Have you been to Gorky Park recently? Gone are the dodgy fair ground shows and the tacky shashlyk kiosks. In are Italian restaurants, Petanque, free wifi, a roller and skate board rink, an outdoor cinema complete with blankets you can borrow, all on the background of the parkâs traditional boating facilities.
Then there is the free table tennis and an emphasis on something that I for one donât do enough of: walking. With the appointment of a new park director; Sergei Kapkov in 2011, the lobby pushing for the creation of a Disneyland type theme park inside a park which bears the name of Maxim Gorky, decidedly lost.
Now you can go dancing here in the evenings, also for nothing. The place has much of the traditional non-commercial feel of the Soviet park but with a difference. This time round people are smiling, even running around and laughing.
You can spend money here if you want to, lots of it, but you can do what most people do, have a great time without spending a rouble. Werenât parks supposed to be places where you could just hang out, with or without the children? I recommend taking a few hours off and doing precisely nothing except enjoying this place. You might be surprised. If this is the way Moscowâs iconic parks are going, I for one give the thumbs up.
Gorky Park, (495) 532 6374/5, 9 Krymsky Val, m. Park Kultury/Oktyabrskaya
Open 11 am-11 pm. Entrance free.
MEL Park Watcher