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AWAY from the DOWNTOWN - Moscow Life summer 2002

May - June 2002

    This summer I again am behind the schedule with my stories here. There are several reasons why. First, May holidays I spent far away from Moscow - so far that the places visited during the first decade of May definitely are well beyond the area I cover on these pages. It's been a long time since I visited the United States, and I decided to have a good sightseeing trip there. Two weeks spend in the Rocky Mountains, in the Yellowstone and in the Arches were fabulous - but those spectacular places are not belong on a Moscow Life site. Of course Muscovite travel a lot, and trips abroad are not unusual for many, but still grizzly bears, geysers, and fantastic sandstone shapes by no means are a part of Moscow life. (If you read Russian and would like to take a look at the pictures taken in USA in May, please read my Russian illustrated report)

Kolomenskoe, lots of nice lawns for sunbathing
On the banks of the Moskva river, close to shadows of an old park...

    So - it took time to collect enough Moscow photos for May and June story. And then came July - this year the month was abnormally hot by Russian standards - so every spare minute I preferred to spend well away from overheated and almost melting city. That also meant, from a computer used to prepare these pages...

    But now it's a bit cooler, and August is much more suitable for evening composing of Web pages. I hope that this story will be followed by the next one pretty soon. Let us first look at Moscow outskirts, at the places where it makes sense to spend a weekend - if you do not have enough time to go put of the city. And the next story, covering this city-melting July and August, will tell about environs of Moscow, about countryside and locations around Moscow.

    Enough words, let us start looking at the neat places inside Moscow, but not in its center, too hot for feeling comfortable.

As always in my stories here, you can zoom in on any picture. Just click on an image and a larger and better quality photo will open. Many of the photos are worth looking at in postcard size.

    There is no logic in the story - just almost random selection of pictures taken in the bright months of an early summer...

Entrance to Kuskovo Palace Flowers, lawns and a regular park - key attractions of Kuskovo Kuskovo pond that makes the life cooler

Smaller ponds add charming reflections to the scenery It is called "Dutch House" and it truly looks North European
   We start at Kuskovo, the place very popular among both Muscovites and visitors of Russian capital. American community ever summer rents this wonderful park for July 4th celebrations (check my old report of 1997 for details), movie producers like to use it to shoot not only historical films, but even commercials for TV. It is spectacular, thanks to a large pond it is much cooler that the city, it keeps the style of an old real estate build almost 200 years ago for parties and for fun. It still serves the purpose perfectly.

Just an iris - one of the many in Japanese Garden
Looks Japanese, isn't it?
Winding paths in the Garden
Refreshing look and sound
   And we will not miss Japanese Garden, that has a special gift for us, tired city dwellers. Here lives the magic of cool running water, fragrant flowers and quiet stones, the place adjusts your pace, slows it down. So nice a change after a crazy rush of a busy urban giant that commands us and treats harshly all week long...

   The place is just a small precisely arranged area behind the fence inside a large botanic garden, shapeless and poorly kept, - but it is so different. Even a railroad a few hundred meters away, with all its inevitable loud industrial noises, cannot break the spell of silence and quiet meditation that hovers over the Garden. This small miracle is not native, but somehow it already belongs here, and we all love it.

   There were already pictures of larger ponds above, and will be more water below on this page. Still, little streams of the Garden, tiny swirls and waterfalls give out more freshness than a busy and strangely colored river crossing the city. The entire scale is so much human here that it makes you remember who you are - because in daily haste we forget...

Getting ready Going to the start line A pleasant sports to watch

River police at a weekend watch on Moskva river
   Nonetheless, not all life is a Japanese Garden - let us take a look at a few more typical Moscow summer attractions. There is a large Canal, built for 1980 Olympics and still quite popular among sportsmen. It is also a nice place to look at competitions sitting on a fragrant meadow and listening to tiny ripples in the silence between the hits.

   Next to the Krylatskoe Canal, Moskva river is packed with relaxing swimmers - and the river police has often to act as Life Guards - because people pay no attention to warnings and swim even in the places where they are not supposed to...

There are many ducks of all sorts in Moscow Restoration is completed, and Novodevichi looks like a fairy tale monastery again Grandeur looks of post-WW II Moscow, Stalin style

   Above are just a few random pictures of Moscow water... In this season any sort of water is a very attractive model! Unfortunately, Moscow is not Venice and even not St. Petersburg - rivers and channels are not everywhere. That's why people here have learned how to have fun when it's no water around. And summer is the time of fun!

It takes being a stone one to lay in this parching sun all day! Training session Night bike rides breaking all speed limits - dangerous, but very popular fun in Moscow

   Speaking of wonderful places located far away from the center of Moscow, one should not forget Kolomenskoe. This park in the southern part of the city is a nice place to spend a few hours - or the whole day - on the lawns, at the river banks, in the shadows or in the sunshine, whatever you like.

Kolomenskoe: a view from the river Kolomenskoe: a view from the high bank The fence and tower of an old Siberian fort: part of Kolomenskoe museum

Graphics of wooden churches
   Here you can not only relax - but enjoy a few nice pieces of Russian architecture, both wooden and stone. And almost every weekend festivals of folk music, folklore events, parades or concerts happen here - there is no other place in Moscow that presents such a proper background for such festivities.

   When I was taking pictures of Kolomenskoe, enchanting sounds were hovering all over the place, somewhat similar to bell music, but not exactly. A musician was using a set of huge metal plates and various hammers to produce the melody. This music did obviously belong here, between the old walls, domes, and trees...

Kolomenskoe: wonders of white towers Lanes, flowerbeds, and lawns of Kolomenskoe Museum of wooden architecture Exotic and enchating music of metal and hammer does belong here

Bridge to Kolomenskoe, where cars and metro trains run side by side
   Arriving to Kolomenskoe by metro or by car, you can leave it by a boat. Other boat rides that I have already described at these pages (see May 2000 story, for example), go through the center of the city and offer majestic views of the Kremlin, Cathedral of Christ the Savior, and other standard tourist attractions. The boat from Kolomenskoe takes us through less spectacular areas of the city, bedroom communities and industrial districts. But in the summer cool air and the water are what matters, not only views! And some views may be funny even here...

Kolomenskoe looks beautiful at any angle from the water A river ship is coming to Moscow from a distant location End of the ride of a reckless driver...

   The sun sets late in May and June in Moscow, and the night life starts when the rooftops are still reddish from the low sun rays. Summer in Moscow is a quiet season in the theaters - but in clubs and concert halls the choice of live music remains very rich. And restaurants work round the clock... There are many opportunities to go out or to dine out. But I'm not good at taking pictures of a restaurant life.

Late evening over Moscow in June is still sunny Wonderful Brazilian jazz visting Moscow Jazz Festival Bagration Bridge at midnight

Fountains in the central parks look like molten silver in th sun
Drinking to Marina's success
   That's almost it. Enough for the early summer story, enough of overheated Moscow, let's better wait for the next one that will take us away not from just downtown, but from the city itself, to cool walls of old monasteries, cold springs at the banks of small clear rivers, and to fragrant meadows.

   Two final photos - one of a fountain in the downtown which we tried to avoid all this time, another of myself drinking at the dinner with my daughter. Marina a few times appeared at these pages (first time, in summer'1995) - then as a small schoolgirl. This May she graduated from high school and a few weeks later became a student of Mathematics department of Moscow State University. Well, it's just another illustration of the age of this project. We are getting old together ;-), these pages and I...

Andrey - asebrant@online.ru

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