Mysterious Markets

Trip Start Jan 26, 2008
Trip End Feb 29, 2008

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Today was Presentation and Poster day. The day started with a visit to the breakfast buffet. This was Belle's first Russian breakfast and she was very amused to see the large range of salad items available at the Buffet. Two or three types of coleslaw, grated carrot, corn kernels, beetroot, etc. All the usual salad items, just served up for breakfast. Salad is not the only thing on the breakfast menu and we both filled up on a range of familiar and not so familiar foods.

After breakfast it was back on the Metro for our trip to the Conference venue. The Metro is a great way to get around Moscow. Trains run about every 90 seconds so if you miss a train just relax for a minute and the next one will shortly appear. The only downside is that because the Metro is so busy, if you get into a stream of people heading for an exit or changing platform you have to keep moving or they will run right over you.

Once we arrived at the Conference venue we went off to Lecture Stream 3 to wait my turn at the microphone. Stream 3 was running ahead of time again - the first speaker of the morning had failed to turn up and some of the presenters did not utilise their full 15 minutes. I made sure I filled all of my alloted time. I had apparently blinded my audience with science as they all remained mute when the chairwoman asked if anyone had any questions for me. I did have a chat to a German Vet during the tea break after my talk and also got some positive feedback from a Vet from Bristol who we ran in to at the tourist leaflet stand in the hotel foyer.

At lunchtime we headed out to see some sites. We headed back to the park that is near the Hotel venue, I can now let you know its name - Sokolniki Park - appropriate given that Sokolniki is also the name of the suburb. Apparently the Park was one of the first ones built in post revolution Moscow, there is a marble plaque commemorating something or other that Lenin did in 1918. We pointed at something in the window of a food-stall, which turned out to be a savory pastry thingy filled with some sort of tasty spiced potato filling.

Belle has been itching to visit the Izmailovsky Markets since we first read about them in the Moscow guide books while sitting in Borders at Highpoint, so we decided to try and find them. We hoped back on the Metro and headed off for Izmailovsky Station. When we got off the train we did not immediately see anything that looked like the markets. The guide book's directions simply said: get off the train and follow the crowd. There wasn't much of a crowd and they were not all obviously heading in any one particular direction. We headed off in the direction which we thought the majority of people were taking and ended up finding a market that was pretty much the Moscow equivalent of the Vic Market in Melbourne - fruit, veg, meat, poultry, smallgoods, clothing, toys, etc, etc. Not the open air markets we were looking for but certainly interesting to explore. Belle bargained with a stall holder for a pair of goat leather gloves - quite soft and warm but not up to the same standard as my deer leather gloves that I had purchased at a little stall in the underpass we take between our hotel and the closest Metro station. We again pointed at a couple of things in a shop window and sampled two different versions of a savory crepe containing some spicy meat filing. We preferred one over the other, although both were nice - no chance of us getting the same thing again except by sheer chance - no idea what they were called.

After we had finished exploring the market we again decided to try and find the open air market we were looking for - it is supposed to be the best place in Moscow to buy souvenirs. Given the directions to the market given in the guide book we thought the market might be somewhere within the Izmailovsky Park. The guide book had also said that it was well worth exploring the park so we headed into the park to see what we could see. There were several enormous stands of birch trees which would make you think you were in the middle of a forest, not less than 500 metres from the Moscow Metro. There were lots of colourful little birds flitting about, I think they were some sort of wren - I have pictures so someone may be able to do better at identifying them. We spent a pleasant half an hour or so wandering through the park but no sign of the mysterious open air markets.

With no better ideas we decided to refer to the guide book again. This led to our discovery that we had got off at the wrong Metro station - we had gone one stop to far. The reason for this - there has been a change in station name. The guide book told us to get off at Izmailovsky Park Station, we had got off at Izmailovsky Station. Izmailovsky Park Station is now called Partizanskaya Station, hence our error. We decided to jump back on the train and head back to the station we should have been at. It was about 3:30pm at this stage and was starting to get a bit cooler and darker and we were both getting a little foot sore. Once we were back at street level at Partizanskaya station, we again could identify no crowd heading to the markets which we could follow. We wandered around, crossed the street and explored another part of Izmailovsky Park, still no open air markets. We decided we needed some refreshment at this point and tried to find a cafe with seats to sit at. This turned out to be a difficult task, we eventually found a little restaurant, but the majority of places selling food and drink do not actually have anywhere for you to sit down and eat it. The cafe culture we take for granted in Melbourne is not something you find easily in Moscow. Tea, coffee and a snack latter we returned to the Metro station to head back to the Conference venue. We did finally spot a large sign that we think indicates where the open air markets are so we will head back there in the next day or so and see if we can't finally find these elusive open air markets.

Back to the Conference Venue for the poster session. Huge thanks to Phil O'Loughlin who reprinted my poster on the Friday before I flew out. Poster looks very professional and certainly holds its head up high amongst its companion posters (forgive the anthropomorphism). The poster session went for an hour and a half. Turn out was a little disappointing - many of the Russians were in the trade display singing Russian folk songs and many of the other delegates had headed off to the theatre for the evening.

Back to Hotel Cosmos to put our feet up and feast on some Russian pizza for dinner.
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