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Author Topic: Touring Moscow, part 2: Arbat  (Read 15434 times)

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Offline mendeleyev

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Touring Moscow, part 2: Arbat
« on: October 18, 2009, 11:11:39 PM »
One never tires of Moscow.

There is so much to see. The history of this little backwater village which has been burned and bombed and always lived to rise from the ashes for yet another life is a testament to how it now easily claims title as the biggest city in Europe.

Most Orthodox around the world (except for the Greeks) consider Moscow to be "the Third Rome" replacing the weakened and virtually meaningless Constantinople and it's so-called and mostly isolated "Ecumenical Patriarch."

Moscow is both a grand city and simple city yet historically complex.

Lets leave the Metro and enjoy some history. Our first stop will be the most famous street in the European East.

Old Arbat Street.

Offline mendeleyev

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Touring Moscow, part 1: Arbat
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2009, 12:22:19 AM »
Cтарый Арбат (Old Arbat)


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Old Arbat is a street, but more than a single street. It's an area whose central focal point is the street from which the area gets its name.

The most famous street in Moscow lies to the West of the Kremlin, where its 1.25km span stretches from Arbatskaya square to Smolenskaya. It is one of the oldest roads in the city and was first mentioned as early as 1493, in connection with a fire that started here in the Church of St. Nicholas.

Originally a suburb where traders from the East would arrive with their caravans, in the 18th Century the Arbat became popular with Moscow’s intelligentsia and artistic community, who enjoyed frequenting the many cafes and taking strolls along the area’s mansion-lined boulevards.


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Pushkin lived here with his wife in house number 53 (the building has since been turned into a museum dedicated to the poet) and Tolstoy resided on the adjoining Kaloshin Lane. In fact Count Fyodor was said to have modelled his famous character Anna Karenina on Maria Gartung - Pushkin’s oldest daughter, who also lived nearby.

Below: See that teal blue looking building in the middle, right? That is Pushkin's house at Arbat 53. It's really more blue as you'll see in closeup photos later.


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In the 18th century, the Arbat came to be regarded by the Russian nobility as the most prestigious living area in Moscow. The street was almost completely destroyed by the great fire during Napoleon's occupation of Moscow in 1812 and had to be rebuilt.

The Arbat is in the historic centre of Moscow. It begins at Arbatskaya square (Арбатская площадь), 800 metres west of the walls of the Moscow Kremlin. Arbatskaya square is also the meeting point of the Boulevard Ring and Vozdvizhenka Street (Улица Воздвиженка). The part of this square which is adjacent to the Arbat is called Arbat Gate (Арбатские Ворота), as it is the site of one of the ten gates of the old city wall. The wall, which stood from the 16th to the 18th century, followed the path of the current Boulevard Ring. From this point the Arbat runs southwest, with a dozen side streets leading off, and ends at Smolenskaya Square (Смоленская площадь), which intersects with the Garden Ring.


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The Old Arbat is a picturesque pedestrian street within the Garden Ring of Moscow. Nowadays, it is one of Moscow's most touristy streets, with lots of entertainment and souvenirs sold. The Old Arbat should be distinguished from the nearby New Arbat, constructed back in the 1960s as Kalinin Avenue and lined with Soviet skyscrapers made of steel, concrete, and glass.


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Old Arbat is now a pedestrian only street except for police and emergency vehicles. It is lined with shops, restaurants, booths, and kiosks selling souvenir and art items.

Offline Jared2151

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Touring Moscow, part 1: Arbat
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2009, 09:56:47 AM »

  (http://mic-ro.com/metro/files/msk2-1.wav)


  Oh great, the kid at the take-out window of my local Mickey-D's now mumbles Metro arrivals/departures.

  Yo, Skippy, I asked for large fries ..... not onion rings.

 :ROFL:


Offline ecocks

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Touring Moscow, part 1: Arbat
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2009, 05:46:34 PM »
Arbat reminds me of Prague's center. Don't want to digress, just giving some folks another point of reference.

Offline mendeleyev

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Touring Moscow, part 1: Arbat
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2009, 12:10:45 AM »
What is most intriguing about Old Arbat is the understanding that it was once a "suburb" of Moscow and before the Revolution was where many of the "old money" Russian families called home. Just duck into some of the side streets away from the tourist kiosks and you can catch a feel of some of the old homes and estates which were converted into communal apartments and later into office buildings.


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The Arbat area in Moscow truly symbolizes the history of this great city, but is also a symbol of modern Moscow; this being that Old Arbat, where every stone and every building have great historical ties, reaching back as far as 500 years into the past and considering that New Arbat is one of the most recently built streets in Moscow. On Old Arbat you will find street performers, artists who are offering original canvas, creative souvenirs and Russian gifts. Moreover, this enchanting pedestrian street also possesses a striking selection of cafes, restaurants and bars.

"Arbat for me is not simply street... It is a place which for me personifies Moscow and my native land". Bulat Okudzhava (Soviet and Russian poet, composer and writer).

It now represents, along with Red Square, the "centre" of Moscow. Arbat is for Muscovites not just a street, but a special "slice" of the capital with its own history, originality and traditions.

Starting at the venerable restaurant "Praga", where Lev Tolstoi und Ilja Repin used to dine, you can stroll along the boulevard to the towering Russian foreign ministry built in the Stalinesque wedding cake style.


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Above: The most famous Old Arbat address is house #53, the Moscow home of Pushkin.

The old noble district in the heart of Moscow calls to mind the many Russian poets and artists of recent centuries. Alexander S. Pushkin spent his honeymoon here in 1831, and his residence for those weeks has now been converted into a Pushkin apartment museum.
 

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Above: Note the reference to Mr Gorbachev "Gorby" and George Bush (George, Senior) on these wall tiles along Old Arbat.



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Click on this link for a nice slide show of Old Arbat photos! http://www.bestmoscowapartmentrentals.com/html/old_arbat_street.html

Offline mendeleyev

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Touring Moscow, part 1: Arbat
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2009, 01:23:40 AM »
Old Arbat has several famous addresses in addition to the Pushkin home and museum. We must not forget that the first second McDonalds restaurant in Russia was planted at the end of Old Arbat.


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Му-Му ("Moo-Moo"), is one of the Mendeleyev family's favourite restaurants in Moscow, including a prime location on Old Arbat Street.


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Next, can you read this sign?


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Offline mendeleyev

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Touring Moscow, part 1: Arbat
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2009, 09:54:20 PM »
The sign above says "Russian Souvenirs."

Thanks to RUA's Chivo for the reminder that the Old Arbat McDonalds was not the first in Russia--the first was on Pushkin Square. He is entirely correct.  tiphat

When McDonald's Pushkin Square restaurant opened on January 31, 1990 it broke McDonald's world wide opening day records for customers served. To this day, that location continues to be the busiest McDonald's restaurant in the world. Its also the largest and able to seat 700+ at any one time.

Before the opening of the first Russian McDonald's, the restaurant received more than 27,000 applications in response to a single "help wanted" advertisement. After screening the applications, McDonald's in Russia hired 630 of the most qualified candidates. These new employees were then given an intensive training program that taught McDonald's operating procedures and practices as it strenuously focused on the McDonald's founding principles of offering a quality product at an affordable price in a clean and friendly environment.
 
In the pre-dawn hours of January 31, 1990 more than 5,000 customers gathered in front of the 2,200 square meter McDonald's restaurant, eagerly awaiting its opening. By the end of its first day of operation, the multilevel restaurant with seating for 700 customers had served more than 30,000 people, breaking McDonald's system-wide opening day records. Today this restaurant continues to hold the record as the busiest McDonald's restaurant in the world.
 

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[ Guests cannot view attachments ] Third opened in Russia.




Metro stations include Metro Арба́тская (Arbatskaya).


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Metro Смоленская (Smolenskaya).


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Near the end of Old Arbat one can see the imposing Foreign Ministry Building of Russia.


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Offline mendeleyev

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Touring Moscow, part 1: Arbat
« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2009, 11:20:47 PM »
Next up, Новый Арбат (New Arbat)



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These three photos are here for a reason: Mendeleyev's first ever grocery shopping experience in Russia was at this center, in the grocery market to the left. Although these photos aren't the originals from that experience, they bring back a flood of almost forgotten memories.



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In that one short trip I learned about having to purchase the plastic bag as well as the products and about how to put the money on the counter instead of handing it directly (considered as rude) to the cashier.


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I recall picking up tea, bottled water, milk, olive oil and butter. At least those are the things that come to memory. I was there more for picking up some essentials and to learn how to shop. Getting a fridge full of food wasn't the goal at that time.

Offline WestCoast

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Touring Moscow, part 1: Arbat
« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2009, 01:58:58 AM »
Old Arbat has several famous addresses in addition to the Pushkin home and museum. We must not forget that the first second McDonalds restaurant in Russia was planted at the end of Old Arbat.


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Му-Му ("Moo-Moo"), is one of the Mendeleyev family's favourite restaurants in Moscow, including a prime location on Old Arbat Street.


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Next, can you read this sign?


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Mendy one of the traditions that seems to be the same at all the McDonald's that I've eaten in in foreign countries is the number of teenagers and young adults working there that speak English.  In Japan, France, Switzerland, Germany and a number of other non English speaking countries McDonald's seems to hire people who speak English.  Is this the same in Moscow?  Could I order my Big Mac meal in English at most McDonald's in Moscow and other large Russian cities?
Ipsa scientia potestas est. Knowledge itself is power.   Sir Francis Bacon

Offline chivo

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Touring Moscow, part 1: Arbat
« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2009, 04:26:28 AM »
Mendy one of the traditions that seems to be the same at all the McDonald's that I've eaten in in foreign countries is the number of teenagers and young adults working there that speak English.  In Japan, France, Switzerland, Germany and a number of other non English speaking countries McDonald's seems to hire people who speak English.  Is this the same in Moscow?  Could I order my Big Mac meal in English at most McDonald's in Moscow and other large Russian cities?

Probably because it's not pronounced much different than in Russian, but McDonalds in Russia doesn't hire English speaking people per se, because most English speaking people in Russia look for better jobs (they certainly wouldn't object if someone knows English, it's just usually not the case). If you have ever been in one in Russia you know that the people who run the registers at Mickey D's work very hard for their money.

This doesn't mean that it's impossible to order as some will have some knowledge of English, and they are always willing to try and help you if possible regardless if they know English or not. They do train their employees to have the same attitude as the ones in the states, for instance, even though finding one with that old school Russian customer service can be found on occasion  :-\.

I have witnessed a handful of English speaking people order without too much difficulty.

Maybe Mendy can break down the Russian words for some of the menu.  :)

Also, getting back to the metro, I wanted to give anyone who cares a very easy to say little phrase that will help you tremendously while riding the metro; "vy hoditsa" or "vy vohoditsa" (vywee ho dit sa or vywee vo ho dit sa) is the phonetic sound and it basically means "are you exiting". You can say it, or it will be said to you should you be standing close to the doorway when the train starts to stop. This phrase will help you get out of the way so you won't get run over by the crowd, and will help you navigate your way out should you find yourself stuck behind a wall of people. Good luck.

Good job with this thread so far Mendy.

chivo

Offline chivo

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Touring Moscow, part 1: Arbat
« Reply #10 on: October 21, 2009, 05:02:42 AM »
Next up, Новый Арбат (New Arbat)



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These three photos are here for a reason: Mendeleyev's first ever grocery shopping experience in Russia was at this center, in the grocery market to the left. Although these photos aren't the originals from that experience, they bring back a flood of almost forgotten memories.



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In that one short trip I learned about having to purchase the plastic bag as well as the products and about how to put the money on the counter instead of handing it directly (considered as rude) to the cashier.


(Attachment Link)


I recall picking up tea, bottled water, milk, olive oil and butter. At least those are the things that come to memory. I was there more for picking up some essentials and to learn how to shop. Getting a fridge full of food wasn't the goal at that time.


The market is still there Mendy, but some things have changed. You might find this interesting.

As you may or may not know, a couple of months ago President Medvedev ordered all casinos in Russia closed. If you look at the pictures you will see some of the casinos (the giant crown for instance was the Corona casino). There were 3 big casinos on the New Arbat, and since their closing, the Arbat looks like a ghost town at night. You can imagine how sad a day this was for all gambling degenerates (like me  ;D).

At first the order was to close everything except poker and sports betting, which I thought was great because the very little gambling I do is playing poker and throwing a little chump change on American football games to make them more interesting. But, alas, all gambling and casinos were order closed.

What was also strange about this was the timing. It was estimated that more than 300,000 gaming employees lost their jobs (throughout Russia) at a time when unemployment was at its highest levels in 10 years. Since then one of the casinos has reopened (Metilisa) for sport watching and betting. Somehow this is OK, go figure.

Now these closings had been ordered a couple of years ago, but as usual in the case of Russia, money(bribes) from the casinos prolonged the situation. Also, territories around Russia were being designated as Vegas type areas for construction during the boom in the middle of the decade. Well, the crises put an end to that, and any hope of building these Vegas type areas were quickly dashed. Personally, if you ask me, the whole idea wasn't very well thought out, that's for sure. 

My sources tell me that a big part of why they finally insisted on closing the casinos and stopped taking bribe money was due mainly to the spat Russia had with Georgia last year, and that most if not all of these casinos in Moscow were run by Georgian gangs. Of course word is already out that they are reorganizing the casinos with Russians running the show. Don't be surprised if gambling returns and these casinos are soon open for business and it's business as usual back on the New Arbat.

If nothing else, if gives the area more of a festive look. As of this typing, playing poker is done mainly at underground clubs (like speakeasy's if you will), run by, oddly enough, a lot of ex-pats. What a country.

chivo

Offline Chris

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Touring Moscow, part 1: Arbat
« Reply #11 on: October 21, 2009, 09:43:50 AM »
Interesting to hear about the casinos on New Arbat, these are some pics I took about 3 years ago of the casinos, I was staying in an apartment just around the corner.

Not very good pictures, but gives readers an idea of what they were like:


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Offline mendeleyev

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Touring Moscow, part 1: Arbat
« Reply #12 on: October 21, 2009, 09:44:31 AM »
Re: ordering at McDonalds--that is a nice idea and I'll try to add it soon on the "Learn Russia by reading the signs" thread.

Most of the menu items are at least similar to Western McDonalds items and the menu board has photos in most cases. If nothing else, just point and for "how many" of each just indicate one finger for one, two fingers for two, etc. Just don't use the middle finger naturally for "one!"   :chuckle:

It brings to mind a story the president of McDonalds Canada (McDonalds Russia was a Canadian initiative) likes to tell about the training. One young teen boy being trained to smile and serve customers politely didn't understand why they needed to be nice to customers. Puzzled by the Western attitude of customer service he asked his trainer, "but why be nice to the customers. After all, we are the ones with the hamburgers."  ;D




Offline ecocks

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« Reply #13 on: October 21, 2009, 09:51:21 AM »
It brings to mind a story the president of McDonalds Canada (McDonalds Russia was a Canadian initiative) likes to tell about the training. One young teen boy being trained to smile and serve customers politely didn't understand why they needed to be nice to customers. Puzzled by the Western attitude of customer service he asked his trainer, "but why be nice to the customers. After all, we are the ones with the hamburgers."  ;D

Classic illustration of FSU attitude towards service.

Offline mendeleyev

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Touring Moscow, part 1: Arbat
« Reply #14 on: October 21, 2009, 09:55:24 AM »
Quote
Good job with this thread so far Mendy.


And thank you also for your participation!


I did a story in the Mendeleyev Journal about the casino closings and like you, found it curious about the timing because of the unemployment numbers. Officials were promising that they would be moved to designated locations just outside Moscow but as you mention, no such moves have been announced.

Gambling is one of the "vices" along with official corruption and alcohol abuse that President Medvedev claims to be attacking but the enforcement is curiously targeted.