Hi all - had to deal with actual travel back (Air France was actually great! ) So catching up on reports.
Day 8: Izmailovsky Market and some shopping
Started off by about 9:30 am to go to the Izmailovsky Market. Easy metro ride there (less crowded on a Sunday) and, as some reviewers have mentioned, the entry sign is almost right in front of you when you come up out of the Metro. [Look for the arch of blocks w the peacock on top]. You walk for just a bit past the arch, and it’s only 10 rubles to get in.
Since we went early, it wasn’t crowded at first, which was nice. Aware of the pickpocket issue, however, my hubby had on tighter pocket jeans with items only in front pockets, and kept his hands in his pockets. I had a smaller cross body bag that I had a caribiner clipping the only opening zipper to the rest of the bag & kept it in front of me and holding it the entire time. No issues. I can see how, as it gets more crowded, it would be prime for pickpockets. We also kept our eyes peeled, as it appeared a few times there were some, shall we say, “interested” people lurking about & trying to peer into people’s bags, wallets, etc.
Its all the usual souvenirs, but fun to look around & we had friends & family who wanted everything from nice to “cheesy” souvenirs. You can find every type of “Faberge” egg, matroirshka, tea towel, socks, mittens, hats, fur hats, soviet medals, coasters, lighters, shot glasses, coffee mugs, t shirts, jerseys, cameras, belts, woven shoes, pens, giant pencils, jewelry and more. As past reviewers have noted, we had a lot of success in bargaining when we a) started to walk away b) made a frowning face at the first mention of a price c) one of us played “disapproving spouse” and noted “that’s too much/ I’m not going to pay that much” (nicely.) Even when we were looking at wooden St. Basil’s music box, put it down, and then went to look at other wares at the same table, the vendor came down 75%. Bundling helps too – buy more things at their stall, they’re more wiling on the price. All but one of our vendors spoke English just fine, and the one that didn’t we did just fine w calculator & my small amount of English.
We brought a large canvas-shopping tote with us – but all the vendors had plastic bags as well. We bought everything from matroishkas to coasters to Putin coffee mugs to an awesome Cheburashka & Crocodile metal statue (win!). We didn’t need to spend too much time there (we’re efficient) but took time to look around, take some pics and on our way out (getting crowded by noon) we could smell all the yummy shashlik.
On the way to the metro you’ll see random folks on the sides of the sidewalk with their blanket or towel unfolded just selling their various items (more flea-market type items).
Back to hotel to drop off purchases, then a final run through Red Square area. Stopped in the GUM to get a few more Russian chocolate bars & some vodka. Then treated ourselves to the obligatory Russian ice cream cone (yum). Went over to the TSUM area and checked out some bookstores. The bookstores we all saw seem quite different from American book stores in that 90% of these were all educational children’s’ books or supplies with school supplies mixed in. Only a tiny bit of literature/ fiction. After making some coloring book purchases for our nephew, we stopped for a coffee and then took a nice walk. Rest of evening dealt with work.