Today I went to Izmailova Markets which is a huge bazaar full of souvenirs and crafts. As I walked through the stalls, I saw the same tshirts, trinkets, soviet gear, and stacking dolls that I’d seen each time before, so it was less interesting. I did find a few things that I did like and got, but overall prices make me feel like a poor American. Things are not cheap, nor overly expensive rather, but they are simply a metropolitan prices.
I went through the stalls for a while weaving up and down and came across the BBQ stands, so I had lunch. The guy cooking spoke pretty good English. Later in the afternoon as I was looking at another stall, I heard, oh hey friend! And I looked up, and there he was again hanging out behind a ‘lighter’ stand helping his buddy sell the ‘best lighters in Moscow’. Actually, that’s one thing I’ve noticed here is how cheap the cigarettes are. They’re about $2 a pack. No wonder everyone is a chain smoker.
After Izmailova, I headed for Park Pebedi which is a huge war memorial plaza. They were setting up for a volleyball tournament that was coming here soon. Walking along the paths to the big obelisk at the end, people were swimming in the fountains and eating and enjoying the warm weather. Thankfully today was sunny so it was good to be outside. It was about 3:30 at this point, so I had a snack of a hot dog. The woman who sold me the hot dog was funny. She didn’t speak a word of English, but knew ‘ketchup and mayo’. When she went to dress the hot dog, she said, ‘Garchitsa’ (mustard), I said ‘Da’. Then she moved to Ketchup? ‘Net’. Mayo ‘Net’. Puchimu (why). Ya Ne Hachu. (I don’t want it). So she went back to Ketchup and smiled and said it again. I said ‘Net’. She then went to mayo again, so I said Garchitsa, ‘da’, and waved my hands together trying to signal—that’s it! She was laughing which made me laugh and reminded me why I enjoy traveling so much. These interactions in a foreign country, with a foreign language are really priceless and precious.
After Park Pabedi, I headed for another park Tsaritsyno, which was the vacation place of Tsar’s apparently. I’ll need to look up the history, but it was a huge Germanesque type architected castle perched on a hillside overlooking a lake. Everyone was out enjoying the weather and music provided near the fountains. After walking around the lake, Katya told me to meet her near her work so we could go have dinner. I then went to Tretyovskaya Gallery to meet her. My legs and feet at this point were ridiculously tired for my backpack was the heaviest it’s been. Stupidly, I brought my netbook, my thermos, my big camera, my small camera, an umbrella, etc so it weighed a bit.
Once Katya and I met up, the evening was so nice that we walked, despite my feet not wanting to anymore. We walked almost an hour to the restaurant. I was parched and hungry. When we entered, a tray of food with the most amazing fries went by, so I was salivating to order. We got seated immediately since Katya had reserved our table. However, that’s where the service ended. I got the menu, and right when the girl came to speak to us, I asked Katya to get us a huge water as I was ridiculously thirsty. We also ordered a smoothie each. I found a smoothie that was made with red wine, but all the other fruits sounded delisious, so I asked if the wine could be substituted out. NET. So I ordered a different one. Katya ordered a Caesar Salad and added chicken. I found a Papparadelle pasta with mushrooms and cream sauce. So I asked if I could add chicken as well. NET. Finally, at the bottom of the menu, it shows the side of Fries, so I ordered those as well. NET. Wait, what? Why not?? Fries only come with meals right now. But, it’s listed as a side item. We’re out of French fries as a side item today. But… NET.
At this point I was truly annoyed, but I almost lost it when she came back to the table. It will be a while for your drinks because the bar is serving other people. Well, I was truly amazed that no one could pour me a glass of water in the time it took for OUR COMPLETE DINNER to be served to us, still without drinks. It wasn’t until I was half done with my meal that she brought over the water and smoothie. I found a new level of irritation in myself. I used to think I could only get amazingly irritated with someone withholds me from being fed, but I found a new heightened sense of fury when someone withheld me from quenching my thirst. Especially at a restaurant! Needless to say, I left a big fat 0 of a tip—but it’s not much of a smack in Russia, as it’s rare to tip, and a most, they leave 10%.
After dinner we walked to another station to head home. It was 10pm, and the sun still was out and made the walk to the station very relaxing and nice. After our metro ride, we met up with Zhenya and bought some fruit and helped him home with groceries to enjoy fun conversation over some food and drinks (yes, Dinner part deux).