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Yesileev Grocery Store: Ludmilla's chocolate
What to buy: Ludmilla insisted I had to have some Russian chocolate - it was, she said, "the very best". I like dark chocolate and this was very good. It's smooth and fine, not sweet and with that "crack" as you snap it that tells you this is the real thing. My favourite is the one with roasted almonds. Choosing it was a matter of great seriousness and discussion with the assistant..
All over town: Everyone loves them
What to buy: You see them everywhere, in every shape and size and colour, mostly depicting rather simperingly pretty girls but there are politicians, footballers, Santas, comic book characters and more -the invention of the people who paint them knows no bounds. They are matrioshkas -the nesting dolls that are so Russian they are almost a cliche. You wouldn't think there could be enough tourists to buy them all. Cute as they are, most look pretty mass-produced; however, it is possible to find individual ones if you want something a little different. It will cost you more but it will have a character and style that the others do not.
What to pay: The price range is huge -a few dollars for a small doll with maybe 5 or 6 others inside, more for a bigger one (some have as many as 12 or 15 "babies". I paid $20 for a really nice small one (6) painted in subtle colours with girls in peasant dress and baskets of different fruits.
art galleries and anitque markets: How to Harmonize With Customs
Foreign buyers in Moscow's art and antiques salons need to think ahead or risk unpleasant surprises at the airport. The cash value of your purchase is unlikely to be a problem, since recently introduced rules allow the duty-free export of valuables worth up to $10,000 per traveler, provided that you have a receipt to prove the value.
The headaches start in the less quantifiable realm of culture. Items that are more than 50 years old will be confiscated by customs unless the owner has a certificate from the Culture Ministry permitting their export. Cultural artifacts over 100 years old are practically forbidden for a private traveler to take out of the country.But any paintings, books or other artifacts -- even those made yesterday -- could land you in trouble if a customs officer suspects that he is looking at "particularly valuable objects of the cultural heritage of the peoples of the Russian Federation," as stated in the 1993 law that governs cultural exports.
It is also important to realize that non-Russian art objects will have problems leaving Russia, if customs suspects that you obtained them here. The rule can lead to trauma if you bring in some personal item of value and get challenged at customs on the way out. The golden rule is to put any such item into a declaration when you arrive, get it stamped at incoming customs, and show the declaration when you leave.
What to buy: Russian dolls, ceramics and other souvenirs available at Arbat Kollektsiya and similar stores and stalls are familiar sights to customs officers, and should cause no problems. But paintings, even those bought in souvenir shops and from street artists, are a trickier proposition.
The customs officer might take it on faith that you bought the work from an Arbat artist and it was painted yesterday, but he might say that he knows nothing about art and that you could have written on yesterday's date yourself, and that it must go for additional expert assessment.
To avoid such pleasant circumstances, a traveler needs prior documents from the Culture Ministry. That will take one day or several days, depending on whether or not officials at the ministry decide that your item has "cultural value." Record of purchase, or a legally witnessed deed of gift, is one of the Culture Ministry's requirements for export permission. Other requirements are two photographs of the object, as well as copies of your passport and visa.
In some cases, the ministry may call in the object itself for a visual assessment by experts, who will approve or decline a special export certificate.
What to pay: Objects more than 50 years old need such a certificate regardless of their cultural value.If your object is less than 50 years old and Culture Ministry officials decide that it is merely "an object with cultural application," then a simple one-page form can be stamped at once, attesting that the object does not come under the 1993 law, and can be freely exported.The stamped form is the usual documentation for contemporary art items, including paintings, bought directly from artists at street markets or in galleries.
Galleries dealing in contemporary art will sometimes do the job of getting ministry approval on behalf of the customer. "We will do it ourselves at no extra charge for someone who buys pictures in our gallery." Some legal firms and international removal agencies, oriented to expatriates working in Russia, also offer services helping with obtaining the relevant export documentation from the Culture Ministry.
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Matryoshka means "a little Matryona," the Russian name that means "mother." It is probably one of the oldest toys. It represents generations of women in the family and dates back to the times when families were matrilineal.
There are many kinds of Matryoshka coming from different areas in Russia.
Street markets: Christmas ornaments
What to buy: I thought these were a really cool gift or souvenir to bring back, ornaments shaped like czars and czarinas, fishermen, Russian dancers and even a Russian bear. I don't remember exactly how much they were but they were relatively inexpensive and you can bargain if you are buying several.
Street markets: Nested dolls
What to buy: Nested dolls, also known as matryoshka dolls, are a popular item at most souvenir markets. The one in the picture is a rather simple one with just a few dolls and a simple design, the more dolls that are nested and the more ornate the design, the higher the price.
This is a more traditional design, there are also spoofs of current and former politicians, athletes and cartoon characters such as Winnie the Pooh.
Street markets: Soviet memorabilia
At the markets you can find old Soviet stuff such as the pins shown in the attached photos, cigarette cases, tea holders, Lenin busts, hats, etc. There is an abundance of all of these items floating around but there are pins everywhere, we got most of these from a man at the flea market who had imbibed a touch too much vodka, he kept throwing more and more pins into our bag and charged us practically nothing.
My favorite pins are the ones from the Moscow olympics, the ones that the US boycotted, with the mascot, Misha the bear.
What to buy?: Red October - sweets-producing
«Red October» has 5 production departments. On the main territory there are: a hardboiled sweets department, a sweet department, a chocolate department and retail department, and in near Moscow Yegorievsk there is a department producing jam and candied carrot, citrus and other fruits, berries and vegetables widely used in the production of hardboiled sweets and candies.
What to buy: Red October" uses for production only natural products doing without synthetic preservatives and substitutes. Total range of raw materials used amounts to about 100 types.
So, the bulk of cacao-beans used for production is mainly of African origin - Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana, and high-grade beans necessary for making flavor of the best dessert grades of chocolate are purchased in Ecuador, Java, Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada.
you should buy some sweets-producing !! it's really good, especially CHOCOLATE
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Ok, it's a known fact I love dolls... porcelain ones with national costumes on them.
This is a different kind of dolls. Very Russian.
I actually bought one in Vegas long time ago.
Hidden somewhere in my closets (& i've many ;-)).
But, they are nice ones. Provided you actually have the patience to take all of them out & play with it.
Don't think I'll ever get the time! Usually there are 10 of them or 15 for some.
Frankly, be realistic... how often would you take dolls out from another & then to keep them again?
I pleaded temporary insanity!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I heard from some of those in my tour group that you should get this. Mostly guys.
Watches... KGB watches precisely.
I have no idea.
But they sure look like something fun to have :-)
Go for it, guys!
Eggs?! No, not Easter...: Faberge
What to buy: This is just not my kind of collections. But some of the people I know love them.
So here it is.
Faberge I think is Russian company. Right?
The designs are exquisite.
The price, don't ask unless you've a large stack of bills!
Think digital ;-)
Lacquer ware: Shop to your heart's content... ie, u must be rich
What to buy: Shopping in Russia is terribly expensive!
You'd think you are in Scandinavia or U.S.!
It's either Euro or US$!
I think these are nice items. But the price, forget it! That's not how I choose to spend money! & they are in foreign hard currency!
Something like this easily cost more than US$500!
I know, I know, I've expensive taste :-S
What to buy?: Palekh, Gzjel, Matreshka
Vernisage - open air market .
Arbat - lots of shops.
What to buy: Palekh - paper-machier boxes. Handpainted. The more expensive are decorated with gold paint and have very fine details and different shapes. Real art work.
Gzjel - Russian ceramic. White base with blue floral pattern. Nice. Fragile.
Matreshka ( Nesting doll ). More expensive include more pieces.
What to pay: Vernisage - you can to bargan.
Souvenir/Vodka Shops: Vodka with a Twist
We bought our vodka (using up both import allowances) at a store on the first level of GUM. The prices may have been a bit higher there, but we didn't bother comparison shopping. We had to carry the bottles back safely, so distance was the deciding factor (the prices were still *very* good).
What to buy: One of my favourite purchases ~ this small wooden bear, perfectedly fitted around a taster-size bottle of vodka. He's almost too cute to bother emptying the bottle. . .but my friends disagreed.
What to pay: The bear and vodka cost about $5.
Matrioshkas: Russian Dolls
Russian nesting dolls, or matryoshka, are quite possibly the most popular Russian souvenir. The first doll was created at one of the Abramtsevo workshops in 1890. You'll see them with themes of sports, politics, legends and historical scenes. . .and then the simpler female designs.
What to buy: I had held some thought, before the trip, of selecting a Matryoshka set with scenes of Russian fairy-tales or history on them. . .but the ones I liked cost more than I was willing to pay (some sets are $200 - $1000). . .so I adjusted my image to a more modest budget and found two beautiful sets, one of which is pictured here.
What to pay: This set was about $10-12.
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