Mos 11 – Interesting shops in Russia – shopping for culture, entertainment & more

•April 27, 2014 • Leave a Comment

It is hard for me to get down to write a blog again when such things happen between Russia/Ukraine (“Ukrainian crisis”), but I decided to capture my memories now, when they are still quite vivid and colorfull. This post will be very short and basically treat about interesting shops in Russia. I already showed You my dear readers all traditional and most standard stuff you can buy in Russia. However, there is a variety of other stuff that can be purchased, and it does not have to necessarily be something collecting a dust on your cupboard. Especially people who know Russian language have a lot to pick from, but others may amused too, especially ladies for whom I have some good news : ).

Continue reading ‘Mos 11 – Interesting shops in Russia – shopping for culture, entertainment & more’

Mos 9 – Moscow Metro

•January 26, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I already mentioned Moscow metro many many times on my blog as a great mean of transportation around Russian capital. Indeed, even though there are significant disadvantages of this form of transport, it occurs that in this city simply nothing works better.

Metro allows citizens to move around the city fast and easy – and this is really important as the city itself is huge and more than 13 mln people live and commute here everyday… Metro goes every 2 minutes and during the rush hours even once in 40 seconds. At one ticket of cost approximately 1 EUR a person can ride from one end of Moscow to the other and switch lines as many times as needed, as long as they doesn’t leave the underground. Since trafic is really tremendous here (and I mean R E A LL Y), sometimes it is easier to get to the set destination with metro rather than taxi. Also, some of metro stations are very beautifull and possess special charm – what you may see on the photos below.

On the other side, after commuting every day to work for 3 months, I was exhousted phisically and mentally. So many crowded people, everyone pushing you around in corridors, people always unhappy, always in hurry, not paying attention to anything than their narrow world… What’s quite bad for foreigners – all orientation signs, metro station names etc. are in cyrylics, therefore I guess it is very difficult to be a non-Russian speaking/reading individual in Moscow. Below you can find a scheme of metro for English speakers (Source: www.mosmetro.ru).

Moscow metro (English version)

It is also wort mentioning that Moscow metro is told to be the only one having a circle line (or this is what I heard). What’s not unusual for these kind of transport, metro is closed from 1 o’clock in the night till 5 o’clock in the morning,  and since there is very few nigh buses and trams, night public communication basically doesn’t exist in Moscow. No wonder that taxi services are very popular here, along with… private taxi. Many citizens simply wave at uncoming cars and when one of them stops, negociate the price for a ride. This is something noone is afraid of, even if they are finding themselves in the middle of the night with a total stranger as a driver. Quite awkward, isn’t it?

It is worth to stop for a while and admire some metro stations, which design is really outstanding and quite often possess a certain kind of ideology. Personally, I have a few favourite Moscow metro stations. You are welcome to see how they look below (but I do have to amitt that pictures are a little blurred, well I don’t have the best camera in the world ; )  ). The TOP 5 is:

1. Komsomolskaya

Metro station Komsomolskaya

 

2. Arbatskaya

Metro station Arbatskaya

3. Novoslabodskaya

Metro station Novoslabodskaya

4. Park Kultury/Bialorusskaya

Metro station Park Kultury

Metro station Bialoruskaya

5. Mayakovskaya/ Kievskaya

Metro station Mayakovskaya

Metro station Kievskaya

Which one is your favourite? : )

Mos 8 – In memory of Y. Gagarin

•January 25, 2014 • Leave a Comment

What not to say, soviet times brought some marvellous achievements to the Russian Nation, one of which for sure was first ever flight into space by a human – Yuriy Gagarin in 1961. Shortly before the space was also “invaded” by animals – dog Layka, a first living creature from Earth to go beyond the Earth orbit  (1957) and other animals, who went into space and happily came back (dogs Bielka and Strelka, mice, bacteria and some seeds – 1960).

There are numerous objects who commemorate these successess in Moscow (their amount probably has its roots in former Soviet propaganda).

 

The Monument of Y. Gagarin at Leninskyi Prospekt (Памятник Гагарину на Ленинском проспекте)

The giant monument of Y. Gagarin

The Monument of Y. Gagarin on Leninskyi Prospekt  (The source: riverpilgrim.livejournal.com) The Monument of Y. Gagarin on Leninskyi Prospekt (The source:georgesultanov.livejournal.com)

 

*The Monument of Y. Gagarin at Leninskyi Prospekt  (Sources: riverpilgrim.livejournal.com, georgesultanov.livejournal.com)

 

The Monument of Conquerors of Cosmos (Памятник <Покорителям космоса>)

The giant monument of starting rocket, with a reliefs commemorating all Russian beeings who participated in space conquer

Mos 7 – Arbat Street (улица Арбат)

•January 12, 2014 • Leave a Comment

The Arbat Street (also known as “old Arbat”, “старый Арбат”) is one of the oldest and most well-known places in Moscow. The first historical sources mentions Arbat in XVth century, as a part of road from Moscow to Smolensk. In XVIIth century, the street became one of the most fashionable places in Moscow, and a very desirable residencial area. Nothing has changed since then, except the fact that in early 1980’s the street became a closed pedestrian area – the first one told to be in the whole Soviet Union. This actually explains why the promenade is sooo long (1,2 km)!

Due to the central localization Arbat is a popular meeting place. Various cafeteria, restaurants and clubs exist here, as well as tourists-oriented shops with souvenirs, postcards, Russian books etc. In the past in the neighbourhood of Arbat Street lived many famous Russian artists, such as A. Pushkin or B. Okudzhava. Monuments commemorating their memory may be found on the street. The latter (B. Okudzhava) wrote a several songs dedicated to Arbat Street, one of which is “Песенка о Арбате” – “The song about Arbat”: www.youtube.com/watch?v=USTq9wBSIv8.

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Among other attractions of Arbat Street, I would like to highlight Vakhtangov Theatre (Театр им. Евгения Вахтангова). I had an ocassion, together with my friends, to attend one of musical performances there, namely “Anna Karenina” by Angelika Holina. The choreography itself didn’t amuse me that much (the performance lasted 3 hours and in my opinion some scenes were way too similar to each other), but the game of actors and especially costiums were astonishing. www.vakhtangov.ru/shows/anna_karenina

 

Mos 6 – Gorky Park (Парк имиени Горкого)

•January 11, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Gorky Park is probably the most famous Russian  leisure park, named after the XXth century writer Maxim Gorky. I guess that the park became recognizable to the broader European public by the song of band Scorpions “Wind of change”, in which the  unknown story teller walks the streets of Moscow and forsees the uncoming political and social changes (the song was written in 1989, at the end of so-called Cold War).

Have you ever known that this song has also its Russian version,  sung by Scorpions? It is called “Ветер перемен”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPQge1FkqeU.

Today’s Gorky Park is a popular place of recreation of Moscow citizens and creates an outstandingly friendly area for sport passionates. When strong winter comes, the paths in park are also used as an ice rink!  The entrance is free. To get here one needs to take metro and get off at station “Park Kultury” (at the cross of Sokolnicheskaya/Kalcevaya lines). In the neighbourhood it is possible to admire river Moscow.

Enjoy the gallery!

 

Mos 5 – The Izmailovskyi market (Рынок Измайловский)

•January 6, 2014 • Leave a Comment

The Izmailovskyi market (Рынок Измайловский) is the place we planned to spend 1-2 hours to buy souvenirs, as this is the best place to do so is Moscow (my opinion and not only). In the end, we wandered around for at least 4 hours, looking at numerous stands, getting more and more confused with the initial choices and spending money as crazy… This place is simply awesome! : )

I forgot to mention that the uniqueness of this place lies also in the fact that the most of Izmailovskyi market is actually built in the style of an old, wooden settlement and the front buidings are designed to remind a small Kremlin (!).

The Izmailovskyi market

It is impossible to leave Russia without buying at least one matrioshka (Russian wooden toy), and at Izmailovo there are thousands of them, each one of different shape, size, colour, motive, gold “dressing”. This is madness! : D

The Izmailovskyi market - matrishkas & scarfs

Matrioshas are a trademark of Russia,  no surprize then that they are quite expensive souvenirs. They should look like a Russian lady in colorful robe, and contain at least few miniatures inside. The middle sized one with 5 to 10 pieces in total will cost 15-20 EUR and more, depending on the final embellishment. One should take into consideration though that markets in Russia are places when you can bargain and lower the price even by 10-20-30%.

Other souvenirs that are very popular will be for example shawls for ladies with a typical Russian motives, funny and/or real leather assesories such as cap, scarf, gloves, ceramics, black wooden boxes or figures with colorful decorations, Russian “eggs” for jewelery and – last, but not least – all kinds of souvenirs connected with Soviet Union times. And many many more!

I cannot say if all this kind of things are authentic (or they are just said to be and they are produced in China…), but the market has also a part where everyone can come and sell what they want – something like a ‘flea market’. Mostly old grandmas and grandpas can be spotted here as sellers and I bet some rare dimonds can be found here, like real souvenirs from the Soviet times… However, the flea markets have it to yourself that one has to be really patient to dig through tones of “everything” and well here’s the same story.

To get to  Izmailovskyi market one should go to the metro station “Partizanskaya” (Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya (dark blue) line).  The market will be easilly seen from there. The entrance to the market costs 10 RUB (=1PLN=0,25EUR).

Mos 4 – The Tsaritsyno Park (Царицыно)

•January 6, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Small change of the subject: Tsaritsyno (Царицыно) is a park & museum complex located in southern part of Moscow.

The park belonged firstly to the noble princely houses of Russia, such as Godunovs, Streshnevs and Galitzines, until it was bought by empress Catherine the Great in year 1775, who fell in love with its beauty. The empress conducted a number of reconstruction works here, planning to make Tsaritsyno her new residence. Hovewer, due to the sudden death of Catherine the Great in year 1796, the construction works were stopped, and finished only at the begining of XXIst century. Today’s Tsaritsyno still holds a memory of emress Catherina the Great (for instance by maintainig the old name, which means “Tsarina’s”) and is a beautifull, natural park complex filled with unique architectural objects, pavilions, arbours, artificial grottos, gates, bridges and lake.

The easiest way to get to Tsaritsyno is to use Moscow metro (station “Tsaritsyno”, Zamoskvoretskaya line (dark green)). The park can be reached within approximately 10 minutes walk. The entrance is free, only the museum exhibitions need a valid ticket. More information regarding the place can be found on the official website -> http://www.tsaritsyno-museum.ru/ru/.