08 January 2011

Udelnaya Fair

Udelnaya fair isn't about rides or the midway - it's about "antiques." It's the largest flea-market type place that I've ever been to, on the outskirts of St. Petersburg. We took a long subway ride out there, not knowing exactly what to expect.
There were countless rows of stalls which gave way to snowy, tree-dotted expanses, which led to more stalls and more merchants. Some goods were displayed carefully in little, open shops. Others were strewn about on snow tables or hung up on tree branches.
Calling it an antique market is a little misleading - one could find anything from vases and painting to rolls of stripped electrical wiring and used faucet gaskets. There were people selling food, like the man above, and people selling soviet era rifles (complete with ammunition). Stacks of pornography sat next to leather bound books and box upon box upon box of bootleg DVDs surrounded the odd iconographic image.
There were clothes, too. In fact, cloth made up the better part of the market. Wedding dresses, kids snowsuits, racks of fur...
We were told many times not to take photographs - some people said it respectfully, some yelled at us and shouted to other people around them, pointing at us. A few people covered up their wares with blankets or pulled down the gates in front of their shops. This place has a reputation for selling stolen, illegal and counterfeit goods, so I can understand their concern. It was big enough, though, that we were able to get a lot of pictures just by continuing to move.
On the other side of the room - hockey skates, of course.
I tried to get a better picture of the wedding dresses hanging on the side of this shed, but one woman was quite adamant that I move along, away from her space. The dresses were incredible. A few looked ancient, with many layers of yellowing lace.
Some people didn't mind us taking their picture. This man actually smiled and waved. I saw a lot of people carrying nordic skis around, so he may have been making a lot of sales today.
I'm not exactly sure why people would come here to buy food, but it seemed as though crackers and biscuits were the most popular items on the edible goods tables.
We didn't see anyone else who looked like a tourist - it's pretty far away from the center of the city, and the cold might be a deterrent for some. It was fascinating, though, and I really recommend taking the trip. It's open on the weekends from ten 'til five, but I'm not sure about the week days. To get there, take the blue subway line to the "Udel'naya" stop, leave the station and turn right. Cross the train tracks and head for the group of modern kiosks, which mark the entrance to the market. Keep walking through the kiosks, and then just walk and walk and walk.

No comments:

Post a Comment