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Knights of the Vine RUSSIA


Izmailovo for Tourists
Linda Lippner
Photo by Tania Teschke

I hate Izmailova. I hate spending the money even though I have been told a million times that everything there is a bargain. But I hate to bargain. I hate the crowded metro ride with all the eager-beaver tourists and expats looking to get their shopping fix. But what is the alternative? Shopping in GUM or TsUM or the myriad boutiques around the city? I think not. When you have a shopping monkey on your back, and you need to spend some rubles, Izmailova is the most logical place to kill a few hours until your sanity returns about keeping your money in your pocket.

I get a good nights sleep on Friday and get up early on Saturday to carefully choose what to wear on my shopping trip. As we all know, Izmailova has its own separate climate and it is no use saying that spring is here and it will be warm out there. Izmailova is always COLD! Bone chilling cold, and that means dressing like you are off to Siberia for the day. OK, so summer is around the corner and maybe you can forget the long underwear and those extra socks inside your waterproof boots, but dont forget an extra layer or two of clothing even in the heat of summer.

When I get off the Metro at Partizanskaya, I note the difference in the Metro platform. Extra wide and no escalators. Perfectly designed for large crowds in a hurry. I need to hustle to the DVD kiosk inside the gates to see the latest purloined DVDs from Hollywood. Not that I ever buy of course. I need to hurry to the favorite wood carver to get that precious carved bird that is one of a kind and will be gone by noon. And the lacquer boxes, and the millions of matrioshka dolls staring at me with their smiling faces.

But I prefer to go to the upper level to get a look at all the great junk for sale. And junk most of it is, but fun junk. And the dealers seem to have such a good time; hanging out, chatting with each other and generally ignoring the clients. And that is what I like; they ignore me. I can look, and most of the time touching the goods without the usual invitation to buy. Most of the dealers at least act like they really dont care. They just happen to be hanging out there with their goods spread out having a marvelous time talking to the other dealers and drinking their tea and eating their snacks. The shoppers just seem to be props for their private outdoor party along the rows of goods that they might sell. If I want to join in by asking a question, or inquiring about a price, thats OK, but not really necessary for their Saturday existence. Soon, Ive had enough and head for home wondering why I wore that long underwear when it is so sunny and warm. I think I will wait until next January for my next trip.

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