Lipp Service: A Trip to the Country without Leaving the City
Text Linda Lippner
A though it has been a relatively mild summer thus far with no scorching temperatures to speak of, I still feel the need to get out of the city now and again to imbibe some cool, fresh air.
Unlike many Russians, I can’t escape to the family dacha. And sooner or later I wear out my welcome at the dachas of friends. It’s at this point that I rely on some of the vast green spaces a bit farther afield to provide me with a mini-vacation from the city for a day.
The metro plus the occasional bus or trolley will get you there. You can even bring a bike. Packing a lunch and picnic blanket is great, but, with the plentiful beer gardens, snack kiosks with nearby “toi toi’s”, and lots of park benches, not required.
My favorite parks combine a bit of culture or some history to think about. For example, Izmailovsky Park is a super giant park in the northeast part of the city. As a teenager, Peter the Great practiced his military maneuvers in a grove here.
It’s so huge, you could easily get lost in the woods, but not to worry — just follow any group of people and you’ll eventually find your way out. To get there, go one stop beyond the Izmailovsky Market at Partizanskaya on the Dark Blue Line; the metro drops you off almost in the midst of the park.
Another favorite, Sokolniki Park, is on the Red Line at the Sokolniki stop. This park has pathways that radiate out in spokes from the entrance as well as a great Ferris wheel and dances for oldsters in open pavilions on weekend afternoons.
A new favorite of mine is Tsaritsyno Park — not the area with the fountains that dance to loudspeaker music and the nearby Catherine the Great’s abandoned palace, but the forest behind the more touristy areas. Just take the Green Line to the Orekhovo stop. There are purported to be ancient burial mounds scattered about, and you can see some unusual and unlikely mounds in the forest with trees growing out of the top of them and inviting you to imagine what might be below. A friend who used to live nearby many years ago said that gangs of Lord of the Rings fan would play war among the trees.
Once I went to Park Druzhby along Leningradskoye Shosse near the Green Line’s Rechnoi Vokzal stop and found a small circus under a real canvas tent that was visiting from Central Asia. Another time, I went to the large Botanical Park at the Vladykino stop on the Gray Line. Lucky for me, a pair of teenage girls took me under their youthful wings and showed me how to get into the park — down a leafy lane shielded from the street and under the fence where locals had dug a ditch so they could go in and enjoy the great park free of charge. I think I will go back there this month and see if that hole in the fence is still there.