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


Barcelona - Insider Tips from a Local...


My "insider" recommendations for Barcelona Eats are,

La Boqueria Market; once inside the market, try Pinotxo or Quim de la Boqueria restaurants. Go early (1 pm'sh) because it will be packed afterwards.

Pizzaria La Verònica, in Rambla Raval, in my opinion, has the best pizzas. Most are vegetarian but they also have very modern (creative) ones. Quimet & Quimet is a very special place to eat something light before dinner or to eat dinner standing. The wine prices are low, as if purchasing wine directly from a wine shop. The place is located in a old bodega and they close at 22:30 pm, but you can stay inside 2o or 30 minutes more, no rush.

Buen Apetito!

Story, courtesy of Iker Guimarães


Rome - The Colosseum


When in Rome, make sure you visit the Colosseum, one of the most important and impressive historical sites of the city.

To get there, either walk from the hotel to the Colosseum (about 20 minutes), or take the Metro from Plaza Barberini to the "Colosseum" Metro stop or you can also ride the "get-on-get-off tour bus" and get off at the Colosseum (this is just one of many stops of this tour bus around Rome's historical sites). By the way, these buses run every 20 minutes and cost 15 Euros for 24 hours.

For a bit of history on The Colosseum before you go, it was built around AD80 in the old grounds of Nero's private Domus Area and it was originally called The Flavian Amphitheatre. It is a huge structure, meant to seat more than 50 thousand spectators at a time and it was where gladiator fights and wild animal shows took place for free, sponsored by the emperor for the amusement of the public. Some of these shows, or "games" lasted for more than one hundred consecutive days, during which thousands of gladiators and animals were killed, purely for entertainment.

To get in to the Colosseum, you'll have to cough up 15 euros and guided tours are available for an extra fee. The Summer schedule of operation is: from 9am to sunset, daily; In the winter, from 9am to 4:30 pm. You can view the Colosseum from the street quite well if you don't wish to spend the 15 Euros. This sight is particularly spectacular at night, when it's all lit by flood lights.

Here are some fantastic photos of the Colosseum from Josie-Lim Mcauliffe's (dcasw) recent trip to Rome.

Do you have any favorite places in Rome? Share them with us for publication, by submitting them to postcards@me.com

ROME - The Vatican City


Tour Rome on a Budget: Every last Sunday of every month, the entrance to the Sistine Chapel and the St. Peters Basilica is free till 12:30 pm. Otherwise it will cost about 16 euro for both entrance fees.

For 1 euro take the metro towards Musei Vaticani and as soon as you exit you should be able to see signs for the Vatican. I suggest you visit the Sistine Chapel first and try go as early as possible, for they close the door at exactly 12:30 pm and the later you go the more people you'll find in line. By the way, the line will look really long, but it goes really fast...

After seeing the Sistine Chapel, walk around the back to the Piazza Vaticani (The Vatican City) you will see St. Peters Basilica and you will have a spectacular view of the Piazza. The lines are not as long as at the Sistine Chapel, and this line also moves very quickly. Reminder, dress appropriately, shoulders should be covered and long shorts or pants are acceptable.

After the Vatican City, the "get-on/get-off Tour Bus is a great way to see the rest of the city. The cost is 15 euro for 24 hrs or 20 euro for 48hrs. These buses runs every 20


Photos and story by Josie-Lim Mcauliffe (dcasw)

BEIJING - The Great Wall


If you want to see the Great Wall and other sights in Beijing, especially on a budget, you can hire a driver for the whole day for about 500/700 RMB's ($70.00 - 115.00).

The drive to the Great Wall takes a little over an hour, and an early morning visit is highly suggested. If you leave Beijing by 6:30 am, you can see the sunrise over segments of the Wall and it's a spectacular view!

The other benefits of getting there early, are:
1). No crowds there that early
2). You can practically have the Wall to yourself
3). You can get back to the city and see the other great sights, like The Forbidden City, The Summer Palace, and still squeeze shopping after the sightseeing.

To hire a driver, call Susan and/or Bobby's at 13601255592 or 13701188206 - Beijing numbers.
to email ahead, write to: susan@sohu.com.

Have a great time!

Photos and story, courtesy of Josie-Lim Macauliffe (dcasw)

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