Poland: An Overview - Part 5 - Orlando / Florida Guide
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What should you buy
Art and antiques are good buys. You’ll find excellent antique furnishings and religious art throughout Poland, though the best pieces tend to wind up in the wide spectrum of shops and galleries in Warsaw and Kraków, and to a lesser extent cities like Gdansk and Poznan. Religious icons from the Orthodox Church in Russia can be found, as a large black market in stolen icons exists throughout Central and Eastern Europe. Officials are understandably sensitive about their export, even when the items in question are not originally from Poland. Strict export restrictions apply, so check before you buy or it could be expensive.
This attractive fossilised tree resin which is not a semi-precious stone is available in many shades, from yellow to brown, and grades of clarity. The cities near the Baltic Sea, Gdansk and Gdynia, have an abundance of amber and excellent shops, often dealing in unique pieces. You should be careful not to buy amber on the street, as it is likely to be fake but will look very good. Just look for a sign of the Amber Association of Poland ‘Societas Succinorum Polonia’, in shop windows as a guarantee of quality and authenticity.
Ceramics and pottery.
Distinctive pottery known as Ceramika Artystyczna Boleslawiec is sold the world over but is considerably cheaper in Poland. The most common design includes dark blue dots on a cream-coloured background.
Rustic Poland excels at folk art and handicrafts, including hand carved wooden figures; leather goods from the Tatra Mountains; embroidery and lace; hand-painted eggs; and colourful naïve art and glass paintings, especially from Zakopane.
CDs from Polish composers are available in record shops in major cities. The most recognisable to Western listeners are probably composers Frédéric Chopin, Krzysztof Penderecki and Henryk Górecki, who unexpectedly scored an international bestseller with his Symphony No. 3 in the early 1990s. A contemporary film composer, Zbigniew Preisner, who wrote the scores for the Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski’s films, including The Double Life of Veronique, Dekalogue and the Three Colours trilogy: Red, White and Blue, is worth seeking out. Of special note is a recording of the best of Preisner recorded live in the Wieliczka Salt Mines outside Kraków. You can also find recordings of Polish folk music, such as traditional górale, or highlander, tunes from the Tatras.
Poster design is a thriving and valued art form in Poland, and some of the finest poster artists in the world are Polish. You’ll find vintage and contemporary posters for familiar Western films and the greatest hits of theatre and opera, as well as more obscure titles. Contemporary poster designers include Mieczyslaw Górowski, Stasys (Stasys Eidrigevicius), Andrzej Pagowski, Rafal Olbinski and Wiktor Sadowski.
Vodka. For an authentic bottle of Polish vodka, or wódka (pronounced ‘voot-ka’), look for Wyborowa, Extra Zytnia or any flavoured vodka, such as Zubrówka with a blade of bison grass in the bottle and Wisniówka which is cherry flavoured.
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