Souvenirs, Saint Petersburg
We were given almost no time for shopping which was unexpected since most countries welcome tourist dollars and hard currency and often times guides also are compensated for bringing tour groups to certain shops. At several places we stopped for pictures, individuals often approached you and would bargain with you for a few particular souvenirs. We found that we got good deals with these people and most were not overly pushy.
The Hermitage and the Yusupov Palace also has gift shops but the presssure to "get in and get out" and not to be late returning to the bus took alot of the fun out of shopping.
Just across the street from St. Isaac's Cathedral were several souvenir carts and vendors mostly with the same items, but nice souvenirs nonetheless. Because I was busy trying to take pictures of St. Isaac's, I merely got to take a brief look at what was for sale, but you may have more time to shop if you visit here.
What to buy: I am a postcard sender and collector and was very happy to find that a dozen postcards could be had for about US$2. At the Field of Mars (where we had only about 10 minutes for picture-taking) a man approached me selling packaged postcards, books on St. Petersburg, etc.,. Just before hopping back on the bus, I gave him US$10 for a dozen postcards and a thick, full-color, beautifully done book about St. Petersburg. I probably could have gotten him to take less money, but in actuality I paid much less than I would have payed for a similar book almost anywhere else in Europe and certainly much, much less than in Scandinavia! The book is now one of my favorite souvenirs!
Coming out of the Hermitage, a man was selling Soviet-era replica army hats, with at least a dozen pins on it such as the face of Lenin, the hammer & sickle, etc. We thought our son would like this. The man wanted US$5 and one of my husband's cigarettes!! A can of Russian beer was about US$2, replica army pins were a dollar or so each in gift shops. Laquer bowls, platters, candlesticks, etc., featuring a regional design were mostly under US$20 except for the larger items, and the quality of the laquerware was very good.
My favorite purchase was a very colorful, handpainted music box in the shape of the traditional Russian Cathedrals with onion domes. It played "Russian Nights" and cost about US$45 which I felt was quite worth it. I also purchased 2 less expensive music boxes of the same sort for gifts.
The famous Russian Matroyshka dolls were everywhere as were the beautiful, handpainted lacquer boxes. Small Matroyska-like, painted magnets were US$2 in the museums, but there were much more expensive gifts too.
Major charge cards were accepted at the museums (safe to use here) as was American money everywhere we went! This was awfully convenient as we never stopped anywhere on the excursion where we could exchange money.
What to pay: For the better quality lacquerware, Matroyska dolls and lacquer boxes, expect to pay about US$35 to several hundred dollars in shops; less from vendors on the streets if you bargain.
Even the name of this store evokes pictures of Russia in your head! Although a smallish store, Babushka is spread out over 3 floors, with postcards and books and amber jewelry on the main level; toys, Christmas items, music boxes and lacquerware on the lower or basement level where the ceiling is of vaulted, brick construction; and art on the upper level second floor. All items are attractively displayed within arms' reach, but the shop attendants keep a sharp eye on customers which made me feel uncomfortable -- do that many foreigners steal things? In their defense, they are more than happy to assist you as well.
Our tour guide told us this was a safe place to use our credit cards and we didn't experience any problems with this. However, I wondered if she said this just to make us feel at ease about spending more!!
What to buy: Although I love the handpainted, beautiful, miniature lacquer boxes and there are some very exquisite Matryoshka dolls that Russia is famous for, what impressed me most on this trip were the beautifully painted music boxes found in Babushka! These music boxes were fashioned after the onion-domed cathedrals of St. Basil and the Church of the Saviour on the Spilled Blood. The ones I saw here all played "Russian Nights." I brought home 2 as gifts. These music boxes costs about $25 US and up --- more than I would usually spent for souvenir gifts but so incredibly unusual that they seemed worth the splurge. My husband purchased a couple of replica, Russian military pins at $2 or $3 each.
The distinctively painted red, gold and black Khokhloma lacquerware items came in many shapes and sizes and make great gifts at a reasonable price. However, you can find these on the store's internet site as well and perhaps for a better price.
This store will package and ship your purchased items home which is a nice service, and they also have stamps for any postcards that you buy!
What to pay: Depending on the items, a few dollars up to several hundreds.
Hello, guys, I need help from those who have already had the following experience. I was told that there is a souvenir shop in Moscow (called Souvenirny Dvor) where you can buy souvenirs on-line. They have very high delivery costs, roughly 30-50 euro depending on weight and your time zone. But I've never been to Russia and don't plan to (yet), so I am prepared to pay. The only problem for me is that they use only Western Union system and I've never used it and don't want to. I would not be aware who is the person whom I transfer money to and what relation (if any) he has to the shop. So, if anyone dealt with that Souvenirny Dvor shop in Moscow or perhaps knows similar shop in St.- Petersburg I would be grateful for any hint and advice. Thanks in advance.
What to buy: Matryoshka dolls, shawls, porcelain
As with any tour, quite often you end up at a Gift shop. Here was no exception!
It also was a Toilet stop, as Toilets are hard to find in St. Petersburg, and we were given tea & coffee and some biscuits for morning tea.
The staff were very friendly and nice, and the selection was huge. Prices I thought were high, this was to be expected, as my tour company was part owner of the shop. They did take euros and credit card which was handy.
I did buy gifts here, as I didn't know where else I could.
The one thing I didn't like, was the way the staff were one step behind me all the time!
On talking to people who did the ships tours, they had the same, they were also taken to shops to buy, and had no choice of buying elsewhere.
If you can, buy from the street vendors as I found out they are way cheaper. You must have Russian Rubles to be able to do this.
Is the quality the same, well, I can't answer that!
What to buy: If you are not happy to buy classical souvenirs (like Babushka f.e.) think about traditional Russian instrument Treshchotka. Is a set of small wooden boards on a string that get clapped together as a group and it is commonly used in Russian folk music.
Bazar has two big stores in St. Petereburg with mor merchandise than most kiosk markets near the tourist sites like St. Isaac's Cathedral and the Church on the Spilled Blood.
Come between tour buses for a very pleasant time.
It is big, quiet and the staff are friendly and speak some english.
What to buy: Anything from St. Petersburg, without hassles and haggling.
Open daily: 8.00am-10.00pm
What to pay: Normal prices. Prices are in Y.E. units based on the dollar. Because of the reduction of dollar value, it will be a good deal if you pay in Rubles :)
There was, of course, a place to buy stuff at St. Isaacs. You can't have a lot of tourists in Russia without having a place for them to buy souvenirs.
There are also some souvenir stalls in the square across from St. Isaacs Cathedral. At the St. Petersburg's souvenir shops, you can barter for such traditional Russian goods as lacquered boxes, jewelry, pins, hand painted nesting dolls, usually called “Matryoshka dolls”, handicrafts, china and porcelain, Russian delicacies like Caviar, military memorabilia of the Soviet Union, beautiful coffee table books about Russian topics,
What to buy: We didn't buy any, so I don't know the answer to this.
We went to the bookstore at the museum and my granddaughter got some postcards of her favorite paintings (as many of the Van Goghs that they had postcards for), and also a drawing book of Renior which I quite like but wasn't so much a favorite of hers. I only have the photos that she took of the pictures she liked, and not any of the postcards.
The shop.hermitagemuseum.org URL will take you to the on-line store.
What to buy: The shop has of reproductions of art from the Hermitage, catalogues of Hermitage exhibitions, guidebooks, books on art, colorful albums featuring the art collections of the Hermitage and many other museums of the world, and reproductions and posters. The shop displays furniture made according to originals in the museum collection.
There are also such things as replicas with a museum theme, souvenirs with Russian or St Petersburg motifs, ornaments, art books, jewellery, posters and postcards, video cassettes and more. There is an extensive choice of multimedia and video programs produced in different languages for different systems and audio recordings of works by Russian composers.
You can buy replicas and copies of marble sculptures, bronzes, ceramics, numerous decorative works of jewelry based on motifs of the Scythian, Greek and oriental collections of the Hermitage, as well as works in the style of Faberge
A gorgeous souvenir from Russia is a calendar with photos of a city, region or even local things.
All over Russia you get typical square size calendars with photos of e.g. St Petersburg at night, Moscow at night, the Golden Ring, Russian birches or the Holy Places of Russia.
These calendars are available at bookshops, kiosks and sometimes also souvenir shops. In 2009 these calendars cost something between 150 and 200 Rubles (less than 5 Euro).
What to buy:
Matryoshkas are one of the most popular Russian national souvenirs. So if you have to bring presents for your family and friends, then you should take Matryoshkas into account.
Matryoshkas are colourful wooden nestling dolls of different sizes. Smaller ones fit inside the bigger ones.
You get Matryoshkas at almost all souvenir stands and souvenir shops all around the town. You might even bump into people around the main sights who directly offer Matryoshkas from their bags.
This market is behind the Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood. The market offers a myriad of souvenirs at ridiculous prices. Bargain your ass off.
What to buy: Hand crafted chess sets, Christmas ornaments, t-shirts, Soviet memorabilia, cheap fur hats,etc. I have been to a lot of markets like this and even as cheesy as this market may seem, the products are pretty good. They just try and charge you way more than they should. Bargain hard. Open daily from 11-7. Vendors speak good English
The original blue white and gold porcelin of the Lomonosov Porcelin factory of St. Petersburg is world famous.
You can visit the factory itself or one of several outlets in the city.
There is an exhibit of royal porcelin at the factory you can see for 200 rubles.
What to buy: Dishes, teapots and other porcelin items
A new M&Ms flavor, chocolate with Orange has been highly promoted on Russian television at the end of 2007. But they are slow to appear in stores. Maybe people like them too much and they are gone. But they are here and so far as we have heard, not sold elsewhere.
What to buy: Orange flavored M&Ms in an orange package. They have been sold both in big 400 gram bags and small snack sizes.
What to pay: 20 rubles for small package, 75-120 rubles for 400 grams
The nearer to New Year the more you will see Grandfather Frost or Santa souvenirs like these painted nesting dolls.
Souvenir markets are by all the main attractions like, Church on the Spilled Blood, St. Isaac Cathedral
What to pay: $5-25
The biggest flea market is near the Udelnaya Metro and Train Stations.
Go through the normal looking market kiosks of new import items for sale until you come to the covered tables of used items. First and 2nd hand clothes, then collectibles, tools and household items.
The market follows the railroad tracks for about 1 km in the summer.
At the end it expands to grandmothers with items spread on a cloth under the trees.
There are a few quality vendors, but it might be best classified as garage sale or junk market.
Thdere are many soviet pins and coins, some military and who knows what else.:)
The market is open 10-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
There are many impromptu flea markets in the outlying metro stations. You can find many collectible things or just junk. Books, dishes, clothes old shoes, you name it! They are along the way from Metro to the train stop. Watch your bag while you look around.
What to buy: What strikes your fancy
What to pay: barter for bargains