Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2008

1. GUM and TSUM

GUM (pronounced goom) and TSUM (pronounced tsoom) are the largest, most over-the-top shopping malls in Moscow. Both are reminiscent of the New Russian joke about the two oligarchs: Boris Nikolayevich is walking down the street when he runs into his friend Andrei Ivanovich. "That's a lovely tie," Boris Nikolayevich tells his friend. "Thank you," says Andrei Ivanovich. "I spent $900 on it in Paris." To which Boris Nikolayevich replies: "You fool! You could have stayed in Moscow and paid $2,000." No doubt, he had GUM and/or TSUM in mind. GUM faces Red Square; TSUM is across the street, just opposite Karl Marx Place. No one who values value should buy much here, but everyone should make a point of stopping by GUM, strolling through the capacious, architecturally stunning hallways packed with the likes of Burberry, Joop!, Hermès and Moschino, and then moving on to TSUM. After all the window-shopping, Café Tsum, on the fourth floor, is a perfect place to unwind amidst the splendor and pretentiousness. To get here by metro, take the red line to Okhotny Ryad or the green line to Teatralnaya.