When we were in Moscow, we frequently hung out at Red Square. This is because our hotel was very close to it, and therefore, the metro station nearest to our hotel was the one at Red Square. And so when we’d be coming or going, we’d head out to see what Red Square currently looked like. So we saw it in the daytime, we saw it at night, it was always very grand to us, and we couldn’t get enough.
The first time we ventured into Red Square, I asked Andrew tell me what all the buildings were. Because yes… I might as well confess this here and now: I am lazy. I am lazy about learning 100% everything about the place I am going to visit. I’ll read some books, but I’m mostly focus on the “scams to look out for” aspects, and not so much study what’s all there. I pay most of my attention to my own personal comfort… and even in that I often fail. So, basically, I’m a bumbling ignorant traveler. There. I said it.
So! I asked Andrew what each of the buildings were.
St. Basil’s Cathedral, straight ahead. Yes. Kremlin to the right. Yes. But… but… what is that beautiful, beautiful building to the left? The one with all the engaging twinkle lights? Tell me about it!
It was G.U.M. A gigantic luxury shopping centre that looks like a palace.
What kind of shopping centre would be here in Red Square, in Moscow?! I exclaimed. We MUST check it out.
He was not very excited to go in there.
But I was:
Not many photos were taken of the interior. Being in there was not Andrew’s favourite. But I managed to keep him in the shopping centre long enough for me to discover an upscale grocery store.
I can’t afford most of what’s in there… I don’t understand entirely what I’m supposed to do with all the items… but I do love upscale grocery stores!
Man I wish we’d gotten more pictures of that place.
Anyway, here’s what little I know of G.U.M. — it stands for Gosudarstvenny Universalny Magazin, which means State Department Store. Originally built as Upper Trading Rows in the early 1890’s, this place was known for long lines (often stretching across Red Square) and drab goods. Then perestroika happened, and today G.U.M. is the beautiful amazing shopping experience I wish I had more of.
This wasn’t the first time I encountered a shopping centre I was desperate to remain in, and Andrew was desperate to escape from. This also happened in Berlin.
I’m okay though. It’s not like I would’ve gotten anything done in there. I just wanted wander around, looking at stuff. That’s exactly the kind of behaviour that drives Andrew nuts. I think he’s cute when he wants to get out of a mall.
And it’s okay… because G.U.M. will forever look like this in my memory, all glowy and golden and just out of reach.