This blog post was updated on October 25, 2018.
You know the drill. It’s nearing the end of
your trip and you keep getting this strong urge to purchase one of those knick
knacks or trinkets that fill the shelves of those enticing souvenir shops. You ponder for days, ducking in and out of
shops until finally the urgency of your impending flight home forces you to
make a decision.
Matryoshka: You can’t walk down the street
without seeing these iconic nesting dolls in shop windows or on little
street-side souvenir stands. Although it seems that most matryoshka sets
would contain the traditional babushka face, if you step inside specialty shops
(or even a museum like I did in Tayga), some of the themes can include Russian
leaders, cartoon families, or families in different seasons of the year. They come as small as salt and pepper shakers
to the larger sizes reaching up to your knee.
Russian Eggs: No, I’m not telling you to go out back to a
Russian cottage’s chicken coup and grab a basket of eggs! You might have heard
about a Fabergé egg before, and it was in St. Petersburg that the House of
Fabergé jewelry firm was founded in 1842.
They created expensive and decorative eggs, which is a style you can
find in many souvenir shops today (no, not the real jewelled stuff, but that
Russian Hats: Russians know funny hats. Fur hats and hats with ear flaps, known as
the ushanka, are surprisingly not just a symbol. You can see a large portion of the Russian
people walking around in winter wearing them.
A fun idea that many souvenir shops have incorporated into the
experience is the ability to choose your own Russian pin to stick on the front!
Military Paraphernalia: From helmets and hats to war medals, military
paraphernalia is a popular option for souvenir shopping tourists. I, myself, found it amusing to peruse the
stands of old war related items – possibly because I can’t think of Russia
without associating it with this strict military-minded society.
Russian Shawls: I attended a cultural show in St. Petersburg
where many of the dancers and performers wore traditional Russian outfits and
that involved women wearing plenty of shawls.
The Russian shawl can vary from a pashmina type ensemble with flowers to
a plain, knitted cashmere wrap. If you
can get your hands on the hand-made kind, then they are definitely worth
If you’re short of bag space, you might
want to have a read of my article on souvenirs
you don’t have to pack.
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