East of Paris Bookstore

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Moscow Shopping

Being trapped by memories is rather illogical. Our memories are a freeze-frame of a place as it once existed. Over time, places change -- just like we change as people. Mr. Wonderful and I returned to Moscow after a 14 year absence. My memories of working and living there were generally good. But seeing it now was a real surprise. The city had grown, traffic was exponentially busier, and the shopping had gone from virtually blah to fabulous. Given that I follow news from Russia, I should not have been surprised, but I was. Illogical yes. Pleasant, also, yes.

Across the street from the elegant Bolshoi Theater, there is the Третьяковский Проезд (Tretiakovskii Passage).  To the left: Ralph Lauren Polo (blue awnings), to the right: Armani (off-white awnings).
Bolshoi Theater
Tretiakovskii Passage
A short wall to the right, there is Red Square and ГУМ (GUM).  Thinking back less than 30 years, the term Red Square made us think of oppression, military parades, and dictatorship. GUM (which basically translates to State Department Store) was metaphor for a decrepit building, lack of material goods, and old ladies seated at card tables selling a few lacquer boxes. Today, Red Square teems with tourists and ice cream vendors. GUM is an enormous three-level mall of luxury boutiques and high end groceries. On the side facing Red Square there are cafes with umbrellas and cappuccino.  The transformation is remarkable.  Here are a few views of the inside with its lovely pre-revolutionary architecture restored and updated ...

Mr. Wonderful thought that the "Historic Toilet" sign was hilarious, until I pointed out that at Harrod's in London there is a similar facility with posh Edwardian frills.

I picked up some French face cream at Артиколи (Artikoli) 
And was relieved to read that only the first floor Louis Vuitton boutique was closed for reconstruction, while the ones on the 2nd and 3rd floors were open for business.

Not far from GUM, heading away from Red Square and behind the Bolshoi is ЦУМ (TZUM), which translates to Central Department Store. Like GUM, it is a multi-level Mecca of luxury, as is the Petrovsky Passage ...
Years ago, the shopping street was Тверская (Tverskaya). While it remains a busy street with many restaurants and shops, like the computer stores,
the high-end eateries and clothing and jewelry shops have migrated to the area behind the Bolshoi Theater and along a curving street called Кузнецкий Мост (Kuznetskii Most). Within a quarter mile radius, there is a plethora of shops that make you think of Paris and Milan. Only the architecture and signs in Cyrillic remind you that you are East of Paris.

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