Are we out of the forest yet?

The below is one of the days we had in Moscow:
Today I’d decided we’d head north east to a market where souvenirs were plentiful but cheaper. I’d prepped myself on the first few letters of our metro stop (backwards N, backwards 3/e etc) and figured it’d simply be the dark blue metro a number of stops. Conveniently on a Pokemon mission Rory had found an entry to an identically named station to the one we knew, but also completely different line and coincidently, the dark blue line we needed.
A sample of the cryllic and our challenges
A sample of the cryllic and our challenges
When we arrived on the platform we took the awaiting train. 50:50 odds and they’d paid off well coming from the airport. 3 stops later we realised, nope, wrong direction! We initially went to exit the station but seeing the ticket is for any distance, we cautiously looked around and found another overpass. We scoffed it was clear. I’m sure it is in Russian!
Once on a train headed the right way, we noted that there was certainly more passenger heading on this “inbound” train. Somehow I snagged a seat and perhaps countless Russian matryoshka now curse my name. My black ballet flats do nothing to support and soothe my feet. Sigh.
We trundled along, past rather ornate stations at times. Rory proclaimed we were approaching “backwards n, backwards e” which is an ‘il’ sound (go figure) and we got off. But then on the one wall plaque I realised that in fact, no this was not it. This was N A something. So we boarded to following train to go one more stop.
A shaded road to...
A shaded road to…
We arrived at the planned stop, alongside a forest. It was actually quite pretty and shady. To one side of the train tracks was a market of sorts.  We entered to find meat vendors, cheese vendors, batteries, light globes – everything domestic and nothing touristic! And naturally not a Roman alphabet or English word in site. Recalling the sage advice of the guidebook, I suggested to circle back to that station and seek the prevailing direction of masses. But there was really no masses; no prevailing trend. So we took this path and that in a very scenic forest, not really sure if or when said market may appear. It had mentioned being a 10-15 min walk from the metro. Alas, whilst very scenic, no market was found. Having circled back to the station, we say two police on smoke/phone breaks and decided to ask them. We asked where the souvenir market was, mimeing the luscious curses of babushka. His Russian seemed to indicate: ask my colleague on the phone, he’s much better at English. We stated dumbly at a park map and waited. Eventually Mr minimal English came over and indicated we were t the wrong stop of the metro, we needed to be one stop inbound. Yep, that stop I’d rejected earlier.
A beautiful wooded area... though this road did not lead to where we'd hoped
A beautiful wooded area… though this road did not lead to where we’d hoped
Ever frugal, Rory suggested we walk along the track alongside the train line and the forest. ‘Twas a good plan until we happened upon a car path which started to curve away from the train line. Alas we continued. Somewhere along this diet driveway, five people were walking in the same direction as us. Rory eagle eyed their guidebook; then established they were speaking Spanish. After some prodding, I suggested he ask them where the heck our planned destination may be. Pft! They were looking for some ornate fort pictured in their guidebook. Alas, as clueless as each other we continued towards the paved road and traffic ahead.
The main road had a t intersection and bus stops so we reviewed the map and after initial conflict (right at the t or left at the t), I conceded to Rory’s left and he was just more confused. Then we played cross with six lanes of traffic which included an always green light for a right turn and trams! We crossed and reunited with the Spanish in a non verbal way. I noticed ornate roof and spire – perhaps the Spanish destination? We trekked on, somewhat pleased by the road being paved and others walking on the path. We passed a go kart track – empty of any customer. Eventually we arrived at another t intersection, which had a pedestrian underpass, the much sought “other metro”, and a formal entrance to a park that seemed more geared to kids fun (over the natural aspects we’d already enjoyed). There were some babushka symbols on the maps but they seemed little kiosks not a mass market. We decided the other side of the underpass held more promise. If nothing else there was a beat western tower which we could ask for help or a map or a clue! There was also decidedly more people around and more shops and puzzlingly large buildings, which couldn’t all be hotels surely?
The sign of possible success?
The sign of possible success?
As we walked that direction we saw a somewhat aged decorative arch. We decided to follow that path, noting people walking toward us with the typical souvenir bags or stereotypical Russian hats. We started to see decorative roofs, and continued on.
A puzzling 'disneyland' of replica ornate Russian buildings
A puzzling ‘disneyland’ of replica ornate Russian buildings
We had found the market, in some sort of decaying fun fair. A Disneyland of replica ornate buildings. Inside, the open air market had wooden hut style stores. Only every second were occupied. The vendors were largely apathetic to any attention paid to their stalls save for some notable exceptions. We meandered through the stalls, aiming to turn left at the “end” into the area marked for the market. Ha! When we got there, all the infrastructure for market hits were there but not a person or a stall with contents. Deflated we meandered back through the offerings. Given the effort and missteps to get here, I couldn’t continue as I had, indecisive about the best babushka to purchase. I found a stall with a whole section of unlaquered dolls, quite different to the usual. The price wasn’t a steal, but after a walk away I returned. The endless browsing of babushka had to end and I fronted up, and paid the asked for price. Most “in town” stores marked prices but pretty quickly were open to negotiate. This woman showed no inclination and I had no energy!
Just a little patriotic statue in your metro
Just a little patriotic statue in your metro
The return journey was not surprisingly expedient! That happens when you travel directly and to the rights stops. To reassure my designated spirits (I mean it really wouldn’t have been too much to TAKE the guide book I’d picked up in our St Petersburg hotel with us for the day), we returned to our “home base” areas for a 4:30pm lunch. Rory, always a willing ‘go with the flow’ guy took my decision to go to Paul. A French boulangerie which is worldwide (well, Washington DC, Dubai airport and Russia are all confirmed locations by this author!) oh to read French! To see familiarly ornate food. Sturdy breads! Yes please!
Yep, mine is mini. Rory is on Pokemon Go.
Yep, mine is mini. Rory is on Pokemon Go.

4 Replies to “Are we out of the forest yet?”

  1. I wonder how Russian children ever learn to read or spell! It seems like every word is 30 letters long.

    What a great adventure! But it would be intimidating to be off the usual tourist track in a country where no-one speaks English and the local language is so inaccessible. The forest is beautiful. I wonder why the economy is so depressed in that area? It seems really unusual to have every second stall in a market unoccupied. And dilapidated fun fairs are very sobering in their own way.

    1. How silly – I just noticed I repeated the SAME forest photo! I had more photos, as it came to a meadow like area later too.

      I have no idea how Russian learn to read, and I recall a orchestra conductor at school telling us that Russian has more adjectives than English, making expressive Russians struggle when they move to speaking English. So both a tricky alphabet AND a broader vocabulary, it’d be doubly taxing!

      I have no idea why the stalls were so poorly populated – otherwise, shops seemed occupied, not left derilict like I’ve seen in the US since 2008. Overall, though, Russia isn’t as prosperous as it has been in previous eras.

  2. I’ve read a lot of Russian literature in English and wish I could read it in Russian but there is no chance of that happening. Last week we drove to a town 3 hours away and it is a small place but I bought a map. We had been there the year before and got embarrassingly lost and received different directions from 3 different people – all in English. We ended up walking 8 km! Would like to see the doll set you bought.

    1. I have a Russian poetry book – a souvenir from a friend with a Russian wife. I’m not entirely sure why I asked for it as the gift to get – I never thought of a babushka. I will see if I can get a photo for you!

      Even with maps, we can get turned about, but I like to think I’m pretty good once I have a map and a few streets or landmarks.

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