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Shopping (Zakupy) Vocabulary and the Polish Highstreet (Główna Ulica)

Imagine you are walking down the road in a Poland and you have a shopping list containing some everyday goods, and some not so regular items. You are in a small traditional Polish village, so there's no booming French supermarket to give you everything you need in one go, but there are however, plenty of small shops, each selling different items.

Shopping Poland

From the boulangerie in France, and the panetteria in Italy, to the Bäckerei in Deutschland, there is a real mix of often irreconcilable names throughout the European continent for the variety of shops stocking their own individual and characteristic goods. When you need some groceries or supplies, heading to the appropriate local 'shop' is the natural course of action; for painkillers we get down to the 'pharmacy' or 'chemist', for bread, the 'bakers', for shoes the 'shoe shop', so on and so forth. I've put these various names in inverted commas to highlight just how ingrained the names for our various commercial enterprises have become, and how central this vocabulary will be to learning how and where to shop in Poland.

Let's imagine you've given yourself the broadest and most eclectic shopping list possible - just to cover all the stops. It looks something like this: First off, some of Poland's famous kiełbasa (sausage), then chleb (bread), oliwki (olives), znaczki (stamps), pamiątka (a souvenir), tabletki przeciwbólowe (painkillers), spodnie (trousers), ramki na zdjęcia (photo frames), bransoletka (a bracelet), buty (a pair of shoes), and, of course, some piwa (beer). Oh, and did I mention you want to top it all off with a haircut and a trip to the local cinema?

Before we delve in, it's worth noting that the word sklep means simply, 'shop'; it's a nice word to remember and will predictably, pop up a lot here.

First off, I'd suggest you head to the sklep mięsny (butcher's shop), where there's always plenty of fresh traditional polish sausage on offer. Second, you'll need the polish equivalent of a 'bakery'; the word for this is piekarnia, and they are always rich with not only fresh bread, but a fantastic selection of Polish pastries and cakes. Next, you will need to find a specialist food shop to get some olives, and in Polish the word is pretty similar to what we may say in English: Delikatesy (delicatessen). Fourth, you'll need the poczta (post office) for stamps, and next you should head to the sklep pamiątkowy (gift shop) to get any souvenirs. Painkillers can be bought at most every apteka (Pharmacy), but for trousers you'll need to head to the sklep z odzieżą. Photo frames can be found in a galeria, but remember this is also the Polish word for any generic, specific shopping centre (Galeria Krakowska for example). You can buy bracelets at the sklep z biżuterią (jewellery shop) and shoes at the sklep z butami, but for beer you'll need to head to one of the nation's many alkohole (off licences, and don't worry these are often open 24 hours!).

To complete your shopping trip and day's errands you'll need to head to the fryzjerski (hairdressers) and then, donning your fantastic new ostrzyżenie (haircut), head straight to the kino (cinema) for a film.