kid’s corner and decided to do some research.  It turned out that the catering Company Zatisi Group, operates the Zofin Garden Restaurant, which hosts a Family Brunch every Sunday from 11.00-15.00.   

It’s an all you can eat/drink (non-alcoholic beverages) buffet for 695 Kc – which may seem pricey, but the food is excellent and the kid’s corner actually has staff that will keep your children entertained!  Children under 5 eat and drink for free and children from 6-12 for 295 Kc.  My husband and I ate in peace for the first time in a few years and my son had a blast – it’s definitely worth the price.  The Zofin Garden Restaurant will be our tradition for a few more years ;)

 The following are the kids activity themes for upcoming Sunday Brunches:

14.10 Chestnut Workshop
21.10 Balloon Show
28.10 Halloween and carving pumpkins

For information about the menu and other details, you can visit the restaurant’s website: http://www.zofingarden.cz/sunday-brunch-en.htm

 Enjoy your stress free brunch!

The summer is around the corner, and if you plan on travelling around in the Czech Republic or  elsewhere in Europe by train, it may be a good idea to sign up for the In-Karta with Ceske Drahy.   Because I recently moved to Vienna, I have signed up for an IN25 card (with Rail Plus), which gives me a 25% discount on all of my regular tickets and returns.  All I have to do is show my card when I purchase my ticket and again when the conductor checks for tickets on the train.  I paid a total of 990 Kc, for a three year card.

There are different types of programs you can sign up for: N25, IN 50, IN 100, IN senior, IN junior or IN business application has been recorded where you can purchase discounted reservations for SC Pendolino trains.  The cool thing about an InKarta is also, that it allows you to use it as an electronic wallet and charge it up with money, and then purchase your tickets around the Czech Republic at the vending machines or the ticket office – and you get a bonus for utilizing this function.  If you are living in the Czech Republic, you also have many other discounts available to you on public transport and event cultural events.

Overview of In-karta card discounts

IN 25 (Cost depends on your age and how many years you want to purchase it for, check here, you will pay 150Kc for a year if you are 15-26 yrs old) is intended for all passengers, including children, students who take the train regularly to school or work. It is also worthwhile for frequent travel. With an In-karta IN 25, passengers receive a 25% discount on one-way, return and commuter tickets (in weekly, monthly and quarterly variants), and a discount on SporoTiket Česko and ČD Promo tickets, and discount on reservations for SC trains as well.

IN 50 (Cost depends on your age and how many years you want to purchase it for, check here – you will pay 1,300 Kc for a year if you are 15-26 yrs old) is suitable mainly for regular trips by youth from 15 to 26 years of age and adults, with a special price for pensioners. With an In-karta IN 50, passengers receive a 50% discount on one-way and return tickets, a 25% discount on commuter tickets, and a discount on SporoTiket Česko and ČD Promo tickets, and discount on reservations for SC trains as well.

IN 100 (Cost is 22K per yr, 45K for 2 yrs, 67K for 3 yrs, more here)
is intended for regular travel with a higher level of comfort. Without having to purchase additional travel documents, passengers are entitled to unlimited travel on ČD trains in 1st or 2nd class, a discount on reservations and tickets to destinations abroad (with the RailPlus discount), discount on reservations for SC trains, the option to transport one piece of oversized luggage free of charge, free travel on Airport Express connections, and free use of the ČD cableway at Ještěd.

IN business
is a version of the IN 100 discount (without RailPlus) suitable for corporate clients. The card is issued to the company (not to an individual), is transferable and helps resolve issues surrounding business trips.

IN senior
is intended for passengers over 70 years of age. With the IN senior discount, passengers need not purchase any additional travel documents for travel on local (Os) and limited-stop (Sp) trains. For journeys on fast (R) trains and higher-category trains, passengers can take advantage of a 50% discount off the regular fare or the return fare, 25% discount off the commuter tickets and a discount on SporoTiket Česko and ČD Promo tickets, and discount on reservations for SC trains as well.

If you plan on travelling abroad the Czech Republic and you apply for the In Karta, you must be sure to let them know at the ticket office, as you can only get discounts on international travel with the Rail Plus option.  It just means you need to purchase your discount for a longer period of time, rather than just a 3 months period for example.  So for the IN25 discount that I got, I had to sign up for 3 years, which totaled at 990 KC, still very much worth it.

More details about the In Karta can be found here.  Whether you decide to purchase the discounts or not, be safe and bon voyage – or shall I say šťastnou cestu!

It is the time of year again to enjoy Easter markets around Prague and hopefully some nice weather along with it.  The Easter markets started on March 24th and run until April 15th throughout the city.  Some of the bigger ones are traditionally at the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, but you will run into them practically in every part of the city.  Enjoy the brightly colored and hand-painted Easter eggs, wooden toys, embroidered cloth, beautifully crafted puppets and all typical Czech food.   Here are some activities to consider.  Enjoy!