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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

What’s Changed in Moscow?

tours_moscow3I’ve been asked by many to report more in-depth concerning Moscow. Many adoptive parents have not been there in the past decade when international adoptions began to close. No matter what region you stayed in, most of us had to end up our trip with several days in the capital.

Is it the same? Yes and no.

Gone are the ubiquitous peddlers of wares inside underground walkways used to cross busy streets. Same with the streets themselves, swept bare of the majority of kiosks once there. We found a table or two near a train station of utilitarian items such as women’s straw sunhats or babushkas’ (grannies’) big bloomer underwear.

Red Square was actually closed off, getting ready for an exhibition of sorts when we visited. We could not moscow-russiastroll nor snap selfies anywhere on the ploschad. The closest one could come was around the perimeter, or right up on top of St. Basil’s.

One of my favorite stolovayas (workers’ cheap cafeterias) near the GUM shopping complex was gone. So sad. The closest we could come without being in the city center, yet still not in the boonies was Teremok offering blintzes and pelemeni (Siberian dumplings), at least.

And a note to interested parties: in numerous Russian budget eateries, there’s a 20-minute wait for pelemeni. So it’s best to go only where they’re very regularly offered and where the wait time is automatically cut in half.

mcdSpeaking of fast food, but this time of the American variety, there’s still a McDonald’s at Manezhnaya Square near Alexandrovny Cad with the flame and the soldiers outside of Red Square. There’s also the one with the walk-up window near the top of Starii Arbat (Old Arbat) Street.

I knew you’d be interested.

The popular cafeteria Moo-Moo is still in business, along with many satellite locations.  Gone is the big cow statue in front on Old Arbat.  The pedestrian street itself is somewhat gentrified with intermittent arches filled with flowers under which you can walk, but the ambience is greatly missing, in my opinion.

Ismailovsky Market was a ghost town in the middle of the week. Gone were the everyday market stuff of izmailovsky-market_676321slippers, frying pans and makeup lining the way to the tourist souvenirs of “Vernisage”. Hardly any sellers there and everyone packing up around 3:00 pm. Still, I was able to get a handful of items at probably one-third of the prices of any souvenir shop on Old Arbat (and those are still there, tacky and overpriced, though they may be). Worth the long Metro ride.

Along with the fact that a medium-sized shopping mall stood near Ismailovsky, boasting a food court on the third floor with a couple of souvenir kiosks, as well—good enough to find a mug or matryoshka magnets. Not to mention our long-awaited Teremok with mushroom soup soon steaming on our tray and KFC there for the less adventuresome.

Komsomolskaya-Metro-Station-Crowds-MoscowIn general, I noticed more of an upper-middle class than a decade ago. Though that’s waning, I saw a number of traveling Russian families, some with three or four kids each (unusual), dropping at least $500 in its weak-ruble equivalency at airport sports stores, stocking up on Russian jerseys and scarves. The middle class had free Wi-Fi to enjoy on the Metro, not a bad deal, at all, either.

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