Moscow - Izmaylovo Flea Market and Metro Stations

As per the recommendation of Nicholas, our airport ground manager in Moscow, I visited the Izmaylovo Flea Market in Moscow during my last layover. He said it was "the best place" to purchase reasonably priced Russian souvenirs, antiques and artsy stuff while in Moscow.

This is how it went. After landing in the city, I decided to find the Izmaylovo Flea Market. To get to the market, one has to venture inside the Moscow Metro system. Yes, an intimidating proposition, especially if you (like me) can't read Cyrillic and are not able to understand the language or the metro directions. It can definitely feel overwhelming, especially in the large metro stations, where one can have a zillion options for connections and for getting lost. I had already heard of people that attempted to navigate the Moscow Metro, and found themselves totally turned around and lost inside these stations, with out knowing how to get out. All the same, I decided to press on and give it a try.

Before starting my adventure, I asked at the front desk of our hotel for directions. The Front desk attendant, in her broken English, marked the Moscow map with the location of the Metro station near our hotel - The Arbatskaya Station - where I was to start my trip. Once inside the station, I was to get on Line 3 and head towards the Schyolkovaskaya Station (the last station on line #3, easily found on the top right side of the Metro Map). I was to get off at the Partizanskaya Station (4 stops before the last stop on this line). Once there, at street level, I was to walk towards the left of the station for a couple of blocks, where I would find the Market right in front of me.

That didn't sound too difficult. The Attendant added that I should try to get "off" (and then back on") on the Ploshad Revollyutsi Metro Station (only two stops down from my entry point in Arbatskaya), to see one of Moscow's most beautiful metro stations. Many Metro stations in Moscow are decorated lavishly from the days of the revolution, because they were considered "Palaces for the People". If you're interested in visiting some of the prettiest stations, here are some suggestions for the ones worth a visit : Novokuznetskaya, Mayakouskaya, Komsomolskaya, Kropotkinskaya, Beloruskaya and Kievskaya. Each station is decorated differently and much like a museum, they are filled with fine paintings and sculptures produced by the most talented artists of that time.

As planned, I entered the Arbat Metro Station located at the start of Old Arbat Street. Unfortunately, I entered the wrong one! There are two Arbat Stations, a red one and a light blue one, one next to the other (one for Line #3 and one for Line #4). No problem, Line #4 merges with Line #3, one stop down, so after resolving this confusion, I happily continued on my way to the Market.

Metro navigation in Moscow can be simpler for foreigners like me, when one carries a copy of the Metro Map page from the Where Magazine (found in your room - just tear that page). This Metro page, has the name of all the Moscow stations in both, English and Cyrillic. A major plus, if you're traveling half blind- like I was, I promise! Once inside the first metro car, which by the way, looks just like a metro or tube car in London, Washington DC or in Paris, I found that there were easy to read maps of each stop on that line right above each exit door. To keep from getting lost, I was told to count the number of stops to my final destination, so I would know where to get off, or to memorize the first 3 letters in Cyrillic of my final stop, so I could recognize it when I got there. I tried both of these, and they both worked beautifully.

Before heading to the market, I decided to stop by the recommended historical Ploshad...Station along the way to take a look. The station was lovely and monumental, filled with huge, old chandeliers and large stunning sculptures (photo enclosed). The area with the chandeliers, felt like a European palace, ornate and regal. When done, I was able to get back on my metro line to continue to the Flea Market with out a problem.

To make sure I did not miss the Flea Market Station, I counted stations and searched for the station with the first three Cyrillic letters that I had memorized. I found my station easily and once there, I headed for the Flea Market as directed, turning to the left. Once at street level, I followed a path that ran in the middle of a garden for about two blocks. At the end, I noticed the outline of a series of Russian looking wooden buildings. I had found The Izmaylovo Flea Market.

To enter the market, I had to pay a nominal fee at the gate. Once inside, I discovered a large area of lined stalls filled with stands selling a variety of Russian goods. I saw Fur hats, wood carved Christmas ornaments, painted boxes, traditional Russian dolls, revolutionary posters and decorative goods. Towards the back of the market, I found a green area where local painters displayed their work. Nothing too impressive, but fun to see. Further back, I found some dusty antiques and worn carpets for sale and some tired furniture in serious need of repair.

The Izmaylovo Flea Market, was a fun place to visit, but I wouldn't visit more than once. The items they sell, are easily found in Old Arbat souvenir shops for similar prices, but perhaps, the variety is greater in this market. All and all, this was an interesting place to discover and a good reason to venture into the intimidating Moscow Metro. Perhaps you can try it on your next visit, if the weather is still warm?

Dosvitana! (see ya later!)

Do you have any recommendations for things to do in Moscow? share them with us by sending them to postcards@me.com


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