Saturday, 21 July 2012

Shopping malls

We did some shopping today. 

Afterwards we took a stroll in Sokolniki Park and came across these characters. They were enthusiastically playing that 1970s Deep Purple classic ‘Smoke on the Water’. 

 Back to the shopping. 

I wrote a post some time ago about supermarkets, and have been meaning to follow it up with an item about shopping malls.

There is no shortage of large shopping malls in Moscow. They cover the spectrum from busy, workaday places centred around large supermarkets to glitzy palaces with expensive brand-name boutiques and few visible customers. 

Muscovites seem to love spending Saturdays shopping and hanging out in malls. 

The Soviet Union lasted about 3,900 weekends. That’s a lot of Saturdays with no shopping malls. I wonder what they did with themselves? 

Entrance to the Metropolis shopping mall at Voykovskaya, just before Christmas last year, where I usually do my shopping.

Inside the Metropolis mall. The guys looking towards me are security guards and they told me not to take photos. I'm not sure what State secrets this photo contains. I now use a discrete little point-and-shoot in malls.
Looking down the elevator shafts in the Kievskaya mall. Above the clock is a cafe. I know its not immediately obvious, but if you look for a while, you'll work it out.
The mall associated with the large Ashan supermarket at Marina Rosha.
I don't know the name of this mall. It's very close to Red Square, beside Manezh Square.
This is perhaps the most exclusive mall. It's at Crocus City and is populated entirely by expensive boutiques. There are usually more security staff than customers. Though the coffee is expensive and its a bit of a way out, it is pleasant to sit in mid-winter amidst the greenery.
Another view of the Crocus City Mall

There is one notable shopping mall I have not covered here - GUM. This mall flanks Red Square and is a significant historic building. I'll cover it in my next post.

Monday, 9 July 2012

St Petersburg

Having last written a post about Peter the Great, It is perhaps timely to mention the city he founded – St Petersburg (known during the Soviet years as Leningrad). 

The fast train service between Moscow and St P. covers the 800 kilometres in 4 hours 30 minutes. This includes several stops. The speed is displayed in the carriage and reaches 220kph at times. At this speed it is such a smooth ride that Wendy had thought we were doing about 120.

While it is a far more entertaining way to travel than by aircraft, there really isn’t all that much to see along the way. Flat terrain, forests, some fields, a few lakes and the occasional rundown village or town. After the first half hour, a soporific sameness.

To tell the truth, I’m not really in the mood to write much today and what is there to say? Everyone who has been to St Petersburg will tell you how drop dead beautiful it is and you can read its history and economy on Wikipedia if you have a mind to.

I think every tourist takes this same picture. It's the Church of Our Saviour on Spilled Blood - a reference to it having been built on the spot where Tsar Alexander III was assasinated in 1881.
One thing though, Wendy’s work took her into the outer suburbs of St P. and I came along for a look. Not so nice. The same bleak apartment towers I have seen on the fringes of many European cities. 

Meanwhile, back in the Disneyworld of the historic centre, the characters dress the part.

Peter the Great statue. Period costumes - adding atmosphere or simply banal (or just me getting older and cynical)?
And oh yes - they don’t park cars on the footpath! You have no idea the difference this makes (though if you live in Moscow, perhaps you do). Unlike Tverskaya Used Car Ulitsa in Moscow (actually a used car yard would be better, at least the cars would be clean), the main boulevard, Nevskiy Prospect (Avenue) is a delight to stroll along. 

Nevskiy Prospect. Good car parking space going to waste.
Some places are just so darned lovely, even the most cynical of folks can't help but be impressed.