Saturday, September 22, 2012

Gorky Park

Two great discoveries were made today: Gorky Park and Stockmann's.  Gorky Park is an enormous park in the center of Moscow, just off the Moscow River.  As this has been an unseasonably warm and sunny autumn, we left the apartment in the afternoon in search of some outdoor entertainment.  A mob of Russians forced us through the tunnels of the underground and out of the station right next to a gaping hole dug by a bulldozer only moments before.  We unsuccessfully turned in circles looking for any sign of a park.  We used one of the 2,312 billboards for Lipton Tea endorsed by Pierce Brosnan as a guide.  The billboard led us smack into a sign for Gorky Park and an arrow.  We headed down the sidewalk and crossed an enormous bridge over the Moscow River.  We watched a few strange photo shoots take place then hurried on.

We took the first entrance to the park, a huge wrought-iron gate propped open for pedestrians to step through.  At first, the park didn't seem like much, but we soon realized we had entered the farthest entrance.  We walked down some shaded lanes edged with beautiful trees and flowerbeds.  Finally, we came to a large walkway with even more elaborate flowers.  This walkway led into the main portion of the park, which contained more activity than I ever expected. 

There were several small buildings, structures, and statues throughout the park and benches practically every 20 steps.  People were milling around every which way, and occasionally someone would zip by on roller blades, a bike, or a skateboard.  The paths wound through the park, providing easy shortcuts and plenty of areas to sit and relax.  Among the paths were large open greenspaces, concrete patios with wooden shacks set up for vendors, and numerous outdoor restaurants and cafes.  Each curve opened to an entirely new sight.  At one turn a new bride was escorted by her groom while the wedding party trailed behind sipping flutes of champagne.  The open green spaces held oversized bean bags for young couples to lounge on.  One patio held nearly 50 ping pong tables open to the public.  Girls challenged their dates, children wailed on their parents, and one pair of Asians had a crowd watching their every hit.  Next to one of the larger cafes was a line-up of sand volleyball courts.  We sat for a few minutes and discussed whether or not we could take on any of the teams.

We spent the afternoon strolling through the park and people watching.  I'm sorry to confess that my camera died about twenty minutes into our visit, so unfortunately my pictures are limited.  However, we will certainly be visiting Gorky Park again, and next time I'll be sure to charge my camera!

As for the second discovery, thanks to a little Google searching this morning, I found a blog belonging to a fellow expat living in Moscow.  Her blog focuses on eating and cooking in Moscow (my two favorite things), and one particular post I found most helpful - a list of reviews of grocery stores around Moscow.  One of the grocery stores she rated the highest happens to be right down the street.  Upon returning to our neighborhood of Voikovskaya, we headed for the grand Metropolis shopping mall.  We followed the signs for Stockmann's but only saw what appeared to be a department store.  We moseyed in anyhow.  Near the back of the store was a secondary entrance to a small specialty foods store!!

We walked into a little piece of heaven.  Up to this point, we've been going to the local mini-marts around the corner from our apartment buliding.  These stores are about the size of a gas station, with a very limited selection of everything.  They have sufficed for now, but meals consisting of little more prep work than heating up frozen veggies leave plenty to be desired.  Needless to say, I've been getting a little antsy.  With eyes wide, I began scouring the shelves of Stockmann's.  A small but brightly colored produce section.  Baskets and baskets of freshly baked breads.  An entire line of coolers with all sorts of fresh cheeses, from feta to gouda.  A deli full of ready-made salads and meats.  A collection of ingredients for baked goods.  An aisle each for my favorite international cuisines: Indian, Mexican, and Italian.  Thank goodness we only brought a small stash of rubles.

After making circles around the store, checking every nook and cranny (and Kyle nudging me it was time to go), we began gathering materials for veggie fajitas.  A few days ago, I found a large-scale grocery store in the same mall.  It has more or less the same products as the mini-marts closer but with more selection.  This store also has a large section for home goods.  Between that discovery and Stockmann's, I'm nearly chomping at the bit to start cooking and baking my favorite fall foods.


1 comment:

  1. Hope you guys are well Shelly. Can't believe you're in Russia. Sounds really cool though. Great blog!