Ulitsa Arbat

Written by Annie Mesavage, a Junior at Penn State

View of Arbat Street
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Get a bite to eat, or just feast your eyes, your on Arbat

Where can you find the past home of Russia’s most famed poet yet also stop for an iced mocha latte at Starbucks? Look at any travel guide for Moscow and one is bound to see Ulitsa Arbat or Arbat Street mentioned as a top attraction. This now pedestrianized street was once the home of many of Russia’s famous artists, musicians, and poets. It is reminiscent of the old Moscow with several historic cottages and back streets that have been preserved. Today it still has much of the same charm but one can also find hundreds of souvenir shops, kiosks, and cafes.
I and several of the other American students have strolled down the cobblestone Arbat as a weekend activity. It is easy to get to as both ends of this long street have metro stations. One of Moscow’s seven Gothic skyscrapers, the building of the foreign ministry, could be seen on the west end. The other side led to an open square that had dozens of small tents where you could buy anything from fresh fruit to cheap sunglasses.
The main street is lined with many souvenir shops. They sell the most popular souvenirs for tourists. Many of these include fur hats, former USSR paraphernalia, and Matryoshka dolls. However, this street still remains a large venue for artists to sell paintings. Many times we saw young children in sitting pose having a self portrait drawn by hand by an Arbat artist. Some of these artists had unbelievable skill as there drawings were incredibly accurate descriptions of their subjects. There were also unique watercolor and oil paintings done on pieces of birch wood, native trees of the Moscow region.
Arbat Street was once the home of the famed Russian poet Alexander Pushkin after he married his wife in 1831. Today it is a museum that has a historical exhibition of information from the earlier years of Moscow during the 19th century.  Another attraction on a side street of Arbat is the yellow mansion called Spaso House which has been the home of our U.S. ambassadors since 1933.
Of course with Moscow becoming more modern, Arbat has also become the place for Moscow’s Hard Rock Café, Starbucks, Adidas, and other chains. Therefore, it is truly a mix of old and new. Nevertheless you can feel this uniqueness by doing nothing more than taking a stroll on a sunny day.

Also in this Issue...

  • I Don't Think I am in Kansas but it Sure Feels Like It by Aaron Ladd
    "With these more comfortable temperatures we have been able to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. This is a nice change from the sub freezing temperature we were experiencing the first couple of months in Moscow. Even with this nice change in the weather it often seems that it will be sunny one minute and the next it will be cloudy and the wind has picked up."
  • An American Tour Guide in Moscow by Stephen Ratasky
    "I couldn’t agree with my mother more as I smile and look at the beautiful and mighty tower-walls of the Kremlin, downtown.  I know my family loves it here and I am so happy to have someone here from my home to share this time with me."
  • Listening to Layfield by Becky Dunmyer
    "During his class, we will split up into small groups for projects. Each group will create a project to promote agriculture in Russia. The student promotional projects include the mushroom production, dairy processing, dairy production, agricultural mechanization, and horticulture."

An American Tour Guide in Moscow

Written by Stephen Ratasky, Junior at Clemson University

            Living in Moscow certainly has its advantages when it comes to being a foreigner.  There are plenty of gorgeous sights to see, you can always sample a new dish from traditional Russian restaurants, and you never have to worry about finding something going on past 11:00 pm.  Yet Moscow really felt like home to me about 2 weeks ago when my mother and sister visited me here in Russia for a short spring trip.  It was vacation for them but just another day in this wonderful metropolis for a student like me.
            Twelve hours of flying in an airplane is not the typical day but that did not stop my mother and sister wanting to hit the streets of Moscow on their first night.  For the past couple of months I have been telling them so many great things about Russia and Moscow, but one thing that is always brought up in conversation is the food.  So what better to do after a long flight then to go to a Russian restaurant and have them finally taste what I have been living off of here in Moscow? 
            Before Russia my family and I have never had anything remotely close to borcsh soup, nor have we been able to dip some of the finest tasting bread in it for that matter as well.  “The dark bread is a lot better than the white bread,” comments my sister Christine, “It sort of has this molasses taste to it.” 

Rataskys eating lunch in Moscow
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You were right brother, Rusian food is good!

And you think I don’t already know this?  In Russia a meal without bread is not a meal, so I made sure that they had their fair share of many different kinds of breads to go along with our meals. 

As satisfying as Russian food is to our American stomachs, the beautiful churches, cathedrals, museums and parks are just as wonderful for our eyes to see.  “I have seen this place in pictures, magazines, and television countless times, but I have never thought I would be able to see it in person,” says my mother about Red Square and St. Basils Cathedral. 

Stephen Ratasky and Mom and Sister in front of St. Basil's Cathedral on Red Square
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Rataskys on Red Square

“Whoever thinks that Moscow is an old, drab city certainly must come here and experience it themselves.”  I couldn’t agree with my mother more as I smile and look at the beautiful and mighty tower-walls of the Kremlin, downtown.  I know my family loves it here and I am so happy to have someone here from my home to share this time with me.
            But the one thing that made me the most proud about my semi-Russian self was hearing the complements from a local painter at Izmailovsky Park saying how well I spoke Russian.  I told him that I have only been here since mid-January and I have no prior knowledge before arriving here.  He smiled, shook my hand and said well done and urged me to continue my Russian language education once I return back to the States.  My mom grinned from ear to ear, gave me a big hug and then said “OK, dinner is on me tonight.”  You see that’s the second best part about having family visit you when you are out of town, everything gets paid for out of their pockets!
            Moscow, Russia is a wonderful city with numerous great things to offer but being able to show the city around to my close family created a new bond with me and this city.  I will certainly be sad to leave this wonderful place, but the memories that I have created here will never be forgotten, but hey, who said that I can’t come back?

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