Before I left for Russia in September, I made sure to bring my hockey skates with me, as I didn’t want to go without them for a whole year. This would prove to be the trope of Chekhov’s Gun, as they did come in handy-I read that there would be a chance to go public skating, and on Red Square. Fast forward to today when I made that a reality!
The rink, which is open from 10 AM to 11:30PM 7 days a week, is literally smack dab in Red Square. My stop, Ploschad Revolutsii, is about 3 minutes away from it, so it was rather speedy getting there. The rink is an annual thing sponsored by GUM, the opulent department store that occupies plenty of space by Red Square. To round out the atmosphere, there were little cafe’s, decorations (a large Christmas tree), and music playing the entire time. Frankly, I didn’t quite know what to expect, so this was a pleasant surprise. Admission cost 500 rubles, but since I brought my own skates, I (think) didn’t have to pay extra for rentals. The way it worked was that the session ran for an hour, with a break afterwards for the zamboni to resurface the ice. Since I arrived later than I wanted, I only had to wait for roughly 20 minutes to get in. Since they admitted us early (by about 10 minutes), I changed into my skates and watched as the zam finished its run. For whatever reason, not a lot of people showed up right away, so I got to savor having the ice mostly to myself! One thing I really missed about home was being able to go to the rink and play hockey/skate, so this really was bliss! However, as the hour went on, more and more people started to come out. It really was great seeing so many Muscovites take advantage of this rink to skate-it was great seeing the smiles on everybody’s faces. One thing I noticed was that the majority of the people were beginners. I say this because I’ve had this notion that a lot of Russians were fans of hockey and other winter sports, so I admittedly came in with the stereotype that I’d be surrounded by quasi-speed demons. That’s not to say that there weren’t any, but not as much as I’d believed.
The beauty of this is that it was set in one of the more picturesque parts of town, so it became twice as blissful. The only way I think it could have been better was if Christmas music (particularly Winter Wonderland) was playing, as it was absolutely serene! I will confess to have been looking forward to finally getting to skate as my motivator for the week, but this far and away surpassed my wildest dreams. You definitely can find me back here very soon!