Parks, Yet Again

Our final weekends of Moscow parks.

Grand building at the Botanical Gardens.

Grand building at the Botanical Garden.

As is my habit on lazy weekend afternoons, particularly when we wake up too late to do much in the way of day tripping, Maki and I spent a good part of both our final weekends enjoying Moscow’s parks. The first of these two weekends, we trekked out the the Botanical Garden, one of the few remaining parks I had yet to visit. The park there is rather green, as it’s connected to a big arboretum.

2014-07-20 parks 021The park seemed to be the particular destination for bicyclists, who were out and about in great numbers.

2014-07-20 parks 007

We made our way through the park and onward into the adjacent All-Russian Exhibition Center, formerly the Exhibition of the Achievements of the People’s Economy, which remains one of the most gloriously Soviet of Moscow parks, particularly since Gorky Park got its facelift in 2011. Seriously, I like to go just to take in the Soviet charm.

Definitely a fountain depicting the various peoples of the USSR.

Definitely a fountain depicting the various peoples of the USSR.

When the park opened in 1935, each of the republics had a little exhibition center, most of which are fairly defunct now. Well, except the Armenia one, which sells Armenian cognac. And the Kyrgyzstan one, where there’s an airplane ticket counter and assorted Kyrgyz souvenirs. Also on display are the various achievements in technology.


To the left, we have a space ship replica. To the right, one of the mostly defunct republic units — I think for Central Asia (my guess is Turkmenistan), but which now just holds a small shashlyk joint.

Maki and I started by buying some super fresh donuts, hot out of the fryer and coated in powdered sugar. They’re amazing. And then, we stopped in one of the many shashlyk joints to have a little snack. We were intrigued by the one claiming Ossetian cuisine.

Vladikavkaz -- a rstaurant

Vladikavkaz — named after the capital of North Ossetia.

Mostly, we were intrigued to try their “homemade beer” and their “Ossetian pies.” The former was one of the most vile things I’ve ever tried, a mix of flavors of coffee, porter, and kvas (a fermented bread drink), lacking in carbonation, and a bit thick. The latter, which we ordered with spinach and cheese, turned out, much as expected, to be basically similar to khachapuri, a Georgian cheese bread. I’m sure the real stuff is a hell of a lot better, but was interesting to try, anyway.


Ossetian pie and a homemade “beer.”

The following week, we decided to stay local on Saturday afternoon, heading to our local park for a food festival. Though it turned out to be a terrible deal — with an admission price that guaranteed basically nothing, and with few samples to be had — it was pleasant to while away an afternoon in our local park, which we occasionally go running in.

Maki loves his hand-me-down iPhone. He still doesn't really know how to use it all that well, which is kind of adorable.

Maki loves his hand-me-down iPhone. He still doesn’t really know how to use it all that well, which is kind of adorable.

Also, I had excellent coffee. Mostly, the place was good for the laughs — the crazy queuing behind any place serving samples, and the crazy pensioners, who could enter the festival for free. This dude got really into dancing.

2014-07-26 krasnia presnia 009But perhaps the biggest laugh was for the tent that was aimed not at the people walking through, but for cats. Seriously. For cats.

Gourmet -- The First Restaurant

Gourmet — The First Restaurant of Fine Dining for Cats. Sponsored by Purina.

Yep, pretty sure that the cats were better provided for.

2014-07-26 krasnia presnia 004




Still, even if the samples left something to be desired, given the $15 admission, it was a pleasant day in the neighborhood, well-spent in the little park I’ve always enjoyed. This area of Moscow, which is probably going to be up-and-coming in the coming years (but is really not there yet) has always struck me as very pleasant — by far my favorite place I’ve lived in Moscow.


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