Tag: Russia

Shopping and Eating in St. Petersburg, Russia

Shopping and Eating in St. Petersburg, Russia

According to AbbreviationFinder, St. Petersburg is one of the largest cities in the country of Russia.

Shopping in St. Petersburg

It is strange to think that a few years ago there was almost nothing to buy in St. Petersburg, and the residents had to stand in one queue for milk, another queue for vegetables and a third queue for hygiene items. In recent years, there has been a much better selection of goods, and now you find the same international chains in St. Petersburg as you do in most western metropolitan areas.

Souvenirs

Tourists often buy products such as balalaika, samovar, porcelain, icons, fur hats and varnish cabinets. But the biggest favorite is probably food scraps, these hollow wooden dolls of ever smaller size inside each other. Traditionally, dolls represent babooshchkas, old wives, but in recent and modern variants, Russian presidents, footballers, Simpsons or Harry Potter figures are just as common.

There is a large souvenir market with about thirty stalls just north of Spas Na Krovi Church, and a smaller one in front of St. Isaac’s Cathedral, where you can buy everything you need from Russian gift items and souvenirs. And remember that it is both allowed and smart to bargain as best you can.

It may be tempting to buy real Russian caviar with you while in Russia, but keep in mind that there are clear limits on how much caviar you can take with you out of the country, and that caviar is a fresh product. If it has been in the sun at a souvenir shop on the street, you have no guarantee that it is edible before you are home. If you find the caviar for something less than 250-300 NOK for a box (usually 112 grams), it is probably either out of date or a synthetic caviar copy. If you want to be sure, buy fresh caviar from a supermarket on your departure day.

Shopping centers in St. Petersburg

Of course, if you prefer shopping under one roof, there are several shopping centers and department stores in such a large city as St. Petersburg. On the main street of Nevsky Prospekt, at No. 35 with its own metro station, lies one of the world’s oldest, which dates back to 1757. Bolshoi Gostiny Dvor stretches over 53,000 m², and despite its age, is one of Eastern Europe’s most modern and fashionable shopping malls. The website is only in Russian, but there are plenty of clothing stores for men, women and children, toy stores, sports shops, jewelers and booksellers.

In the same street, Nevsky Prospekt 48, is the Passage Trading House, with many stores selling fashion clothing, antiques, household goods, jewelry, souvenirs and electronics. And apropos of antiques, you must be aware that it is virtually impossible to get items older than a hundred years legally out of the country. But if you visit the store with the “original” name Antique Shop (in the backyard of Nevsky Prospect 51), you can at least bring with you props from the Soviet era, such as icons, statuettes, posters and the like.

In general about shopping in St. Petersburg

Please note that in most cases the price level of imported articles is not much lower than in Norway. Not all stores take credit cards either, so it may be okay to bring enough cash on your shopping trip.

The opening hours of the shops vary, but several stores in the center are open from 1000 to 2000 every day. Some are open even longer. The shops close earlier on Sundays. For the vast majority of goods there is a 20% sales tax, but in Russia there is no system for refunding VAT at the airport as in Western Europe. Admittedly, there are some duty-free shops for tourists in the city center and at the airport, but it must be said whether it is actually any less expensive for that reason.

Eating in St. Petersburg

Food in St. Petersburg, Russia

Although St. Petersburg is the city in Russia that is most influenced by Western cultures and is only two hours by plane from Norway, the city seems exotic and alien with amazing churches with loop domes and Cyrillic letters. There are no modern skyscrapers here, but hundreds of bridges over idyllic canals.

St. Petersburg is a very young city, which recently celebrated its 300th anniversary. The city was the main seat of the Russian Tsars, and from here they ruled their vast empire. As the cultural capital of Russia, St. Petersburg has a very dramatic history that we strongly recommend that you familiarize yourself with before traveling. The story includes intrigues, murders, sieges and revolutions.

St. Petersburg is not an easy city to be a tourist in, since most of the information and street signs are written in Cyrillic letters, as well as unscrupulous taxi drivers without a taximeter. But if you take the challenge, you will undoubtedly have many memorable experiences in Russia’s imperial city.

Shopping and Eating in Moscow, Russia

Shopping and Eating in Moscow, Russia

Moscow is one of the largest cities in the country of Russia.

Shopping in Moscow

Be warned right away; you are not traveling on a shopping trip to Moscow. If you think that it is cheap in Eastern Europe, and that you can thus save a lot of money on shopping in Moscow, the capital of Russia described on Countryaah, then you are seriously mistaken. Moscow is expensive, expensive, expensive! With the exception of some locally produced items, such as vodka and caviar, you will usually have to pay more in Moscow than for a similar product in Norway.

Occasionally you can almost believe that there has been a zero too much on the price tag by mistake. If you find something that looks sensationally cheap, it’s probably a pirate. And you can also offer pirated copies at a shopping center as in a street stall.

Shopping centers in Moscow

And shopping centers can be found in many of today’s modern Moscow defined by AbbreviationFinder. The largest and oldest is the state-owned GUM, which occupies most of the east side of the Red Square, in a sensational building from the 1890s. This was the shopping paradise for the wealthy upper class during the Soviet era. There are now about 200 different stores here, and these are open Monday to Saturday from 0830 to 2030, and 1100 to 1900 on Sundays.

Just north of the Kremlin and Red Square is the large underground shopping center Okhotny Ryad, which was built in the 1990s. In the large square Manezhnaya ploshchad you see a large and ornate glass dome with statues protruding from the ground, and the center is below it. Of shopping centers we also mention the new and modern Atrium in Kitay-Gorod, which is generally a bit less expensive than the competitors around the Red Square.

Moscow shopping streets

The main shopping street is undoubtedly Tverskaya, and here are many of the same international chains you find in most European cities, with about the same goods at slightly higher prices. Those who want exclusive designer clothes can head for the Teatralny proezd street, which runs from the Bolshoi Theater to Lubyanka. Here, most are gathered, from Armani and YSL to Chanel and Dior.

Also look at the Petrovsky district, which is just north of the city center. This is Moscow’s most fashionable shopping district, where the newly acquired Russians buy their Dior and Cartier products. And stalls and shops selling the typical tourist souvenirs abound in the pedestrian street Arbat.

Markets in Moscow

A little more special is undoubtedly trading in the markets, and if you only have to visit one market, make sure it is Vernisazh. This is a weekend market located at Izmailovsky Park in the eastern parts of Moscow. Here you can find exciting products such as fur hats, handmade chessboards, wooden dolls, blankets, Lenin statues, Soviet army items, etc. from all the old Soviet states, from Siberia via Uzbekistan to Estonia. The market is close to Izmailovskaya metro station, and if you shop here you should bargain hard.

Also be prepared that it may take time to do some shopping in Moscow. In many places, you still have to bring what you want to buy to the counter where you get a note that you have to take to the cash register. Once you have paid, you will receive a receipt that you return to the first or a new disk, where you will eventually be delivered the goods after showing the receipt. With a queue in each disk, and perhaps a coffee break, some text message writing or nail file checkout, you realize this is not done in two minutes.

Souvenirs in Moscow

It is hardly possible to find a more arch-Russian sovereign than a food giant, these hollow wooden dolls of ever smaller size inside each other. Traditionally, dolls represent babooshchka ‘s, old wives, but in recent and modern variants, Russian presidents, footballers, Simpsons or Harry Potter characters are just as likely. The prices of course depend on the size and detail.

It may be tempting to buy real Russian caviar with you while in Russia, but keep in mind that there are clear limits on how much caviar you can take with you out of the country, and that caviar is a fresh product. If the caviar is in the sun at a souvenir booth on the street, you have no guarantee that it is edible before you are home.

If you find the caviar cheaper than 300 to 400 kroner for a box (usually 112 grams), then it is probably either out of date or a synthetic caviar copy. If you want to be safe, buy fresh caviar from a supermarket on your departure day if you want it home.

Opening hours and VAT

The opening hours of the shops vary, but many of the shops in the center are open from 1000 to 2000 every day. Some are open even longer, but close earlier on Sundays. In most goods there is a 20% sales tax, but in Russia there is no system for refunding VAT at the airport as in Western Europe. Admittedly, there are some duty-free shops for tourists in the city center and at the airports, but it has to be said whether it is actually any less expensive for that reason.

Eating in Moscow

Food in Moscow, Russia

Russian cuisine has not exactly taken the world by storm, and Russian restaurants abroad are still a curiosity. But this may not be so strange since the Russians traditionally had no restaurant culture. During the Soviet era, people did not go out to eat unless at the local cafeteria. The restaurants in the city center were reserved for the tourists, which resulted in poor quality at high prices.

After the glass nostrils, this has changed at an astonishing pace, and today you will find countless PECTOPAHs from many nations in Moscow’s central areas. There are still most Russian restaurants and you should try one of these when you are visiting Russia after all. The most archetypal Russian law is actually Ukrainian and is called borshch. This is a soup based on beets, cabbage meat and sometimes potatoes. It is served both hot and cold, traditionally seen with dark bread. The Russian national soup is called solyanka, but it is a boring potato and vegetable soup a la beta soup, and was home-cooked for poor farmers.

The Russians are also happy in their bliny, a kind of pancake, often with cheese or meat, eaten as breakfast, appetizer and dessert, and sold from street stalls almost everywhere.

Russian caviar and desserts in Moscow

Russian caviar has always been considered as perhaps the ultimate delicacy around the world, but times have changed, and the caviar is nowhere near as expensive or exclusive as it once was. Black caviar from the stork is considered the best, while the red caviar from the salmon is the cheap version.

The desserts in Russia are very sweet and often consist of ice cream or cakes.

Exotic food and fast food in Moscow

If Russian cuisine doesn’t tempt you, you can try some of the other old Soviet states. You will find many Georgian, Armenian and Azerbaijani restaurants in Moscow, and the food here is closer to Turkish and Persian dishes, with its shish kebabs, rice and nan-like bread. We enjoyed Kishmish in Novy Arbat ulitsa 28 – permanently closed, which prides itself on importing all ingredients and interiors directly from Uzbekistan, and the price level is comfortable. Vegetarians also have good selection here.

If you find this too exotic, you have Europe’s second largest Hard Rock Cafe at Arbat, and at Tverskaya is the tourist classic American Bar & Grill. Read more about American Bar & Grill here. And of course, there are several McDonald’s restaurants in the downtown area. You even have a Swedish restaurant, Scandinavia, closed permanently if the homesickness should take over. The address is Maly Palashevsky Pereulok 7.

Vodka and beer in Moscow

Vodka is a Russian cultural institution and is to be drunk. It is available in countless variants and generally holds a high standard. But beer (pivo) has taken over the place as the Russians’ favorite drink, and the Baltika beer from St. Petersburg is very popular. It is available in ten different variants, from alcohol-free via light-colored beer to a strong 8% -containing version. You can buy alcohol in the shops around the clock, but nothing stronger than beer and wine at night.