Russia Shopping and nightlife
Shopping in Russia
Russia has come along way since the days of long queues and Soviet-style counter service, and the country is now something of a shopping heaven. Whether your tastes are expensive or more inclined to finding a bargain, everyone is catered for in equal measure - it that has vigorously embraced the market economy, and thus it’s possible to get most things most of the time. A wide range of goods can be bought at outdoor markets, shopping centres, local shops and hypermarkets. Watches, cameras, wines and spirits, ceramics and glass, jewellery, toys and a good selection of porcelain may be bought in Moscow and St Petersburg, as can caviar and vodka at very reasonable prices.
Some products such as perfume and make-up should be avoided as they tend to be overpriced and of poor quality. Shops take payment in roubles and, usually, by credit card, but it should be noted that it’s not always very easy to find English speaking assistance and it is advisable to shop around, as prices vary significantly.
Kholui and Palekh lacquered boxes make attractive souvenirs, while traditional Matryoshka dolls (wooden dolls within dolls) are widely available, but again greatly vary in price – head to kiosks often located in subways around metro stations for the best deals on potential souvenirs. Wooden cups, pottery figurines, engraved amber and lace are also popular options. Metal tea samovars make good souvenirs.
Antiquities, valuables, works of art and manuscripts other than those offered for sale in souvenir shops may not be taken out of the Russian Federation without an export licence.
Most shops are open from Mon-Sat 0900-1900, with food shops also opening on Sundays. Stores that are open 24 hours a day are becoming more common.
Nightlife in Russia
Russia’s reputation for providing a hedonistic nightlife second to none is richly deserved. There are a wealth of nightclubs and bars to meet all needs, particularly in Moscow, St Petersburg and other larger cities. New venues pop up at the same speed with which others vanish, however presently in Moscow the following come highly recommended: Solyanka (attracts a very cool crowd), Rodnya (young edgy crowd), Simachev Bar (provides tasteful decadence) and the Strelka Bar (attracting the older intellectual set). In St Petersburg head to Groboedov (now legendary and very fashionable), Purga (where it’s New Year’s Eve every day of the year), and Dom Beat (for the hipsters).
There are plenty of alternatives for those looking for a more sedate experience. Theatre, circus, concert and variety performances provide more traditional evening entertainment. Tickets are available in advance or can be purchased from ticket booths immediately before performances. Visitors should note that prices can sometimes be higher than those paid by Russian nationals. Theatre repertoires can change on a nightly basis and in the course of one month, 30 different productions may be presented by the Bolshoi Ballet and Opera (www.bolshoi.ru/en). Visitors will be able to get more information from the service bureau of their hotel.