Living Abroad: To Market, to Market

by Miss Footloose

When you’re an expat living in a foreign country it’s often a challenge to find the things you need or want. Shops are different, food is not what you’re used to, appliances are not the same. Shopping can be so frustrating! For instance, where would you go to find surgical equipment from the 1800s? Or a set of false teeth? Or a knob to replace the one that broke off from your (antique) radio? Or….

Okay, I’ll tell you where: Hasten your expat self to the Vernissage, a fabulous flea market in Yerevan, Armenia. Be prepared to be amazed. I lived in Armenia for 6 years, and going to the Vernissage was always exciting. What would I find this time? So take a break, pour yourself a glass, and let me show you:

Flea Market in Armenia

The Vernissage is much more than an ordinary flea market. You can find new things and old things both, junk and real art, fakes and antiques and treasures of all kinds. Among the old items you’ll find out-of-date electronics; spare parts from or for equipment or instruments your great-grandfather might have used; sepia photographs of ancient ancestors dead and forgotten; archaic medical and dental instruments resembling dangerous torture devices; vintage Soviet coins and memorabilia; and leftover lab chemicals as you can see on the photo below.

Leftover lab chemicals.

Photo by 10b traveling / CC BY-NC-ND

New merchandise includes arts and craft items, souvenirs, socks and sweaters, puppies with bows on their heads, glasses and dishes. The ones below are all blue because, you guessed it, they’re underneath a blue umbrella.

Delicate teacups, gold-decorated teapots, fancy glassware.


Little old ladies wander around in slippers selling pastries or beautifully crocheted thingies your great-grandmother used to put over the back and arms of chairs. Antimacassers, they were called (what a word!). Sadly we have no use for those in our contemporary houses.

And here are some more finds:

Hairdryers, mixers and thingamabobs.


And something underfoot:

Carpets. Old ones, new ones, good ones, not so good ones.

And for the mechanically inclined this artsy collection:

Ball bearings


Need some art for your walls or shelves?

Paintings, carvings, sculptures, lots of stuff.


And let’s not forget the jewelry! So many stalls! So many lovely, odd and artsy adornments! I developed an addiction for the colorful pendants made of natural stone and set in silver. I could never walk past the many displays without admiring Mother Nature’s designs. Here’s what I ended up with:

Pendants and more pendants.

And of course who can walk past these handbags and not buy one? Or two or three . . . They’re handmade using pieces of old carpeting (or maybe new at times as well). This is my collection. I must admit, I seldom use them, but they look nice as a wall decoration in the hallway!

Carpet handbags


This is, of course, only a small sampling of the marvels of the Vernissage. You want to see more? Here’s a post with more cool Armenian stuff: Flea Market Fun. Enjoy,

* * *
So where else in the world have you found a great market? And what types of merchandise was/is for sale there? Something gorgeous or fun or weird or scary? What is the most unusual item you’ve ever bought in a market? Or has something interesting happened to you in a market? Make my day and tell me!

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That looks a lovely market!

well, you know we have no shortage of lovely markets here in Turkey. 🙂 That market looks fab – the type of market where I would be aware of Barry yawning and rolling his eyes at the back of me while I lost myself in it! 😉

For me, any market. Funny, I just blogged how much I live markets 🙂 I Asia, it is food markets, as I love the colourful ingredients. I am getting quite knowledgeable, but som, I still don’t have a clue… have a look if you’d like me help identify some…


This market reminds me a lot of the Vernisage Market in Moscow which is fantastic. My kids loved all the soviet paraphanalia and became the proud owners of gas masks. I love the tea sets and they have wonderful pottery from Azerbaijan 🙂

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