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, 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. 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.
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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
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
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
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.