Tacky souvenirs in Sevastopol
not sure if you would call this a tourist trap warning but... close enough.
As I have mentioned it in some of my other posts, Sevastopol still caters to Russian speaking tourists from various parts of the former Soviet Union. This is both good and bad for visiting westerners. For one, I find it intriguing to visit places few of my peers or countrymen have or would ever think to visit - somewhere "off the beaten path" if you will. Maybe it is because I like to see people and places that aren't as influenced by the same worldview/busineses/politics/religion/culture as my usual surroundings.
However this has a negative as well.
Since Sevastopol largely attracts a homogenous group of Russian speaking tourists from the former Soviet republics - few things in Sevastopol cater to the western mind.
Among these shortcomings for westerners is in the souvenir department. Surrounding the Art Bukhta - "Art Bay" (short for artillery) one will find a large number of blue and white tent stalls filled with a variety of overpriced souvenirs in all shapes and sizes. One thing they all have in common is that they are generic, mass produced and generally very tacky.
I'm not sure what it is that the average Muscovite wants to take home to proudly display on the shelf, but it apparently is nothing that interests me!
Unique Suggestions: Instead of berating the random trinkets available in the souvenir stalls around the Sevastopol waterfront, I will just share a short list of some of the ones I do find worth a second glance.
(in no particular order)
T-shirts with Soviet themes (I like wearing shirts no one else has)
Framed photos - there are some very colorful eye catching landscape photos of Sevastopol landmarks for sale in a few stalls - a good buy if you dont happen to be an awesome photographer yourself
Matrushka Dolls - one of the ultimately iconic Russian souvenirs. A few stalls have these available in different sizes, themes & colors - look around to see who has one that matches your home or office decor best
In Sevastopol on the boardwalk area I believe the price is soft on all the items - so don't bite at the first price offered.
The two largest groupings of souvenir vendors can be found 1) on the boardwalk next to the dolphinarium and 2) in a little park just off the water directly past the Potato House/Celentano restaurant if you walk across the parking lot away from the restaurants and the ferry docks.
Fun Alternatives: Outside of the main vendor stall area you will find a few random old guys selling old Soviet trinkets (ribbons, pins, medals, coins, etc.)
These are totally old and cool and a great reminder of your time in the heartland of Soviet nostalgia.
There is also a guy with a space at the Central Market (just a block further past McDonalds) under the blue overhang in near the vegetable sellers who has a myriad of genuine old Soviet stuff - cameras, books, pictures (among other things) that can also be had for a decent price if you are willing to haggle a little.
If you are spending time in Kiev on your trip - go to Andreivsky Shpusk just a block or two off of the main street Kreshatyk (everyone knows where this is) for the best prices and selection of Ukrainian/Russian souvenirs - the further down the winding descending street you go the more genuine or historic collectibles you can find.
- Budget Travel
On the streets and stores you...
On the streets and stores you may be often confused by prices asked not in 'Hryvnya'(s) but 'Rouble'(s).
That's a track of the Soviet times; suppose in such situations you've been asked for 'Hryvnya'(s) really. At Sep/2001 you can trade your 1 (ukrainian)Hryvnya for 6 (russian) Roubles and 1 (american) Dollar stands for 5 (ukranian) Hryvnya.
Before visiting Crimea check for Hryvnya's value. Roubles and dollars may be exchanged freely at exchange boards of banks and at special on-street kiosks.