As far as we could tell, there were no roller coasters remaining at Gorky Park. Previously, it was home to quite a few credits; RCDB lists nine now defunct coasters, including what was once the largest portable coaster in the world, the inverted Eurostar. Our reason for visiting was twofold; first, we figured it warranted at least a cursory look to see if anything had slipped under the radar and secondly, it is, hands down, the most impressive municipal park in Moscow.
Mammoth, colossal, enormous—those words only begin to describe it. To give you an idea, Richard and I finally gave up our search for coasters when we saw a sign indicating that a certain landmark was 10 kilometers away. TEN KILOMETERS. To be fair, I am pretty sure the Gorky name applies only to one part of the large plot that is the park—the map we viewed seemed to list different named areas, of which Gorky was one—but even that was huge.
All told, we spent nearly two hours here. No, there weren’t any coasters, but that hardly mattered. Go here. If you ever go to Moscow, go here.
Through these completely non-overstated entrance gates…
…is a continent called Gorky Park.
Martin informed us that some of the coasters were located in this spot. Supposedly the park underwent a major transformation in 2011 that saw the removal of the rides in favor of creating a greener recreational space.
I’d say they have the greener part down pat.
Also, the humorous hot dog stands quota has been reached.
Today, this area is a lovely long promenade on the river that was bustling with walkers and cyclists.
And a space shuttle. Because why not.
This was actually a mock-up unit from the Buran space shuttle program. Unfortunately, you can’t go inside of it. Apparently it better functions as a really good place from which to rent bikes, which comes as no surprise. I mean, “bike rental” and “space shuttle” always go hand in hand in my book.
By this time George, Martin and Tal had decided to park themselves at an outdoor café for a drink. Richard and I decided to venture on in the off chance we’d find a credit. We didn’t realize at the time just how large this park was. Naïvely thinking we could do a quick reconnaissance, we set off. We didn’t see the others for the rest of the night.
We passed what appeared to be a rather popular outdoor concert before coming upon a lake with paddleboats. I read later that in winter, the walking paths flood and freeze, essentially creating a gargantuan network of ice skating trails. This sounds like something out of one of my wildest childhood fantasy worlds. I can just imagine the joy I’d find in creating my own little universe where I could glide from place to place like a fairy princess.
Except I can’t skate. I’d probably pretend to play the part of the hag releasing evil unto the world, but in actuality I’d just hide in some little dark burrow where the other kids couldn’t laugh at me.
Well, what do you know.
Needless to say, our eyes widened when we saw this. It would have been easy to miss. If Gorky Park was Europe, then this funfair was a living room in Liechtenstein.
My hopes weren’t high, but was it possible a credit had managed to worm its way into here without anyone noticing? Were we about to make a discovery that would garner the disgust of those losers who’d hotfooted it to the bar? Would it be a Big Apple? How about a Pinfari? Does anyone else think of the word “dorky” when they hear this park’s name and giggle a little bit because they think of that one and only factoid they retained from a book of useless information that stated “dork” is the term for a whale’s penis?
Actually, it’s an urban legend popularized by the Internet. It’s slang for penis, sure—some suggest it could be derived from the word “dick”—but it’s not a technical term for a whale’s junk.
The More You Know!
What? Oh, no, there wasn’t a credit there.
But there was a carousel.
Four countries and two time zones away from that was a pedestrian bridge. Underneath it was a salsa dancing lesson because…because, so after weaving through that, we made our way up to see how far we still had to go to reach the end of the park to confirm there really wasn’t anything there.
Unfortunately, we would have had to walk to Vladivostok to figure that one out.
Instead, we turned around to admire the aerial view of what we had covered until we realized we had to retrace it.
In all seriousness, I could barely feel my legs at this point. It had been another long day of walking. A little pain in my heels is fine, but this was an ache all the way up my thighs.
So we did something unconventional for us: we sat on a bench. We sat on a bench and held hands like normal couples do. We people watched and I noticed that in Russia, most women opt for three inch heels when they visit outdoor recreational areas. A-ha! That was why my legs hurt. My sneakers weren’t practical enough footwear. How silly of me!
We didn’t linger long because as far as we knew, the others were still waiting for us. I could have stayed on that bench for hours feeling the burning relief seething up my calves that comes with finally sitting after walking all day, but alas, we knew we should get a move on. We did make a stop at a bathroom on the way (Sokolniki Park Syndrome here; about 30 toilets, all but 6 cordoned off and did I mention what a luxurious job it is to clean public bathrooms in Moscow? I’d love to get paid for doing absolutely nothing) before heading towards the bar, only to find those goobers had deserted us.
We realized we’d have to navigate the non-English friendly subway system by ourselves. I quickly learned that the secret to succeeding at this for non-Russian speakers is a camera and some crude, yet vital, reminders: “Look for the station with the backwards R” or “It’s the station with the lowercase B and the number 3 in the middle.” Look, it worked, okay?
Dork does not refer to a whale’s penis. Orange juice, on the other hand…