Locus’s Guide to Prague’s Christmas Markets

Christmas Markets in Prague 2019 - Best Time

On Sunday, December 1st, Locus is organizing a get together to explore the Christmas Markets of Prague (learn more and register to attend).

That seems like a perfect reason to write a blog post about Prague’s amazing Christmas Markets!

Do you want to visit them? Here are a couple of reasons why your answer should be YES.

There is no doubt that Prague is one of the most beautiful European destinations all year round, the Christmas period is no exception. Winter brings some magic into the city when everything is covered with lights, (ideally) snow and the aroma of the Czech Christmas treats makes it the perfect magical wintertime location. The famous Prague’s Christmas Market is the best place to go to experience the atmosphere, hang out with friends and family or do some last-minute gift shopping for the loved ones. It doesn’t matter if you’re a tourist or if you’re already established in Prague; the Christmas Market is a popular place for both visitors and locals and is definitely a MUST DO activity if you are in town. After the official Christmas tree lighting ceremony, the markets will be open until the 6th of January, which gives you plenty of time to visit. If you’re still in doubt or would like to know what’s in it for you, here are some reasons and tips on why you should visit Prague’s Christmas Markets this year.

  1. Best place indeed

The Christmas Market in Prague has been voted among Europe’s top 10. Despite a drop in its rating, Prague’s Christmas Market is still beating Europe’s most popular travel destinations such as London or Paris. The medieval atmosphere and familiar feel are the elements that bring people in. Nothing seems to be better than getting cozy in the old streets of the beautiful city.

  1. Go local

Tourism in Prague is massive, and Christmas time is no exception. People from all over the world come here to experience the city and markets, so it can get crowded. No worries! There are plenty of smaller, local Christmas markets where you can treat yourself and experience the amazing atmosphere to the fullest. You can find those at Náměstí Míru or Tylovo náměstí close to I.P. Pavlova Metro stop). Also, just around the corner from Locus Workspace, you will find the market at náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad where you can experience the cool, hip vibe of the Vinohrady neighborhood.

  1. #yummy

Treats are an inseparable part of the ‘Christmas Market’ experience. If you stroll around, you will find plenty of traditional gingerbread, mulled wine (svařák), spit-roasted ham, sausages, eggnog, Trdlo (“traditional” Czech dessert that appeared on the Czech scene in the early 2000s) and all kinds of Christmas cookies. If you’re living in the Czech Republic, you know that traditional Czech cuisine is far from vegetarian/vegan-friendly. Lucky for you, there will be healthy alternatives to traditional local holiday favorites and many food stalls will be serving healthy fare. So, go find your favorite and, “Dobrou chuť!”

  1. What else is going on?

There’s definitely more to Prague’s Christmas Markets than just eating (although we love that). Rich cultural programs will be accompanying the visitors with performances from both local and international artists, children’s workshops and plays for both children and adults. The stalls will be selling different Czech products which might make the perfect present for your loved ones. Look for some Christmas ornaments, wooden toys, glassware, scented candles, jewelry and gingerbread products.

  1. Time to talk

What about some chatting over mulled wine? Christmas is one of those times when nobody wants to be alone and there is a need to have good company. We’ve got you covered. As noted at the start of this blog, on Sunday, December 1st, Locus Workspace will host a get-together Meetup event for everyone who wants to have a walk around the Christmas Markets in Prague, have some goodies and spend time with individuals from all over the world. Let’s share each other’s stories and learn how Christmas is celebrated in your country. We meet at 3 PM at the Statue of Saint Wenceslas. Are we going to see you there?

Prague as a digital nomad destination

Prague as a digital nomad destination
“Prague Castle, a castle complex in Prague, Czech republic” in travelercorner.com

The first question is: “What makes a great digital nomad destination?”

There are some characteristics that make a destination ideal for digital nomads and their lifestyle. Here is a list of some of the most important characteristics: affordable cost of living, high-speed and secure Internet connection, a community of other digital nomads, good places to work from, good living conditions (safety, freedom of speech, tolerance, etc.). 
 
For several years, Southeast Asian cities (Chiang Mai, Bali, Ho Chi Minh City…) have been very popular among digital nomads and seem to be ideal places for their nomadic lifestyle. But EU cities are gaining ground, especially Central European cities such as Prague and Budapest.
“How to travel as a digital nomad” in retireby45.com

Now let’s explore the reasons why Prague has been a hotspot for digital nomads

  • A global phenomenon

Digital nomadism is exploding around the world. Prague has been one of the popular spots since the beginning and has benefitted from the global growth of this phenomenon.

  • Affordable cost of living
Prague is one of the most affordable cities in Europe and it’s a big reason why location-independent professionals make it a hub. According to the website Expatistan.com the cost of living there is around 50% cheaper than in Paris and 34% cheaper than in Berlin. In some restaurants or pubs, beer is even cheaper than water!
  • Architecture and History
“Food tour in the Czech Republic, Prague” in tourily.com

Prague is in the heart of Europe and many people say it is the most beautiful city in Europe!

  • High-quality infrastructure

You will find very modern infrastructure next to very old buildings and bridges, meaning you don’t have to sacrifice work efficiency or quality of life for your taste of history.

  • Great geographical location

Prague is in the heart of Europe. The country is surrounded by Austria, Slovakia, Poland and Germany, with almost the same distance from the North Sea, the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean. Thus it’s quite easy to travel Europe with Prague as a base.

  • English speakers abound

Many Czechs (especially the younger ones) speak English well, making it an easy city to navigate if you don’t speak the local language (Czech!). You can also meet other foreigners and travelers. There are many of them! (Vinohrady is one of the neighborhoods favored by English-speaking expats).

Locus Workspace
  • Good places for productive work
Depending on your preferences, you can work either from lovely cafés or modern coworking spaces. Locus Workspaces is one of the favorites for digital nomads as we are an English-language space with members from nearly 30 countries. But there are many great cafés and coworking spaces in Prague that help make it a great spot for location-independent professionals.
  • Vibrant (night) life
Lots of events are taking place every day in Prague: concerts, festivals, markets, exhibitions… At night, the city centre in even more bustling due to the huge number of bars and clubs. Prague is a great European city for living it up.
“Prague Farmers’ markts and Flea-markets” in prague.eu – “Cross Club, nighlife in Prague” in likealocalguide.com
Prague is currently ranked as the 7th best cities in the world for digital nomads, according to Nomadlist.com, the premier web-portal for digital nomads (though this number changes daily). Check out the whole report about Prague here.

Buy, sell, trade, give in Prague: Best options for English-speakers

Buy, sell, trade, give in Prague: Best options for English-speakers

Looking for the best online to buy, sell, trade, or give away stuff in Prague, but don’t speak Czech?

  • Don’t use Craig’s List.
If you hail from the U.S., you might have noticed that Craigslist has a Prague page. You might also have noticed it is basically dead. Not worth your time.
  • Don’t expect the best prices.

Since the English-speaking market is much smaller than the Czech market, prices are less rational. Some used items successfully sell for more than they would cost new. Others don’t sell at all at a fraction of the price that they’re going for on Czech-language markets.

  • If you’re buying (not selling), and you’re looking for new (not 2nd hand), scroll to the bottom header for some recommended options.

The best English-language 2nd-hand online shopping tools for Prague:

The popular mobile app is widely used here. For finding nearby goods to buy and sell, it’s probably your best option. As long as you install the English-language version you should be able to create posts to sell or find what you want to buy quickly and easily.

 

Facebook has a handful of English-language groups just for buying, selling, trading, and giving away used goods in Prague. Here are four of the largest groups:

If you have a Czech-speaking friend (or are a wizard with Google translate) …

The biggest markets for buying and selling in Prague are, unsurprisingly, Czech. If you’re looking to buy (not sell), Google Translate is probably all you need. Many, perhaps most, Prague-based Czechs speak English, and at the very least they’ll be able to use Google translate themselves or have a friend to help.
Here are three of the biggest Czech-language online markets for buying and selling used goods (followed by one for good karma):
     
SBAZAR.cz is run by one of the great Czech website creators. They built seznam.cz, the last search engine in Europe to outperform Google (until recently). They still have the best local map site (mapy.cz; at least for certain overlays), and by far the best site for finding a place to live (sreality.cz). SBAZAR is their used-goods marketplace and it’s likely the best there is.
    
Bazoš.cz is a popular alternative to sbazar, and may have a larger market share with the younger crowd.
     
aukro is the Czech Republic’s answer to ebay.com. As with ebay, you can find and sell both new and used items, and you can do it either as an auction or with the “buy now” option.
   
Looking for freecycling (people giving away free stuff as an alternative to throwing it away)? VšezaOdvoz is the Czech Republic’s first freecycling website. While it has a much smaller inventory and less traffic than these other sites, it’s a great option for giving away things that you don’t want to money for, or for finding great junk to fill your closets with. Coincidentally, it was started by a former member of Locus!

Not selling and just want a great place to shop online?

If you’re not committed to buying used, heureka.cz is a great shopping aggregator, and definitely the go-to site for finding the best prices on widely sold products.
For digital electronics, I prefer  czc.cz to their larger competitor, alza.cz. Though alza.cz has a much wider inventory (they sell household items like refrigerators or vacuums, not just computers and accessories), czc has competitive prices on the goods they both sell. It is also more convenient and has better customer service. Twice in a row alza kept my payment for large-cost items after I had returned them (until I caught it in my bank account and complained). Most importantly, czc has a drop-off store location just around the corner from Locus Workspace. And the shop makes returns or warranty repairs easy.
Finally, many of the usual international shopping sites work fine in Prague:
  • Amazon will ship without import taxes as long as you use a European version (e.g., the British or German sites) and make sure they’re not shipping from outside the Schengen zone (or at least that the seller knows how to get around customs, as many of the Asian companies that sell on those platforms do).
  • Alibaba’s non-bulk alternatie, AliExpress, is a great way to shop for bargain items.
  • Google Shopping works for the Czech Republic as long as you have your location settings right, and works much the same as Heureka (though Heureka works better in my experience).

Locus Workspace member? Use our buy, sell, trade Slack channel

If you’re a Locus member, the best way to sell your things might be to another member. We have a Slack channel devoted to just that purpose, and there’s no easier way for both sides to come together than if you work in the same coworking space.

Have your own favorite or see something that needs correcting in the above list?

Please leave a comment!

The C in Coworking Space Also Stands for Community

We’re excited to be “syndicating” a blog post from Robin Terrell’s amazing blog on the future of work (with a particular emphasis on the location-independent variety): The Global Mobile Worker. This post in particular was meaningful to us because it’s about the meaning of community, and in particular the community Robin found (and helped create! – Thanks, Robin!) at Locus.

Along with creating this blog and being a member of Locus, Robin is a Berkeley-educated lawyer, a writer (her book, Two Broke Chicasa travelogue about her adventures traveling around Central & South America, Mexico, and Cuba with her partner–is available on Amazon), a technology / startup junkie, a proud Amazon employee.

We’re excited to be able to share her blog post here…

wordgram-of-cowork
When I first arrived in town I used Meetup to find people who shared common interest. That led me straight to Locus Coworking space. Once in the door, I quickly connected with both the startup community and the writing community, common members of co-working spaces. It has been almost three years now and although I never signed up to co-work at Locus, I realized that I spent time in one of the two spaces at least once a week.
When my new job took me away from Prague for months, my homecoming included reconnecting with my friends at Locus. I write every Saturday with a dedicated group, committed to various forms of media that involve the written word. We have bloggers, and novelists, and game script writers, and PhD students writing a thesis. We come from different countries, different generations, different genders. Our bond is a long-term fascination with words on a page.
It was through Locus that I joined my E-publishing Mastermind group that has single-handedly taken me from talking smack to preparing to upload my first ebook, Two Broke Chicas, a Travel Series, December 26th, just in time for people to use their Christmas gift cards and make their New Year’s Resolution to travel more. Mentor members, like successful sci-fi writer, Bill King, have made my dreams come true.
While plopped on a big fluffy couch to wait for the group to start, I realized how important Locus was to my social life, and sense of being, in Prague. What my virtual membership gave me access to, besides one day a month and access to my e-Publishing Mastermind group, was a community. A place I could belong with people who shared my passion for a flexible work life.

Community = Thrive

Just like we need a Tribe, we need a community. Research found that people who belong to a co-working space report levels of thriving that approach an average of 6 on a 7-point scale. This is at least a point higher than the average for employees who do their jobs in regular offices. Read more: Why People Thrive in Coworking Spaces
infographic-co-work
Grind, is a growing network of coworking spaces in New York and Chicago. Community manager, Anthony Marinos, shared, “When it comes to cultivating our community at Grind, we’re all about the human element. We consider ourselves as much a hospitality company as we do a workspace provider. Our staff knows all of our members by name and profession, and we’re constantly facilitating introductions between Grindists.”
Research in Forbes magazine showed that entrepreneurs with larger and more diverse networks grow their businesses bigger.Co-working spaces can be a place for women, known for being great communicators and collaborators, who don’t excel at building power networks can find a safe space to start. (Women tend to build deep and narrow networks women-networkwhile men wide and shallow ones.) I’ve added several women to my network from Locus, and started an informal dinner group to encourage young professional women to support each other, over a glass of wine.

Building Intentional Communities

Some experts believe that co-working space should be built more like intentional communities. Example, Brooklyn’s Friends Work Here. Founded by NYC-based Swiss-born designer and entrepreneur Tina Roth-Eisenberg, who’s also behind the international lecture series CreativeMornings (which happens monthly in Prague, but mostly in Czech) and Tattly. The space came as a response to Roth-Eisenberg’s negative experiences in “soulless” coworking places that are more focused on making money than cultivating inspiration among its members.

A Wealth of Human Resources

Locus is how I found my brief dog-sitting gig. I enjoyed several days of pretending to own a dog, forced to take several walks every day, which did wonders for my mental health. I’ve enjoyed people passing through town and people here for the duration, like my friend Sarah who first came when it was Czechslovakia, and still communist. She is at heart a historian, writes historical fiction, and loves talking about the history of this country she calls home, as a well-informed outsider.
It was hysterical and inspiring to sit in on Texas Holdem’ Poker night, where people from around the world turned into ruthless gamblers who might gut you for a pair of Ace. It was motivational to listen to Regina and Mike talk about becoming Courageously Free, and through that relationship I was interviewed for their podcast – which should be out just in time for my book launch.
There were people at Locus doing, looking for, thinking about the exact same things as I was. We all wanted to marry our fascination with social media and our passion for words. I could pick the brains of people who, like me, were inspired by Prague, determined to make their literary dreams come true. We figured out all kinds of ways to make money with words. My critique and Saturday writing buddy, Beth Green, will fix your words for a fee. Which still leaves her time to search for an agent for her first novel, represent on Booklust and @bethverde, and be a Wanderlust columnist at thedisplacednation.com.
My writing group has sustained me, in ways both creatively and emotionally, over noodles and pivo at the Vietnamese restaurant down the street from Locus. We’ve discussed our lives and our loves, U.S. and European politics and the meaning of feminism.
We’ve shared critique groups and book front-cover
launches, like Sonya’s soiree for Under a Caged Sky, held at Locus Slezka, where we toasted with glasses of wine under the skylight, with Prague as the backdrop.

Staying Engaged

partyOnce I’d had that moment of realization, that my co-working space was my community, I started to look around for other ways to participate. Engaged in the social media connection and found easy, fun ways to stay involved. I am looking forward to the Christmas Party catered by Ethnocatering, a social enterprise of migrant women that serves authentic food from Georgia, Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Armenian. You can’t find this deliciousness in restaurants. I know, I said it, that bad M word. Well, I must own it because here in Prague, I’m a migrant. A tax paying, law abiding expat seeking shelter and new beginnings.
I know I’m not alone in this revelation and would love you to share your experience of finding community in co-working spaces. Tell us your story in the comment section here at the Global Mobile Worker Project.

Regional Accelerators and Incubators

Below is a list of some of the business accelerators and incubators in the Czech Republic and in nearby countries (or else ones that actively target Czech startups). This is a work in progress, so please help me keep the list current and accurate by sending me feedback or leaving comments!
The terms accelerator and incubator are sometimes used interchangeably and sometimes used differently from how I would use them, so take these classifications with a bit of skepticism. This overlap in usage and similarity in experience has me grouping the two together for this blog post.
For me here are the basic similarities and differences:

Similarities

Both accelerators and incubators provide shared work space and mentorship to startup businesses for a limited period of time (usually 3-6 months) to help startup businesses success. Both also tend to do this on a competitive basis, providing the space and support for free to the selected winners who are deemed to have the most potential.

Differences

Incubators

Incubators tend to be non-profit entities set up by regional governments, academic institutions, or other non-profit organizations with a mission to help support the startup environment. They generally have some kind of institutional support that allows them to provide the free work space and the mentorship. As such, incubators are not as firmly tied to either the limited time period or the competitive nature of acceptance. Some of them have relatively open acceptance based on university affiliation or some other general requirements, and many will not put strict limits on how long a startup can stay. Although they do not as a rule provide capital to the startups, some do, though usually without strings attached or any ownership stake in the company being incubated. Though acceptance may be in batches on a calendar schedule, it is often on a rolling basis as well.

Accelerators

Accelerators, on the other hand, tend to be for-profit entities. They provide free work space and mentorship AND INVESTMENT in exchange for a percentage of ownership in the company. For accelerators, the competitive nature of entry and the limited time period are essential features of the program. They are gambling on getting that next great startup that will compensate for the loss on most companies they accelerate. The investments tend to be small (5-25,000 USD) as does the percentage of ownereship (5-10%). Acceptance for accelerators tends to be on a set schedule, where all of the companies being accelerated will start and finish together, as would a class of students in the same cohort. Often accelerators will have stages with benchmarks, where additional help and funding will be possible as long as these benchmarks are met.
But again, this is my usage based on what I take to be the norms. I may not have it exactly right, and certainly many of the players in these industries mix the concepts as they see fit.
The list is organized geographically relative to Prague, since that’s where Locus Workspace and our members are located.

Prague

Czech Republic outside Prague

  • Help me add to this list!

CEE Region outside the Czech Republic

  • Urban Quest (added 2018.03.29), Warsaw, Poland. PropTech accelerator (Property / real-estate / space technology), sponsored by Skanska, Microsoft, and business__link.
  • hub:raum Krakow, Poland (also locations in Berlin & Tel Aviv). Has both an accelerator and an incubator program.
  • RubixLab Bratislava, Slovakia
  • CEE LiftOff Budapest, Hungary (website not working properly, may be ending)
  • PwC CEE Startup Collider Warsaw, Poland. FinTech focus. Seeking participants from all over the Central & Eastern Europe countries.