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St. Petersburg

dom knigi bookstore st petersburgShopping in St. Petersburg can be a little disappointing. Souvenirs can be expensive, although haggling is expected in street markets such as the one across from the Church on Spilled Blood. Popular gifts include porcelain, jewelry, icons, stacking dolls and fur hats. Counterfeits are legion; if you see a price for a purse that's too good to be true, you know it's a fake.

Shopping Abroad: A Traveler's Guide

Even non-shoppers will want to gawk at Gostiny Dvor, a department store dating back to the 18th century that envelops an entire block of Nevsky Prospekt. Inside, you'll find all kinds of luxury goods, set aside in boutique-like settings, plus top-quality (read: expensive) souvenirs on the ground level.

Yes, it's a museum store. But for curated souvenirs that you know people back home will love, it's hard to beat the Hermitage Museum Shop. Look for sales on amber jewelry, as well as porcelain tea sets.

Not too far from the Hermitage on the Moika Embankment, the Amber Palace has all kinds of upscale souvenirs, including nesting dolls, painted eggs and Christmas ornaments, and, of course, amber jewelry. You'll pay more here than you will in the street market, but the quality and atmosphere are better.

The Russians are resolutely politically incorrect about their fur. Winter nights where the temperature drops down well below zero will do that to you. If your conscience can handle it, check out the fur and leather coats, hats and scarves at Mekhlandia on Nevsky Prospekt.

As befits a cultural capital, St. Petersburg is full of bookstores. Luckily, one of the most centrally located is also in one of the city's more beautiful buildings. Dom Knigi, in the historic Singer Building, has English-language books nestled among its huge selection. When you get tired of browsing, go to the cafeteria to take a pastry break and watch the bustle of Nevsky Prospekt below.
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